Category Archives: Refined by the Word

Commemoration Week 2018 Thursday <3

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Just because I said it is a special week for reflection and meditation, please do not imagine for one minute that my schedule has miraculously freed up and I have been sitting on some park bench in some retreat center with my Bible open and my pen hovering over my “journal” which is always and forever a plain old spiral notebook like you buy at the Back to School section of Target. 

Only a lot of times I am using old ones I found cleaning out some bag or closet where one of the kids or yours truly only used the first few pages and voila! I have a new “journal.”

So no.

This week is only special because as I go about the ten hundred thousand other things that I do every week and sneak in some dusting and laundry and cleaning bathrooms, I make the week different by intentionally forcing my mind to … well…commemorate.

So it is probably helpful to take a quick peek at what that word means…

Commemorate: to recall and show respect for (someone or something);

to celebrate (an event, a person, or a situation) by doing or building something. 

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So I commemorate by reminding myself…

 as I run errands and work at the store and watch grandchildren, and answer texts and emails and all the things…

how, just like the Israelites homes and lives were protected by the blood of those lambs and goats we talked about yesterday, our home and lives are covered with the protection of the Blood of Jesus that purchased our salvation.

Much like those Israelites crossed through the Red Sea on dry ground and then turned around and watched it fold back over the army of the ones who had held them captive for generations…

I think about how my God has defeated every enemy I can think of that would hold me captive, including death. 

While I am a work in progress and have surely been the poster child for “prone to wander, Lord I feel it”…I was saved and redeemed the day I received Christ. 

I was transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. 

No turning back…no turning back…

and as long as I am borrowing lines from hymns and songs, I may as well quote some Scripture to finish our time together today ….

This is a day you are to commemorate; for generations to come you shall celebrate it is a festival to the LORD – a lasting ordinance.

Exodus 12:14

Sure He was talking about keeping the Passover and He had very specific rules for this feast in Israel and I am not replacing that with my own version.

But I am taking to heart the concept of the commandment to commemorate…

to celebrate God and what He has done.

To celebrate my once and for all salvation, as well as the process of sanctification and the mud heaps He continues to pull me out of and the ways He loves me and cares for me. 

I am so thankful you have joined me thus far this week for the celebration. 

I hope you are taking it to heart and having some moments of commemoration yourself.

It is my prayer you are finding yourself in a party mode all day in the midst of the ordinary as you contemplate the great works of the Lord in your own life thus far. 

Blessings and I look forward to tomorrow. 

Commemoration Week 2018 Wednesday <3

As I have been reading through Exodus 12 several times a day this week, my mind continues to paint more color around the black and white type of my Bible.

I don’t add my own thoughts to the story, but I enter in to the setting and apply what I know of this physical world to the details of that first Passover.

I think how God declared to be a shift in their calendar. 

This will be the new start of your year. 

Every year. 

This will be New Year’s Day for you from now on.

Like we would plan our grocery purchases for the amount coming to dinner, they were to select their lamb or goat to provide enough but not too much. 

Small family…perhaps a single mom with one or two children? A widow or widower living alone or with another aged sibling? Take shelter in someone else’s home and join together to share the meal.

All the community gathering outside their homes that night at twilight as the sound of the sacrifice cut through the paths that led from house to house. 

To our urban minds, the thought of drawing the knife across a living animal seems barbaric and, ironically…”inhumane.” 

We prefer buying our meat nicely packaged and far from the slaughter house floor. 

We think we are above the cruelty of taking an animal’s life. 

When we do so, we miss the whole point of our humanity … what we are … who we are…and who God is.

We forget that the first knife that ever took the life of one of those animals we rally to protect the rights of was God’s hand skinning His creation to cover the shame of our willful desire to be our own god. 

And so Israel gathered outside their homes that evening and, as families, they each slaughtered…a harsh but necessary word…the lamb or goat that had been in their homes for four days….and they took some of the blood and spread it across the doorposts of their houses as a sign. 

With traveling clothes on and luggage packed, they roasted the meat and ate it with unleavened bread…and burned whatever was left and listened as night brought death over all of the land except where they were gathered. 

And in that darkness of night Moses was called out by Pharaoh and urged to gather the people and leave. 

I think of times we have awakened at four in the morning to sleepily dress and grab our packed suitcases and head to the airport through star lit country roads. To catch a flight before the sun rises.

I think of the Egyptians loading these people up with their own possessions to send them on their way. 

What was that like as the people who had been their captors insisted they take some of their favorite possessions…cloth and sliver and gold and jewelry…as this group of people moved out in mass from the area?

The animals herded, children carried in arms…and blood stained doorposts left behind. 

Surely the Egyptians looked on those houses and wondered about this God who had come to rescue His people in a way never seen before. 

No army had defeated them this time.

Just a God who had shown up in the night and called His people out of the darkness.  

And so we marvel today….

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.  1 Corinthians 11: 23-26

When it is all said and done <3

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I finished Jeremiah today and it’s been a roller coaster.

I ponder the big push in Christian literature to find your calling and join God’s big adventure for your life…but I wonder.

How eager would we be to seek the “call” if the call was to be a weeping prophet?

But the call is irrevocable and whether Jeremiah was wired to weep or was God-shaped into what He needed to be…it was God who called him…at a young age…

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you to be a prophet to the nations.   Jeremiah 1:4,5

While I have read through the Bible a number of times during the course of a year, and have certainly read parts and all of Jeremiah before, I have seen new things this time.

As I try and identify with the obedience of this prophet, I have been convicted in my own prone-to-compromise-to-avoid-conflict-ways.

Since my current text of the Chronological Bible puts everything in time line fashion, I discovered the ending of Jeremiah’s life is very different than I might have gleaned from my NKJV.

In my every day Bible, the ending chapters of the book are actually an addition to the end of the story. Scholars debate if it was written by Jeremiah or by one of his scribes. There is consensus for it as an historical record of the fall of Jerusalem.

They occurred before the end of Jeremiah’s story.

Jeremiah’s story ended in Egypt.

Where he was carried off by a rebellious remnant of Jews who hoped to flee from Nebuchadnezzar and the discipline of God for their idol worship.

And even in Egypt, as they blinked away  the smoke of incense burning in their homes to the gods of that land…they continued to ask Jeremiah for a word from the Lord.

He continued to say the same word, because God’s Word doesn’t change no matter how much we would like it to so that we can continue doing what we want to do.

In defiance, they shouted him down with the affirmation that they LIKED what they were doing…and they weren’t going to stop.

The women pointed to how things were so much better when they did the wrong thing.

They were happy and well-fed and prospering.

And so Jeremiah speaks one more prophesy regarding the inevitable fall of Babylon and we are left with this passage…

The words of Jeremiah end here. Jeremiah 51:64

How can so few words carry such a heavy message?

He spoke all God called him to speak and then he ceased.

Whether anyone listened or cared or changed, he fulfilled the call of God and then he ceased.

It is believed he was stoned to death by the stubborn people he tried to warn.

But his voice is not silent.

It speaks God’s heart to us now.

Whatever you are called to do or say…do it…until you are silenced.

Fulfill the call of God on your life, trusting in Him alone  <3

When surrender does not mean defeat <3

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Good morning! 

We are certainly enjoying some wonderfully perfect (in my book) weather the past week, and I have enjoyed having quiet time out on the porch. 

While my present surroundings have been most pleasant, my read through of the Bible has been in one of Israel’s most difficult periods. Since I am using the Chronological Bible for 2018, I have been reading from a mixture of prophets as God’s people are facing the consequences of generations of growing apostasy. 

This week, as I sat sipping coffee and relishing the fact that I had to put a light jacket on, my heart and soul were in a vise grip of angst as I read of the Babylonians building siege ramps outside the walls of Jerusalem and the King of Judah deciding maybe it was time to ask God for a favor. 

Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah speak God’s word and clearly articulate the bad news, good news of Israel’s future. 

God is firm in His judgment of this stubborn and wayward people and the time has come to pay the piper, so to speak.

The city will be taken. 

Anyone who refuses to leave will die and anyone who surrenders will live in captivity for a set period of time. 

But God also affirms that after their years of discipline have been completed, He will bring them back. He will bring prosperity once again to His people but more importantly, He will give them a heart to love Him and honor Him and worship Him again. 

This is not the plot of a movie we want to see, is it?

We don’t want to pay to see Bruce Willis surrender to the terrorists in a Die Hard movie or Aragorn to tell the men of Rohan to stand down at the Black Gate in Lord of the Rings.

We love the thrill of taking a battle stance and fighting it out to the end…even if the end is more like the Alamo…at least they all went down fighting. 

But in this historical battle, the God of Abraham is telling His children the way to win is to surrender. 

This summer, the band of brothers in our family have been enjoying the antics of super athletes competing on crazy hard obstacle courses on a show called Ultimate Beastmaster. 

And while I cringe at the name every time, I have to admit it has been entertaining to snuggle with them in the afternoon and watch an hour of these young people attempting to push their bodies through a gigantic playground of adult monkey bars and climbing apparatus. 

Often one of the athletes will reach a point where all physical strength has been spent or timing has gotten off and this powerful athlete simply cannot go on to the next level. 

Dangling from a bar or rope with shaking arms, unable to propel forward, the competitor will simply release and drop into the water below. 

Surrender.

It’s a whole different thing than defeat. 

Like dropping into that pool of water when it is the only choice left, we drop into grace sometimes by giving up and letting go. 

There is a time to fight and to push through, but there are also times when we must listen to the voice of God and choose to fight no more, but instead, surrender to the circumstances and allow Him to do what only He can do. 

We cannot make these choices on our own, but we must be tuned to His voice. 

We must hear the call to fight, the call to stand and the call to lay it all down and just drop into grace. 

I pray today for each of us to live our lives daily in such a way that we would know and hear the voice of our Lord and we would have obedient hearts to do according to His word to us <3 

This one’s for Bud <3

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We started a new series on the Holy Spirit in our class on Sunday and at the end of the lesson one of our members asked me a question. 

It’s so tempting to try and come up with an answer when you are sitting in front of a group of people who showed up to hear what you have to say. But I learned a looooonnnngggg time ago that it is perfectly fine to answer questions about Scripture, God, Jesus and life with an honest “I am not sure.”

I promised to try and find an answer and because the question was so intriguing to me, I jumped right in Sunday night and yesterday morning with a word search and chasing rabbits. Because…me…

So since I need to be ready in one hour to run a timed errand, I am condensing the three pages of notes and reining in all my thoughts and sharing the question and the answer uncovered thus far.

The question centered on the phrase about Jesus giving up or commending His spirit just before He died on the cross and did that mean the Holy Spirit or something else. 

So basically my understanding of the question was – Did Jesus somehow release the Holy Spirit just before He died.

Two gospels record this:

Luke 23:46 And when Jesus cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.

(It should be noted this is the same expression used in Psalm 31:5…but that is for another day.)

and

John 19:30 So when He had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Here are some of the things I found regarding these passages and the word “spirit.”

In both of these passages the Greek word is “pneuma”; Strong’s 4154 to breathe hard, current of air; breath blast or breathe by analogy or figuratively; a spirit ie (human) the rational soul

Thus we can see, while it does have to do with the physical mechanics of taking in air and letting it out through the biology of our lungs, there is tied to it the concept of the soul/life of the being who is breathing.

We can see that more clearly by comparing to another word psuche; Strong’s 5590 with is the physical intake of air as compared to 4154 pneuma – the rational and immortal soul.

As I pondered this, I concentrated on my own breathing. 

Without thinking or reminding myself, I take in and release air unless I consciously attempt to hold my breath in. And even then there comes a point where I can not overcome my need to breathe and unless I were to somehow force the blockage, I will eventually either have to burst out the air being held and take in fresh or I will pass out and thus my pneuma will take over while I am unconscious. 

But beyond that I am more than my physical properties. 

Anyone who has stood over the body of a loved one who has ceased to breathe knows that the physical intake of air was not the essence of the person. 

That soul could not be held in the shell of a human body. 

And when we meditate on that and then go back to the passages above, we need to breathe in the truth of the passage deep, deep and deeper still into our minds, souls, bodies and spirits…because…

What Jesus gave up. 

What He willingly placed into the hands of the Father. 

Was not the intake and outflow of His lungs. 

It was His very life force. 

Jesus did not die by an involuntary and inevitable response to the suffocation of His lungs on the Cross.

By His will…by His determination…by His obedience…He pushed up one more time to say…

IT

IS

FINISHED…

Death and sin have lost.

I have done what You sent Me to do.

And then He, Himself, fully God and fully man…the One who spoke and His breath formed all of Creation…this ONE…

bowed His head in worship to God…

gave up in surrender His essence of being…

into the hands of His Father.

He breathed out His soul to God. 

They didn’t kill Him.

He chose to die.

I laid awake much in the night thinking about the impact of this.

As my breath continued in and out, I thought how little I am in touch sometimes with the essence of who I am. 

I think a lot about myself…trust me.

I think about my physical and emotional and spiritual and mental needs…my space…my time…how I look…what I will wear.

But little to nothing about my soul..the essence of who I am…surrendered…worshipfully bowing my head and committing that life force to the One who showed me the way. 

Good question, Bud.

Thank you for making me think. 

How about you?

Will you stop today and just breathe in and out for a while and then imagine Christ voluntarily breathing out one last burst of air to say…

It is finished.

And would you also bow your head in worship and commit all that is the fullness of your life to Him?