Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

A Simple Prayer for a God-Led Day


Moth by My Sister and Flickr User Candiece N, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Moth by My Sister and Flickr User Candiece N, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I was all set for what I planned to share tonight, so I went to YouTube to look for the video I wanted to attach. When I got there, I found some videos claiming that the teaching I planned to bring to you was incorrect. Yikes! Now, I’m not saying it is incorrect, but I am saying I will do more research before I present it here as any kind of fact. I am not afraid to admit when I am wrong (though I don’t like it, of course), but I do try to research all I can before I pass information on to others. And, while I know there will always be dissenters about any kinds of doctrine or teaching, especially when it comes to Bible teaching, I am driven to examine both sides before making a decision.

After a couple hours of study, I didn’t come to a conclusion. So, I am going to read more by and about both authors, and I am going to pray, and then I will present my findings here. Whether I come to a conclusion or not, I will share both sides, but I want to give myself some time to examine all possibilities before I just jump into believing one thing or another. Too many these days believe in things right off because they sound good, and unfortunately, that even includes me sometimes. I try to be like the biblical Bereans in Acts 17:10-12 who searched the Scriptures daily to verify the words being taught by Paul and Silas. Now I find that even teachings I hear from what I consider to be a trusted source can be a misconception, so I will keep studying until I can be confident in what I share.

Therefore, in addition to encouraging you, my readers and friends, to do the same–study to show yourself approved to God, let me share something I wrote sometime ago. I typed it as a note in my phone that I can look at first thing in the morning to set my day on a right path. I hope to put it on some Zazzle products soon, so others can get it before themselves on a daily basis too. Enjoy!

GOOD MORNING LORD!!!

HERE I AM.
I KNOW YOU HAVE PLANS…
FOR THIS DAY;
FOR MY LIFE;
FOR ME;
FOR ME IN THIS DAY.

MAY I LISTEN TO–AND HEAR–YOUR VOICE.
MAY I SEE, AND KNOW, YOUR WILL.
MAY I FOLLOW YOU, AND
MAY I PRAISE YOU
FOR ALL THAT YOU ARE…
THIS DAY AND FOREVER

IN YOUR HOLY, MEMORIAL NAME, YAHVEH,
AMEN AND HALLELUYAH!

Blessings and God’s Shalom to each and every one of you as you seek more of Yeshua and His Word every day.

~Crystal

October 31, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, Prayer, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Micro vs Macro


Japanese Anemone by Flickr Users Mike and Annabel Beales, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Japanese Anemone by Flickr Users Mike and Annabel Beales, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

One of my favorite types of photography is that which they call “macro” because it brings an almost unseen world to life. Macro photography gets as close to a subject as possible while still remaining clear. It allows you to see the eyes on a bug or the tiniest veins in the petal of a flower. Many of the photographers I follow on Flickr take macro photos, and if you do a search for just the word macro, you’ll see the tiny, up-close world I’m talking about.

Maybe it’s the peace that comes with focus required to see things that closely, or maybe I just like observation of detail, but I know it’s a stark contrast to what attracts many others. While I linger to see more things more closely, the world seems to want a super fast view of things from a distance. Commercial advertising on television flashes an array of images at you. Sentences are shortened to fewer words (got milk), and words are shortened to fewer letters or abbreviations (lol). And, no, I’m not laughing in that last line, but it’s an acronym I figure most people know. If you don’t, it stands for “laughing out loud.”

So, I got a new Twitter follower tonight that posts things in micro, which makes sense because Twitter is considered a “micro blog.” He writes micro poetry and micro fiction, and it’s actually quite entertaining. You all know that I’m a long-winded writer, so it might not hurt for me to learn how to say a few things in micro, but I’ll work on that later.

Anyway, this whole micro versus macro thing made me think about the still, small voice of God. Is that considered micro because the Bible calls it small? I don’t know what the writer or his scribe actually meant there, but I consider it more macro than micro. It’s not the fact that it’s small that matters, it that requires closer examination. Just like you have to tune out all the noise in order to hear a person whisper, you must tune out the cacophony of spiritual noise to tune into the voice of Yahveh.

I think we all get the idea that during the days of creation, God’s voice rang out like thunder and made a demand for the world to jump into being. I like the power behind that too, but what if He simply and quietly whispered in a still, small voice? What if that’s all He had to do because there wasn’t a bunch of noise for Him to have to speak over then? So, maybe we were created in quiet peacefulness, and maybe that’s why those of us who seek our Creator seek that peace as a blessing.

I think this new drive of people to see and hear things loud and fast coincides with the distance this world has from The God of Creation. Seeing His beginnings takes time, and understanding them takes even more time. Salvation is not a micro event either. The closer we examine Calvary, the more we realize what Yeshua did for us, and the more we fall in love with Him.

Time is our gift from God to learn whatever we need to make an informed decision about our eternity. We should fill our moments with as much of God as we can, bringing ourselves closer and closer to Him in the process. We can write micro fiction and micro poetry, and we can post micro blogs, but let God and His word be magnified and not diminished in our lives. Amen.

October 30, 2014 Posted by | Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ApologetiX’s Apologetics


If you’ve read very many of my posts, you’ve probably come across at least one with a video from the group, ApologetiX. Today, I’m going to share with you why I like them so much, and I’m going to share their plea for support and prayers.

First, for those who don’t know, this group of musicians, singers, and writers is a multi-talented band that has been declared a cross between Billy Graham and Weird Al Yankovic. They take songs from different generations and styles, and they change the lyrics to those which uplift Christ. They do their best to imitate the original songs in music and vocals to the extent that you often have to listen carefully to hear the lyric change before you realize it’s a parody.

The lead singer, J. Jackson, has fantastic talent and ability in being able to imitate a variety of voices and vocal styles. He blends those with a touch of humor while trying to write the new lyrics to rhyme with the original ones, so the crossover is smooth and harder to detect. If you attend a concert, you’ll get to see him in a variety of costumes, and he puts on a great performance. But, he doesn’t end with the musical show. An audience of many who would never attend a traditional church will be entertained, but they will also hear some strong words of God both in the songs and after. J shares his personal testimony, encourages people to give God Almighty a chance in their own lives, and then offers an altar call.

I will tell you that I am not normally fan-type of person (dedicated follower), but when I can see sincerity and love for God in action, I can get behind the ministry that presents it. I feel this way about ApologetiX. I love the strong biblical messages in their songs, including the liberal use of Scripture verse locations. I love that each set of lyrics also comes with a history on the writing of the song. If you check their music page, you can click on the lyrics for songs in the left column. In the window that pops up, you’ll see both the lyrics and story behind the song’s writing. By the way, you can also listen to the mp3 music from that page for free if you are a member of the fan club.

From the home page, you’ll also see the recent news and a few past stories. This is where you will see the updates on music, but you’ll also get a glimpse of the heart of the band. If you want to know even more of their hearts, become a fan club member and agree to receive their newsletter. Within a variety of their pages and newsletters, I have become aware of some of the band’s financial needs, so without any prompting from them, I just want to share some ways you can help. Before I do, I just want to share that I have seen them go through years of performances and CDs, and they are always straightforward and honest. If there were ever a group to support, I would wholeheartedly recommend this group who has faced many challenges yet will stop and help stranded motorists as they travel from one concert to another.

So, below are a few links that you can use to either purchase their products or support them in other ways. They use PayPal for a pay portal, so it’s safe and convenient–especially if you’re already a PayPal user.

  1. Get free downloads for any donation amount at http://apologetix.com/store/store.php#MustSeemSilly
  2. If you want to donate online, read the how-to page at http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2696 where you will also find a donation link.
  3. More downloads for donation at http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2706
  4. Limited time Buy One CD Get One Free Offer at http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2774
  5. Instant download of their songbook with lyrics for every song from 1993 to 2013 in an interactive PDF for $20 at http://www.apologetix.com/store/store.php#songbook
  6. Tis the season to get The 12 Downloads of Christmas for $8 at http://www.apologetix.com/store/store.php#christmas
  7. And a letter from a fan that sums up much of what I feel for the group and explains why I would dedicate a full blog post to their support… http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2782

If nothing else, please keep this band and their families in your prayers. They are a ministry like any other, and serving God while spreading the good news is their primary purpose. You can buy their music from places like Amazon (ask me for links and I’ll donate any commission to them) and iTunes, but I’m guessing they get a bit more by purchasing directly from their website. Whatever you do for them, do as unto the Lord, and may God bless you for blessing His children. In the meantime, enjoy the history of their band in the top video and one of the first of their songs I ever heard (Play that Funny Music Right Boy) below…

October 29, 2014 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pray Now, It’s A Lost Art


Prayer, Conversations With God by Flickr User Evan Courtney, CC License = Attribution

Prayer, Conversations With God by Flickr User Evan Courtney, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

There’s nothing like fellowship with like-minded Christian friends. In fellowship tonight, we talked about what it means to have a real relationship with The Lord. Just as I was mentioning that all real relationships involve some heartbreak, my friend Debbie was thinking in her mind about the times she’s been on her face weeping before God. We talked about how that happens, not because we are burdened or crying out for some kind of favor, but because of the brokenness we sometimes feel in God’s presence. When our flesh gets in the same room with the living God, we can break under the awesomeness of His love, and that’s just how it should be.

In a real relationship between real people, we have ups and downs, hard days and easy days, good times and not-so-good times. We have days where we feel so close that we almost feel like we’re actually one in body and mind. We also have days where we feel so distant from each other that we may wonder if the other person knows us at all. We share in all these times because we have made a commitment to be there no matter what, and we will usually find that upon reflection, we’re glad for that commitment. After all the hours, days, weeks and years, those who are truly in love will say it has been worth it all.

Well, it’s the same with God. We have ups and downs, hard days and easy ones, good times and bad times. We have days where we sense that God is walking right alongside us every step of the way, and we have days where, like King David said, it seems the heavens are brassed over. If we truly love God, we will make it through all these times because we are committed to Him just as we are to the humans to whom we have pledged our love.

In the relationship business, commitment is the key to keeping things together, and communication is the key to keeping them together in a pleasant way. With our spouses, and even with our friends, we don’t grow closer by being distant from each other. We fellowship, we share our dreams and hopes, we share our stumbling blocks, and we do our best to help each other walk through both valleys and mountain top events. We always try to talk to each other before we make judgment calls because we give the benefit of the doubt as we trust our partner or friend will do for us.

So, why don’t we do the same thing for God? With God, we often make rush judgments. It’s a blessing. It’s a curse. It’s a punishment. It’s a lesson. It could be any of those things, or it could just be life, but we can’t really know unless we ask God what He thinks. But, if we are not in the habit of talking with God, we may not know His voice as well as we should when it comes time to listen. His word promises that His sheep know His voice and listen, but why does a sheep know its shepherd’s voice? It knows the voice it hears on a regular basis. Here’s how The Message Bible states it in John 10:1-5

“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”

See, it’s all about being familiar with God’s voice. To do that, we must have communication with Him. We must pray, and we must listen. We must read His word to see what He tells us from there. When we worship Him, we may hear His voice even better because He inhabits the praises of His people. Prayer is not about rubbing the magic lamp just because we need God’s assistance (though He is there for us and willing to be our very present help in times of trouble), it’s conversation. It’s our time to draw nearer to Him, to get to know Him better, and just to spend time in His presence. As the ApologetiX song in the video below says, “Pray now, it’s a lost art….God is listening, you know.”

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walk A Mile in My Shoes, Lord


In Mom's Shoes by Flickr User Impulses, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

In Mom’s Shoes by Flickr User Impulses, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord,
Then walk another mile or two.
Order my steps and show me the way
To do what You’d have me to do.
Lead me and guide me, walkin’ right here beside me,
So I can be more like You.
Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord,
Then keep walkin’ my whole life through.

Those are the lyrics to a chorus I wrote once while having a conversation with God about His understanding of my life’s trials. They began with the words, “Put yourself in my shoes, Lord,” but I plan to move those words to the verse when I fully develop the song.

I think most of us wonder whether anyone else understands some of what we go through. And even those of us who love God with all our hearts may sometimes wonder if He truly understands. I think poems like the popular Footprints in the Sand come for those kinds of wonderings. And, since there is nothing new under the sun, I would guess people have been turning to God with that question for many centuries.

We can know that God does understand by the fact that He did, in fact, walk miles in human shoes. John 1:1-18 begins and ends with statements that declare Yeshua as both with God and God; both Unique Son and God Himself. Yeshua told His disciples that if they had seen Him, they had also seen The Father. And the verse that convinced me that God was not a child abuser but did love me enough to lay down His own life for me–the greatest love of all, is in John 10:30. Here, Yeshua declares, “I and my Father are one.”

Even with these truths, though, we may wonder if God could possibly understand what it’s like to live in our particular shoes. We look at His life and think maybe we could endure if we were Him. Sure, we could be homeless and sleep on a stone pillow, right? But thinking that was the only way He suffered before Calvary is like Bruce Almighty thinking he had too much to do with being responsible for the prayers of only three city blocks. We haven’t worn His shoes to know His times of rejection and sorrow, like when He looked over Jerusalem and wept for her past and her future. In Matthew 23:37 (NLT) we read…

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”

How often, I wonder, has He been there to walk in our shoes, and we haven’t let Him. I speak this for myself as much as anyone. I need to be reminded sometimes that it’s not my job to sit on the throne, and I’m not in control of everything. Still, even as I let go and let God be God and fix things in His own way, I want to know that He understands. And when I slow down and read His word, I find encouragements like the following…

  • This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)
  • Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)
  • What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 NLT)

With understanding that God does care about me personally, and trust that He will lead in the right direction, I can sing from my heart, “Walk a mile in my shoes, Lord, then keep walkin’ my whole life through.” I hope you can too.

P.S. Just for a little encouragement, here’s a video of the song Give Them All to Jesus

October 27, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction, Poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perilous Times Are Here


Stick Figure in Peril by Flickr User Kenneth Kiffer Fong, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Stick Figure in Peril by Flickr User Kenneth Kiffer Fong, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Because peril is a serious subject, let me start out with some lighter fare. The image above is from a Flickr group called Stick Figures in Peril. People post images of warning signs, and then group members comment on them. For example, on the above image, someone wrote, “Skipping like a girl will get you shot.” It’s a fun group since some of the warning signs are not exactly evident, especially if they’re in languages other than English. Plus, many of the stick figure warnings look less like people, so they will not have gender or age issues, and the comments often make fun of the figures themselves. For example, many will say something like, “Don’t do this, or you’ll end up with a detached head and no hands.” The older images have more comments of course.

As for the serious subject, we have this warning in 2 Timothy 3:1 (KJV): “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” In other Bible versions, the words used instead of perilous include hard, grievous, terrible, distressing, difficult, terrifying, dangerous and trying. Some versions are more detailed and give other descriptions. They say there will be times of stress, much trouble, times of difficulty, and violent periods of time. In The Living Bible (TLB), Paul speaks to Timothy this way…

You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian.

And so it will be, and so it is, but what kinds of peril do we most often hear reported or complained about these days? Stepping away from what the Bible calls “perilous” for a moment, let’s think about some troublesome times I’ve heard about just in my lifetime. My grandfather worked three part-time jobs before he came into a career. It was difficult to find full-time work, and even with all the jobs he put in, it was hard for him to feed his family. His family of five shared a small travel trailer on a lot, and their most frequent meal was pinto beans and fried potatoes. (Those years did teach my grandma how to make the best beans and potatoes though, hence my strong desire for those foods now.)

Anyway, those were truly difficult times, but my grandparents persevered until they were able to buy a home. Once they both has jobs, times got much easier for them. They went from a hand-dug pool to a professional pool, and eventually they got a retirement home with riverfront property. But even when times were better, they were frugal and thrifty about most things, like only using the pot belly stove for heat while everyone was awake. I lived with them for some of those days, and only using upstairs heat meant my downstairs bedroom was really cold, but it also meant a few more times out to eat too.

When people complain about being poor in today’s society, it usually means they can’t afford a smart phone with an unlimited plan, a flat screen television, and premium cable. They feel left out if they don’t have a computer and high-speed Internet. Oh, and don’t even think of telling them to be satisfied if they don’t have steak for dinner and a refrigerator full of 2-liters. Where my mom and her siblings would’ve been grateful for hot dogs to go with their beans and potatoes, people are selling their food stamps for cigarettes and then griping if they run out of soda. I’m telling the truth here. And I’m not saying everyone should have to deal with eating from food banks where you get mostly canned mixed vegetables (I still think Veg-All is disgusting) and off-brand mac and cheese. I’m just saying that people complain when they could have it much worse. They could have to work for a living and still struggle for beans and potatoes.

Now, though, let me tell you what the Bible calls perilous times. I’ll share 2 Timothy 3:1-5 from The Message Bible

Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.

The KJV Bible lists the last of verse 4 and first of verse 5 like this…

“…lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”

And doesn’t that explain perfectly why we are where we are in the last days? The real power of God can change everything. Religion is a form of godliness and only changes some things. Ethereal power (angels, miracles, etc.) have their place, but that’s still not the power people deny. The power too many of us are missing now is truth and balance; trusting that God is on His throne, in control, and absolutely knows best even when we don’t understand. We put too many things in our own thoughts and understanding, so we end up with statistics like those shown in a recent article where 63% of active Christians think sex outside of marriage is fine. The article calls them “sexual atheists” and makes very good points.

Yes, perilous times are here in so many ways, but if you know Yahveh as your Lord and Savior, you know from His word that none of this comes as a surprise to Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and is just as able to deliver us from these end times as He was to deliver Israel from her enemies of old. He can and will govern our lives and minds if we let Him. We have the power of His Holy Spirit to carry us through. His wisdom from Proverbs 3:5-6 (Amplified Bible) gives us a perfect promise…

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

October 26, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In The Beginning, God…


The Beginning of Time by Flickr User Trey Ratcliff aka Stuck In Customs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The Beginning of Time by Flickr User Trey Ratcliff aka Stuck In Customs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

First, God. Then, God created. That’s the necessary order for the best possible world because without God and His wisdom, creation would be soulless. But God didn’t want soulless creatures that operated like programmed robots, so He created man in His own image. Like God, we have a soul, a spirit, and a body. As it says in Colossians 2:9, For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. And because we are like Him, we can communicate with Him even from our human bodies while living in this temporary world.

Somehow though, today’s world has gotten wrapped up in the pursuit of knowledge instead of operating from the soul God gave us. But, if knowledge and thinking were enough for a good life, we would have no problem sharing our population with androids, and men would not try so desperately to humanize artificial intelligence. We know from the soul God gave us that life requires more, yet we keep trying to shut out that voice of reason as if what brings pleasure in the flesh should have priority. And even when we conquer the flesh, we often prioritize thoughts and feelings over the wisdom of God’s Spirit.

So, here I sit, working on my 402nd post for this blog and desperately wanting to make sure that I write from the leading of God’s Holy Spirit more than my own thoughts and ideas. At the same time, I must trust that because my creativity is also in God’s image, my ideas can come from Him too. I don’t write for readers nearly as much as wanting to write out of obedience and leaving readers in God’s hands. I guess that’s why I might be something of a perfectionist when I write.

Torah season has started again, but I’m not going to do daily updates on portions. I will, however, post a link to the weekly portion in The Complete Jewish Bible at BibleGateway.com for those who want to follow the annual reading schedule. I actually got a week behind, so you can read the full first week’s portion as part of today’s Shabbat (Sabbath) before sundown on Saturday, October 25th. That portion is Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 6:8. The divisions are written in the CJB, and there is a page with the divided readings and links available at Hebcal.com. The name links to the first portion with a list of links to all other portions.

Another great place to learn about the Torah and Hebrew roots of the Christian faith is Hebrew4Christians.com. Save the following links for your year of reading Genesis through Deuteronomy…

Now, speaking of current reading, for this week, the portion is called “Noah” in English and is Genesis 6:9 through Genesis 11:32. With the seven divisions, this can be seen at http://www.hebcal.com/sedrot/noach. And with all that information, I’d say my readers have a chance at a good beginning for their Torah year. I hope you will join me and my husband this year, and please stop in now and then to tell me what you’re getting out of the readings for yourself and your family.

In closing for the day, I want to say that it is because of God’s original plans and designs at the beginning that we get the new beginnings we experience each day. I believe His plans were to make humans in His image for good communications and interactions with Himself, but we sought flesh and soul over His Spirit. Still, even though we pushed Him behind the stuff we have too often made more important than Him, He comes in with mercies that are new every morning. It’s hard to imagine being loved so much that all we have to do is earnestly desire Him and He’s there with open arms no matter what came before, but that’s the truth. And that truth is shown beautifully in the song He Was There All the Time, so enjoy this video. View it at YouTube to find the lyrics in the video description section…

October 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monosyllabic Challenge


Three Kitty Cats in the Window, Rock Texture, Syllable Text, by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved

Three Kitty Cats in the Window, Rock Texture, Syllable Text, by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved
Click image to open a new tab/window to view my cats and critters album at Flickr.

Monosyllabic is a five-syllable word that defines words of one syllable. Only in the English language, right? But, if you’re like me and like rhythmic poetry like haiku, you might count syllables in words just for fun. For example, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious has 14 syllables, even if it is a made-up word. If you want a real word, there is a word for a lung disease that has 19 syllables, but I’ll let you do that research for yourselves. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, in the urban dictionary, monosyllabic is actually a word that means “lame” or “boring.”

In an effort to keep this post from being lame, I’m going to challenge readers to write a monosyllabic piece. In other words, create a paragraph or story made up of only one-syllable words. You can keep it to yourself, or you can share it in comments for me to read. I prefer the latter. Just to make it fair, I will share a quick one-syllable story, and this one even includes a cat just to match the image above. Here goes…

High noon, when the sun sits at the top of the sky, is too hot to work, but there is so much work to be done. But how can I work when life will not yield its strength to me. I need strength. I need hope. I feel the pain of my loss as it digs a hole in my heart. It makes me weak. I am bound by it, and I can’t do a thing to make it set me free. It haunts me. It taunts me with its knock, knock, knock at my brain.

I watch the cat curl up in a warm spot of sun on the floor, and I wish I were a cat. Not that cat’s lives are filled with ease. I know they are not when I watch them sleep and dream of that cat and mouse chase where they may win or they may lose. But when one has just sensed a great loss, it makes me think it would suit me more to just lie down and sleep.

There are dreams I would like to keep in the depths of my heart, and there are dreams I would like to share. But gone are the dreams I think could come true for me since my new dream is now gone. And it would have worked so well. But, like the cat and mouse game, the thought was there when I went to sleep, but when I woke up, it was gone. So it seems best now to lie in the sun and take a nap like the cat does each day at noon. It could be that as I sleep, my dreams will wake in me once more.

In case you don’t get the hidden subject, I don’t want to leave you thinking this is a negative story. It’s just about those ideas that you think about when you lie down to sleep, or dreams you have in the middle of the night. You are so sure you will remember the idea or dream, so you don’t write it down. And then, when you wake up, it’s all gone. You then hope that it will come back to you the next time you sleep. If it doesn’t, you write a story about it just to have something to feed your muse. 🙂

Now it’s your turn, and I hope you share.

October 24, 2014 Posted by | About Writing, Fiction, Nonfiction | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sometimes, I Need to Play Pollyanna


Sometimes I need to play Pollyanna and to find the good in every situation. It’s not a matter of simple desire, it’s a matter of survival. As a deep feeler, when an abundance of negativity surrounds my days and weeks, I just need to play the glad game. If you haven’t seen the movie or heard the story, click the video above for a clip about Pollyanna’s game. It was something her father taught her before he passed away, and it helped her survive the tragedy of his loss. It wasn’t well-accepted by her bitter aunt and the employees who inevitably picked up on the bitterness that riches could never fix.

Since I became a follower of Yeshua, my glad game is a little different from Pollyanna’s. I still try to find something to be glad about in situations that would otherwise make me sad, but I try to find that reason in Scripture or in a promise from God. Maybe I’ll remind myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Or, maybe I’ll just think about how grateful I am to know that Yeshua will never leave or forsake me, so whatever I go through, I will never be alone.

I think King David played the glad game too because he said things like…

  • I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. (Psalm 9:2 NKJV)
  • I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, For You have considered my trouble. (Psalm 31:7a NKJV)
  • Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 NKJV)
  • Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. (Psalm 51:8 NKJV)
  • The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him. And all the upright in heart shall glory. (Psalm 64:10 NKJV)
  • But let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. (Psalm 68:3 NKJV)
  • Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! (Psalm 90:14 NKJV)
  • Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness. (Psalm 96:11 NKJV)
  • This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24 NKJV)
  • The Lord has done great things for us, And we are glad. (Psalm 126:3 NKJV)

Maybe believers should just call it The King David Game when we look for reasons to praise God because it sure looks like he had a handle on the idea of being glad in God no matter what. He even wanted his broken bones to rejoice.

The hardest part of playing Pollyanna is when we face tougher and tougher circumstances that threaten to make it impossible to find something good. My personal version of the game is in my challenge at my website, For One Soul. But, even having this message, it’s not always easy. There have been times in my life that were so hard, even my husband said, “And don’t tell me it might be for one soul because I don’t want to hear that now.” King David talks about feeling like the heavens were brassed over and about watering his couch with tears. There are days when all the encouragement in the world doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

A problem that can arise while playing Pollyanna is when it becomes difficult to accept negative truths. We may try to believe the best about someone when they have clearly crossed a line into darkness or deceit. Or, we may tell people that something is okay when it’s not just because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. Me, I only want to give five-star (or whatever is the best) reviews on things because that’s what I hope to get, but that’s not reality. Only God is good enough to always get a top rating every time. But, if I give top ratings to everyone, then people may even have a hard time believing me when I uplift God as best of all.

So, let’s go ahead and play Pollyanna when we need to balance the darkness and pain around us. Find a reason to play the glad game and to rejoice in God, maybe even by looking for where God will make things work for one soul. But, let’s also keep it honest. It’s a lie to say we are whole when we are broken, but it’s the truth to say we are whole in God because we know He is the Potter who will repair us. It’s the truth to say life is hard, but God is good. And when it gets really tough, we can remind ourselves that what we go through here are light and temporary afflictions. Paul even tells us in Romans 8:18 (NKJV)

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

With that promise, I think all of us can get away with playing Pollyanna’s glad game a little bit more often. HalleluYah!

October 23, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Really Know Your Creator?


God's Handiwork by Flickr User listentothemountains, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

God’s Handiwork by Flickr User listentothemountains, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

God is God and we are not. That’s step one. Psalm 46:10, as in the above image, reminds us from The Amplified Bible

Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!

I know He knows me far better than I can ever know Him this side of Heaven, and yet I have a desire to know Him more deeply every day. He is more than just an idea to me, and He’s more than just what I read in Scripture. It’s difficult for me to express the depth of my heart for Yahveh Almighty. I guess it’s a little like trying to tell you about the love I have for my husband. I mean, I can try, but no matter what I say, I can’t convince you to love him the same way I do. I hope that, if you are in love with someone, there’s nothing I can say that would make you feel more love for my mate than for your own. And, if you are in love with God, I hope there’s nothing that anyone can present that would make you love anything more than Him.

I think, above all else that God is looking for in us, it is a sincere heart. If we sincerely love Him, we will automatically be faithful to Him. If we are faithful to Him, we will automatically want to please Him and do what He desires by obeying His commands. It won’t be about trying to be perfect for the sake of some kind of reward. It will be about trying to be as close to perfect as we can get simply because we don’t want to hurt the One we love.

There are many who try to tell us who God is, or what God is, or what God wants from us, but can they really tell us those things? Each of us is different. God is able to become exactly what each of us needs, so if I tell you the attributes He has revealed to draw my heart to Him, it may mean nothing to you. If I battle fear, and God comes in showing Himself to me as the victor over my fears, that will mean everything to me. But, it will mean nothing to confident people who need to know God as a source of gentleness and compassion because their confidence has been built on hardening themselves against pain.

I’ve talked before about the group of young church girls whose behaviors were lacking in godliness. A deacon of the church tried to correct the bad behaviors. They answered him a bit indignantly with the oft-repeated line, “God knows our hearts.” In essence, they told the deacon to mind his own business because if God knew their hearts, nothing else mattered. However, the deacon was undaunted and asked them a question that I hope has come back to them as often as it has come to me. He answered their prideful attitude with, “Yes, but do you know God’s heart.”

In Romans 11:33 (in the Holman Christian Standard Bible) we read…

Oh, the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable His judgments
and untraceable His ways!

That’s not an excuse to say He is too hard to get to know. It’s an invitation to get to know Him in a more personal way. His word promises us that if we seek and search for Him with our whole hearts, we will find Him. We can’t judge by what someone else says God is (or isn’t) to them. We can’t base Him on written word alone because we need the guidance of His Holy Spirit for understanding. If we want to know our Creator, we must shut out all the other voices and words and seek Him for ourselves.

The people of the community of Israel saw God from a distance, and they saw smoke and fire. The priests saw Him from a closer place, and they saw feet that stood on a sea of glass. Moses went into the holiest place, and up on the mountain, and he saw the face of a Friend. Do you know your Creator as your Friend? If so, leave a comment. If not, keep on seeking and push into the holy place beyond the veil of your flesh. When you meet Him there, you’ll find a friend–and you’ll never want to leave Him.

October 22, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Freedom of Speech Week!


Speech Balloon by Flickr User Marc Wathieu, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Speech Balloon by Flickr User Marc Wathieu, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Guess what? I know, I already gave the answer in the title. October 20-26th, 2014, is Freedom of Speech Week. Apparently, this is something to celebrate every 3rd week in October. And yet, the news is telling me that there’s a mayor in Texas who is demanding copies of speeches any pastors make to verify that what they say won’t offend anyone. So, maybe the freedom of speech thing only works if what you speak is not offensive? Well, obviously that can’t be the criteria since offensiveness is subjective and based on the thoughts and feelings of whomever listens.

See, the idea of never offending anyone is pure fantasy, as is the idea of never being offended. I want to be allowed the freedom to speak from my heart, so I know that will require my allowing others to speak from their hearts. But I also realize how often that freedom will be abused as long as we live in a world governed by men and not by God. What I share as life and truth from God’s word can be received as offensive criticism by those with no intention of bending to God’s will. To pay back those perceived offenses, men will claim they are harmed and demand news laws to protect them from such harms. The laws then start chipping away at the foundations of our freedoms.

The other side of the coin can be equally severe. Did you know that child porn was at one time covered under freedom of speech and freedom of press laws? I was in my first semester of college when I learned of that, and all I knew to do then was to pray.

So, if I want to be free to speak words from the Holy Bible, does that mean I must give people the right to parade disgusting images in front of my family? It would seem so with all that is becoming uncensored even in “prime time” television. Little kids now have to see displays of homosexuality, feminine products well before they understand such things, and commercials about drugs for herpes. I don’t know if the scantily clad underwear commercials are in family hour time slots or not, but I know I don’t like them paraded in front of my husband either.

Even though I don’t want all that stuff shared as freely as it is, I would probably be a little more understanding if there was some balance. A channel owned by the once family-friendly Disney company (ABC) puts out a disclaimer before showing The 700 Club, but they don’t put out a disclaimer before displaying language, witchcraft, sexuality, etc. Why not? Because they don’t care if they offend people with the ungodly stuff? Or just because we, as Christians, try so hard to be “harmless as doves” that they know we are not as apt to march in protest or hire an attorney to file a civil lawsuit? As frustrating as the imbalance is, I’m thankful that we can at least still see the programming.

We may not be able to control how others will react to our words, but we can do our best to line up everything we say an do in our own lives to the written word of God. That said, I decided to look up some Bible Scriptures on speaking, and I found some interesting instructions in the 10th chapter of the book of Matthew. Compare the following two Scriptures…

Matthew 10:27 (NKJV) (Yeshua speaking) “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.”

Matthew 10:19-20 (NKJV) Yeshua had more words for them. “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

Matthew 10:16 (NKJV) Yeshua gave the disciples a warning. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

I know I have the verses reverse of how you would read them, but it was reading them in this context that showed me something. God wants us to shout His words from the roof tops. We first need the confidence that no matter what men say about God’s word being offensive, it is His will for us to share it. But, confidence alone is not enough. what we share, when, and with whom we share it must all be led by God’s Holy Spirit.

Just because God anoints us, and we are truly wise and harmless, we have no guarantee that we won’t be delivered to uncomfortable situations or face false accusations of offense. After all, we are still carrying these words of life into a world of wolves that desire darkness and death and that despise the Light. Don’t give up, though. If Christ has set you free, you are free indeed, and you can celebrate that freedom with Him…especially since it’s “Freedom of Speech Week.”

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out of Thin Air


Pike's Peak 14,110 Feet by Flickr User carfull...Cowboy State-r, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Pike’s Peak 14,110 Feet by Flickr User carfull…Cowboy State-r, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Tonight, I’m digging out an old article from 2004 and revamping it for my blog. I hope you enjoy the devotion.

From John 4:24, New King James Version, we read…God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

I was on edge during the entire drive.  No: Really!  The car was much closer to the edge of that winding mountain road than I was comfortable with.  So, all the way up to Pike’s Peak, the highest mountain in Colorado, I rode with white knuckles and my fingers gripping the edge of my seat. I’ve never liked being in a car on a mountain road because the edge always seems closer than I want it to, and I worry about someone coming down and both vehicles not being able to fit.

As we neared the peak, I began to feel increasingly irritable.  It became almost uncontrollable and totally unlike my normal personality. Nevertheless, when we reached the summit, my bad attitude was temporarily diverted by something I found to be quite odd.  I noticed that, for some reason, all the trees were suddenly gone, but I didn’t ask anyone why. I just walked around and tried to get some peace in my spirit while enjoying the scenery, including the rock with the words of America The Beautiful etched into it. Apparently, the writer, Katharine Lee Bates, penned the lyrics after a visit there.

I looked across the span of mountain peaks and valleys below us.  There seemed to be a distinct point where the tree growth stopped.  It was as if they had all hit an invisible barrier. I guessed that maybe it was just too cold when it got that high up, and I went into the gift shop to warm myself. I worked on making the visit enjoyable, and I felt better in the gift shop, but I still wanted to get back down off that mountain.

As we twisted and turned along the same mountain road on the way down, I spoke up right when we started seeing trees again. I questioned why the trees just quit growing, and though I didn’t share it, I noticed I was starting to feel a little bit better. I guessed it was just because we were finally headed back to civilization. Anyway, brother-in-law who was driving answered my wonderings about the trees.  He told me they were gone because we had passed the “timberline” or “tree line,” the elevation at which the oxygen level was too thin for any significant growth.

Now the mental wheels began to turn faster than the car’s wheels.  I could see a spiritual parallel to this physical timberline.  I looked down into the valleys and noticed that the greatest growth seemed to happen closer to the bottoms of the mountains than at their tops.  Click.  The wheels began to lock into place. Maybe the “mountaintop experiences” we so often desired of God were elusive for a reason.  Maybe where I thought I would find more God–up high–was actually a parallel to the thinner atmosphere and He just didn’t “hang out” up there as much as I’d imagined.

By the time we got halfway down the mountain and stopped to visit another gift shop, I was feeling worlds better, and I found out why. Lower levels of oxygen can cause hypoxia and what is called Altitude Sickness. At that time, I still had undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea, so I’m certain that didn’t help any either.

Anyway, since God is a Spirit, and Scripture says (in Job 34:14-15) that He is the breath of all mankind, He is basically our oxygen. With or without sleep apnea, all of us need to be where there is more oxygen because the better we breathe, the better we feel. This is true both physically and spiritually. As I processed all this new information, I also realized that the valleys not only had more oxygen, they had more warmth.  Both of these are important factors of God’s presence. In addition to the fact that more oxygen creates more growth, more growth creates more oxygen–just as growing Christians produce more of the presence of God.

It is in the valleys, more than on the mountaintops, where we will find God producing more growth–and growth producing more of God’s presence in our lives.  It’s no wonder King David was able to declare, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me“. Yes, I was glad to get back down from that mountain, but I will always cherish the experience and what I learned from it.  Isn’t it amazing what God can help us pull out of thin air?

Enjoy this video of As the Mountains are Around Jerusalem by the group Lamb

October 20, 2014 Posted by | Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Halloween Sweets; Trick or Treat?


Candy, Candy, and more Candy by Flickr User kristymp, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Candy, Candy, and more Candy by Flickr User kristymp, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

It’s almost that time again. Kids of all ages dress like pirates and ghosts to hunt for sweet treasures and scare up tasty treats. As a child, I loved the dress up, and of course, I loved all the candy. Don’t most of us? We’ve got pictures of ourselves or our children with frosting face from one-year birthday cakes and chocolate noses from first Halloweens and Easters. It all seems so fun and harmless until things like diabetes and obesity become the later-in-life prices for childhood indulgences.

So often, it seems we think that because we don’t see an immediate result to a particular behavior, we don’t think the consequence will truly matter. We don’t end up with a sugar imbalance from just one sweet holiday, or even our first few years of them. (Read the article linked under the word “sugar” for some great insight.) But, thinking we have to see instant results is its own kind of trick. We don’t grow a tree the day after we plant a seed either. Years of excuses to indulge in Christmas candy and birthday cake come to haunt so many of us, and even then, the cravings are so strong that it just seems impossible to switch from suckers to celery. After many doses of sugary treats, we have developed a sweet tooth.

So, what do you think Adam and Eve would tell us now when it comes to our wonderings about tricks and treats? I’m guessing they looked at the Tree of Knowledge as harmlessly as a young mother looks at a chocolate bunny filled with high fructose corn syrup. It’s only one bite. What could it hurt? It grows wild. It’s all natural. There was no warning label on the trunk to say, “If you partake of this fruit, you will end up with a sin tooth.” But that’s exactly what happened, and it spread throughout generations up to where we are today.

Our garden couple did realize something had changed almost immediately, but instead of being humble and repenting for their behaviors, their “sin tooth” had already begun to take hold of them. They began tossing around blame like it would undo what they had just done. They blamed each other, they blamed the enemy, and eventually they even blamed God Himself. (The woman “You gave me” fed it to me.)

Adam and Eve didn’t realize what would happen as a result of their indulgence in either the sin or the excuses for it. They couldn’t see a future outside the garden. The death they inherited with their actions took longer then than it does now, but it started none-the-less. Maybe it wasn’t even the fruit or the revelation of good and evil that brought that death, but the craving for sin that it set up in them. Maybe it was just being outside of a place where they could walk with God daily and learn His wisdom and will for their lives. Maybe there is something that grew outside the garden that negatively affects mankind, and all of us who live and eat from the earth consume it to our detriment.

We still don’t really know what brought death to Adam and Eve. We don’t know exactly how much sugar or which of the other additives in the candy we consume can bring physical suffering to kids as they age. We do know that listening to God would have yielded better results, and we do know that listening to some common sense about health will result in kids growing into healthier adults. I’m certainly not condemning others since I have done my share of “spoiling” kids I’ve cared for in my life. But, what if I hadn’t done that? Would some of them be less apt to be depressed or crave alcohol now? What if my caregivers had taught me to love fresh veggies instead of candy? Would I have less trouble with cravings that lead to weight gain? (A sugar fast has led me to cut down on sugar recently, and I’m already feeling better for it.)

If you are in the place to feed or teach a child, I would ask you not to feed or teach in ways that would create either a sweet tooth or a sin tooth. Fill them with praises of The Creator instead of praises of His creations. Guide them a desire for God’s wisdom more than for man’s knowledge. And, teach them to like the good stuff in flesh and spirit before they have grown up enough to indulge in too much of the bad stuff in either. They may feel tricked more than treated now, but they’ll thank you for the treats of better health and a stronger spirit later.

O taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34:8 NLV)

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Inconceivably Inconceivable


A minister, a Boy Scout, and a scientist were the only passengers on a small plane. The pilot came running back to the cabin and explained that the plane was going to crash, and anyone who wanted to be saved would have to jump. “But,” he added, “there are only three parachutes and four people. I should have one of the parachutes because I have a wife and three small children. The rest of you will have to figure out what to do.” So, he grabbed a parachute and jumped. The scientist jumped up almost immediately and declared that he should have one of the parachutes because of his value to the world. He said, “I am the smartest man in the world and they all need me.” With that, he grabbed one and jumped. The minister turned to the Boy Scout with a sad smile.  “Son,” he said, “you are young and have your whole life in front of you, and I have already lived a rich life. You take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.” Then the Boy Scout said, “It’s okay, Reverend; the smartest man in the world just jumped out with my backpack!”

Inconceivable! How can someone so smart make such a stupid decision, right? But people do it all the time. We’re told in John 1:4-5 (New King James Version)…

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

With the little bit of light it takes to illuminate darkness, it seems inconceivable that darkness would have any choice but to comprehend it. Of course, the word may also mean that darkness could not defeat it based on footnotes, but I can see evidence in this world that those in the dark have no understanding of The Light. To the contrary, we’re told in John 3:19 (The Complete Jewish Bible)…

Now this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light. Why? Because their actions were wicked.

It’s not that they are in too much darkness, and it’s not that they are ignorant. They cannot blame being unable to see for their behaviors if they have been presented the truth and knowingly turned it away. There may be difficulty in finding God’s light, and The Light may seem a bit blinding to them when first introduced to eyes not used to it, but it can be done. There is difficulty in bringing sin into our lives. I coughed and hacked and choked when I tried my first cigarette, but I kept working at it until I didn’t. I desperately wanted to be accepted by the girls who introduced me to smoking, and at that point, I felt it worth the struggle.

Maybe it can be a struggle to get free from the bondage of sin, and maybe it will take some work to choke up the darkness we’ve swallowed before meeting God, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it because sin is bondage, and God is freedom. It’s worth it because sin is a lie, and God is Truth. It’s worth it because living in sin is like living in pitch blackness, but living with God is living in The Light. God offers so much light that the Psalmist said it this way in Psalm 139:11-12 (New Living Translation)…

I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
    but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

If we introduce people to The Gospel, and they choose to remain in darkness, it is not because we have done an improper job of presenting The Light. As you can see from the Psalm, God can turn even darkness into light. No, instead it’s about people who choose to keep their eyes shut tightly against God’s light and hope to claim ignorance in the end. It’s inconceivable to them that their lies won’t work because they are in bondage to them. For those of us who know God and His abundant mercy and grace, we cannot imagine rejecting such love and wonder. To us, rejecting Yeshua and His salvation is inconceivably inconceivable.

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.
(Acts 17:30 NKJV)

 

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s the International Year of Crystallography


Mohawk Mesolite by Flickr User Mike Beauregard aka subarcticmike, CC License = Attribution

Mohawk Mesolite by Flickr User Mike Beauregard aka subarcticmike, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.
While you’re there, be sure to look at the album for this image. There are more great crystals there.

I know,you think I’m joking about the title, but I’m not. I don’t know how I missed it, but when I ventured to one of my favorite sites, “Brownie Locks” holidays page, I found the announcement. I don’t know how I’d missed it before. I mean, isn’t it a holiday about the study of me? 😉 Of course, I know better, but I do love anything that sparkles, and that means I’m intrigued by things that crystalize, so this intrigues me. If you want to know more about it, visit About the International Year of Crystallography to read more.

So, in the spirit of all things crystalized, I’m going to do a prismatic post tonight. In other words, I’m going to write on a variety of subjects. For example, today is Simchat Torah which means “Joy of Torah” and it is the time when the annual Torah readings begin again. I was wondering why the readings actually began with Deuteronomy 33 & 34 (Easy to Read version), and I found understanding from a comment posted at Chabad.org (link under Simchat Torah above). The commenter said it shows continuity and the never-ending cycle of the Torah in our lives. I love that because it’s like saying God’s Word is His wedding ring for His bride.

Now I want to talk about special days for October. For writers and readers, we have National Book Month plus National Church Library Month and National Children’s Magazine Month. Of course, for published writers, it’s also National Self-Promotion Month, so get the word out. For those who love to eat, and don’t live on a Kosher only diet, it’s Hog Out Month which coincides with National Pork Month. Oh, and it’s also Pizza Month. No wonder I’ve been craving that.

If you’re into issue awareness, you might already know that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can visit the Pink Ribbons for Awareness group on Flickr to see some pretty pink images in honor of this month. After you enjoy the images, be sure to stop by The Breast Cancer Site to click the pink banner and help raise funds for research. It only costs you a moment of your time unless you decide to buy something from The Breast Cancer Site store, and then the proceeds go to a great cause. (You can click banners and shop for other great causes while you’re there.)

While we’re talking about awareness, we are just completing Take Your Medicine Americans Week (Oct 10-16), which is interesting since October is also Antidepressant Death Awareness Month. So, take your medicine, but be careful. It’s also Global ADHD Awareness Month, and just so you’re aware, I do have Adult ADD, but I don’t think there’s any hyperactivity except mentally. You may have figured that out from my variety of subjects tonight, and by all the distractions that cause my posts to show up well after midnight. Still, I like what I heard on an old episode of Numbers: I’m not easily distracted, I’m easily fascinated. Maybe that’s why I also noticed that it’s Squirrel Awareness Month and reminded my husband to feed the squirrels that visit our backyard.

Okay, just a few more. If you have a bathroom leak, you should know that October is Toilet Tank Repair Month. I guess plumbers are as busy as the ophthalmologists dealing with those celebrating Home Eye Safety Month or Eye Injury Prevention Month. If you like Science Fiction movies or Jeff Bridges, you’ll be glad to know that it’s International Starman Month. If the movie puts you in the mood for a snack, you’ll also be happy to know it’s National Popcorn Poppin’ Month which may also lead to your awareness of National Dental Health Month. If you top your snack in honor of National Caramel Month, it could get you thinking about National Orthodontic Health Month if you have braces.

For those of my readers who are also writers, I hope you’ve enjoyed this sampling of what you can find out there when looking for writing ideas. There are plenty more ideas at the site above, and there are links to more from there, so add Brownie Locks to your bookmarks. You’ll want to submit articles on these October special days anytime from February to April for those publications that want things six to nine months in advance, so maybe this will give you a head start. For all my readers, I hope I’ve given you something fun to read that makes you want to share my blog. After all, October 12-18th is Getting the World to Beat a Path to Your Door Week.

October 17, 2014 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living On Minimum Wage with God


Poverty Wage or Fair Payment by Flickr User Jez S, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Poverty Wage or Fair Payment by Flickr User Jez S, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Have you ever tried to live on minimum wage; or below? I have, and it wasn’t fun. Though I don’t have that much now, there was a time when I would have considered anyone who lived like me to be rich. I mean, I can actually go out to eat, and I can order a full meal. At one point of my life though, I couldn’t even think about going out to eat. Later, there was a time when a waitress dubbed me and my family “The Biscuit and Gravy Bunch” because that’s all we ever ordered. It was all we could afford, but it was worth it for the treat of going out and not having to cook or do dishes.

Until a person has had to live at those low levels, they may not realize the stress of such a lifestyle, and unfortunately, that means most who are making the laws have no understanding. But, for all of us who have had to combine multiple families under one roof to bring in enough pay to keep the rent and utilities paid, we know how hard it can be. If we could demand pay equal to the quantity and quality of work we put out, then only those who refuse to do their parts would suffer those low lifestyles. Even the Bible, in Proverbs 23:21, tells us that drowsiness will clothe a man with rags, but it’s sad when hard work can bring rags as well.

Still, there are some problems with the demands for increased wages. One of those problems is that people want an increase in wages even if there is no increase in work ethics or output. Many want to be paid more just for showing up simply because they want a more comfortable lifestyle. When I worked in Arizona, many jobs weren’t required to pay even minimum wage, so even though I worked hard, I lived on about $10 worth of groceries per week. It got me ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, and lots of potatoes. It may not have been great, but at least I felt I had earned every bite I put in my mouth.

That demand for higher wages regardless of work slips into our spiritual lives as well. As the song says, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.” People don’t want to die to self either, but they want Heaven on earth with God meeting their every need even if they are not truly sold out to Him. Sometimes, He may give them some extras to draw them closer, but if they continually resist His discipline, He will back away. But does that mean people become lost just because they stop listening and obeying as they should?

It is not my place to judge the final place for our souls, but I can share what I feel based on Scripture. First, we must remember that God only disciplines those whom He loves. If we are hearing His voice and being told to change, we should be thankful for it. But, if instead of being thankful we become rebellious, then we can only blame ourselves for the troubles we suffer. Here’s how the New Living Testament speaks of those who refuse to listen to God’s wisdom in Proverbs 1:25-26; 28

You ignored my advice
    and rejected the correction I offered.
So I will laugh when you are in trouble!
    I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—

When they cry for help, I will not answer.
    Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.

I know that may sound a bit harsh, but it’s just like good parents do when it comes to discipline. We don’t reinforce negative behaviors (like our child running into the street where she can get run over by a car) by rewarding them. God doesn’t either. But this is not about our salvation; this is about our works. Paul talks in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 about our works (what we build on the foundation of Yeshua) being tried by fire and how that will affect our salvation. Here it is from the Easy to Read Version

But the work that each person does will be clearly seen, because the Day will make it plain. That Day will appear with fire, and the fire will test everyone’s work. If the building they put on the foundation still stands, they will get their reward. But if their building is burned up, they will suffer loss. They will be saved, but it will be like someone escaping from a fire.

Truthfully, though, is that how we really want to live out our eternity? As someone who was just delivered from Hell fire? How is it we would fight against minimum wage here on earth but be satisfied with it for eternity? We have our name in The Lamb’s Book of Life by the price Yeshua paid on Calvary, but we are responsible for our deeds and the rewards they bring both here on earth and in eternity. God has a fair wage scale, and He is ready to shower us with blessings now and forever. When we can have a high salary and all the company benefits and perks, why should we be happy living on minimum wage with God?

October 16, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tag, You’re It


Family Luggage Tags by Flickr User Gabe Taviano, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Family Luggage Tags by Flickr User Gabe Taviano, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.
Lots of neat craft ideas in this one.

I never liked being it. I mean, I didn’t like not being it either because that meant having to run from it to keep from getting tagged. Still, there’s just something about the rejection of everyone running away from me that was just no fun. It’s okay though because I’m not writing about that kind of tag today. I’m writing about luggage tags.

Have you ever thought about all the things your luggage says about you? It tells the world whether you shop high-end stores or at department stores. If you’re like me, it tells the world you like bright colors. (My pink luggage with white paw prints always gets remarks from fellow travelers.) It tells if you pack light or heavy, and if it’s bulging at the seams, people will know you stuffed in as much as you could, as fast as you could. But even if your luggage itself said nothing about you, your luggage tags would do a lot of talking.

People are more careful now than they used to be when it comes to how much personal information they would put on a luggage tag. However, even without detailed addresses and phone numbers, the many tags on a piece of luggage give everything from the departing station or port to the traveler’s destination and stops along the way. An abundance of tags says the person is likely a frequent traveler, and some leave old stickers on bags to start conversations with others. The world is too big for most of us to see it all, so communing while we commute can be a great virtual travel experience.

So, what if the luggage of our lives came with tags? What would those tags say about us? Just like with real luggage, we probably keep most of our travels and personal information to ourselves. We don’t often want to admit to some of the locations where we’ve spent time unless we find others who have been there. Shared experiences can make us feel safe to tell the truth, which is why self-help groups can do so much good. Sometimes, though, we become willing to share the less glamorous places we’ve been because we hope our testimonies will help others to avoid those places.

Do you have places in your past that are not quite postcard-worthy? Liz Curtis Higgs has inspired and encouraged many women with her Bad Girls of the Bible series because she shares those travel stops that make many people cringe. When she speaks, she shares her own journey through dark places, and she uses her luggage tags, and those of biblical women, to give all of us more hope.

The only reason you might not want to share some of those old stopovers is if your destination hasn’t changed. Even then, sharing your journeys could help you come to a place of repentance when you’re ready. But, if you have changed your luggage tag to a destination of Heaven when your life on earth is finished, don’t be afraid to let others know that you weren’t always headed that way. Even as we walk a new highway, we may find ourselves broken down on the side of the road, and sharing our struggle can be like making a call for a tow truck. That’s one reason why God’s word tells us to confess our faults to each other. I love the way it’s worded in The Amplified Bible

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].

As I’ve written posts on this blog, I’ve shared a few of the troublesome places I’ve visited because I can also share God’s mercy in bringing me beyond them. Most of them, I’ve shared in comments since some were a bit long for the post, but I will pretty much share all that God has delivered me from. If you want to know more, you just have to ask. The wages of sin is death, but through God, I have been able to change the destination on my luggage to “Eternal Life with Christ.” Now I want to know about you and your destinations–old and new–so, tag, you’re it.

October 14, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pick A Hand


Whose Hands by Flickr User Tambako the Jaguar, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Whose Hands by Flickr User Tambako the Jaguar, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.
I recommend a visit to this photographer’s page if you like wildlife and stunning nature photos. His work is amazing.

Have you ever hidden a gift in your hand and then put your hands out in front of you or behind your back to let a child guess where the prize might be? It’s a fun game adults like to play with children that adds an element of effort to gift-giving. When we want to give good gifts to children, we might make them play the guessing game with us just to make it a little more fun for both the child and us. It doesn’t matter if it’s our own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or whoever. Making the gift more like a prize for them ups the value at least a little bit.

If you’ve played that game, you know that you will do just about anything to get the child to select correctly. Maybe you’ll lean your head to the side it’s in. Maybe you’ll wink on that side. Maybe you’ll lift the correct hand just a little higher or lower, or push it out a little farther, just to have a better chance that the child will pick the hand with the gift. We want the child to get the gift, and we don’t want the child to feel like a failure. We want to give the prize so much that if we are using the behind-the-back technique, we will often just change hands if the child guesses incorrectly.

Off and on, I’ve studied about the effects of prayer on God. I had heard, and even repeated, that prayer doesn’t change God, but instead prayer changes us. God is God and is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so we cannot change Him. We wouldn’t want a God that is changeable just by human requests because then we couldn’t trust Him. But, the other day I was seeking God’s instruction on this topic, and the above scenario came into my mind.

As I played the hidden gift game in my mind, but with God as the parent, I realized how much God wants to shower good things upon His children. He loves to give us gifts and prizes, but He wants interaction with us at the same time. His word says that we have not because we ask not, so if prayer is not for the purpose of changing Him, then His desire for us to ask is about that interaction. He also knows that our faith will increase when He answers our requests.

That understanding came about in the last week. My understanding of prayers that request things of God went a little deeper today. I watched an older 700 Club that did an interview with Max Lucado, and he made a statement that truly clarified things for me. He explained that prayer does not change God’s intentions, but it does affect His decisions.

As a parent or caregiver to someone we love, we will have certain intentions and a certain will that underlies all our decisions. We want whatever will protect and benefit those we love and care for. Even though we want to give them good things, if they ask for something that would go against our intentions or will for their best care, we will deny the request. As Christians, if we ask God for something that goes against His intentions or will for our lives, He will most likely deny that request. Asking Him, however, creates that interaction that enables us to discover God’s perfect will and His intentions for our lives.

In Matthew 7:7 (NKJV), we get the reminder to just “ASK” for what we want. If I write the verse in three parts, one sentence on top of another, note the first letter of each sentence…

Ask, and it will be given to you;
Seek, and you will find;
Knock, and it will be opened to you.

Yep, the three first lines remind us to simply ask, or as it says in The Amplified Bible and other versions, “Keep on asking.” Again, in The Amplified Bible, we read Philippians 4:6 that tells us to continue seeking God for our requests. It says…

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

Like the old song says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” so we can know that He is able to provide whatever we ask for. Reach up in praise and touch the Hands that hold whatever provision you need. Pick a hand and know that you’ll get the prize. Both hands have the nail scars to prove they’ve earned it for you.

October 13, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wait Control


Wait for the Lord by Flickr User Charlotte90T, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Wait for the Lord by Flickr User Charlotte90T, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Today, my husband asked me to wait on a decision that will affect our future, and my initial reaction was rejection. That doesn’t mean I won’t do it, but I don’t like to wait. And then I read my daily post by Chip Brogden of The School of Christ. His Infinite Supply daily newsletter usually has something in it that I need, and today was no exception. He talks about the disciples fishing without first consulting The Lord, and then obeying at His word and taking in a huge catch. In Chip’s devotion for October 12th, he asks, “Which would you rather have: a whole night of wasted effort on your own, or five minutes of abundance with the Lord?”

I don’t think many of us actually like to wait, but the truth is, life is more about waiting than anything else. When we’re little, we can’t wait to become a teenager, turn sweet 16, become an adult, and all the other steps of growing up. Throughout life, we get excited and can’t wait for things like birthdays, Christmas presents, and vacations. When it’s cold, we can’t wait for spring and summer. On hot summer days, we can’t wait for the cool breezes of fall. If we’re renters, we can’t wait to buy a house. If we have a mortgage, we can’t wait to pay off our house. Cradle to grave, I think more of our lives are spent waiting than just about anything else.

But waiting can be a good thing. It’s all in how we do it. If we actively wait with anticipation, we can find joy in our waiting. There’s a thrill in anticipation that is often better than the feelings we get when we receive the thing being anticipated. It’s like that hopeful place half way through a novel when you really start wondering how it’s going to end. If it’s a well-written work, we’d miss out if we just flipped to the end right then.

Waiting gives us the opportunity to dream and to plan. We can imagine how we would like things to go, and then can do whatever is in our power to push them in that direction. It’s a chance to view the virtual draft of our plans and see if things will actually work. Waiting can be a gift. The words of Psalm 5:3 (from the Amplified Bible) put it this way…

In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].

That time for preparation is a gift that can save a lot of future heartbreak. It gives us time to know what we’re getting into, so we don’t blindly walk into something that turns out to be a huge mistake. The Message Bible describes Luke 14:28-30 this way…

Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: “He started something he couldn’t finish.”

Waiting doesn’t just mean standing around and doing nothing, so we don’t have to worry about being bored just because we should wait. Waiting can be a time of service as we walk humbly before God and seek His perfect will in our lives. I mean, think about what they call those people who bring food to your table at a restaurant: waiters and waitresses. They’re not just called that because they spend time waiting for you to place an order and then waiting for a cook to fix it. They offer plenty of service throughout your visit, and that service often makes the difference in whether you will return.

So, like we’re told in Luke 19:13, we should make use of what God gives us while we are here in this life until He returns for us or for all the earth. But, while we are making use of our lives, we need those moments where we stop and wait. We wait and pray. We wait for marching orders. We wait for a sign to move forward. Like the childhood game of Red Light, Green Light, we make sure we wait long enough to know it’s time to go, and then we watch carefully to know when it’s time to stop. The balance of knowing when and how to wait, and finding the joy of anticipation on the journey, can definitely be called “wait control.”

October 12, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Rose is A Rose


Lay You Down by Flickr User jinterwas, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Lay You Down by Flickr User jinterwas, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

It’s the end of a long but blessed day with interaction between a bunch of writers who love The Creator. That said, since I’m a bit tired tonight, I’m going to cheat a little and just throw in some previously written poetry. If you like poetry, this should make you happy. 🙂 If you don’t like poetry much, I hope you decide to at least explore my prose to see what you may see.

This first poem breaks away from anything I had ever tried before or since. It is called a Pantoum, and I learned it from a prompt at http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com. (If you like to write poetry, I recommend following this page on Twitter to stay up with their many prompts.) To write this type of poem, read the detailed instructions by clicking the word, though I found a few different ideas for how they should be written by doing a Google search for the subject. In basic, you’ll notice some repeating lines from one stanza to the next (as required), and you’ll notice the last line of the poem is the same as the first. Here’s my effort…

ALOFT THE PETALS
A Pantoum by Crystal A Murray
July 9th, 2013

The rose lay aloft the petals
Strewn across a bed of fur.
She dug in deep to find the mettle
To dive right in and comfort her.

Strewn across the bed of fur,
A welcome invitation beckons
To dive right in and comfort her;
Should she or not her brain reckons.

A welcome invitation beckons,
Come hither to rest yourself just now.
Should she or not her brain reckons,
Would rest come swift or even allow?

Come hither to rest yourself just now,
Relax and close your weary eyes.
Would rest come swift or even allow,
To sleep and dream and touch the skies?

At last she lay upon the bed,
She dug in deep to find the mettle.
She rested there in colors of red,
The rose lay aloft the petals.

And, since we’re talking about roses, here is a video of one of my favorite songs by Linda Ronstadt, Love is a Rose

This next poem is one of my first attempts at non-rhyming poetry. It’s called A Very Good Rose

A VERY GOOD ROSE
By Crystal A. Murray—(c) 1998
 
Each petal perfectly formed
In the shape of a heart,
With a feel of silk and velvet.
What a creation is God’s beautiful flower…
The rose.
 
Its scent so pure and sweet,
So smoothly it unfolds,
Revealing at its heart
The seed that makes it grow.
 
No matter the color,
No matter the size;
Whether a bud or full bloom;
No matter the differences in perfume,
No matter the thorns that pierce the flesh,
Still, everyone loves the rose.
 
God must look upon this precious creation-
This wonder of beauties.
He must breathe in with its scent
And sigh contentedly.
“Such a great accomplishment.”
“It is good!” He says,
 
“And yet”, He says with another sigh,
“This is not my best work.
I know I can do better.”
 
So, did He create a new rose?
With no thorns?
A stronger scent?
Did He create a never-dying flower?
 
No!
In His greatest moment of creation
God simply grabbed…
A handful of dust
And began to mold it.
 
Suddenly, He caught a glimpse of Himself…
A mirror image.
He molded His new creation
To resemble His own image.
He breathed into it
His own breath.
And behold…
 
God’s greatest creation of all time was born!
“It is very good!” He said, and He rested.

And to bring this to an end, let me share one more video from YouTube. This one is the song What A Friend We Have in Jesus, but it is sung to the tune of The Rose as made popular by Bette Midler. Try singing it to this tune yourself. It works wonderfully, and it feels great to sing…

May God richly bless you with His abundant grace and mercy, and may you walk in His presence all your days until you walk into His presence for eternity.

October 11, 2014 Posted by | Devotion, Poetry | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s No Present Like the Thyme


Keeping Thyme by Flickr User Alan aka Kaptain Kobold, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Keeping Thyme by Flickr User Alan aka Kaptain Kobold, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Do you know why the little boy through his alarm clock out the window? He wanted to see how time flies. Do you ever want to see how time flies, or has age and the progression of the world convinced you that it always moves too fast unless you’re waiting on something? There are very few times for me anymore where I wish time would hurry up and move. Most of the time, I just wish it would slow down and wait for me.

While thyme may not make a very good gift or present, especially if you get too much of it on your hands ;-), time does make a great gift. Ask those who know their days or hours are numbered, or ask a person who longs for more moments with someone they’ve lost. God knows how much we need time, and He knows exactly how much time we need. Because we don’t see the future like God does, we don’t know how much time a person needs, and it never seems like enough. Of course, God’s idea from the beginning was for us to be like Him and live eternally. That’s why we long so much for those who have already gone on, and that’s why we fight so hard to keep our lives on this earth. Well, most of us anyway.

It always amazes me when I find out about people who don’t cherish their moments here. I mean, yes, I long for eternity with my Savior because I know nothing on this earth will ever compare, but I also enjoy seeing His Light shine in a dark world. I love to see the conversion and transformation of one who was lost and dying without God. I love to see real miracles that make one or more souls truly aware of God’s presence in our lives. And, I love to be used of God to carry His message and His presence into any situation where He can change a life. At the same time, it’s a very great pain to watch a person reject that message, presence, miracle, or love of God and move forward in the darkness without conversion.

A choir I once sang with performed a song with beautiful lyrics that speak my heart about our moments on this earth. I couldn’t find a video with lyrics, so I’ll type the lyrics and then I’ll attach a video in case you want to hear the tune. I don’t know who the writer is to give credit, but the song is called While There’s Still Time. It picks up on the verse from Romans 13:11 that urges us to pay attention to the time…

(Verse I)
Tomorrow is just on credit,
There’s no guarantee on life.
You could be gone in a moment;
Your time comes tonight.
You also know that Christ is coming,
And if you’re left behind,
How you’d wished for a little bit more time.
(Chorus)
While there’s still time,
Make up your mind.
You can’t be happy living on
The border line.
If you only knew
His plans for you;
You wouldn’t wait,
Or hesitate,
While there’s still time.
(Verse II)
If you’re saved then you’re invited
To spread the news around
To your friends and those you love so much
That time is running out.
Oh just listen to His tender voice,
He’s calling to your heart,
“Draw closer to me child,
While there’s still time.”

And here’s the video…

Time may not matter to God, but it definitely matters to us, and it matters for those we love. It can be easy to be fooled into thinking there is more available than what God has planned. Here’s a little scenario of one reason we might fall for that lie…

The demons were having a big meeting to see if they could stop the great influx of souls that were turning to The Creator. One popped up with the idea to just tell everyone that there is no God. The meeting leader assured everyone that it had been tried, and it worked on a few but was ultimately a failure. Another popped up with the idea to spread the message that there is no devil. Again, the leader commented that it had been tried and failed. The leader asked if anyone had a new idea that had not been tried yet. From far back in the room, a tiny voice whispered, “Just tell them there’s no hurry.”

God’s greatest gift to us is His salvation because it comes through His blood and His love for us. But, in order for us to find that salvation and carry it to others, He has also given each of us a certain gift of time. There is a hurry to value that gift and use it as God intended, for there is no present like the time we have right now.

October 10, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beauty Out of Focus


Close Focus Lens Demo by Flickr User Jody Roberts, CC License = Attribution

Close Focus Lens Demo by Flickr User Jody Roberts, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

What does it take for beauty to be beautiful? Perception. Whether it’s a beautiful look, sound, touch, smell, or thought, it must be perceived. We can’t smell with a stuffy nose, hear when we’re deaf, or see when we’re blind, even if those disabilities are temporary. I think we all get out of focus at times, and I think it affects all our senses.

Our lack of perception does not change the quality or beauty of the thing we cannot seem to grasp. That includes trying to see ourselves through God’s eyes, so we can trust His direction for our lives. We fail over and over, and we cannot perceive that God sees us with a love that causes Him to forgive us over and over. We wallow in guilt and feel unworthy, but God wants to swaddle us in His love and help us to understand that His worth is what matters overall.

Imagine if you created something, and you saw it as perfect and wonderful, but someone else came along and kept saying it was horrible. That’s part of the lie the enemy of our souls has tried to create in us since God placed Adam and Eve in the garden. While God gave them every tree except one, the enemy changed their focus and perception to where that one looked greater than everything else they had with God and in the garden. The enemy made them believe they were incomplete without that one provision, and they fell for it–literally.

These days, we have the blood of Christ to cover our imperfections, so God sees us through that. We have God’s written word, so we can understand how He sees us. But, we still have human eyes and human perceptions, so we often see things incorrectly and get ourselves and our lives out of focus. We may focus on a beauty or success that is not beauty or success in God’s eyes, or we may miss a God-given beauty or success completely. When we get out of focus, we end up in chaos and running around as if we are spiritually blind and deaf instead of walking according to God’s path and rhythm.

The lesson of focus has been made abundantly clear to me (no pun intended) through a week of chaos. While I did everything in my power to create a scenario for our authors to present and sell their books, every door I tried to open slammed shut. I wondered if we were missing out on God’s favor, or if we were just under attack. I was missing the mark on both accounts, and I only found my peace in God when I got my perception corrected through prayer.

Here’s what I learned: God called many people to carry His precious good news to the world. He has anointed us to present that message through a variety of methods, and many of those are in the arts. I believe our creativity is a gift from God whether we use it for Him or not. And, because it is a gift from God, it will do its best work when it is done for Him first and for ourselves last. If we get that turned around, we lose perception.

For our writer’s group, we were trying to create an event centered around sales rather than ministry. We thought success meant a lot of people coming to buy our products instead of a lot of people coming to hear a testimony of God’s gifts in our lives. Our perceptions were skewed by the cacophony of voices out there shouting words like marketing and SEO. It doesn’t help that the Christian book market is more than just a niche genre anymore. It holds its own and therefore needs just as much professionalism and proper presentation as any book topic out there. However, if we’re not careful, we can let the marketing become more important than the message.

Well, we learned our lesson, and now instead of wondering how we’re going to handle a bunch of people we can’t sell things to, we’re hoping we can minister to all of them. We did a lot of advertising, but only God knows what souls He is sending and what message He is wanting them to hear. Our job is to be sensitive, so we can perceive His voice and direction. He says in John 10:27 (NLT)… “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” If we keep our perception in Him, we can see and follow His leading, so we will not become blind leaders of blind followers. If we don’t, we may find even His beauty out of focus.

October 9, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Fall Birthday Party for Yeshua


The front of our 2014 Sukkah before all the people gathered in and before food filled the tables. It's a welcoming place for a young couple and their new little baby. Cellphone image by Crystal A Murray. CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The front of our 2014 Sukkah before all the people gathered in and before food filled the tables. We love this annual celebration and gathering. It’s enclosed and secure, and it could certainly be a welcoming place for a young couple (and soon a new little baby) after their long journey.
Cellphone image by Crystal A Murray. CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click the image to open a new tab/window for a Flickr search of other sukkah images.

You’ve seen the slogan, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” It comes out every December to remind people that Christmas should not be focused on selfish things like gift-giving and wish lists. Still, because most of us have grown up with it being a holiday about gifts, decor, and Santa Claus, it can be difficult to put the focus on the birth of Christ. How much easier would it be if His birthday was actually at a different time that has not yet been so commercialized? Imagine this fictional but possible scenario…

It’s the first holiday of the new Jewish year where the men are called home for worship; the fall festival of Sukkot. Joseph will follow both the Jewish law and Caesar’s law to go to his home town even though his wife is ready to have a baby at any moment. As the couple arrives in Bethlehem, it’s bustling with activity. Caesar seemed to know that this time between two feasts, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, would draw a big enough crowd to make census-taking easier. Miriam (Mary) just admired the many booths built behind every home and business and longed for the day she would have her own home and a place for Joseph to build their sukkah.

“Oh, no, Joseph, I think the baby wants out,” cries Miriam as the donkey stumbles over another rough patch of road.

“Don’t worry, Honey, I’ll find us a place to rest soon,” says Joseph while trying to hide his own level of panic. He knows how important it is to take care of this pregnancy and delivery. The angel told him the baby was Emmanuel; God with Us, and Joseph does not take that lightly. But there doesn’t seem to be any place available for them to stop. Finally, at the last inn at the other end of town, the inn’s proprietor sees the pregnant girl and whispers something to his wife before letting the couple go on their way.

“Listen. We have our sukkah in back, and we were going to stay in there ourselves, so we know it’s suitable for you. Why don’t you just rest in there for the night. The basket is already stocked with bread, so you can eat something if you like,” says Mr. Innkeeper. Meanwhile, Mrs. Innkeeper is quite happy to agree since it means she will have a reason to sleep in her own bed instead of the floor of a tent.

Joseph and Miriam take their place in the booth as the labor begins. We don’t know if there was an available nurse or if the labor was difficult, but we do know that she soon delivered a bouncing baby boy. She knew who He was. Joseph knew who He was. Joseph extended the special blanket he retrieved from their bags. With the baby’s lineage from the tribe of Judah sewn into the fabric, Joseph wrapped the blanket around Yeshua to swaddle the newborn in warmth and comfort.

Weary from travel and delivery, the new family desperately needed rest. “Where will be put the baby?” asked Miriam.

“You know how I sleep, Dear. I’m afraid I might roll over on Him.”

“Joseph, the bread basket!” shouted Miriam as she quickly began to move the loaves to a small corner table. “This will make the perfect cradle for Him.” Joseph agreed. “Happy birthday, Lord,” Miriam whispered as she nestled the baby and His blankets snugly into the makeshift cradle before lying down to rest herself. Did she know, as she curled up to sleep in Joseph’s little town of Bethlehem (meaning “House of Bread”) that she had just placed the Bread of Life into a bread basket? How fitting, huh?

October 8, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Fiction, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Multitasking With The Voices in My Head


Hubby Trying to Sleep with The Kitty on His Mind, by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved

Hubby Trying to Sleep with The Kitty on His Mind, by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved
Click the image to visit my Flickr Photo Stream

Are you a multitasker? Do you try to focus on one thing but get distracted by many other things? If so, you’ll probably relate to some of the sleep humor on a board I found at Pinterest. My favorite pin said, “3 out of 4 voices in my head want me sleep. The other wants to know if penguins have knees.” That is so me when I’m trying to go to sleep. I can sit here trying to write my blog and fight a sleep attack, but when I actually lie down to sleep, my brain opens about 100 new tabs. 🙂 Of course, that could also be from having ADD, but being a woman and being a writer fit there somewhere too.

I thought about multitasking today because of all the plans I’m trying to make for the week, some of which are overlapping with each other. Beginning Wednesday evening at sunset, we have the weeklong festival of Sukkot. It’s one of the most exciting feasts of the Lord, and if you search my blog for posts on it, you’ll find many of them. Under the label of WWJD, I can tell you without a doubt that He would (and did) celebrate this feast. And, I don’t believe He only celebrated it because He was Jewish, but I think He was also celebrating His birthday. I’ll tell you more as we go through the week since I won’t be posting Torah portions as I was last year at this time.

In addition to our home festival celebration, my husband and I have been invited to help celebrate and open the Sukkah for our friends at Christian Country Cowboy Church. If you are ever in the Louisville area on the last Friday of the month, I highly recommend a drive out to LaGrange (about 20 miles from downtown Louisville). Parsons Zeb & Joy Son, along with the house band, put on a free country concert that rivals anything you might pay to see. It often includes a great headline act (many who are award-winning artists), and it always includes “Cuzin Gus and The Boys from Sasquatch Holler which is reminiscent of a skit on HeeHaw.

Finally, along with just the regular stuff of life, like laundry, dishes and paying bills, we still have the event for the writer’s group that will be either a huge success or a great big mess depending on the answer we get from the venue. I’m still trusting God to provide the answer we want, but there’s a bit of stress in just waiting for the official answer. And of course, just adding it to the “to do” list of the week adds it’s own time consumption.

I say all of the above to say this: the one time when my multitasking mind bothers me the most is when I want dedicated time in prayer. I mean, I like that prayer is one of the running tasks in almost everything I do, but it is very hard to slow it all down, so I can pray without interruption. Thankfully, we go back to what I’ve said so often about God knowing our human form. I know He knows the depths of my heart even if the voices in my head are speaking too loud for me to hear it.

Nevertheless, it is my challenge to slow down and focus during my times of prayer, and I pray the same for all of you who have the same desire. If you ever struggle with this, post a comment to let me know I’m not alone. If you have ideas that help, I’d love to hear those two. I’ll be glad to add your positive encouragements to the voices in my head.

October 7, 2014 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grandma Tickles and Grandfather Clauses


Welcome Baby Leona by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved

Welcome Baby Leona (with Daddy James, Mommy Autumn, and Little Elie)…by Crystal A Murray, All Rights Reserved
Click on the image to open a new tab/window to the see full size original , and all other images, in my Flickr photo stream.

It was just over four years ago when I took a trip out to Arizona to attend the birth of my first great-niece. The oldest of our nephews, James, was excited to welcome his first daughter into the world. Sadly, his mother said she didn’t want to have anything to do with the new little one and that no one better call her “Grandma.” I countered with the offer to be the grandmother if they wanted since I had raised James for 5 years of his childhood and felt like a mother to him anyway. And then I hopped aboard an Amtrak train and headed west.

The baby’s mother, Autumn, already had one beautiful daughter, Elie Mable. And yes, Mable is spelled right since Autumn wanted it to be an acronym for…Mothers Always Bring Love Everywhere. How precious is that? I got to spend a lot of time with Elie and mommy and James (now called Daddy and taking the role of a most-wonderful daddy at that) got ready for the hospital.

Everyone had agreed on calling me “Grandma Crystal,” and Elie tried her best, but her three-year-old vocabulary just wouldn’t form my name, so she affectionately named me “Grandma Tickles.” The name stuck, and the meaning behind it stuck, so now all three little ones (we’ve now added little miss Wiley Love) have to run and dodge the tickle monster. Plus, I get the privilege of also being a tickle monster to Josh’s beautiful daughter Sinniah. Here’s a panorama of two pictures of my hubby (Uncle Santa) first with Elie, Leona, and Sinniah, and then with Wiley Love…

Uncle Santa David with Elie, Leona, Sinniah, and then with Wiley Love, Images by Candiece Nelson, All Rights Reserved

Uncle Santa David with Elie, Leona, Sinniah, and then with Wiley Love, Images by Candiece Nelson, All Rights Reserved
Click the image to open a new tab/window to see Candie’s full photo stream at Flickr.

So, with this above image, I’m guessing you think my reference to Grandfather Clauses has something to do with hubby, but it doesn’t. That would be “Grandfather Claus.” My reference is about leaning on promises from the past to get us through our present and our future. Right now, I’m not playing Grandma Tickles but rather LCW President. In my writer’s group, the location where we meet has changed policies and challenged an event we have for this coming Saturday, October 11th. We’ve advertised abundantly, so all of us on the planning committee have been a bit stressed since last Friday.

Our friend, Mark, made a statement as we left the home he shares with my spiritual sister, Debbie, after sunset on Yom Kippur, Saturday night. He said something to the effect of, “Maybe they’ll be willing to grandfather you in for just this event if you promise not to do it again.” I think the words were straight from God. When I called administration today, I used that request, and it seemed to make a difference. The woman I talked to wasn’t the decision-maker, but she did say she would take the request to “grandfather us in” to the president of the administration. Now we just wait for favor. Please join us in our prayer.

If there was ever anyone who knew about grandfather clauses, I’d say it’s our Lord God. The setup for blood sacrifice for the salvation of mankind goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. The perfect blood that makes it possible for men–even today–to receive deliverance from the wages of our sin was shed over 2000 years ago.

Yeshua told the Jewish disciples to spread the gospel (good news) beginning at Jerusalem. Paul says in Romans 1:16 that the message is “to the Jew first.” However, because it is not God’s will for any to be lost, the original gospel message opened the door, so the rest of us could be also be saved. It’s still just as effective today, so if you have not yet repented and submitted to the saving power of the blood of Christ, do it now while there’s still time. I guarantee you can still be “grandfathered-in.”

October 6, 2014 Posted by | Nonfiction, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Power of Good Vibrations


Someone shared the above video on Facebook, and it ranks right up there with those cool videos where people mix corn starch and water and put it on a speaker. The corn starch mix looks a lot like the stuff from the Flubber movies, especially when it’s dyed green. Still, the idea of geometric patterns forming just from changing the volume of a musical piece tied into a plate on a piece of metal really caught my attention. I love fractals and kaleidoscopes, so this fits well with my attraction to patterns.

Anyway, the first thing I thought about, as I watched them turn up the decibels and create different designs, was God speaking the world into existence. I can just see Him speaking with His booming voice, and then seeing the vibrations create patterns in the carbon until molecules pull together and create all that we see. Sound is energy, and what we see is energy either turned on or turned off–just like on a computer screen with its ones and zeroes. I find it amazing!

In reading the scientific reasoning behind the designs, the text said that the salt or sand falls into the places where there is no vibration. If we humans were created that way, then our flesh is the design in the cracks of God’s good vibrations, and that may be why there is such a wrestling match between flesh and spirit. We’re told that God knows our frame, so He knows exactly where our wrestling will come in, and He will be there to help us through it. Of course, when our bodies are perfected like His glorified body, they will be in complete submission to His Spirit, so we won’t have that battle any longer. That is something to hope for.

Now, here’s a test of your age. Do you remember which product used the Good Vibrations song by “The Beach Boys” as a jingle for their commercials? It actually took me a little while to confirm it because I got lost in an interesting article about the original song on Wikipedia. Did you know that, in addition to using the infamous Hammond B3 organ in the recording, they also added the musical accompaniment of a theremin? (The song page says they did, but the theremin page says it was a synthesizer.) And, yes, I mean the instrument that had a solo in an episode of The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon played the Star Trek theme on it just to aggravate Leonard. Of course, after Leonard sent him out of the apartment, a depressed Sheldon then played a great rendition of Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen. (See video below.)  Oh, and to answer my first question, it was a soda that used the words, “I’m drinking up good vibrations,” and its name was… (ʞuᴉɹp ǝƃuɐɹO ʇsᴉʞunS).

Well, I think that’s all I will add on this theme for now unless you want to see the full lyrics of the song. I’d love to see some comments from you about the original video, the song, the Big Bang Theory, or anything else you’d like to talk about. All the links have descriptions if you want to hover over them before clicking, and I hope you find some interesting places to visit from here. Oh, and all the links open in a new tab, so you won’t lose your place. God bless you as you seek to walk with Him and the presence of His good vibrations today and always.

October 5, 2014 Posted by | Devotion, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judgment and Transformation


Repent, Then, And Turn to God by Flickr User Sharon of Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Repent, Then, And Turn to God by Flickr User Sharon of Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr

The Hebrew word Yom means “day” in English, and the Hebrew Kippur means “to atone” in English. This is the “Day of Atonement,” and is the precursor to the atonement we now receive through Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ). This day began Friday (Oct 3rd) at sundown and continued through sundown Saturday (Oct 4th). If you want to read the Torah reading that goes with the holiday, read through Leviticus 16.

This day gives us an opportunity to examine ourselves and repent from anything that may separate us from our Creator and Lord. So, what is repentance? I found a great definition that said, “Repentance is the willingness to allow God to judge and transform you.” I love that. It gives me reason to repent on a regular basis.

The word repent is used in some armies to say, “About face.” It literally means, “Go in the opposite direction.” But how can we turn around and walk in a new direction without acknowledging the current direction we’re heading? We need that repentance that allows God to examine our direction if we want to be sure we’re walking according to God’s will. It’s like looking at a satellite map to make sure we’re on the right path. Who better to tell us we’re lost than the One who can see all the way to the end of our road?

Just receiving judgment is not the end of the things. If we used our GPS to see where we were going, but we failed to turn as instructed, we might hear the GPS voice say something like, “At the next intersection, make a u-turn.” If we still don’t turn, we might hear the voice say, “Rerouting,” as the GPS tries to find a new way for us to get to our chosen destination. If we want to get to the right destination, we must reroute, make a u-turn, do an about-face, or in some way repent. Just hearing that we need to change routes will not get us where we want to go.

I think most of us fear judgment because people use it as an excuse to make us feel less than them. People also tend to stop with judgment, and that leaves us feeling hopeless with the permanence of it. However, until the final judgment, what God finds in His examinations of us is not permanent and definitely not hopeless. He doesn’t tell us something like, “So sad, you’re on the wrong path. You might as well give up and stay there.” No, instead He says (in Acts 3:19 NKJV), “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Be converted could just as easily say, be transformed.

When we repent, it’s like a trip to a diagnostician (doctor who diagnoses troubles). Imagine this doctor finds a cancer that needs to be removed. That’s judgment. You agree to let him do surgery because you trust that he knows better than to just slice it off and leave you bleeding. And you’re right. He medicates and binds up the wound to bring healing and comfort. That’s the beginning of your transformation from sick to healed. It continues until you are fully back to health.

Just like we don’t have only one lesson to learn in life, we don’t repent only one time. We do best if we allow God to judge and transform us as often as possible. Remember, Moses was the only man who talked with God face to face, as a man talks to his friend. And yet, the time came when Moses did not allow God to transform him. He hit the rock to bring forth water instead of being transformed and speaking to the rock. That disobedience and distrust cost him dearly. It didn’t stop God from loving him, and we know he is with God because he was on the Mount of Transfiguration with Yeshua, but he missed blessings God longed to give to him.

So, what about you? Are you willing to come before the cross to allow God to judge and transform you either again or for the first time? Comment below if you would like me to pray for you and with you as you walk through this repentance to your deliverance. Like Paul, I often feel the need to repent multiple times in a day, so I gratefully accept your prayers for me as I seek God for my own judgment and transformation…today and in the future.

And enjoy this video of the song Search Me, Lord by The Heritage Singers. There is one incorrect lyric where it says “holed” instead of “whole,” but the music is great…

October 4, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Leadeth Me…To The End


With Sukkot beginning this coming Wednesday (evening of October 8th, 2014), I knew we were nearing the end of Torah, but I didn’t expect it this quickly. As it turns out, I actually started this week’s portion prematurely. The last two books of Deuteronomy are supposed to be coupled with the beginning of Genesis when Torah readings begin anew during Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah). However, since I didn’t start with the end of Deuteronomy last year, I need to finish it here to be complete.

Sunset tonight is actually the beginning of the high holy day, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It is a day of fasting and introspection as believers prepare themselves for the upcoming year. In the days of the wilderness tabernacle, it was the day when God would forgive all sin for the year. Because of Yeshua, we now have atonement anytime someone steps under His cleansing blood through repentance. Because repentance is brought forth by self-examination, I think it is a good idea for Christians to take advantage of Yom Kippur to silence some of life’s noise and spend a day seeking God’s Holy Spirit. I plan to write tomorrow night about any discoveries God brings me through my introspection.

So, in today’s reading from Deuteronomy 34:1 through Deuteronomy 34:12 (the whole chapter), we close out the book of Deuteronomy, the books of the Torah, and another week. Shabbat Shalom. Because this Yom Kippur is also falling on a Shabbat (Sabbath) , it is considered a Shabbat of Shabbats and is very special. Please read the chapter yourself, and consider reading the first chapter of the book of Joshua to watch the baton pass from Moses to Joshua the son of Nun.

Moses’ blessing is now complete, the Torah is done, and Moses life is ready to end. Studying straight through like this has given me a more realistic picture of Moses, so my heart actually grieves his passing. I can see why reading through the Torah every year can be a life-changing experience.

The chapter begins with Moses going to Mount Nebo, at the summit of Pisgah which is opposite Jericho. As he stands on the summit, he’s 120 years old but still with youthful strength and perfect eyesight. God shows Moses all the land He promised as an inheritance to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He tells Moses that he may look on all of it with his eyes, but he may not cross the Jordan to enter it. So Moses dies in the land of Moab, and though they were unsure of his actual gravesite, they know God buried him in the valley near Beth-Peor. All Israel mourned and wept over their great leader for thirty days.

When the days of mourning Moses were ended, Joshua the son of Nun stepped up. He had wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him, so the Israelites listened to him and did as the Lord commanded Moses. The last three verses of the chapter are powerful, and I want you to see them for yourselves, so here they are from The Complete Jewish Bible

Since that time there has not arisen in Isra’el a prophet like Moshe, whom Adonai knew face to face. What signs and wonders Adonai sent him to perform in the land of Egypt upon Pharaoh, all his servants and all his land! What might was in his hand! What great terror he evoked before the eyes of all Isra’el!

We know, of course, that Yeshua showed up on the scene many years later, and He made the holy presence of God available to all mankind. When the temple vail tore in half from the top to the bottom, God’s throne became a place where we could come and speak to God face to face as a man speaks to a friend. The blood cleanses us, so we won’t die in God’s presence. But remember that “as a friend” part because it makes an important distinction. We don’t have the invitation to God’s throne to command Him to do things our way, we have it to ask Him in person how we can do things His way.

Moses is one of the patriarchs in what we often call “The Faith Chapter,” the 11th chapter of Hebrews. I looked through some different translations, and I like the wording from the Easy to Read Version (ERV). Here is Hebrews 11:24-28

Moses grew up and became a man. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose not to enjoy the pleasures of sin that last such a short time. Instead, he chose to suffer with God’s people. He did this because he had faith. He thought it was better to suffer for the Messiah than to have all the treasures of Egypt. He was waiting for the reward that God would give him.

Moses left Egypt because he had faith. He was not afraid of the king’s anger. He continued strong as if he could see the God no one can see. Moses prepared the Passover and spread the blood on the doorways of the people of Israel, so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons. Moses did this because he had faith.

Notice it says,”…better to suffer for the Messiah.” Other versions say “for Christ.” Moses could have sang the song in the video above just like we can today. “By His own blood, He leadeth me.” May all of you, my regular and visiting readers, enjoy the song He Leadeth Me as performed by Candi Pearson, and may you all be able to sing along. May we walk with faith like Moses as we trust God to lead us every moment, every day, from the beginning to the end. HalleluYah and Amen!

October 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cringing Enemy, Trampling Victor


Trampling Triceratops by Flickr User Alex Morales, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Trampling Triceratops by Flickr User Alex Morales, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

If you read the article at “Got Questions dot org” at the link I gave in yesterday’s post, you know that the tribe of Asher had a future that sounds much like our own future. God gave Asher power and strength to take out the enemy’s of Israel that occupied the land of their inheritance. Asher backed down and did not drive out the Canaanites. That left Asher in bondage that God did not intend. As Christians, we often back down while trying to be harmless as doves, and we too can end up in bondage. We let enemies in our gates because we think our Christian example will win them to The Lord.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 33:27 through Deuteronomy 33:29, we’ll finish the chapter, and we’ll read about the power given to all Israel. I thought the blessing for Asher was to continue, but Moses tricked me and switched gears. 🙂 Anyway, it’s only three verses, so I’ll paste the text here from the Complete Jewish Bible

The God of old is a dwelling-place,
with everlasting arms beneath.
He expelled the enemy before you
and he said, ‘Destroy!’
So Isra’el lives in security;
the fountain of Ya‘akov is alone
in a land of grain and new wine,
where the skies drip with dew.
Happy are you, Isra’el!
“Who is like you, a people saved by Adonai,
your defender helping you
and your sword of triumph?
Your enemies will cringe before you,
but you will trample down their high places.”

Moses sure knows God well. He captures God’s power and authority, but he also captures His parental and protective love. I find comfort just in the words about God’s “everlasting arms” being beneath the dwelling place of Israel. Because Israel is safe with God, and because God made the first strike against the enemy, He enabled Israel to finish the job and destroy all that was left standing against them.

With authority over the enemy, Israel can live securely in places of abundance and pleasure (grain and wine). Israel is happy under the cover of God’s blessings and dwelling in His salvation. God is Israel’s defender, and Moses speaks this blessing to Israel beautifully. He calls Yahveh Israel’s “sword of triumph” and promises God’s authority over Israel’s enemies. Moses says the enemies will cringe before Israel, but Israel will trample the places where they worship false gods (high places).

I almost named this post Crouching Enemy, Trampling Victor because I wondered whether “cringe” was really the right word in the Scripture. However, when I looked it up in other translations, the cringing is right but there’s more to it. In the Amplified Bible, it reads this way…

Your enemies shall come fawning and cringing, and submit feigned obedience to you, and you shall march on their high places.

It appears the fawning and cringing and acting like they’re in obedience is to save their own lives, not to crouch as if ready to pounce. Maybe the enemy here hopes that if they play the game right, God and Israel will let them worship their false gods without interruption. Obviously, they are wrong because God will never allow people to worship that which represents His enemy.

It’s interesting this should be the Scripture portion for today as our family has just had another major upheaval this very day. If you’ve been following me, you’ll remember the nephew that was in a coma due to an overdose on heroin and morphine from snorting a pill called Opana. You know that God did a great miracle and brought him out of it, and he came home with us 8 weeks later. While he was in therapy and all of it was real to him, he was grateful and knew it was God who brought him through. He even mentioned getting saved.

But, the question is, was he grateful or was he “fawning and cringing in feigned obedience” to get all we offered? Having lived with us before, he knew our rules, but today he tried to sneak out early in the morning. He said we had too many rules about his not spending hours on the phone with strange girls he met on dating sites. He didn’t like that we found out he was getting high again. And who was there to help him? Why, the mother who brought him into the world of drugs and demons to begin with.

Yes, I’m talking about the mother who caused so many problems when he was in the hospital. Read the old posts starting on March 13th to catch some of the details. This mother, whose first words to her comatose son were to call him an idiot, has encouraged him to leave a good future for a bad one. The mother of his baby won’t bring his daughter around him if he’s using drugs or living with his own destructive mother, so now he won’t be seeing his daughter. If his mother takes his disability money, he won’t be able to pay his child support, and he’ll do the five years in prison that is currently on diversion. He definitely won’t see his beautiful daughter then.

So, now you’re back up to date on that situation. We’ve been wounded, but through prayer and friends, we are at peace. We are sheltered in God’s everlasting arms, and we know He is the victor & all things work together for the good. We’re sorry this young man could receive a miracle directly from the hands of a loving God and turn it down for freedom to party and get in trouble. Why should we think free rent, food, transportation, and lots of love would be enough for him when the cross was not? But God will trample the places of the false gods that wish to kill, steal, and destroy any good God wants in his (or any) life. We pray he gets away from the enemy’s camp before it happens. If not, he will be one of the cringing enemies in the way of a Trampling Victor.

October 2, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Kitties and Pedicures


Here Mousy Mousy Mousy Image on Mousepad at Zazzle by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Here Mousy Mousy Mousy Image on Mousepad at Zazzle by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original product at Zazzle.

Have you ever seen those cute little poodle pedicures? I think they’re especially nice when you see a standard white poodle with hot pink or red nails. Apparently, you can now get something similar for kitty cats when you don’t want them to scratch your furniture. Because most people know you couldn’t hold a cat still enough to apply nail polish, someone came up with colored caps they call “Soft Claws.” I’m guessing I would still have to trim quite a bit from the nail tips first though. You’ll notice the “spikes” on the kitty above. That’s my Midnight kitty modeling for a mouse pad at my Zazzle store.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 33:22 through Deuteronomy 33:26, we have a few more tribes addressed by Moses in his final blessing to Israel. He speaks greatness to the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, and Asher, though the blessing for Asher is not complete and will continue in tomorrow’s reading. Again, the post is short and filled with lots of little blessings, so I’ll paste the text here from the Complete Jewish Bible

Of Dan he said:

“Dan is a lion cub
leaping forth from Bashan.”

Of Naftali he said:

“You, Naftali, satisfied with favor
and full of blessing from Adonai,
take possession of the sea and the south.”

Of Asher he said:

“May Asher be most blessed of sons,
may he be the favorite among his brothers
and bathe his feet in oil.
May your bolts be of iron and bronze
and your strength last as long as you live.

“Yeshurun, there is no one like God,
riding through the heavens to help you,
riding on the clouds in his majesty.

Dan, the lion cub, speaks of youth. Old lions mostly just roar to scare the prey while young lions capture and subdue. It seems like a short blessing, but it is a blessing filled with promise and power for a long time. Moses blessing to Naphtali seems simple enough in giving them beach-front property, but there’s so much more to it that I didn’t even catch at first. Moses blesses this tribe with enough favor from God to be satisfied. No lacking in His favor, no want to try and earn more favor, just the perfect amount of favor to bring comfort and satisfaction. Oh that we could all know this kind of favor from Yahveh.

Asher gets the bulk of the blessing, and they will not only be blessed by God but by the other tribes. Instead of just a simple foot-washing when they visit their brothers, they’ll receive a pedicure. Now, I’m not sure what they used bolts for, but if they were for houses, they’d have strong ones. If the bolts were for weapons and/or shields, it sounds like Asher was being blessed to be victorious in wartime. What’s interesting in that is how later in Asher’s history, the tribe backed down and failed to drive the Canaanites out of the land. There’s some great info about this tribe in an article at “Got Questions dot org.” It’s called “What Should We Learn from the Tribe of Asher?” Just click the title to visit.

The last three lines are simply a declaration from Moses to Israel. He takes every opportunity to uplift God and let Israel know that God is there to help them. As He says, there is NO ONE like Yahveh, and He who rides on the clouds in majesty comes through the heavens just to help you. That’s a huge blessing that applies to us now just as it did Israel then. We have a God who was willing to leave the comforts of Heaven to robe Himself in flesh and shed His own blood for us. Greater than that, when that earthly temple was destroyed, He Himself raised it up on the third day to give us victory over death and the grave. I like big kitties and pedicures, but victory in Yeshua is truly the greatest blessing any of us can receive. HalleluYah!

October 1, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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