It’s hard to believe it’s already January 25th, and this is my first post for 2015. When I said I’d be traveling to care for my mom, I don’t think I realized how much her diagnosis would change my world. Her loss on January 13th turned it upside-down.
I have some news to share related to her last days, but I will share that at a later date, probably when I’m back home and ready to start updating again more frequently. For today, I want to share the information I put together for her memorial service. I found the above picture in her belongings, and I believe it’s from her late teens.
From the memorial brochure…
Page 1, with the picture: “Tell the people, I am happy. Be happy for me too.”
2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)
7. As for Catherine, she has fought
the good fight, she has finished the
race, and she has remained faithful.
8. And now the prize awaits her—the
crown of righteousness, which the
Lord, the righteous Judge, will give
her on the day of His return. And the
prize is not just for her but for all
who eagerly look forward to His
In Loving Memory of
Catherine Anne Jensen
Born on September 8th, 1944
in Concord, California
Went peacefully to her eternity with
her Savior, Jesus, on
January 13th, 2015
Memorial at her home church,
First Assembly of God, Benson, AZ
Sunday, January 18th, 2015 @ 1pm
Potluck reception to follow service.
Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)
8. And now, dear brothers and sisters,
one final thing. Fix your thoughts on
what is true, and honorable, and right,
and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent
and worthy of praise.
9. Keep putting into practice all you
learned and received from me—
everything you heard from me and saw
me doing. Then the God of peace will
be with you.
Click Mom Memorial Flyer for a PDF copy of the brochure if you’d like to print it out.
Many blessings to all my readers for your caring and concern as I walk through this unexpected valley of change in my family. Before she left us. the advent of technology allowed some wonderful last moments for Mom with her older sister, Shirley, and her younger brother, Dale, as we gathered on a Google hangout from three different homes. She was able to say good-bye to siblings, daughters, sons-in-law, a nephew, and friends on the Thursday evening before she began sleeping through her last days. On Saturday and Sunday, she awoke for brief moments for good-byes with her church friends in Benson. A little after 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, January 13th, Mom took her last breaths while looking up and appearing to say “yes” to someone above her. We believe it was an answer to the question, “Are you ready to go?.” She left peacefully and without enduring the extreme pain normally associated with pancreatic and liver cancer. The grace of God has sustained us and will continue to sustain us in the coming days.
May God sustain all of you today and always,
The dictionary says that when grave is used as an adjective, it means things like “serious,” “solemn,” and giving cause for alarm. I would say that makes walking in a way that causes God to be either hurt or angry is a grave situation, especially on the definition of solemn. I think it would do us well to take more time for self-examination to check not only our behaviors but the attitudes and motivations behind them.
In today’s reading from Numbers 11:30 through Numbers 12:16, we read about some people that most certainly should have taken things a lot more seriously. If you read yesterdays Scriptures or post, you know that the people were complaining over a lack of meat, so God promised so much quail that it would come out their noses and they’d be sick of it. Today, the wind comes in and brings with it piles of quail.
As the reading continues, it says that while the meat was still in the people’s mouths, God becomes angry and strikes them with a plague that kills all those who were greedy. Because so many died there, the place was called in Hebrew, Kivrot-HaTa’avah meaning “Graves of Greed,” Yesterday, it said the greedy ones were the strangers that lived with the community of Israel, so I don’t know if they were the only ones to die, or if it was all who gathered in the piles of the birds. It is against God’s law to eat animals that are dead by reasons other than men killing them for their meat, so if the birds came in on a wind already dead, they would not have been okay to eat. The strangers would not have known that, but if any children of Israel gathered the birds, they would have known, so that could be what kindled God’s anger.
Now we switch chapters and we go to Miriam and Aaron talking against their brother, Moses, for marrying a Kushite woman. In their criticism of him, they start asking why he thinks he’s so special because he hears from God. They state that God likely speaks to them as well. So God comes down in the column of cloud and calls Miriam and Aaron to the Tent of Meeting. He explains that He does in fact talk to men who are prophets, but that He mostly talks to them in dreams and visions. He goes on to tell them that Moses is the only one who is faithful enough to Him that He talks to him face to face.
When they walk away from the meeting, Miriam is suddenly completely white with leprosy. When Moses sees it, he begs God not to let Miriam die as a baby born with parts of its body rotting away from the time it leaves the womb. God agrees to take away the plague from her, but He says that since she would have to be put out of the camp for seven days if someone simply spit on her, she must be put out of the camp for a week because of the leprosy as well. After she comes back in, the community is ready to move on, and they travel to the Paran desert.
Like I said yesterday, when I read about things that cause God to get angry, I feel a strong need to examine myself to make sure I am not wrapped up in the same types of sin. I know I have an advocate in Christ and His blood over me, but I figure that if something made God angry at one time, He doesn’t feel any less affected by it just because there is a blood covering over it. I think about the song that says, “Does He still feel the nails every time I fail? Does He hear the crowd say ‘Crucify,’ again? Am I causing Him pain; then I know that I must change. I just can’t bear the thought of hurting Him.”
Even if I could get away with every type of sin that is available on this earth, I don’t want to do anything that would hurt my Lord and Savior. I don’t want to do anything that would drive even the slightest bit of wedge between me that my Wonderful Creator. I don’t want to allow anything into my life that would open up even a tiny crevice for the enemy (who is an enemy both of me and of God) to find a camping spot in me. I know I’m not perfect, and I know I fail daily, but I do not want to excuse my failures–only humbly beg God to forgive me because I don’t deserve it but gratefully receive it. It is truly a grave situation when someone who claims to love Yahveh Almighty can commit sin that hurts Him without feeling broken when He confronts their behavior. May I never get to that point, and if you agree with me, may you never get there either. As King David said in Psalm 51:17 (NLT), “…You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Amen.
Remember the commercial where a couple at the movies trip over each other and end up mixing their snacks? One of them says, “Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter.” Then the other one says, “Hey, you got your peanut butter on my chocolate.” And items that at one time would have been considered strange bedfellows were suddenly finding themselves mixed together in the form of a peanut butter cup.
The phrase “strange bedfellows” has been in use since the 1400s as a reference to unlikely or peculiar alliances or combinations. For example, in nature, if we see a friendship between animals that normally would be enemies, it strikes us as odd. There are some things that we know just don’t go together, like cats and birds. But strange bedfellows usually refer to things that might seem odd together but actually work, like pickle and peanut-butter sandwiches. (But you do have to toast the bread and used thin sliced dill pickle if you really want it to taste right. 🙂 )
In today’s reading from Leviticus 20:8 through Leviticus 20:22, God again teaches Israel what He considers to be “strange bedfellows.” The difference here, however, is that if God says we should not be in a bed together, He means it. It’s not a matter of figuring out that something unlikely might actually work together because if it goes against God’s perfect will and design, it goes into the arena of disobedience to God and irreverence of God’s holy word.
The reading begins with a reminder that a man should not curse his father and mother or he would face death. From there, it jumps right into a long list of what God considers to be sexual sin. Obviously, these things are important to God because this is the second such list in the book of Leviticus. This list has a little more detail in that instead of just calling people who commit the sexual sins unclean, God goes a bit further and speaks of those that should be put to death.
The first sin listed is that of a man committing adultery with another man’s wife. This says that both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. Next it says that a man who sleeps with his father’s wife disgraces his father, and both of them should be put to death. If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. And if a man goes to bed with a man as he does with a woman, both men are to be put to death.
God goes on to say that if a man sleeps with a woman and her mother, all of them are to be put to death by fire, so that no depravity will exist in the community. If a man or woman has sex with an animal, both the human and animal are to be put to death. If a man sleeps with his sister (or half-sister), God says it is shameful and they are to be cut off from the people and will bear the consequences, but this does not appear to include death. And, finally, it goes into men who sleep with their mother’s sister, their father’s sister, or their uncle’s wife. The consequence for a man who sleeps with his aunt, even if she is only related by marriage, is that the two of them will be childless.
Going back to the first command about killing both the adulterer and the adulteress, I wonder if Yeshua wrote this Scripture in the dirt when the men of Israel were about to stone the woman caught in adultery. At that moment, it wasn’t as much about His having mercy on the woman as it was about His showing the hypocrisy in the men. Why weren’t they casting stones at the man who was with the woman? If they were so holy and so apt to keep the letter of the law, the woman was not the only one who should have been facing a death sentence.
This story, in John 8:1-11, does not end with the men facing their hypocrisy and dropping their stones. It’s one of the places where the mercy of Yeshua shines brightly. He physically demonstrates the grace and mercy He has for all of us when He tells the woman that He finds no fault in her and that she is free to stop her sinning. He didn’t tell her that she was free from that one sin, or for one day only, but he set her free to stop sinning for the rest of her life. No more strange bedfellows for her because she who the Son sets free is free indeed.
Death is still the price for adultery (and all the sins listed in today’s portion), but just as Yeshua protected the woman from the price of her crimes, His blood will set us free from every sin listed in His word–Old or New Testament–because He has paid that price of death for us. He set the woman free from the bondage to her sin with the words “Go and sin no more.” He sets us free in the same way. May we let go of our excuses for sin, and instead may we climb out of the bed we have made with our weaknesses and walk in the mercy and grace that sets and keeps us free. Amen!
I was just talking to my husband today about how much I used to like to work the graveyard shift. I worked in the travel store of a truck stop off Interstate 40, so it was like day in the middle of the night there. It was lit up, it was noisy with talk and diesel engines running outside, and if families were traveling late, the sleepy kid chatter was even fun to listen to. I loved the busyness that kept me going through the night, and I loved getting off work just in time to see beautiful desert sunrises. During the warmest months, I’d get my grocery shopping done and then go swimming in the pool at my mobile home park before anyone else was even awake yet. I think that’s why I’m still a bit of a night person.
Imagine my joy when I first read about Yahveh being a night watchman. In today’s reading from Exodus 12:29 through Exodus 12:51, the end of the chapter, we begin reading with the midnight strike against the first-born of Egypt. In that sense, God was also working the graveyard shift, and the cry of grief that arose from every house in the land was loud and horrendous. Every home was touched by death. Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night, and I guess he knew better than to keep his promise that the next time Moses saw his face would be his death. Instead, Pharaoh told Moses to get the people, the animals, and everything they planned to take and just get out of the land. The Egyptians pressed Pharaoh to push them out quickly for fear they would all end up dead.
I hate that the stuff in the above verse had to happen, but I also know that people had a chance to do things God’s way and chose against it. From creation forward, wayward branches of people broke off and chose to serve false gods for their own selfish desires, But God Almighty is the only one that truly reigns over the earth, and He is the only One we should serve.
As the story continues, the people took their unleavened dough and packed it up to head out of Egypt in a hurry. They traveled from Rameses to Succoth, and a mixed multitude went with them. It appears that it was there where they baked matzah for the rest of the journey. It had been 430 years to the day since Israel first moved into Egypt.
I love how verse 42 reads from The Complete Jewish Bible: This was a night when Adonai kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and this same night continues to be a night when Adonai keeps vigil for all the people of Isra’el through all their generations. It made me cry the first time I read it, and it still stirs me to think that the God of Creation chooses to keep watch over His people on the night of the their deliverance. I believe this is why the altar experience is so moving because I believe God still keeps vigil over people when they are delivered from sin and death.
The last of the reading goes on to explain how Passover is to be kept for all the generations, including how to treat the foreigner who lives in your home. The foreigner must become circumcised to celebrate, just as we must become circumcised in heart, choosing to do things God’s way instead of our own, in order to partake of all He has for us. Oh, but it is so worth it.
It is said that an elephant never forgets, and after many studies, men are pretty convinced of that. Well, Yahveh Almighty does not forget either. He remembers His promises to His children, and He remembers His plans for us. In today’s reading from Genesis 50:21 through Genesis 50:26 (the end of the chapter), we learn about Joseph’s last days and hours. In those times, Joseph comforts his brothers by promising to care for them and their offspring, is privileged to meet his great-grandchildren by Ephraim and his grandchildren by Manasseh and meets with all his brothers to give them an oath that God will always remember them.
After Joseph dies at 110 years old, they embalm him and place him in a coffin in Egypt. Though he asked his brothers to carry his bones up from there, the reading does not tell where they actually buried Joseph. I’m guessing because it’s not time, or it just wasn’t important for the portion which ends with the encouragement to Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened. I think this is a great encouragement on which to end our week, and from which to wish you all Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath Peace). May you trust in the promises God has given you, and may you remember that He loves you and will never forget you. Amen!
P.S. Here’s an interesting Wikipedia page I found on elephant cognition… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_cognition
As you can see by the image, I’m not talking about the television show, but since I recognized the title, I at least looked it up. It looks like an interesting premise for a show, so if anyone has seen it and thinks I should check Netflix for it, let me know. 🙂
But I think I did learn from today’s reading of Genesis 49:27 through Genesis 50:20 why we associate death with crossing the Jordan River. Before I get to that part though, there were only 11 sons covered in the last two posts, so we do have one more son’s prophecy; the youngest son, Benjamin. Jacob’s words to him were that he was a ravenous wolf that would devour prey during the day and divide the spoils by night. After saying that, he concluded what Scripture calls blessings on his twelve sons. Well, honesty can be a blessing because it can make you aware when you’re heading down a dangerous path, but for it to truly be a blessing, the receiver will have to see it that way and determine how to use it as such. Like a wet paint sign that can keep you from getting stained by touching the stuff, once you see the truth, you must make a decision to use it for the best outcome.
When Jacob finished speaking, he gathered his legs underneath him and drew his last breath. Joseph ordered the physicians to embalm him, which took 40 days, and then the Egyptians mourned him for 70 days. When all was said and done, Joseph told Pharaoh of the promise he made to take his father to be buried in the cave with Abraham and others, so Pharaoh sent him, his family, and most of his servants to carry Jacob back to the land of Canaan beyond the Jordan river. That they were crossing Jordan to bury someone is what made me think that this is why we associate death with crossing the chilly Jordan, but I’m not sure, so it’s just my thought.
After they crossed into Canaan, the residents of the land saw that the Egyptians were weeping bitterly over the loss, so they named the place Abel-Mizrayim meaning “mourning of Egypt.” I know they had paid mourners and such back then, but it seems that this mourning was very real even though the Egyptians did not know Jacob that long. I’ve heard it said that the best way to live is to care so much about others that when you die, even the mortician is sad that you’re gone. I think Jacob lived that way.
Once the burial was done, they crossed back over Jordan, and Joseph and his brothers returned to live in the land of Goshen in Egypt. When they got back though, Joseph’s brothers started thinking that with their father gone, Joseph would surely try to make them pay for what they had done to him. They apparently did not believe what he said to them the first time, so he restated to them that even though they meant what they did for evil, God used it for good. He reminded them that he was not God, and it was not his place to take vengeance on them. Hopefully, then, they repented to God for their behaviors with the same trembling and humility with which they went to their brother. That’s a good thing to do before crossing Jordan in the spiritual sense.
I never know what I’m going to find when I do a Creative Commons search for an image that will match my title or subject. The above image just tickled my funny bone, so I had to include it. I know people aren’t supposed to deface public signage, but this one is just too cute, and it sort of lines up with the reading today from Genesis 47:28 through Genesis 48:9 as it talks about Jacob being carried away to his death, and the line could look a little like a coffin. 🙂
We actually begin a new portion today, so now we’re up to Parashah 12, Vayechi, meaning “He Lived” in Hebrew. We read in this section that Jacob has now lived in Egypt for 17 years which makes him 147 since he was 130 when they arrived. He calls in his son Joseph to advise him that he will soon pass away and to ask him for a promise. He wants Joseph to swear that he will not bury him in Egypt but rather carry him back to Canaan to be buried with his family, and Joseph agrees.
The next part is a little confusing to me in that he claims Joseph’s two children, Manasseh and Ephraim as his own children. He says they are equal with the rest of his children for the sake of inheritance, and they are numbered among the twelve tribes to this day even though Joseph is not. I know there is some prophecy about it later, so I know it was the right thing to do, but there’s no information at this point to explain exactly how Jacob knew to do it. I can only imagine it has something to do with his vision of Yahveh back in Luz near the time he was there with Joseph’s mother, Rachel. He retells this vision to Joseph, and he tells him that all his future children will be his, but not the two.
The section ends with Jacob suddenly noticing that Joseph’s sons are standing there in the room with them. I might have been embarrassed to realize that someone I was talking about was standing there all along, even if I was saying good things about the person. I remember asking for prayer for a young man I met at a bus stop, and finding out that he had accepted my invitation to attend a service when the pastor pointed out the guy a few rows back slinking down in his seat. Oh well, at least he knew I cared enough to ask the church to pray for him, right?
So that’s it for today, but just to stick with the theme, here’s a link for a video of a group singing the song When I Get Carried Away. I love the tune, and the lyrics to the chorus are…
I’m gonna let the glory roll when the roll is called in glory. I’m gonna get beside myself when I get beside The King that day. I’m gonna have the time of my life when the time of my life is over. I’m gonna get carried away, when I get carried away.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3afLiU-jieM
The story from today’s reading in Genesis 38:1-30 (the entire chapter) is all about Judah. Since our Messiah is The Lion of the tribe of Judah, it would seem he should be the son whose offspring naturally lead toward the aspects from which would come a king. Unfortunately, it does not come out that way.
First, even though he prevented murder, Judah participated in the sale of his brother as a slave. Then, he went to another country and married a foreign girl (which generally meant the worship of false gods in the family). He had three boys, and two of the three were evil in the sight of the Lord.
We’re not told what the evil was in the life of the eldest, but we are told that God took his life. After he died, Judah sent the next brother to the widowed wife and asked that he raise up children to his brother to keep his lineage. The younger sibling did not want to create children that he could not call his own, so he practiced birth control and prevented the pregnancy. The disobedience was evil in the site of God, so He killed that brother as well.
A little note here: This is the Scripture often cited incorrectly as “It is better to spill your seed in the belly of a whore than to waste it on the ground.” No such Scripture actually exists in any texts we know of today, but similar statements have been made in scholarly texts. Just an FYI for those who have heard it and wondered if it was something actually in the Bible. I believe the sin here was in the disobedience of the father and in the disrespect and dishonor of the brother.
As the story goes on, Judah tells the widow Tamar to go back to her parents and live as a widow until his youngest son grows up enough to father children with her. But then Judah is so afraid that son might die as well that he never sends him. Finally, the woman takes off her widow’s clothes, dresses like a prostitute, and covers her face so she is not recognizable. Judah finds her and thinks she is a prostitute, so he gets her pregnant. But she is smart and makes sure to take something of his to show who is the father of her child. Later, when the order is given for her to be killed, she displays the items and he realizes what happened. He calls her more righteous than him because of his broken promise to her in not sending the younger son.
The last paragraph tells the story of the twins she delivered. This is the story where the first boy stuck out his hand and a midwife tied a scarlet string on it just before he pulled it back in. The other son was born and then the one with the ribbon, but the second born was considered the first because of putting out his hand.
The human foibles I’m reading here shows me just how weak we are and how God can bring strength out of weakness. It even explains to me why Yahshua selected disciples mostly from a band of misfits. And of course, that gives me hope in His ability to use this misfit, and any of the rest of you who have ever felt unqualified to be whatever He has called you to be. I’m sure as the story continues, we will see more craziness, but I am certain from what we’ve read already that this tribe was in desperate need of a King and a Messiah. We all need Him.
And I’ll bet you guys think this is the title for my latest post, huh? Well, actually this is just a placeholder while I wait for the power to come back on. I don’t want to have to go out driving in the storms to get a good enough signal to write my full post. So, hopefully I’ll have power soon. Blessings until then. ~Crystal
Okay, so power is back on, but I’m leaving the title the same because the reading is short, and there’s not much in it–especially about the power of God. Of course, when I look for it, I can find the power of God in most everything since I know I don’t even breathe in or out without Him. In that sense, there’s no power outage in this story or in any story. I mean, I almost burst into tears in my first computer class back in 2001. It was just a brief overview of an A+ course, but when the guy said that everything we see on the screen is just a series of ones and zeroes representing power turned on or off, I could suddenly see God working on His creation in binary arithmetic and saying, “Power on–Let there be light.” It may seem silly to some, but it amazes me to see God in everything.
So, today’s short reading is from Genesis 25:1 through Genesis 25:11, and it briefly tells the story of Abraham when he married Keturah. I would guess that this marriage was after Sarah died, but I find some questioning in my mind on this subject. See, Keturah bore Abraham six sons. But remember how Abraham laughed about having pleasure when he was old? So, did all his youthful strength come back to him after he created Isaac? Beyond that, it talks about the children of his concubines. Maybe there’s more history elsewhere, but I’m just wondering if Abraham had all these children after Isaac, or if they were just unmentioned before. The telling does say that Abraham gave all his riches to Isaac and sent the other children to the east with grants.
By the last verse, we read that after Abraham passed away (and was buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael in the same tomb as Sarah), God greatly blessed Isaac. I’ve heard many messages about God’s blessings being given through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel whose story we have yet to read. Now, I’m wondering exactly what blessings/grants were given to all these other sons. I’m thinking of mighty armies and prosperous lands throughout the earth, and I’m remembering that God told Abraham that the whole earth would be blessed through him.
It’s funny how I can read this stuff each year and have thoughts on it as I read, but then when I decide to write the commentary, I see so much I never noticed before. Even when what I see creates a bunch of questions to which I may or may not get answers, I love that my heart is always stirred by the written Word of God. And now, I guess it’s like I said above, even if I’m not seeing specific readings about the power of God, there really never is a power outage.
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