Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

In Memory of My Mother


Mom image in stardust frame.

Mom in a stardust frame. May she be even more beautiful now in the presence of her Lord and Savior.

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.”

Page 2:

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)
(Paraphrased)
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
appearing.

Page 3:

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.

Page 4:

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,

~Crystal

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Current Events, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel


I’ve decided to do some posts on Christmas songs that really touch my heart. I don’t yet know how many I will do. I’ll start with songs from my top-ten list in no particular order. The first song I’ll use is Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel.

The video is a performance of the song by Selah (one of my favorite groups), and it’s a wonderful rendition with the tune from Hatikvah (The Hope) played between the verses. The lyrics are on the video, and I’ll put some of them here as well so I can add commentary. I’m pulling these from the carols.org site, and you can click there to read all five verses.

Verse 1

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

We read of this name, Emmanuel, in Matthew 1:23. Here it is from the King James’ Version…

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

I once heard a story about a man and his wife who opened their door on a snowy evening to see some little white kittens romping in the snow. The wife was on her way to a Christmas Eve service while her husband chose to stay home because he couldn’t understand the importance of Christmas. As she walked farther away, the man tried to call the kittens to the door to come in from the snow. He even poured some warm milk into a bowl, but they still refused to come to him.

Eventually, the frustrated man hollered at the cats, “Don’t you cats know that if you stay out there you’ll freeze to death? How come I can’t make you understand? I guess I’d have to become a cat myself and talk in your language before you’d believe me.”

Just then, the church bells rang in the distance, and the man fell to his knees with understanding.

God knew we would die in our sins without His intervention. He needed to look like us and speak like us for us to believe that He only has our best interest in His mind and heart. He prophesied these things, and then He spoke to Joseph in a dream using the name, Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” Think on these things as you ponder the reason for this season.

Even without believing this to be the exact time of year for His birth, we can celebrate His birth every day, and that includes the days now upon us. What a blessing to have a time of year when God’s love, brotherly love, giving to others, and receiving from others, are all wrapped up in bows and lights and beauty. What a privilege to rejoice in His gifts from all time and for all time. HalleluYah! Now, here are the lyrics from the last two verses of the song.

Verses 4-5

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

When I think of God’s promises to us, His deliverance from hopelessness, and all He has done to draw us close to Him and give us the right to call Him “Abba, Father,” it moves me beyond words. I am nothing in and of myself, and yet He decided I am worth the amount of love it takes to robe Himself in flesh to set an example for my life, and the greater love to lay down His life for me.

If you don’t know Him, or you don’t know Him with this kind of intimacy, seek Him with all your heart and soul and you will find Him. That’s His promise. I pray for your understanding and desire to receive the gift of salvation paid for by sacrifice and blood. He does love you, and He desires to ransom you out of your sin, so you will no longer have to live in bondage to it. Rejoice with me and be free to go and sin no more. Amen.

December 12, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Christmas Season, Current Events, Lyrics and Song, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rest for the Weary


While the apostles sat in chains or endured torture, and while they were on their way to martyrdom, do you suppose they ever got weary? Do you suppose they were tempted to give up hope? I can’t say what was in their hearts, but something in them kept pushing forward, or we wouldn’t have the word delivered to us in this day. Maybe The Lord gave them a glimpse of what their sacrifices would be worth, and it rested their souls enough to keep hoping–even to the point of singing praises in the midst of their bondage.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter comes with a dose of encouragement to remember that God IS on the throne and in control. He will cause ALL things to work together for the good.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Ninth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Ninth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 29

In Due Season

“In due season we shall reap…”
GALATIANS 6:9

The good news is that even if the Ekklesia has been underground, it is still growing and developing. When the season is right it will burst forth and once again those who have eyes to see will indeed discern the blade, the head, and the full grain in the head. In fact the blades have already broken ground in several places and we are even beginning to see some grain taking shape. If you have traced the recovery of the Heavenly Order so far then you know there have been many obstacles and hindrances to God’s Will over the last six thousand years or so of the history of mankind.

So far God has defeated everything that rose up to challenge His Purpose in Christ. Not only has He defeated it, but He has actually used evil to bring about good and further increase His Son. The Scriptures provide us with every expectation and assurance that God will continue to do the same with our generation. He is very much an active part of world affairs, whether they be secular or sacred.

Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden

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As time moves closer to the end, we may struggle to contain our fears and not grow weary. We’re bombarded by warnings of a future with no freedom and a lack of provision. We know our coming days may include a loss of the free ability to spread the gospel, and we may face battles similar to what the apostles faced in Bible days.

These days, though, it seems our focus is more on our personal struggles. I know I’m not alone in having bad days when the car won’t start, hair won’t cooperate, and the rain keeps coming down. I believe it is the enemy that pushes us to think about our own lives losses, so we’ll focus on ourselves and struggle against personal weariness. I’m certain members of the early church faced personal struggles too, but we rarely read about those things. What we do read of is what Chip talks about; God’s defeat of everything that rose up to challenge His purpose in Christ. God will comfort us in personal battles, but I think we have even more assurance of His deliverance when it comes to battles in working for Him.

As we press forward into the future, we can remember the Scriptural encouragement to not be weary in well-doing. That’s the Scripture used above that ends in the promise of reaping in due season. The whole verse reads…

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

In Hebrews 12:3, we have this reminder…

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Most of our Scriptural encouragements are about comfort in weariness of serving The Lord, so that tells me we should keep our focus on Him, so we’ll see the comfort when it comes our way. I’ll close with King David’s Psalm of promise to those who keep working even through their weariness. Psalm 126:6 says…

He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do You Bounce?


Some things hit the ground and go splat. Some hit and shatter. Some bounce. Obviously, bouncing is the best response because it means that instead of staying down, you will rise back up. The fancy word for this is resiliency. Resilient people can bounce back like cartoon characters who never seem to find a permanent splat even if they have to pump themselves back up. It’s an important characteristic that some have naturally, but which we can also learn.

Yeshua knew the ultimate bounce–from death to life. Today’s Infinite Supply talks about how Yeshua’s resiliency can help us bounce too.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Fourth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Fourth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 24

Accomplished Through the Cross

“We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
ROMANS 6:4

The Cross is the means by which God reduces us to Christ, that we may be raised to new Life. What cannot be accomplished in a lifetime of self-effort is easily accomplished in God through the Cross.

We may take many shortcuts along the way and attempt to escape the inevitable, but the day we cease striving and meekly accept the Cross we find everything is done for us.

Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden

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The trick Yeshua used to bounce back is found in The Holy Spirit. Yeshua didn’t have to fear dying to His earthly self because He knew He would rise again in both body and spirit. He knew death was not permanent, and He knew His new life was worth more than His old life. He also knew the true value of His death–a new life for all those who trust in Him.

I find that people who don’t know The Lord are typically either hopeless or put their hope into things that are likely to destroy them in the end. If they choose the latter, they may look happy in the midst of their partying, but take it away from them and you’ll see how unhappy they are on the inside. If people put their happiness and security in anything this world has to offer, they are only happy as long as they are comfortable.

To the contrary, people who intimately know Yeshua as their Lord, Savior, and Best Friend have hope in spite of discomforts in their lives. The blood of Christ covers us like “Flubber” and helps us both endure and bounce. Serving and loving God gives us the resiliency to bounce back if only to rebound with enough hope to trust in the eternal life He has prepared for our future.

If you are on your way down and know you won’t bounce, it’s not too late to get covered by the blood of Christ in repentance and baptism. Accept the cross and fall at the feet of the Lord before you fall to the bottom of your life, and you can bounce up to a new life and a new hope. When you die to yourself, you open the door for God to raise you up to the newness of life. There’s nothing more resilient than resurrection. Do you bounce? If not, feel free to write to me and ask for more information.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s About (End) Time


One problem with an abundant memory can be how to focus on just a little piece of it. For the subject of tonight’s post, my mind has taken me all over the place. I’ve searched my blog to make sure I haven’t already written about “end time revival” (I did), and I’ve checked for other posts on time or with pictures of clocks and watches. My mind has also sent me looking for pictures on Flickr about driving through history, scattered things, time and watches, and more. Oh, and I’ve been remembering lots and lots of songs.

For music, my playlist includes gospel songs about revival; ApologetiX parodies like Stay in the Light (from “Stayin’ Alive”) and Life Restored from (Last Resort); and finally, the song above from a television show I’ve never seen but heard my husband talk about. (Yes, even things that I’m not familiar with but have been spoken to me by others seem to stay in my mind.) I hope Hubby and others enjoy the trip down TV memory lane, and if you want the full lyrics, including the ones that were changed when the astronauts went forward in time, visit TV Acres.com.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 30:1 through Deuteronomy 30:6, Moses gives Israel a prophecy of their future–and what may well still be in the future for all of us. The first thing Moses says to them is, “When the time arrives that all these things have come upon you, both the blessing and the curse.” He continues by bringing it to their attention that a day will come when they have experienced all the blessings and curses written in the Torah. At that time, they will be scattered to wherever God has driven them as a result of their disobedience.

While this may sound hopeless, it’s not. Moses tells them that these events will make them finally start thinking about what has happened. Moses even tells them they will return to God (that’s a really good thing) and listen to His words and obey with all their heart and being. Moses adds to their hope by telling them that in those says, God will reverse their exile and show them mercy. God will gather them from all peoples where they have been scattered. Paul speaks of this in the eleventh chapter of Romans, beginning at Romans 11:1-2a (Amplified Bible) where he says…

I ask then: Has God totally rejected and disowned His people? Of course not! Why, I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin! 

No, God has not rejected and disowned His people [whose destiny] He had marked out and appointed and foreknown from the beginning.

Moses tells them that even if someone was scattered to the far end of the sky, God will gather them back.  He will personally go and get them Himself! And, when God brings His people back, He will make them prosper more than their ancestors, and the best is still ahead. When He brings them back, God will circumcise their hearts, so they will love Him with all their heart and all their being, and thus shall they live.

I love that last line…thus shall they live! Circumcised in heart and loving God with all that is within them, thus shall they live. I cannot imagine a better way to live. I cannot imagine a better definition for life. A people who were in the wilderness are home. A people who were scattered are gathered. A people who were dull of seeing and hearing and understanding are fully aware and fully in love with their Creator. This sounds like an end time revival to me; a happy ending. It’s about (end) time!

September 9, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow


Field at Sunrise by Flickr User Moyan Brenn, CC License = Attribution

Field at Sunrise by Flickr User Moyan Brenn, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I remember sprouting a lima bean in a wet paper towel when I was in one of my lower elementary grades. I also remember that I found it fascinating. I think most people who take the time to see how God makes things grow are in awe of His handiwork. I am especially in awe at how, just as His Word tells us in John 12:24, it takes the death of the seed to make the plant grow and bring forth fruit. Sometimes, we only look at things at the point of death or hopelessness, and we forget that even out of that, God can bring new life.

Today’s reading from Leviticus 27:16 through Leviticus 27:21 doesn’t talk about anything growing, but it does talk about the fields where the growing is done. It’s basically about people who want to consecrate a field to The Lord. God informs Moses that the priests are to value the field according to its production using a standard measure of barley. Later, if the person wants the field back, he can redeem it for the value plus another one-fifth of the value, unless someone else purchased it. If it has been sold, then on Jubilee when the new owner vacates it, the land will become a permanent possession of the priesthood, and it will be holy to The Lord.

So, a field consecrated to The Lord will either be redeemed for a greater value than when it was consecrated, or it will become perpetually holy. Because God takes possession of it, He brings new life from old. If that can happen with a field, what then can happen with a soul? How many times have we prayed over a person and dedicated them to the work of God from their youth. And then they grow up and make bad decisions that go against everything we hoped and dreamed they would do for The Lord. But if we let go and trust them into God’s hands, He can add value to them or draw them to Himself as His permanent possession.

I write this at the end of a long day with a lack of sleep, but I am happy for the day because the works done in its hours have been necessary due to the work God has done in our lives. A few weeks ago, you may recall my writing about the nephew who was in a coma due to a drug overdose. If not, you can read the post “When Brothers Weep” for more information. At that point, and based on all the tests, we prayed for a miracle but were fairly certain that we had a long road ahead even if he ever woke up. Our tasks today were part of that road–which it turns out will not be as long as anticipated.

Beyond the test results and expectations, our nephew Joshua is out of both the hospital and the in-patient rehab facility, walking with a walker, thinking and remembering with almost perfect cognition, and in the process of amazing his out-patient rehabilitation workers. His biggest deficit is neuropathic pain in one foot that keeps reminding him that he just took his body through something from which it should not have recovered. And yet it has. And we are praising God for the opportunity to encourage him to use his second chance to become what God created him to be and to share his testimony with others.

My husband and I took Joshua and his three brothers to church when they were very young, and we prayed over them more than once. We had dreams of their dedication and service to God. We didn’t get to keep them in our custody very long, but we loved them as if they were our own, and it has caused us great pain to see these “fields” misused and under attack of the enemy because their mother makes herself more available to the enemy than to God. But today gives me hope of change and hope that those prayers from so long ago will be answered. Those prayers came before all the attacks of the enemy that have sought to bring these boys down, and maybe it’s those prayers that have stopped the enemy from being able to fully take their lives. Maybe these boys that we dedicated to God will each find their way to Him, increased in value and perpetually holy, before their ends come and/or before the end of life on this earth. I am going back to that prayer and that dedication and asking God to make it so. You, my friends and readers, are welcome to join me. Thank you.

May 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freedom from Big Government


Fractal Butterfly in Purple Frame by Crystal A Murray (C) All Rights Reserved

Fractal Butterfly in Purple Frame by Crystal A Murray (C) All Rights Reserved

Playing on yesterday’s topic of God being our true Supreme Court, now I’m looking at how to be free from “big government” when it is run by mankind. It’s as simple as following Moses’ example of being more than just a hearer of the words taught to him by his mentor, but being a doer also. Our reading today from Exodus 18:24 through Exodus 18:27 is short enough that I’m going to just print it here.

Exodus 18:24-27

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

(iii) 24 Moshe paid attention to his father-in-law’s counsel and did everything he said.25 Moshe chose competent men from all Isra’el and made them heads over the people, in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 As a general rule, they settled the people’s disputes — the difficult cases they brought to Moshe, but every simple matter they decided themselves.

27 Then Moshe let his father-in-law leave, and he went off to his own country.

We will find as we read along in the Torah that more and more rules are required for one reason only; that men refuse to govern themselves. Part of governing ourselves requires listening to others with more experience as Moses did to Jethro because he already had experience as a priest. It also includes accountability, which is what was happening when Moses assigned competent men to watch over the people and settle their general disputes. Knowing where we stand as to when we should direct ourselves, when we follow advice from a mentor, and in all ways how to glorify Our Creator in all we do should be our highest goal. Maturity and personal responsibility allows us to fail, as we humans tend to do so often that we need new mercy every morning, and yet to face our failures in light of God’s grace.

Just imagine if all the world did what was right just because it was right and not only because they might be caught doing what was wrong. Imagine people who understand that if something belongs to someone else, it’s not yours to touch, take, or damage. Imagine people who value human life and know it is God who gives us each breath. Imagine if all people would see true freedom as doing things God’s way instead of toward the selfish pleasures of the short-lasting flesh.

I don’t know what our bodies will be like other than like Christ’s perfected and glorious body, but I imagine that if the new Heaven and new Earth have life anything close to how we see it now with bodies and people, the world might line up to these things I listed above. I could see that as a perfect world even with flesh that messes up now and then because our failures so often allow us to see God as the Only One who is perfect. With Yahshua as our Government, we have some precious promises that can be found in Isaiah 9:6. Following the prophecy that a child would be born and the government would be on His shoulders, we have the remaining prophecy that His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In other words, the blessing of our obedience to Him as our Governor is that we will see Him as wonderful, and we will have Him as our counselor, as our Mighty God, as our Everlasting Father, and as our Prince of Peace. Now that’s a big government I can live with.

January 20, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If You Can Read This, You’re Too Close


Tailgating Costs Lives by Flickr User Max aka landotter, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Tailgating Costs Lives by Flickr User Max aka landotter, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab to access original image and user’s photo stream at Flickr.

So I’m one of those who gets really frustrated by tailgaters. I’ve even thought of creating a bumper sticker that says, “Consider doing a random act of kindness; get off my tail.” And I really like the matter-of-fact statement on the back-end of the truck in the picture. It’s too bad Pharaoh didn’t have this truck as a warning too. Maybe he would have realized the danger of his tailgating mistake before it was too late.

In today’s reading from Exodus 14:9 through Exodus 14:14 (yep, it’s very short today), we see all the horses and chariots of Egypt pursing the children of Israel. Pharaoh’s cavalry and army overtakes Israel as they are camped by the sea, and when the people see them, they begin to cry out against Moses. “Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt? Did you have to bring us out to the desert to die? We told you to leave us alone, so why didn’t you just let us stay slaves?”

Arghh! If I was Moses, I think I would have been so frustrated, I might have asked if they wanted a little cheese with that whine. After all, they were the ones who cried out when they were in slavery, and they were the ones who asked God to save them. God heard their cry, and the first thing He had Moses say to them was that He was sending Moses as a response to that cry. But now they’re accusing Moses as if it was all his idea and as if they had no part in the decision-making process.

But I understand, they are in great fear. Suddenly their hope at freedom has been deferred, and they have become heartsick. They think everything they’ve endured will end in death, so they’re thinking it might have been easier to keep their mouths shut and stay slaves. But God knew Pharaoh’s heart, and He knew things would have continuously gotten worse for His children, so He stepped in to save them. And Moses does not seem to be frustrated. Rather, he encourages them to stop being so fearful. He tells them to remain steady in their trust that Yahveh IS going to save them. He goes so far as to tell them that God is going to take care of things that very day, and that while they see the Egyptians now, it will be the last they see of them.

The last verse today has Moses telling the people that God will do the battle for them, so they can all calm down. Or, for other encouraging words, Moses could have used the keep calm, and carry on meme. Theirs would have been, “Keep calm, and let God carry on.”

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weeping May Endure for a Fortnight


Sunrise by Sean MacEntee CC License = Attribution

Sunrise by Flickr user Sean MacEntee.
Click image to view original and to access this photographer’s full photostream.

For those who love trivia like I do, here’s an FYI for you. A fortnight is two weeks. So, weeping may endure for two weeks, or for two years, or for two generations, but since a thousand years is as a day with God, the important thing to remember is that whenever morning comes, joy will come with it. (See Psalm 30:5 for the exact Scripture.)

For Joseph and his brothers and their father, the weeping went on for a long time. In today’s reading from Genesis 45:19 through Genesis 45:27, Joseph is telling his brothers to load up their carts and donkeys with an abundance of provision for their journey back to Canaan. He also says he wants to make sure that there will be enough provision for their father to have bread as he makes the return journey with them. Of course, while he also gave each of his brothers a new set of clothing, he gave Benjamin seven sets of new clothing and even more provisions. I think he was happy to be reunited with his brother, don’t you? And finally, when he sent them on their way, he reminded them not to quarrel on their way back home. They were brothers after all.

When they arrived back home, the first thing they did was to tell their father that Joseph was alive. Obviously, he was reluctant to believe such good news. He had become accustomed to living in the grief of his son’s death. They told him Joseph was not only alive, but that he was also a ruler in Egypt. Even when they told him all that had transpired during their visit there, Jacob was afraid to believe such good news. The last verse says that it was only when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him back to Egypt that Jacob’s spirit began to revive.

God knows just how much good news means to His children. There is an abundance of Scripture that talks about things of hope and good news. Even the word for spreading the truth of God’s love for us and salvation through Yahshua, gospel, means “Good News.” Since we are in the season of celebration of Christ’s birth, may we remember that the purpose of that birth was to bring the hope (and good news) of salvation to the whole world; to whoever would desire it and seek it. And while weeping of earthly measure may last for a night or longer, we have the hope that joy will come in the morning, and someday, it will last for eternity.

December 10, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tribe that Needed A Lion


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.

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When God is in Your Fan Club


Image

Fractalius Fan and Roses by Crystal A Murray–See the original in my photo stream at Flickr by clicking on the image.

Today, we have another short reading of only seven verses. This one, from Genesis 26:23 through Genesis 26:29 is all about the blessings of Isaac and the promises God made to him. In verse 24, Yahveh appears to Isaac and lets him know he has nothing to fear because He is the God of his father, and that means He is the God of him. Yahveh reminds Isaac of the blessings He has in store for his future descendants because of the promises He made to Abraham. And at this point, Isaac builds an altar and worships God.

I don’t remember if Scripture tells us that Isaac ever built an altar to God before, and whether it does or not, I don’t know if he did. In trying to look back over the last few weeks, I don’t think he did, so I’m thinking this is beginning of Isaac’s personal relationship with his Creator. But here is what I find truly interesting about this event. When Isaac dealt with Abimelech before, maybe even expecting the king to defend him as he had done his father, Abimelech suggested he leave town. Now, since Isaac has talked with God, Abimelech and the commander of his army have shown up on Isaac’s doorstep to make sure things are right between them.

In verse 28, after Isaac asks them why they would show up after now after sending his family away (and not defending him against the lying herdsmen who were stealing the wells Isaac dug), Abimelech tells him how they want to make sure that Isaac will not treat them badly because they may have sent him away, but they did so in peace. I can just hear them tripping over their own tongues trying to make sure that Isaac will treat them as friends and not as enemies. And in verse 29, they give away the reason they are so concerned about how he will treat them. They say, “You are now the blessed of the Lord.”

Huh, so when they just thought he was the son of one favored by God, they didn’t defend him, and they sent him away. Their blessings toward him were simply to do him no harm. Oh, but now that they know God is in Isaac’s fan club just like He was in Abraham’s fan club, they want to make sure they’re on the right side of the blessed man.

It’s like people who think they’re special because they get the autograph of someone who is famous to others, as if they’ll be sort of famous by osmosis. I think these guys were thinking that if they befriended someone who was blessed by God that they would get blessed by osmosis. And the funny thing is, Abimelech did the same thing to Abraham, right down to asking for the same protection and bringing up how good they treated him. But if folks want to hang around Christians and treat them well to keep themselves out of trouble, at least that means they can see that we are blessed by Him and walking in His presence. After all, God’s word says He will bless a city for the righteous that live there, so I guess it is in people’s’ best interest to get near those who are blessed by God. But I think it’s even better if we can be the blessed and say, “Guess who is in my fan club? Yep, it’s God Almighty!”

And with that I will close with my report on NaNo that I have reached 12,613 words for day #5. And I’m hoping God is in my reading fan club and will help me turn this one into something because I’m liking what my characters are doing now. Oh, and pardon the use of my “punny” picture for this post. I just liked the idea of showing off my fractalized fan to go with the title. 🙂

November 5, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ease on Down the Road


Red Dirt Road--CC License

Looking down a red dirt road,
CC image by Yeweny at Flickr
Click image to visit Flickr page

It wasn’t that many months ago that I had to make a major move after nearly 19 years of living in the same place. Many years ago, and without nearly as much stuff, I remember thinking what so many of us think, I never want to go through this again. Moving is just plain difficult. Well, imagine what it would have been like way back in Old Testament Bible times when moving may not have meant moving as much stuff as we deal with now, but it did mean moving lots of people (family, servants, etc.), and lots of animals. Plus, it meant huge changes to cultures and traditions in the places you wanted to set up house. And many of those we read about had to move many times over. Today’s short reading from Genesis 26:13 through Genesis 26:22 tells of just such a situation.

From the end of yesterday’s reading and into the beginning of today’s reading, we are told that God blessed and prospered Isaac more and more until he became quite rich. And then we find out that the Philistines began to envy him. They went through the land and put dirt in all the wells his father Abraham dug while he was living. So Isaac, trying not to fight, dug new wells. The first one he dug, God revealed a natural spring, so the envious Philistines claimed it as their own.

Okay, to tell you the truth, I’m getting a bit miffed with these guys now. It doesn’t seem right that Isaac is just doing what is right in God’s eyes and receiving a just reward as a result, but these people seem bent on making his life miserable instead. I mean, why couldn’t they have befriended him and shared in his blessings? That seems like common sense to me, but unfortunately, common sense isn’t all that common, and I guess it never has been. And Isaac seemed to have a better attitude than I think most of us would these days. Instead of fighting, he just dug another well.

As we read on, we find that every time Isaac moved down the road and dug another well, these envious men started a fight over it and said it was their well. They didn’t want him to have what had already been dug (meaning they even buried their own blessings by filling in the wells), and then they fought over every new well he dug. At least as the well-digger, he had the right to name the wells, so he named them words that meant fighting and quarreling. Finally, though, he moved again, and this time he dug a well that no one fought over. He named it “Rehoboth” meaning room or wide open spaces and said, “Now the Lord has made room for us, and we will prosper.” The great attitude that Isaac had made me think of the title for this post which comes from the song of the same name. While I haven’t yet seen The Wiz, I have always liked the song. One line in it says, “Don’t you carry nothin’ that might be a load, come on and ease on down, ease on down the road.” I think Isaac did well at not carrying argument, resentment, or his own envy against these men who had set themselves up as his enemies.

One final thought: Maybe our land here in the United States was settled in a similar way. Men got tired of quarreling, so they set off for a new land where they could prosper. They still had to fight for it, whether fighting the original inhabitants, fighting those who wanted them back under their rule, or fighting the land and weather and illness. But they did make it a prosperous place, and they gave God praise for it. Now, we have envious people that want to “stop up our wells” and fight over what we claim through our original Constitution. Many have walked away and just gathered in states with like-minded folks who believe in the same history, but the envious have pushed to take over and take away our rights now in almost every part of our land. Sadly, we are probably going to have to fight another war within our own borders or ease on down the road and hope for another place to build a dream while the ungrateful destroy what our founding fathers built. But we must pray and ask God whether He wants us to fight or move. And when we get His answer, it might just be to wait because He has plans to ease us down the road into the New Heaven and New Earth where we will prosper and where we’ll never have to move again.

BTW, just to keep stepping stones on my daily word counts, my NaNo total for day #4 is 9487.

November 4, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I Follow Him–A Poem


The content of this poem I wrote many years ago says a lot about everything I’ve written to this point, especially about the covenant made by God in the post for October 17th. I felt this was an appropriate time to share it.

I FOLLOW HIM
By Crystal A Murray – (C)2005

I follow Him…

…Around the corridors of Heaven, where beings created for worshipping Him fall at His feet. He sighs, and I hear Him say, “How I long for a friend with whom I can commune, and who will worship Me and desire to commune with me–because he loves Me.” A few heavy sighs later, I see His breath flowing into His new friend. He smiles and says, “It is very good.”

I follow Him…

…through a garden, where He walks and talks with man and woman. I see His despair on the day He can’t find them because a veil of sin now separates Him from His new creation. I watch as, in pain and desperation, He slays an animal to cover their nakedness and then uses the animal’s blood to temporarily pierce sin’s veil, so He may commune once more with His friends. I hear Him lament that all communication with mankind will now be strife for Him because of sin, but He loves them, and He will not give it up. He will never leave nor forsake them.

I follow Him…

…to His drawing board and see His plans for a temple in Heaven and its counterpart on earth. I also see plans for an ark; a covenant; splitting a sea; how blood sacrifice should work and why it doesn’t; and a way to bring Perfect Blood before the Heavenly altar and permanently destroy the veil of sin.

I follow Him…

…to Bethlehem on a star-lit night; to a carpenter’s shop; to a temple service; to a wedding in Cana and a pool in Bethesda.

I follow Him…

…now to another garden. In this one, called Gethsemane, His flesh and Spirit wrestle. I hear Him pray for my salvation–and yours. The flesh bleeds, but the Spirit prevails. I watch as His betrayer kisses Him … and then flees with Perfect Blood on his lips.

I follow Him…

…to the judgment hall and the whipping post.

I follow Him…

…to the death stake: where Perfect Blood stains the ground … the Centurion’s sword … and the hands of His killers. I see a tomb where His body lays still while His Spirit descends into Hell to take the keys of death and forever deliver His creation–His friends–from bondage. As He returns to His tomb, I watch as His Spirit awakens His body with the dawning of a 3rd-day’s sun.

I follow Him…

…as He comforts those who grieve at His tomb, makes Himself known to disciples walking a lonely road to Emmaus, and fills the nets of forlorn fishermen. I hear Him tell of a Comforter. Soon, I watch as He ascends in a cloud back to Heaven, where He goes to prepare a place for me–and for all who love Him. I see that, even today, He works in Heaven’s Holy Temple as our High Priest continuously offering His Perfect Blood to atone for our sins.*

I follow Him…

…because I love Him and desire to commune with Him. He makes a way because He loves me and desires to commune with me. And someday, with the sounds of a trumpet and a shout, He will split the skies and call His people to come home. And then…

…I will follow Him for eternity!

*Hebrews 6:19-20

October 18, 2013 Posted by | Devotion, Poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Covenant God


The reading for today is all in Genesis 9 and is a very short set of verses from 8 through 17. Noah, his family, and the animals are off the boat. Noah has offered the first sacrifice to show his thankfulness for their salvation. And now, with this family ready to replenish the earth, God has made a promise, and he has given a sign for that promise that we still see today; the rainbow.

I downloaded an image I really like by rwangsa at Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwangsa/452128709/)…

Image

You know, there are many gods out there that people try to please with various works, but most of them are just trying to get those gods to carry them to an eternal paradise. They will give it all for a promise that may or may not be true. But our God and Creator, Yahveh Almighty, has promised us so much more than an eternity in paradise. He has plans so awesome that He says they haven’t even found a way to enter into our thoughts or imaginations.

I was talking with a friend today, and we were discussing what we have with God that so many others do not have with their gods. The greatest thing we have of course is His Love. It’s not just an end game, but a gift He desires to shower on us in every moment. He wants us to trust Him so much that you will see many covenants He makes with His people throughout Scripture. This covenant in today’s reading is not only a promise, but a promise that comes with a sign both to us and to Him. He says that when we see it, we can remember His promise to us. And He says that whenever He brings clouds upon the earth, He Himself will see the sign and remember His promises. It’s like two best friends that tie a string around each others’ wrists or pinky fingers to remind the other that they will be best friends forever. God is our best Friend, a covenant Friend and a covenant God, who will be there for us…forever! Hallelu-Yah!!!

October 9, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merciful God from the Beginning


Not only was I out and about after reading today’s portion from Genesis 3:22 through 4:26 (end of chapter 4), I was driving, so I couldn’t do the entry from my phone app as I intended to do on days when I’m running. I just got home and looked at the clock, so time is short, which means I’ll have to keep this short. But I’m determined to make my best effort to write every day.

Yesterday, the Scripture ended with man and woman knowing they were naked and sewing fig leaves together to cover themselves. And then God shed the first blood to cover them completely. It was only after I began studying the Hebrew roots of my faith and falling in love with the old testament that I saw God in a new and merciful light, and this is the first place I saw Him that way. I had always believed in God as the “Big Meanie” in the old testament who got nice when He robed Himself in flesh in the new testament. But now, I see Him wanting to visit with Adam and Eve, and feeling pain because of the sin that has now divided them. Scripture says that for God, associating with the flesh is “strife” ( see Genesis 6:3), and He will not have it that way forever.

So, here is God with the new creation, the ones He called “very good,” and it’s hurting Him to even visit with them. What does He do? He causes Himself a bit more pain by slaying yet another of that which He has created, so the blood can temporarily cover the sin and allow Him to fellowship with them once more. I believe He hurt over killing that animal even more than most animal lovers would hurt. I don’t think it was a small thing for Him with that sacrifice or any sacrifice He demanded later. But it was a necessary sacrifice in order for God to participate in the lives of those He made in His very own image.

As this reading begins, we have God setting up angels to guard the “Tree of Life” to make sure that mankind cannot touch it and eat and live forever. That is a huge act of mercy because had they eaten from that tree after being in the sinful state caused by their eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would have been doomed to live in that terrible state forever. Imagine having a front row seat to all the darkness and evil in the world and having to sit and watch it forever. That would have been their fate if God had not intervened with His mercy. Yahveh God purposely caused the knowledge of evil to shorten their lives, so they would not have to live forever in hopelessness. Not only is that a great mercy from Him, it is still only the beginning of what He would do to give hope and a future to those who love Him. Amazing!

October 2, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fall Before the Fall


Today’s reading comes from Genesis 2:4 through Genesis 3:21. As usual, there is so much I could comment on, from God Himself breathing the breath of life into the first man, to the heavenly garden in Eden where mankind could eat fruit planted by His Creator, to man and wife being as one flesh. But I’d like to focus on the verses from 3:1 through 3:6.

So imagine Adam & and his new companion walking along a path and just enjoying the beautiful creation that surrounded them. Somehow, they end up right in front of the one tree of which they are not to partake. A voice comes from a serpent also hanging around this very tree. (Of course, this makes me wonder if all the animals talked since neither the man or woman seemed to have been surprised to be conversing with a snake.) And the first thing the snake does is challenge their Creator on whether He is a good provider. My translation: The serpent asked, “Hey, you people, did God say you could not eat from EVERY tree in the garden?

Wait a minute–ONE tree vs EVERY tree? That lying snake was trying to make the one forbidden tree look like it was of more value than all the other trees put together. The focus was shifted from all they did have to the one little thing they didn’t have. And that’s not a new trick. I think it contributes to much of the depression in today’s world. Sure, I’d love to live a cushy life where all my big desires are covered with plenty to spare. But I have the blessing of remembering times when I’ve had less, so those memories often bring me back to a place of gratefulness. The newly created couple didn’t have that to lean on, so all they could do is imagine that maybe they were missing out on something.

Next, the woman restated the rule of the tree of knowledge. Now, it could be that God said more to them with the first given orders, but if not, I’m wondering why the woman enhanced God’s words and added the part about not touching the tree. Did she fill herself with extreme fear to make sure she stayed on the straight and narrow? Or, maybe the law was spoken to Adam, and in his overly zealous desire to protect his wife from disobedience, he told her that she was not only to avoid eating it but also to avoid touching it. (Kinda like when parents tell their kids things like, “If you keep doing that, it’ll stay that way forever.”) Unfortunately, even strong warnings of never and forever don’t always work, and the fear of discipline in front of the woman was not enough to stop her from listening to the next lie.

So, in verse 4, the serpent flat-out calls God a liar. The husband is standing there, (we see that in verse 6), but he doesn’t seem to be getting defensive about all these lies. I wonder why he wasn’t shouting, “Come on, Honey, let’s get out of here. This little wimp has challenged our Creator on His ability to care for us, and now he’s calling Him a liar! We don’t need to hear anything else that snake has to say.” But they just stood there and listened, and the lying words started sinking in.

Now the woman takes a more deliberate look at the tree and begins a thinking process that has gotten man into trouble ever since. 1 John 2:16 says, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” Now look at the thoughts it says were going through the woman’s mind: When the woman saw the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and a tree to desirable to make one wise (pride of life), she was enticed. She imagined trying to BE like God rather than to SERVE her Creator, and in that, she imitated the very thoughts that got the voice behind the lying serpent thrown out of the Heavenlies in the first place. This was the fall before the fall. Before she even partook of the forbidden fruit, she engaged in evil thoughts and let the flesh win. And because her husband did not challenge the lying voice, she took him down with her.

But I do not want to stop here with hopelessness. It is evident that sin is something born into the flesh from its inception, or she would not have been able to sin in her mind before acting on her thoughts. But knowing this gives us a way to fight when those same thoughts try to bombard our minds. And even better, we are told in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” How was Yahshua (Jesus) tempted on all points? In Luke 4:1-13, we read of “the temptation in the wilderness.” The temptations included the lust of the flesh (turn these stones to bread), the lust of the eyes (look at all the kingdoms I can give you), and the pride of life (cast yourself down and make a show of the angels not letting you fall). He was truly tempted in EVERY way we can be tempted, and thus continually delivers us from what started with a liar at the beginning of creation.

October 1, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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