Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

2014 in review


2014 is almost over, and I’ve slowed down a bit as the year winds down. I guess we all need to take a bit of a break now and then, and mine came in with some physical issues that wore me out for a few weeks. Now, I wonder if my body was preparing for the emotional hit I received just two days ago when I found out my mother has inoperable late-stage pancreatic cancer. Prayer gives me amazing comfort, and I can’t imagine walking through a time like this without the grace of God and the strength of praying friends. When we’re out of control, there’s so much comfort in knowing that God is on His throne and that He cares.

With planning and upcoming travel, I don’t know how often I’ll be posting, but I promise I won’t forget about the blog or about my precious and valued readers. Thank you for every day, and every lesson, you have walked (and will walk) with me in this wisp of life here on earth. Now, here’s a 2014 review prepared for me by WordPress…

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 30, 2014 Posted by | Current Events, Nonfiction, Prayer, Slice of Life | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arrogance in Authority


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference in confidence and arrogance. I worry sometimes when people claim dominion or authority over things in this life and world because God gave it to Adam. That’s just it; God gave it to Adam. To blatantly claim then that we have that same dominion and authority may be based on Scripture, but is it based on context?

More contextual issues arise when I think about the authority Yeshua gave to His disciples. For example, He told them that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in Heaven. Does this give those of us who live today the authority to bind or loose things on earth and claim they are bound or loosed in Heaven? I’m not certain it does, though I still think we have authority but to act as The Lord commands. The latter part is what I feel carries the most weight; as The Lord commands. If God tells an individual that what He binds on earth is bound in Heaven, that person has the authority because God gave it to him.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter gives the proper foundation for a life of authority in Christ.

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

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-First 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 21

Better Than “Willpower”

“I die daily.”
1 CORINTHIANS 15:31

Paul might have buckled under the pressure. He certainly grew weary. He certainly was misunderstood, rejected, and persecuted. He suffered so much. What kept him going? Verse 29 of Colossians 1 says, “To this end I labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” He labors, and he strives. That’s the way Paul was. Laboring and striving, even when he was laboring and striving for the wrong things, he was absolutely dedicated to the mission. But there is something more extraordinary at work in Paul, something more than sheer willpower or determination.

I tell you willpower will only take you so far. Willpower is overrated. We need something else, something supernatural, something that does not rely upon my limited willpower. What was it? “I strive according to HIS WORKING which works in me mightily.” It was not the strength of Paul, but the strength of Christ in Paul, and through this Christ, Paul said, “I can do all things” (Philippians 4:13). All things!

Source: The Church in the Wilderness by Chip Brogden

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Context in all things is important. In Scripture, it’s especially important. Without context, we could be thinking that Paul literally lost his life on a daily basis. If we automatically take the words of Yeshua to His disciples as if they are for all of us, then to be in context, we should take all His words to them. For example, if we claim we can bind and loose because they could, then we should never take up a collection for our ministries because the disciples were told not to. Instead, they were to go without script in their purses and trust their hosts to provide their needs. And whatever gospel message we spread, we should begin at Jerusalem.

I know the above paragraph sounds a bit extreme, but considering how extremely to the letter we hold other things, we should consider context in all we claim from Scripture. We should be humble enough to seek the context and foundation behind all our behaviors and rituals, so we can make sure we’re doing them to please God and not men or ourselves. Like Paul, we should die daily to self and ask God for His direction in our lives. It’s better to learn what He would have us do and say and pray rather than to arrogantly claim we have authority just because the Lord gave it to those He sent out.

I don’t find in Scripture where God gave authority to every follower and believer. Those He did give it to were also given instruction to not rejoice in authority but to rejoice that their names were written in The Lamb’s Book of Life. In that, I can see confidence in humility. We realize we only have authority because we have Him. The two cannot be separated, and we should not want them to be. The minute we begin to act just because we think we are something, or have something in and of ourselves, we risk a loss of humility and a gain of arrogance.

Here’s a perfect Scripture to sum this up from 1 Peter 4:11 (NKJV)

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Let us be confident and sure in what He gives us as individuals rather than arrogant in what we think we can proclaim just because we read it in the Bible.

November 22, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, Prayer, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

God Answers Prayer in the Morning


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.

I have always loved the song Whisper A Prayer and the last line of each verse that said “So keep your heart in tune.” The verses start with a theme (whisper a prayer, God answers prayer, and Jesus may come) along with “in the morning,” “at noon,” and “in the evening,” followed by the last line.

In today’s reading from Numbers 28:1 through Numbers 28:15, God gives Moses orders to pass to Israel concerning burnt offerings and drink offerings. The details are much the same as previous readings that included information on giving offerings, including selecting animals are that young and without defect, and including grain with the offerings.

The daily offerings are scheduled for twice a day, at dawn and at dusk, and a drink offering (including one with liquor) is offered along with the two daily offerings. There are also special offerings for each Shabbat (Sabbath) and each Rosh Chodesh (Head of the Month). For Shabbat, the people are to offer to additional lambs, and at the beginning of each month, they are to offer two young bulls, one ram, and seven male lambs without defect in addition to the regular daily offerings.

What these very specific offerings say to me is that God wants to be remembered at all times. When people have everything going their way and don’t need to call on God, they are likely to just go about their daily routine without Him being a part of it. By having Him as part of a required routine, that should be less likely to happen. If we make a habit to whisper a prayer in the morning, whisper a prayer at noon, and whisper a prayer in the evening, I believe it will work to keep our hearts in tune. And as long as we are whispering prayers, I believe we can trust that God answers prayer in the morning–and at noon, and in the evening. Let us remember Him and give Him praise at all times throughout our days.

If you want to hear the tune and read the lyrics for this sweet tune (often listed as a children’s Sunday School song), here’s a video of just the music with printed lyrics…

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

As Goes the Leadership, So Goes the Nation


Today I was privileged to have my husband read to me while I drove back from taking one of my great-nieces back her mother. Sometimes, it seems like I hear much more by being read to than I do by reading to myself. Today’s reading is from Genesis 41:15 through Genesis 41:38, and it continues where we left with Pharaoh bringing in Joseph as a dream consultant.

The first thing I noticed here is how Joseph immediately turned things around when Pharaoh said he was told Joseph could interpret dreams. Joseph said, “It isn’t in me. God will give Pharaoh an answer that will set his mind at peace.” I love that. Here is Joseph’s chance to show off to someone who could really take him places politically, but Joseph stays humble and gives all the credit and glory to God.

So Pharaoh shares all the same information that we read yesterday about the two dreams with fat and skinny cows and with healthy and withered corn. After sharing it, Joseph tells Pharaoh that both dreams were the same dream but that God gave him two dreams because the thing was already settled and getting ready to happen shortly. He explained to him that the immediate future would bring seven years of great abundance followed by seven years of terrible famine that would completely devour everything brought forth during the years of abundance.

The next thing I noticed was how Joseph suggested that Pharaoh handle things. He advised that Pharaoh should take up a twenty percent tax during the years of plenty that would take care of the lack during the years of famine. That extra collection of produce would be stored up to keep people from starving and dying when the going got rough. Joseph also knew that taking in extra could lead to misuse, so he told them they needed someone both discreet and wise to take charge of the collection, storage, and distribution. Pharaoh and his advisors were impressed and said, “Can we find anyone else like him? The Spirit of God lives in him!

How I wish we could have governments in our world that would have this kind of wisdom. A government that would even listen to dreams and visions, or one that would seek someone who obviously has the Spirit of God dwelling in him, seems impossible now. I wonder if God gave a dream to someone in charge back before the great depression of 1929. I wonder if God has tried to give advice to our leaders about the various wars with which they have aligned themselves. If we would quit listening to human wisdom–that passionate side-taking about being for war or against it, for weapons or against them, etc., and listen for the direction of The One who sees and knows the future, how much more of a future might we have, and how much better might it be? And then I have to look at myself and ask, “Have I been praying enough for the leaders of our land (and the leadership around the world) that God would send them dreams and that they would heed them?” I confess I have not prayed as I should, but I intend to change that. I hope there will be others to join me in this.

December 1, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Jacob Prayed


Today we begin a new portion: Parashah (portion) 8, the Hebrew “Vayishlach” meaning He Sent. It runs from Genesis 32:4 to Genesis 36:43, but today’s reading is simply from Genesis 32:4 through Genesis 32:13. Jacob is on his way back to the home of his birth in obedience to what God directed. He knows Esau still lives there, and he is sure Esau is still angry, so he sends men ahead of him to let Esau know that he is coming to him with gifts of cattle and flocks as a peace agreement.

The men came back and told Jacob that Esau was coming out to meet him, but they also said he was bringing 400 men with him. This made Jacob fearful and distressed, so Jacob created a two-fold solution. First, Jacob split his people and possessions into two camps. This way, he said, if Esau comes to destroy a camp, one camp of people will still get out alive. That was good preparation, but the second solution was the best.

Jacob prayed a beautiful prayer to God. He first reminded God that it was His idea for Jacob to return, so he showed he was being faithful. He then showed humility and thankfulness by telling God that he knew he was not worthy of the love and faithfulness He had shown him since he first crossed the Jordan with nothing but the staff in his hand. And then he asked God to please deliver him from the wrath of Esau and to keep His promise to make his seed abundant. He even repeated God’s promise to him and to Abraham and Isaac as it had been given to them by God.

I believe that prayer showed a relationship with God that was built on more than just a “gimme” game. I love the faithfulness, thankfulness, humility, and praise that came before the requests. And as we continue into this portion, we will see the wonderful things God did as a result of that prayer.

November 16, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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