Forgive Him?

(This post is re-published from  Brought About  July 28, 2013. #Forgiveness is a skill set worth training ourselves to master because real healing is worth it.)

Jesus teaches we should forgive anyone, forgive them anything, even forgive them for the same offense as many times as they ask for it (Matthew 18: 21,22).

There is a human teaching that says we (the Christian community anyway) are supposed to forgive anyone, anything, any time, even if they are not there and do not ask. I most certainly and with much intensity of heart do not agree. Before you blow off that thought please consider that to do so degrades everyone and relegates attempts at justice to the level of a bad joke. Rather, the Word of God, the Truth, teaches us to love justice, to walk tall before, during, and after an offense.The Lord’s solutions take into consideration every contingency.

I think God created his creatures to deal with a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ no mater what culture one comes from, generation one belongs to, or which community one lives in.

My own dilemma: Should I forgive Dad for leaving and then abandoning me when I was little. He wasn’t around. Should I hate him for the rest of my life?

Image result for law clipart

As I watch people, I see the burden and twisting of life that can occur when humans set themselves up as judge, jury, bailiff, and armed guard simultaneously, ready to escort the wrongdoer to experience the justice they so deserve. I see those who long for justice and get nothing except a toxic bitterness where healing balm should be.

It is important to note that forgiveness can and cannot do certain things. Forgiveness does not equal: making justice disappear, does not dissolve consequences, does not forget events or the pain received from them, nor abandon the truth.  Forgiveness does accept the reality of each event, cleans and refreshes my heart, converts my attitude from hostile to friendly, and sets my own heart free.

How do I forgive without making justice a joke?

Let God be God and leave room for his loving me, His clear view of the whole picture, and His administration of any punishment that needs to occur.

Then wait in a way that is active. Declare indictments. Be honest. Point out to certain persons the truth of a situation. Warn them concerning a particular error. Listen well. Adjust my own perspective if needed.

Do I? Not half so much as I would like or think is necessary but the point is that I can declare these things out loud and still be right with God.

God does not teach us to be doormats. There are right ways and wrong ways to do this, however, and distorting proper procedure here is often the cause of a sullied relationship with God, even with people.

Here is Biblical guidance on the subject:

Romans 12:17-21 (AMP)

17 Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.

18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.

20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.

21 Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good.

Wordpress banner compassShall I pardon or acquit? Will it help if I bang the gavel and pronounce the punishment? These tasks belong to the True Judge. When I train myself to appeal to God for his judgment on the matter at hand, the people involved, and the impact of decisions, I experience peace … with myself and with God. How often? As often as these come to mind.

Incidentally, Dad called one afternoon when I was all grown up and had children of my own. His heart, choked with emotion, spoke, “Honey, I’m sorry for our un-family.”

My first reaction was That’s all I get!?! but training in forgiveness was applied. “Dad, I forgive you.” With this reply our relationship healed in both directions. Real healing is the best kind of healing and worth the wait.

Deeds Digested and Dealt With

What we do…our daily deeds…  go through an intake and outlet process much like the complete process of digestion. Waste is dealt with in such a fashion as to be totally rid of it and ready for the rest of life. Have you potty trained your deeds?

Some  deeds going in can be worthless though. I am learning that one can still engage in good deeds from a genuine, heart-felt intention (eat spiritual food), complete the deed as it goes through the gut (doing what we hear God telling us to do in His Word) and explode on the other end (excrete spiritual things not useful for the buillding up the body) without assimilating the benficial nutrients Galatians 5:222 Peter 1:5-9 ). Think underweight. Think malnourished…Christianity.

My first and incredibly despairing thought:  There goes a life of doing good and desiring to live righteously…right down the toilet! There is no benefit to anyone in that.

Nutrition (the wonders of God in every time and person)should stick — redeemed, delivered, forgiven, blessed — but sometimes it doesn’t.  And it is what we do in relation to who God is that impacts that. Matthew 18:5; Mark 9:37, Mark 16:17; John 5:43, John 14:11-14.

We cannot gain salvation by what we do BUT what we do does matter. We show our faith by what we do. We even proclaim our friendship with God by what we do every day — that mundane spiritual maintenance eating (hearing the Word), excreting(confessing and getting rid of sin) , and cleansing (renewing our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus) stuff that is common to us all).

15 To the pure [in heart and conscience] all things are pure, but to the defiled and corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are defiled and polluted.

16 They profess to know God [to recognize, perceive, and be acquainted with Him], but deny and disown and renounce Him by what they do; they are detestable and loathsome, unbelieving and disobedient and disloyal and rebellious, and [they are] unfit and worthless for good work (deed or enterprise) of any kind. Titus 1:15-16 (AMP)

 

 How do we distinguish the real sons of God from those who only talk as if they are? By examining what people do and specifically by evaluating who they align with…who they give credit to for good things accomplished.  Think about the stool sample the doctor requires annually… excrement is examined to determine health. As gross as that is, It is a wonderful part of science.

10 For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), [a]recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].  Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

 This is the truth: the wonderful things we think we think up and accomplish happen only because God makes them happen. God went ahead of each person, got everything ready, led us all to the perfect situation, the right moment, then helped each one to get their work done.

So you finish this wonderful, kind thing and feel good about who you are as a person. When you get thanked by the object of your efforts you feel even better. Now what do you say? You have an opportunity to give attribution.  Do you?

I could be wrong, but I would make a guess that whatever you choose to say totally ignores how involved in every detail the LORD of all was from that  first moment to the last.

Why? Well, that would just be awkward. It sounds weird… fanatical, self-righteous and if kept up, may repel people. In my experience, previous attempts have not been received well so I gave it up altogether.

Then I heard this…

“They don’t walk the talk.”  It’s a Churchy phrase that generally means someone is not acting on what they say they believe. Paul advises Titus to silence these posers and all say-one-thing-do-another kind of people adding that in order to effect a positive change he must, “rebuke them sharply.” 

 At this point  an urge was felt , conviction made my body ache and I found myself thinking,  O CRAP! I hardly ever give God the credit he deserves in my life. 

Like a little child potty training on the pot for the first time trying to make my body function on command, I think, “What if I tried really hard to do good , wouldn’t that extra push be good enough?” Nope. The grunt matters too. What we say when we do what we are supposed to do matters quite a bit actually. The deed by itself is simply normal function. No big deal.

What’s the difference between a kind deed that counts and a kind deed that doesn’t? To be clear, both situations occur.

God has set up good deeds for me to do. When I don’t acknowledge him in those deeds, don’t thank him for them or both, I deny/disown him. God’s proper decisive judgment is to reject my deed. It effectively becomes a dead work … excrement from which I must be cleansed  in order to move on in the freedom and blessing he longs to give me.  I set myself up for a Divine purge. Who wants a non-nutritional spirit suffering the effects of deed diarrhea?Think about the way a detox protocol cleans the gut. The toilet gets more than you do.

Nobody wants to be stuck in the bathroom of life. We want to be doing stuff, having fun, and going places. We also want to be affirmed, needed, and enjoy  our rightful place in a peaceful, loving community. One solution is to be mindful of proper attribution but along with that to actually be vocal about giving God glory for each act.

17 For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith. Romans 1:17 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

Faith to faith . Potty stop to potty stop.

It may be awkward, but I’m going to try something. I want to find ways to respond to the grateful, to those who work with me to help accomplish tasks made ready for us, and those to whom my efforts are directed, in a way that owns up to the reality of God who actually did the work…and do it in a way that makes everyone smile…even my Heavenly Father  who is active in my deed training.

 Daddy, I’m all done! Pooped.  Wiped clean. Flushed. Got off the pot.  Hands washed, dried  and ready to play. 

Just a Thought: Who Measures Out Forgiveness?

Just a thought about forgiveness. Have you ever considered that it’s not our place at all to measure out forgiveness? Is that too contrary a thought for you to consider?

I hear many things about forgiveness. Each declaration made as if it were from the mouth of God, fitting for all who would listen. That deserves a challenge. Indeed it’s begging for one.

Blind forgiveness tramples on the hearts of the hurting and the justice of an Almighty God. It is a reckless and unloving way of living which gives birth to more wrong-doing. Whereas properly executed forgiveness is a life-giving treasure.

32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving [5483] each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [a]you. Ephesians 4:32 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

What does forgiveness mean?

There is more than one word for it. Even in the same passage, concordances disagree. ( I hate it when that happens!!) One says it is to grant a pardon. Another says it is to hand over into custody. Who is right? I will go with the latter because it fits with what the rest of Scripture says about God and people. On the desk today is “the Strongest Strong’s” published by Zondervan and I really like its computer generated content.

Ephesians 4:32 uses Strong’s number 5483 – charizomai:- to give grace; to forgive, cancel (a debt); to hand over into custody.

Forgiveness and judgment walk together. In order to forgive one must decide not only the details of the offense (a debt being a legal, contractual matter) but also how to respond to that offense appropriately for all concerned. Judgment comes into play. Paul cautions us not to judge anything before the appointed time –

I am not conscious of anything against myself, and I feel blameless; but I am not vindicated and acquitted before God on that account. It is the Lord [Himself] Who examines and judges me.

So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts. Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God.

Now I have applied all this [about parties and factions] to myself and Apollos for your sakes, brethren, so that from what I have said of us [as illustrations], you may learn [to think of men in accordance with Scripture and] not to go beyond that which is written, that none of you may be puffed up and inflated with pride and boast in favor of one [minister and teacher] against another. 1 Corinthians 4:4-6 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

So what do we do?Wordpress banner compass

Only God is the judge. Although humanity loves to judge things and people, when it comes to details, the whole story and the secret matters of the soul, only God can judge and He does. Humans do not, nor have they ever had, the authority to grant a pardon. Jesus does. God does. We do not.

Properly speaking, we pray (talk to God about the whole thing), handing the offender over to the custody of God for His decision in the matter. God decides what happens in the Spiritual realm and makes it so in the earthly realm.

Paul handed one sex offender and two blasphemers over to Satan in the presence of God. I can just imagine the earthly view of  this spiritual war veteran on his knees in a small gathering of close knit ministers of the Gospel taking care of business. The heavenly view of the same moment includes this band of earthly prayer warriors bowing down before God’s throne speaking in turn about the people of Corinth, begging for the Kingdom of God to be upheld and advanced. When God speaks they rise and are filled with the boldness only He can give.

In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and [a]I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord [b]Jesus.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 1 Corinthians 5:4-6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

And

18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my [a]son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to [b]their faith. 20 [c]Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:18-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

I hear all kinds of things about forgiveness that impart the flavor of bland mush to the Christian life. In reality it is anything but bland. It’s not blind either. True forgiveness is totally in the service of God, for the working out of His purposes, according to His will.

Unfortunately, forgiveness is the go-to word when a wrong committed is shared within a Christian community. “oh,but you have to forgive ….” Oh no I don’t. God can forgive them if He wants to after I completely lay out my case before His throne…just like Paul did. As I make the effort to release them into God’s custody (sometimes moment by moment as often as the heavy, angry, energy draining thoughts come ) I am in effect leaving room for God’s wrath. When I take matters into my own hands and deliver my own judgment, I am actually getting in the way of God’s effective handling of the situation. Paul would not consider the custody of a soul, any soul, a trivial matter to be handled by men alone. No, he made sure he was in the presence of God Himself acting and choosing according to His master’s will.

“But doesn’t the Bible say you have to forgive? Shouldn’t I forgive 70 times 7 times?” Yes.

That word “forgive” in Matthew 18 is a different word. Strong’s number 863 – aphiēmi:- to forgive, pardon, remit, cancel; to leave, abandon; to allow, permit, tolerate

Note that both words contain the idea of dealing with a debt, payment of something owed. It is interesting that the definition of “remit” is to cancel or refrain from exacting or inflicting (a debt or punishment). When I refrain, God steps in. That’s how it should work. That’s how it DOES work.

The idea here in Matthew is to leave the situation and the people in such a way as to abandon the debt in terms of your heart (Matthew 18:35). Your heart is to be free, totally free of everything ugly regarding the wrong committed against you. We accomplish that by handing both the situation and the people involved over to the custody of the One True Judge. It is then that we can live in fullness of life even though things around us are still difficult.

In my own life, this practice of forgiveness has at one time produced immediate freedom. And in another instance I remained under a cloud of distress for a long time until God pointed out certain truths about the people involved. I felt so free. It was awesome!

So, have you considered who should measure out forgiveness? What have you decided?

’Tis the Season for Glory

Tis the Season. Halloween costumes and Fall decorations compete for retail space. School buses have joined the morning commute. Clubs in every age group are settling into their routines and recruitment strategies. Golf and baseball are being replaced by football. Vacation plans are giving way to weekend parties and considerations for the holidays soon upon us all.

Here on the Key, dragon flies swoop upon plentiful mosquito prey at twilight like iridescent aerial acrobats. They are in competition with our spidy friends who have taken to draping their almost invisible webs from one summer lawn chair to the next. Termites dance through changing air temperatures only to shed their wings and reduce stacked wood to a maze of sawdust tunnels.

Tis the season. Survey companies desperate to ask questions and and gear up for holiday marketing compete for your listening ear with those pleading for donations to their own precious and absolutely necessary causes. Politics are winding up for their last ditch media blitzes and phone campaigns, not just to get your vote, but to persuade anyone who will listen that they and their party have what it takes to solve all your educational, economic, social and health care problems.

People are moving. Technology is advancing. Income is shrinking. Working is hard. Life is changing.

Or is it?

In the micro sense it is but in the larger sense there is nothing new under the sun … or under the clouds that hide the sun from view.

The purpose of every God-fearing person on our planet since day six is the praise of God’s glory. Naming the critters, tending the garden, marriage relationships, the process of atonement, all these need to bring God praise to be of any value. My life would include everything to do with my husband, my children, my social gatherings, my vineyard tending and wine making, my yarn crafting, my wood burning, my income raisers, giving to those in need, my grocery shopping…my writing; Each moment of each activity I engage in has the goal of praising God’s glory.

Wordpress banner compass 11 In Him also we have [a]received an inheritance [a destiny—we were claimed by God as His own], having been predestined (chosen, appointed beforehand) according to the purpose of Him who works everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him as our Lord and Savior] would exist to the praise of His glory.13 In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and [as a result] believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God]. 14 The Spirit is the [b]guarantee [the first installment, the pledge, a foretaste] of our inheritance until the redemption of God’s own [purchased] possession [His believers], to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:11-14 Amplified Bible (AMP)

This passages explains the why (received an inheritance, claimed by God as His own, especially chosen according to God’s will and purpose) and how (heard the word of truth, believed, appointed, stamped and sealed, owned and protected) of our existence. Let’s talk about the what. What were we created for? What purpose does mankind have in this infinitely more powerful universe?

Exist to the praise …

Strong’s number 1868 – epainos:- praise, commendation ( from 1909 + 136 – on, over when; on, at, while; across, over, on, to, for, while + praise ~speaking of the excellence of someone or something From 1866, 1867, 1868 – commend in the past or in the current moment, and together with 3867 – to warn, urge)

…of His glory

Strong’s number 1391 – doxa:- glory, splendor, brilliance, from the base meaning of the awesome light that radiates from God’s presence and is associated with His acts of power; honor, praise, speaking of words of excellence and assigning highest status to God.

Ahhh… speaking of the excellence of words, I looked up the excellent word, “commend” at dictionary.com. Here is the notation:

commend

[kuhmend

 

verb (used with object)

1. to present, mention, or praise as worthy of confidence, notice, kindness, etc; recommend: to commend a friend to another; to commend an applicant for employment

2. to entrust; give in charge; deliver with confidence: I commend my child to your care.

3. to cite or name with approval or special praise: to commend a soldier for bravery.

4. Feudal law. To place (oneself or one’s land) under another’s protection so as to become his vassal.

5. Archaic. To recommend (a person) to the kind remembrance of another.

The art of commending belongs in relationships. In relationships, I can bring praise to God’s glory by

  • Acknowledging that his ways are the best ways (Conflict Management)
  • Allowing Him to create in me a clean heart (Setting priorities of change)
  • Being impartial in my judgments towards myself and others (Keeping it real)
  • Using the tools He has provided (mouth, hands eyes, ears) to obey His words (physical self-control)
  • Seeking out and utilizing opportunities to talk about things He’s done (Conversational self-control)
    • Creation
    • Deliverance
    • Provision
    • Guidance
  • Expressing my pleasure in belonging to Him (Personal confidence)
  • Expressing my pleasure in who He made me to be (Loving myself)
  • Expressing my pleasure in who He made others to be ( Loving my neighbors)
  • Practicing thankfulness for everything, great and small (Attitude management)
  • Reminding myself that I am weak but He is strong ( Proper Perspective)
  • Reminding myself who The Lord is (Proper Attribution)

It’s always the season to bring glory to the LORD and yet bringing Him praise changes just as much as the garden evidences changes every so often in our little corner of the world. We simply bring about a change on purpose in whatever we say or do to commend excellence in ourselves and others but most of all in the mighty power of a mighty God who loves us so very much.  Sometimes I find that I need to gear up for words that bring praise to God’s glory just like I gear up for each season.

Yes.

Tis the season. The season for glory.

Father God, help us to gear up. Amen

Power: It’s a God thing

 

Power. It’s a crazy thing. Everyone wants a piece of that alluring pie. We are trained to value leaders and that climbing the ladder is what we should be aiming for; Less grunt work and more of the CEO paycheck. But God has given us the power to be his servants. Matthew 20:24-26, Mark 10:41-43  , Luke 22:24-26

We don’t say we want power we say something more like …

Who Is Greatest?

24 Now a dispute also arose among them as to which of them was regarded to be the greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles have absolute power and lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 But it is not to be this way with you; on the contrary, the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest [and least privileged], and the [one who is the] leader, like the servant. Luke 22:24-26 Amplified Bible (AMP)

What?! Aren’t servants powerless? Emphasis on the “less” part?

Not in God’s view of our tiny lives and minuscule existence. Power doesn’t come from the servant who is just clay to begin with, it is imparted from the master to the servant. The servant uses power that is not his own to do the master’s bidding.

What is a servant? Strong’s # 1401 – doulos:- servant, slave; In the NT a person owned as a possession for various lengths of time ( Hebrew slaves no more than seven years, Gentile slaves without time limit) of lower social status than free persons or masters; slaves could earn or purchase their freedom.

I lived as a servant for awhile. Servitude required a change of mindset and that took more oomph than I possessed. I absolutely had to ask God for His power to accomplish tasks in my day and to arrive at the end of the day with smiles. He granted me the power and I arrived back home safe and sane. Praise God!

What has God given the apostles power to do?

What has God given elders the power to do?

  • Direct the affairs of the church,
  • preach and
  • teach 1 Timothy 5:17 
      • However this comes with a warning. Elders are not perfect leaders:

19 Do not accept an accusation against an elder unless it is based on [the testimony of at least] two or three witnesses. 20 As for those [elders] who continue in sin, reprimand them in the presence of all [the congregation], so that the rest will be warned. 21 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels that you guard and keep these rules without bias, doing nothing out of favoritism. 1 Timothy 5:19-21 Amplified Bible (AMP)

  • To serve GOD

5 Therefore, I strongly urge the elders among you [pastors, spiritual leaders of the church], as a fellow elder and as an eyewitness [called to testify] of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory that is to be revealed: shepherd and guide and protect the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not [motivated] for shameful gain, but with wholehearted enthusiasm; 3 not lording it over those assigned to your care [do not be arrogant or overbearing], but be examples [of Christian living] to the flock [set a pattern of integrity for your congregation]. And when the Chief Shepherd (Christ) appears, you will receive the [conqueror’s] unfading crown of glory. 1 Peter 5:1-4 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Being lords over God’s heritage as the KJV puts it. The word is – 2634 – katakyrieuō – to lord it over, gain dominion over, subdue; in some contexts there is an implication that this exercise of authority is harsh

Political “power” plays are out of place in God’s church but they seem to thrive there never the less (and several humanly minded, manipulating folk thrive on them) in our modern churches…even the little local independent ones.

Wordpress banner compassSo I had this question, about power because governance usually involves some sort of power over people. Governing is not evil. Is lording it over someone separate from governance? God surely sounds as though He wants Christian leaders not to lord it over His people. What DOES God say?

First

Matthew 23:8-12Amplified Bible (AMP)

But do not be called Rabbi (Teacher); for One is your Teacher, and you are all [equally] brothers. Do not call anyone on earth [who guides you spiritually] your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.10 Do not let yourselves be called leaders or teachers; for One is your Leader (Teacher), the Christ. 11 But the greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be raised to honor.

Second

Be Subject to Government

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. Therefore whoever [a]resists [governmental] authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who have resisted it will bring judgment (civil penalty) on themselves. For [civil] authorities are not a source of fear for [people of] good behavior, but for [those who do] evil. Do you want to be unafraid of authority? Do what is good and you will receive approval and commendation. For he is God’s servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, [you should] be afraid; for he does not carry the [executioner’s] sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an avenger who brings punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject [to civil authorities], not only to escape the punishment [that comes with wrongdoing], but also as a matter of principle [knowing what is right before God]. For this same reason you pay taxes, for civil authorities are God’s servants, devoting themselves to governance. Pay to all what is due: tax to whom tax is due, customs to whom customs, respect to whom respect, honor to whom honor. Romans 13:1-7 Amplified Bible (AMP)

That should have answered my question but I got curious about power and investigated further. I remember twice being accused of having too much power while in service to God at a local church. “She has too much power.” said the one. (Boy did that change my life! … and diminished my ability to serve with excellence because some influential people listened to him) “My husband likes what you do. That’s power.” said the second. (That one was just annoying.) A third complained to me that I was not exercising enough power. “Woman up! My word, Christine. Get with it.” To which I calmly replied, “That policy should come from the pastor.” that one was not a happy camper either.

My response then was quietness and rest in God’s Sovereign power. My response now is the same except that I have become more articulate and bold about sharing the truth; Power belongs to God. He grants it to whom He wills and portions it out according to His own purposes. I have not ever craved power nor do I. That may seem odd to most people but who craves what they already have been given by the LORD of all the earth? I will always have as much as God wants me to have in order to do what He wants me to do. Sometimes my brain misfires and for a second or two I stop believing that. Those are the times when everything goes south and I need His Help once again for I am nothing without Him

So what is this power thing anyway? Let’s look again at definitions.

Power (as used in the New Testament)

*1411 dynamis:- power, ability; ruler, as an extended meaning of a person or supernatural being who has administrative power

(The power ascribed to God in Mt. 6:13, Mt. 22:29 God’s power over the family position of a woman; The power whereby Jesus returns to earth on the clouds Mt. 24:30 and sits at the right hand of God Mt. 26:64; the kingdom of God comes with this power In Mark 9; the power that created Jesus in the womb of Mary In Luke 1:35)

*1849 exousia:- authority, power; the right to control or govern; dominion, the area or sphere of jurisdiction; a ruler, human or supernatural

(the power by which Jesus forgives sin Mt. 9:6;The power God gives to men in Mt. 9:8; All of this power is given to Jesus Christ in Mt:28:18; this power heals sickness, and is over unclean spirits; This is the power Satan tempted Jesus with in return for changing the object of Jesus’ worship; Jesus’ word came with this power in Luke 4:32; this is the power by which God casts souls into hell Luke 12:5; The enemy uses this power in Luke10:19 and Luke 22:53; this is the power by which we become the sons of God in John 1:12 and the power by which Jesus laid down his life and took it up again in John 10:18; Jesus corrected Pilate during his interview by saying that only GOD had this power over Him in John 19:10-11.)

There is so much more but as I read these I am beginning to understand that jurisdiction has a great and meaningful part in this definition. Power – the right to control – has circles, it has boundaries, it has specific leadership.

It is particularly mind blowing to realize that both sides, spiritually speaking, make use of the same power.

Wordpress banner compassThis has a profound application to those who have been abandoned.

We choose which sphere we operate within. We choose our master. We can stand our ground when power over us becomes a battle ground.

 

3168 – megaleiotēs:- majesty, greatness, grandeur/ mighty power, magnificence

(Luke 9:43 Jesus casts out unclean spirit when no one else can. Based on this, the people are amazed at the majesty of Jesus.)

746- archē:- beginning, origin, first; ; ruler, power, authority; position of authority, domain

(Luke 20:20 – offended Jews looked for a way to trap Jesus in his words so they might hand him over to Pilate the governor)

1410- dynamai:- to be able, have ability, to have the power to accomplish an action; humans have various limited abilities, God is unlimited

(Romans 16:25 (!- v. 17-20) God is able to establish and strengthen your faith)

1415- dynatos:- possible (based on power); powerful, able, the Mighty One

(Romans 9:22 God makes the noble and the menial out of the same lump of clay. God can be willing to show his wrath and at the same time bear with great patience the objects of his wrath because they will experience his wrath later.)

1850- exousiazō:- to have power over; (pass.) to be mastered

(1 Corinthian 6:12 the good habit of not allowing anything to enslave you or to bring you under its power; 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 the shared spousal authority over each other’s bodies.)

2479-ischys:- strength, power

(Ephesians 1:19 Paul prays that the Ephesians will know the unlimited power of God at work in those who believe; 2 Thessalonians 1:9 vengeance handed out to those who do not seek to know God, refuse to obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus choosing not to respond to Him, they will be banished from the glory of His power when He comes to be glorified; 2 Peter 2:11 even angels– of greater power than humanity – do not dare to bring accusations against celestial beings before the LORD, but false teachers do.)

2904- kratos:- power, strength

(Ephesians 6:10 – Be strong in the LORD and the power of His might; Colossians 1:11 Paul prays that the Colossians would be empowered by God to attain every kind of endurance and patience with joy; 1 timothy 6:16 – to God alone belong eternal power and dominion; Hebrews 2:14 The devil who had the power of death was made powerless by Christ Jesus; Revelation 5:13 honor, power and glory belong to Jesus, the Lamb of God who sits on the throne)

1325- didōmi:- to give / grant, shew, bestow, had power, make, suffer, brought forth, committed, deliver, minister, stroke with the palm of the hand

(Revelation 13:14 The lamb who speaks like a dragon had the power to deceive the people of earth by performing miracles in the presence of the beast)

So this is the conclusion of the matter;

17 Show respect for all people [treat them honorably], love the brotherhood [of believers], fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:17 Amplified Bible (AMP)

God has given us the power to be his servants. …To love the unlovely, to respect each other, to fear God (hate evil), to honor human government as set up by God Himself….to love and be aligned with the Way, the Truth and the Life

Power. It’s a crazy thing. But its God’s thing.

Mothers and Daughters: History Lessons in DNA

There is a teaching that says, “You are your mother’s daughter” meaning that mother and daughter act alike, respond to people just like each other and thus history repeats itself through them from one generation to the next. It’s like your blood is teaching you at a cellular level. Behavioral patterns are reproduced by virtue of generational DNA memory quite like the exercise of typing becomes a muscle memory activity.

I like that a lot when I think of my two girls out roaming around living life. I enjoy that I am “a vine in their blood” so they take me with them everywhere. In fact, as long as we’re talking about all my good qualities and all the good things I want for them, I love it! On the flip side, I really don’t want them to carry around all – or any of – of my negative traits.

The curious truth is that they get some of both, those I am proud of and those I’m not so proud of. Even the quirky ones play out before my eyes like a tragic comedy on the operatic stage of an amphitheater with incredible acoustics. For better or worse that’s just the plain truth. It’s how things work.

For example, I have a tendency not to ask the right questions at the right time. My husband is frequently saying, “But did you ask about ….?” “You never ask the questions I would ask”, he says. I find myself need his help in this area.  Not asking questions is something that my mother did that damaged her life and mine. And I still struggle with the timing and phrasing of questions!!! This struggle has impacted my work life, family life and church life. I super duper appreciate those times when I am allowed to think for myself but am helped to verbally phrase things like questions appropriately.

Praise be to God who is merciful beyond measure, I also do things my daddy did. The traits I acquired from him work to balance out a few of my mother’s negative traits. For example, Daddy was a thinker who took time away from everything and everyone to process life and ponder questions or find solutions.

Not everyone saw this as a positive trait during his lifetime but I for one am very grateful now that he possessed it and that I am like him in this way. I may not ask the right questions either correctly or immediately but I will process what I hear, see and experience. By the grace of God, that processing shapes my choices instead of the turbulent waves and sub-currents of reactionary, misinformed, conjecture making, silent mistakes. I can boast in my weaknesses and praise God for His help.

Now regarding the womanly inheritance I received, when my thoughts go backward in time one generation, I don’t like inheriting family traits so much. Even three generations back on my mother’s side there are some traits in our family line I want absolutely nothing to do with, some that are annoying but other traits that are good things. For all the wanting in the world, for all the hardest, deepest, longest wishing that the women in my family were different, simple childlike wanting will not change them nor will it change the truth of inherited behaviors.

An old Cherokee told his grandson, My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.

One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy peace, love, hope humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.

The boy thought about it and asked, “ Which wolf wins?”

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

The Cherokee people have a good proverb. In my own culture, this proverb imagery is all about the vine.

 

Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters. Ezekiel 19:10 (KJV)

While this verse may be a positive picture of growth, reading through to verse 14 the story is not a happy one. A transplant situation nearly killed her. While she was watered she was strong. When she lived without water she was weak. So in Ezekiel, we see the same concept as the Cherokee teaching. The wolf you feed is victorious; the vine you water thrives.

Wordpress banner compassInheritance and choice collide in the totality of who we are. I inherited both the vigorous vine and the weak one, a mixture of traits that God aligned as he knit me together in the womb. But I am offered a choice. A Redeemer who loves me has given me everything I need. He allows me to do whatever I want with his provision for me. There is no better picture of such a relationship than in Ezekiel 16. 

Ezekiel 16:44 (KJV)

Behold, everyone that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.

This chapter is an epic tale of love and “loathing”.

The daughter had an opportunity to be better than her mother because of the loving actions and rescue efforts of one who cared. Instead of appreciating her new situation in life, she showed contempt for her benefactor and his gifts. Her deeds canceled the offer; she reverted back to her mother’s nasty ways. He was angry in a devastated kind of way but called her to face the truth.

Even though the daughter acted like the mother, the daughter bore the shame of her own choices not those of any of her female family members.

With a great intensity I do not want to end up like that woman in Ezekiel. So I look at what mattered to her Prince Charming with the goal of realigning my personal choices to become a better version of myself:

  • remember my beginnings honestly,
  • love my husband,
  • love, nurture and claim my children,
  • extend my hand to the poor and needy,
  • don’t use my fame to worship anyone other than the LORD
  • don’t trust in my own beauty
  • Be choosy about who I lavish favor on
  • do not comfort those that act on their evil inclinations nor make them appear righteous simply because they are “less evil” than I am.
  • worship the LORD and no other

Truth does not change because I want it to. Yes daughters do what their mothers do. And when some people hear my story they might quote this proverb against me. God knows.

Personal choices are personal choices. Each choice comes with its own consequence. (In this chapter of Ezekiel the consequence was bearing the shame and disgrace even though the rest of life was restored.)

Abandoned women rescued to a better situation, a caring situation, have a choice to behave differently. By the love and power of God we can walk away from the circumstances of our abandonment to be a better version of ourselves. Though the scars of the past remain etched in our memory, we can teach the reality of our history without repeating it in our own lives nor causing our daughters to repeat it.

Thank you God!

Friendships

Back to school times are times when parents and children alike are thinking about friendships. Who goes with who? What will happen if….?

I knew a young man who turned his back on a gaming friend of his.  He confessed his choice to me saying, “Well, **** has a temper.”

On the surface this is a Biblical choice.

24 
Do not even associate with a man given to angry outbursts;
Or go [along] with a hot-tempered man, Proverbs 22:24 (AMP)

This passage is better translated in the King James.

24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Proverbs 22:24 (KJV)

As to the gaming, aren’t those activities jerking every player’s emotions around by design? Those who make them are intending to engage your emotions, prompt your choices, and manipulate your pleasures are they not?

Learning to master those manipulations instead of letting them master you is the better choice. It might take some work and some accountability but it’s worth the effort. Nobody functions well when trying to master life/recreation  balance all alone. Not that I care very much about gaming but good friends should shepherd you through it.

As to the passage, doing the word (making it a part of our real lives) correctly demands we understand three words: 1) friendship, 2) angry and 3) furious. So here they are.

Friendship [Strong’s Number 7462] rā ‘â :- to be a companion, to be a friend; to be a shepherd, to care for flocks, graze; by extension: to rule with a focus on care and concern; to be an attendant of the groom (of a wedding)

Angry [Strong’s Number 639] ‘ap :- nose (representing the face or some part of the face); “hot of nose” signifies anger; “long of nose” signifies patience; “high of nose” signifies arrogance.

Furious [ Strong’s Number 2534] hēmâ:- anger, fury, wrath, rage from the base meaning of heat (as in “hot-headed”); by extension venom (poison that causes a burning sensation)

Those are not American definitions. They are NOT Disney definitions. If that were so, “long of nose” would be descriptive of a pathological boyhood liar.

 

Getting back to our fellowship of two real young men, theirs is a tragic brotherhood based on the misunderstanding of a good principle. A misinterpretation of a good word. What it was taken to mean: Don’t be friends with someone who shows anger. What it really means: don’t mentor (shepherd, rule over) people given to habits of explosive anger (who keep it in until the face turns red … i.e. they are ill equipped to handle emotionally charged situations).

It would be wiser to either wait until that person matured a little or totally change your approach and teach the gospel of peace first. Amen?

The first man walked away from a friendship with one of the most loyal, insightful, caring young men I know. Both men are great guys. Both men lost wonderful life-time relationships. Sad.

After years of hardly any contact, the first man was getting married. He asked me to ask the second young man to be there. I encouraged him to do his own communicating to which he replied, “Well, we used to be friends.”

The whole thing made me upset but I can’t say I was either a 639 or a 2534 on the Richter scale of angry. No body parts were turning red. No sensations ravaged my mind or skin.  Upset and “angry” are different. They are both OK responses. (Romans 12:19 ; Ephesians 4:26) This  kind of made me think.

Wordpress banner compassSometimes we choose to walk away from people for the wrong reasons. So I got to thinking about what might cause a person to be angry or to express anger (those conditions are not always the same). Here is my list:

  • Being in a hurry
  • Not having what I need
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Nutrient deficient (selenium absorption difficulties are linked to anger behaviors)
  • Hearing problems
  • My sense of justice is engaged
  • Insults
  • Misrepresentation
  • A family bent towards anger

Yes, anger can be a family affair. Jacob “blessed” his son Levi with it. Not just his son but his son’s descendants.  Jacob chose to break his association with his son. HIS SON!!!

Can you just imagine those Levite teens being told not to be angry? Not wanting to be angry yet those pesky emotions just won’t go away.

Where did it come from?

You inherited it. Grandpa spoke it into your life forever.

NICE! What do I do with it?

Ask God.

They were a clan with emotional expression issues escalated  and promoted by their family  yet God blessed them.  They had friends. They got married … and stayed married. They had sons and daughters. In fact, the book of numbers records the Levites as having concluded the exodus journey up one thousand in population.

It remains for them and for all of God’s people that the only place to take care of family anger is in the presence of God. In place of anger God gives laws, routine, authority, opportunity to serve, diligence, leadership, and provision. In His presence the angry person learns loving and being loved, belonging and how to belong appropriately, proper justice, mercy and peace.

Lest you think this is all about one small clan in a Jewish Nation, Daniel prayed about his family issues and you can too. You can find his prayer here 

If anger has divided you from friends or family, be encouraged with this chapter of scripture. 

Isaiah 61 (AMP)

Exaltation of the Afflicted

61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed 
and commissioned me
To bring good news to the humble 
and afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted,
To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives
And freedom to prisoners,

To proclaim [a]the favorable year of the Lord,
[
b]And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,


To grant to those who mourn in Zion the following:
To give them a [
c]turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning],
The oil of joy instead of mourning,
The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit.
So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God],
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.


Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins,
They will raise up 
and restore the former desolations;
And they will renew the ruined cities,
The desolations (deserted settlements) of many generations.


Strangers will stand and feed your flocks,
And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers.


But you shall be called the priests of the Lord;
People will speak of you as the ministers of our God.
You will eat the wealth of nations,
And you will boast of their riches.


Instead of your [former] shame you will have a [d]double portion;
And 
instead of humiliation your people will shout for joy over their portion.
Therefore in their land they will possess double [what they had forfeited];
Everlasting joy will be theirs.


For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery with [
e]a burnt offering.
And I will faithfully reward them,
And make an everlasting covenant with them.


Then their offspring will be known among the nations,
And their descendants among the peoples.
All who see them [in their prosperity] will recognize 
andacknowledge them
That they are the people whom the Lord has blessed.

10 
I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has covered me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom puts on a [
f]turban,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
And as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
So the Lord God will [most certainly] cause righteousness 
and justice and praise
To spring up before all the nations [through the power of His word].

When you are choosing first time friends, or deciding to un-friend a person, or making play dates for your little ones, choose to align your ‘ships with the Truth. There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.  His Name is Imannuel, God with us. 

Back to school times are times when parents and children alike are thinking about friendships, alignments and all manner of social interaction. Add God to the mix. He sorts things out and can bring blessings from curses. He turns friendships around. And boys parted over misunderstandings can be friends again as men with a little effort.

Attachment

I was struck recently with the thought of inheritance. Inheritance means you have a part… you belonged to something or someone who wants to honor you either by duty or by love. In a legal sense, the inheritance creates an attachment to the deceased. It is more than a benefit, it is a remembrance.

What if your inheritance is taken away? Do you belong anymore? Are you detached, adrift, alone?

The Levites had no inheritance among the people of Israel. One day they did and the next day they didn’t.  In a sense they no longer belonged to the community while at the same time they still belonged to it.

The Levite clan is a picture of  the paradox of attachment; They belonged and they didn’t belong.

Ever since the deliverance from Egypt the Levite clans were longing for that New Land promised to all the Israelites where they would have plenty to eat, they would have their own fields and enjoy their own families.

It was difficult for them to be OK with not belonging with their community. It all started with an anger issue long before their slavery came to an end.

Back when Levi was a young man, and recently removed from half his family (Jacob’s separation from Laban) he had one sister named Dinah. She went out for a walk to talk with the girls of the area and got snagged by the prince. The prince got way to attached to her and took her into his house without asking her father or brothers if he could marry her. We would call that kidnapping but the boy said he loved her and Shechem’s family wanted to support the union only because they thought all that Dinah’s dad had would become theirs eventually.

Levi and his brothers crafted a deal with Shechem; Become like us and you can have her.

This didn’t set well with Levi’s sense of right and wrong. It doesn’t set well with mine either. To be perfectly honest it sounds a lot like a TV show…

Levi knew what was right; Young ladies should never be treated like prostitutes. He felt so strongly about this breach of honor, this defiling of his sister, that he crafted another plan. While the agreement of the first plan was still being accomplished, he and his brother Simeon killed every male in town. You can find the whole story here.

Jacob was not pleased with his sons and when it came time to bless them on his death bed, instead of blessing them, he cursed their anger and separated his soul and his honor from them and from their generations to come. Ouch!

“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Their swords are implements of violence.
“Let my soul not enter into their council;
Let not my glory be united with their assembly;
Because in their anger they slew [e]men,
And in their self-will they lamed [f]oxen.
“Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will [g]disperse them in Jacob,
And scatter them in Israel.

Genesis 49:5-7 NASB

Why was this important? Levi means “Attachment” Strong’s number 3867 – to accompany, to borrow, to be joined, to be attached, to be bound to; to lend

Levi’s mother named him Levi for a reason. Genesis 29:34. She was the first wife of Jacob but she was the unloved wife. She thought that perhaps bearing three sons (Levi was the third born) would attach her husband to her with love — at least appreciation. It didn’t quite work out that way.

“The emotional bond that typically forms between infant and caregiver is the means by which the helpless infant gets primary needs met. It then becomes the engine of subsequent social, emotional, and cognitive development. The early experience of the infant stimulates growth of the brain and shapes emerging mental processes. It establishes in the infant’s brain the neural pathways that will sculpt what are likely to be lifelong patterns of response to many things.” All About Attachment

Attachment was very important to Levi throughout his life. Family honor was paramount. Justice was the plumb line of who connected with whom. After his dad’s rejection over the Dinah incident, all his family attachments were blown apart. (I wonder if this had anything to do with his willingness to toss his annoying brother Joseph into a pit.) Dad had more cause to alienate himself from Levi’s unloved mother. Everything was going wrong when all Levi wanted in the beginning was to do the right thing.

I can just imagine him asking God if He punished people for doing what is right and just…

For years their clan lived outside the council of the people of Israel until one baby boy was set adrift into the Nile and picked up by a princess. As a man, that son of Levi chose to live apart from the pleasures of Egypt, to be attached to the people of his birth, the slaves called Israelites.

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,26 considering the reproach of [a]Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. 28 By faith he [b]kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. Hebrews 11:24-28 (NASB)

This sounds incredibly like something Moses’ granddaddy, Levi might do, doesn’t it? Decide with whom to align, go get attached, do whatever it takes to protect the family. Yep! They’re related and we know that not just because of the genealogy but because their actions were similar.

Their family traits (anger issues and battle readiness) seemed out of place and were despised. Jacob’s take on their clan was totally accurate. Yet the anger that they used inappropriately was used by God to effect a good thing in Israel…the service of the temple. God wanted them attached to Himself in a very special way. Doing that required separation from the larger community.

Jacob scattered them with words but God scattered them among Israel by rule of law. It became their job to teach the Israelites what it looked like to live near to God. They got this honor because of anger once again. This time Moses was incensed at the people for turning away from God to the golden calf of Egypt…the symbol of vile, self-indulgent Hathor …of violence, peace that is not peace and the trappings of the dead from which they had just been delivered.

25 Now when Moses saw that the people were [a]out of control—for Aaron had let them [b]get out of control to be a derision among [c]their enemies— 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. 27 He said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his [d]neighbor.’” 28 So the sons of Levi did [e]as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. 29 Then Moses said, “[f]Dedicate yourselves today to the Lord—for every man has been against his son and against his brother—in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.” Exodus 32:25-29 (NASB)

Three thousand calf worshipers died that day at the hands of the house of Levi. Unlike Jacob, God was pleased with Levi’s  attachment of choice and with what they did about it.

God used the family anger and the family alignment to bring about a course of correction for the whole community.

Levi was no longer attached to the community. Instead their whole clan were attached to God for the salvation of the community. It was a real honor and a real blessing. It just didn’t look or feel like the blessing they craved… that ever elusive attachment to their larger family network.

Being rejected is painful. Living with people you should love and who should love you but don’t is a heavy burden. God turned these relationships around through Moses and the qualities he designed inside each Levite. It all brought God much glory.Wordpress banner compass

You see, as a part of their attachment to God, they would be scattered (detached) among His people. Their inheritance was no longer a piece of the promised land but the tithe, a small share of the bounty of the promised land. Their inheritance was dependent on their teaching the people of God to love their Redeemer.

God turned Jacob’s curse of separation into a most holy attachment. What could be a better blessing than being attached to a God who cares for family and has the power to protect his own?

Remember You’re Redeemed

Remembrance is a catalyst for obedience to God’s word that brings us to a new life. Redeemed how I love to proclaim it! Well, I’m learning to consider it, to accept it, and to love it.

In doing the Word of God, I am called to use my mind in regards to my relationship with God. So as I’m reading through Scripture during time set aside each day, words meant to engage my mind pop off the page and say hello.

Here’s one:

30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.’ Mark 12:30 (AMP)

Here’s another tucked away in Deuteronomy:

18 But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. Deuteronomy 24:18 (AMP)

The culture … the habit … of remembrance is a habit of using our mind. We can call to mind past experiences. What happened? How did people respond? What was the cumulative effect? Why? This then makes a difference in our daily life.

In Deuteronomy, the word for “Remember” is 2142 – zākar:- to remember, consider, commemorate; to be remembered, to be mentioned; to be born male (as this relates to the family line not being forgotten, Deuteronomy 25:5-10); bring to remembrance, remind, record.

As an aside, we commemorate the 4th of July in America because we commemorate a national battle victory and the founding of our nation as a nation with a part to play in the world as we know it. We commemorate various holidays because they meant something to someone at some time. But here is a question to ponder: What events or milestones in my own life do I call to remembrance by some sort of commemorative act?

Americans are particularly over the top about birthdays. Ok. If that’s what you want to do, do it. I confess I’m not so over the top about birthdays. In fact my own birth story is a bit dark and I don’t tell it very often. Is there anything else in life to mark as worthy of a remembering, a sort of impressing-the-mind-with-it activity?

God thinks so.

In Deuteronomy 24, the call to remember is given three times.

  1. V9Remember what the LORD your God did to Miriam along the way after you came out of Egypt
      1. The remembrance: skin disease.
      2. The issue: who speaks for God? (Divisive prophets vs. Chosen prophets ) You can read the story here 
  2. V18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.
      1. The remembrance: Obedience to the commands not to deprive the alien or fatherless of justice; Do not take the cloak of a widow as a pledge
      2. The issue: Injustice transformed into Deeds of Justice
  3. V22- Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.
      1. The remembrance: Obedience to the harvest command not to go over your fields twice
      2. The issue: Impoverished People transformed into Providers 

Remember

you were slaves

in Egypt

Who wants to commemorate the bad times?

Can you imagine Miriam? Go on a rant, God covers you in leprosy, you get put out of the camp for seven days and now anyone who gets a skin disease is supposed to remember just how badly you screwed up?! …Forever and always!!! How could she ever be social again?

Or slavery? Yeah, let’s remember that shall we… that’s when I got beat. I couldn’t keep my own schedule. Had enough food but they took our children and killed them. I was angry most days and despairing the rest. Oh how my body ached. My people tried to remind ourselves about the LORD but who had the time? We thought the LORD didn’t even care about us anymore. Everything we did was for Egyptian wealth, Egyptian worship; some of our children were caught up in the worship of Egyptian idols because of it. Nothing we possessed was our own; it could be taken away at any minute. It’s over now. Can I just forget about it please?

God’s answer is a clear and resounding, “No.”

I have heard it said that we should forget our past; “Throw it away.”, “Don’t hang on to it.”, “Put it behind you.”, “Get over it already!”, “Just don’t think about it.”. Deuteronomy is directly opposed to that ideology. Instead of wallowing in our past and being overcome by it, God tells His people to remember their past and by doing so, live differently in this new chapter of their journey.

God redeemed you

from there.

Redeemed 6299- pādâ:- redeem, ransom, deliver, rescue, buy; to be brought to ransomed; this can mean to purchase a devoted animal from sacrifice or to purchase a person from slavery to freedom or new ownership; by extension: divine salvation from oppression, death or sin.

On my journey to the New Land, I am learning to live the new way. I am no longer caught up in the oppression of abandonment because Jesus is not ashamed to call me sister. Abandonment is only a piece of my story… a dark piece. But if I don’t tell you the dark parts, I might forget to live in the light parts and you would most certainly not be able to share in my happy I-Live-In-The-Light dances. :) 

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Instead of hiding my weaknesses I boast about them because God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.  Instead of hiding who God made me to be behind a curtain of lies, I aim to tell the truth and bring Him glory by doing so. Instead of being self absorbed, I begin to cultivate a genuine concern for the welfare of others and gather the wisdom from God to do so with skill. Colossians 1:20-22; Colossians 3

You see, God redeemed me from those dark places, those bad times. God is bringing me to a much better place by setting remembrances in place that I cannot avoid…that I am commanded to obey.

39 Therefore know and understand today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on the earth below; there is no other. 40 So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am commanding you today, so that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and so that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”  Deuteronomy 4:39-40 (AMP) 

Redemption is the reason for God’s commands

Remembrance is why we choose to obey those commands.

Obedience to God’s laws brings new living in the New Land and promotes our prosperity.

Live long and prosper. Live blessed.

What events in life do you call to remembrance by some sort of commemorative act?

Abandoning Imagination

Identity and imagination cannot walk together except maybe in a home for the mentally impaired.  For those suffering the effects of abandonment who want to be mentally healthy, we have to look reality in the face and give it a hug.  Not everybody does.

Consider John Lennon’s “Imagine”. It sold 1.6 million copies after his death and the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles Book calls it the second best selling single of all time.

I agree with Lennon, “It’s easy to imagine if you try.” The thing is that imagination didn’t change reality then and it still doesn’t… not now, not ever.

Everyone imagines something. When we use imagination to solve relationships, we get into trouble. Imagination will never change who people really are.  Pretending otherwise might  make you feel better for a very short while. Then you wake up.

I have to ask, what is the fruit of such mental shenanigans?

Did the Lennon peace campaign work? Obviously no peace came from it.

Niels and Carol in one of their happy off-the-grid places
Niels and his wife, Carol in one of their happy off-the-grid places complete with composting toilet the size of a washing machine.

I used to imagine where my estranged Dad was, what he looked like, and what he did. Because Dad was gone, my imagination came up with a popular, feel-good recipe. Inside my mind a curious blend began to bake.

  • One third what others thought the proper Dad should be
  • One third of my inner longings for an incredible person
  • One third  powerful, special person to care about me.

This produced a concoction that became “Dad”. Most, if not all of that imagining only created a phantasm. My wistful daydreaming character only had a slight resemblance to the real person. His off-the-grid life was certainly a  far cry from the tycoon my mother imagined her ex-husband to be.

John Lennon calls us to imagine a utopia of sorts with a level playing field traversing several hot topics in his time. Though your utopia might vary in its construction from Lennon’s, why wouldn’t one want the “Nothing bad ever happens” place or the “We all get along” place?

I can’t help but think of someone else who persuaded others using that same lure of utopia to facilitate his own agenda. Listen in:

“But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate.”(Genesis 3:4-6).

Fearful about loosing his kingdom Jeroboam, son of Nebat engaged this tool as well. His story is in 1 Kings 12:25-33. Both results were ugly bad and changed the lives of the known world. Ugly bad is worse than plain “bad” and cartloads messier for generations to come.

People can manipulate themselves and/or others into believing something that is not true by tweaking the facts ever so slightly and by appealing to a person’s inner desires.

I had a choice to do the same thing; to continue living in my pretend utopia or face reality.

Accepting my Dad for who God made him to be was the right thing to do. In hindsight, building a relationship on reality is the most beneficial option. Doing so necessitates letting go of anything false. It is like cutting off the rough ugly stuff and finding a diamond inside.

Bluntly stated, that means looking uncomfortable truths about him square in the face and refusing to flinch. Alcoholic, Absentee Parent — the man who walked away from parenting me, the social “player” and workplace concierge were just a few of the labels my Dad racked up. None of these traits made me want to build a new relationship with him… and yet….

I could not continue in my imaginings.

Nor could I demand he be who I wanted him to be. That would be mentally unstable as well as false, creating a whole new subset of problem issues instead. If we were going to have a relationship at all, it needed to be honest. …based on the truth. This “new” relationship needed to possess a core of real substance. I could take Niels for who Niels was but would I?

He was a little better at this new relationship building than I was. One moment that stands out very clearly is the time when he just bold as day said, “None of this kissy-face stuff. You are a grown up now.” I liked this new person who validated the reality of our situation. Dad left when I was five and yes,a long time had gone by; we were both different people.

In each moment of processing, God’s recipe for success filled the rooms of my heart with yummy aromas of Scripture like this one, “Love must be sincere: hate what is evil. Cling to what is good (Romans 12:9). I was willing to discover the real things about him that were admirable and the real things that were quite a bit less than admirable. God gave me the freedom to hate the evil and at the same time cling to the good. 

I didn’t have to throw away the good things!

Shortly after deciding to accept Dad for who he was, various people tried to convince me just how un-saintly Niels was…even Dad. My response; acknowledge reality, be able to prove or disprove the point. Look at both good and bad but hold only to the good. In my book, Lucky Lady’s Cargo:What You Carry With You IS Important, I get to describe a few of those wonderful traits Dad really had.

 Just like Satan and Jeroboam got their just desserts, believing something unreal or untrue and calling it true is a gut-buster. Just ask Judas.  Ultimately imagination can be lethal to mind, body and spirit.  It’s seductive lure can be used against those who have been abandoned in a way that maims our personalities. At the very least it is crippling.

In a culture where imagination is practically worshiped, that is an odd perspective but the danger remains real.

We even cripple ourselves many times with our concept of who God is. Can we get rid of our own imaginings and cling to who the real God is?

I am training myself to do that and in the process I’m learning some fantastic things about God I never knew before. Perhaps we will get a chance to talk about them here in the Brought About Blog.

The ability of the mind to be creative and resourceful is good not evil. BUT, if my imagination runs away with itself (about family members, other people, or the LORD, if it serves up a conceptual, psychological GMO, then with the LORD’s help, imagination will be denied access to my heart and mind. 

Know your real identity. Know who the real “them” is. Abandon imagination and build a relationship of substance.