The Way

The way is a difficult thing to find when you have been left to your own devices to choose right, left or straight through.

Often those who have been abandoned have a profound lack of resources, no clue as to which source best suits them and a broken perception with which to make pivotal life choices. Jeremiah 6:16 provides practical help in making choices that moves our feet in the right direction.

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways , and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

Jeremiah 6:16

KJV

So what I’m doing here is reading the word definitions from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and BDB gathered from my phone app, MY SWORD, stringing my discoveries together and commenting between biblical text phrases. It’s enlightening. Please join me.

Jeremiah 16 

Thus saith  (H0559)the LORD, (H3068)

The LORD, The Existing One who is Eternal, has published what He wants His people to do. I LOVE that He “published” this very special directive for people like me who don’t know which path to take.

 Stand  (H5975) ye in the ways, (H1870)

We should get ourselves to the crossroads of

  • manners,
  • habits,
  • functions,
  • careers,
  • moral character,
  • leadership and
  • skills.

So where do these things converge today? Surfing the internet? Connecting on social networks? Local libraries? Church? Public Education? The pub? A café? The mall? Parks and Recreation facilities? The airport is a great place to witness a variety of people going about their business, on their way to somewhere.

Stand there at these convergence zones. Don’t engage the passers by. Maintain your position, Don’t change who you are. Don’t cause others to be interested in you, or stimulate them one way or the other about anything.

 and see, (7200)

Watch what people do with your mind engaged. Learn from them. Consider the end from the beginning. Sort out the differences and similarities. Learn what is important and what is not. Inspect their ways as closely as is possible. Pay attention to each face and allow them to see yours without fear.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to stand in a strategic position and be quiet, not engaging the environment, the culture, nor the people being observed. Sometimes it’s not.

I remember taking our four children out to a fast food place and they were watching a lady in the next booth. They would pop their heads over and stare then pop down and chatter. I could see she was becoming annoyed, so I intervened. “It’s your nails. They have never seen someone with nails as fancy or as long as yours before.” Once she understood, she was all smiles and willing to show off her hands, gladly accepting the oohs and ahhhs of her miniature audience. 🙂

Neither of my girls have made the choice to get their nails done the same way she did. One just doesn’t like other people working on her hands. Both my girls decided long fingernails were far too impractical for their own enjoyment of life… but we didn’t tell the nail lady any of that, which brings us to the LORD’s next directive.

And ask  (H7592)

Converse with yourself about these matters. This kind of asking is the internal intelligence kind. Seek counsel from what you have observed not the people you are observing. Be impartial and scientific about it. Inquire carefully, trying not to leave out either the details or the big picture.

Ask for the old (H5769) paths (H5410)

While you are talking to yourself about the ways people do things, seek out specific pathways. Notice that there exist multiple, durable pathways that people use all the time for as far back as anyone can remember. You now must make a choice which path you will walk in. Which of these ways has been trodden by many feet? Where are the paths less traveled but roads to proper destinations non-the-less? Who walks these paths and why? For how long? Which of these ways has been used since the beginning of time and which are recently made? Which of these ways will stand in days to come? Is there any continuity? Any consistency? Look at situations over the space of time past, time present and be visionary about it.

where is the  good (H2896) way (H1870)

Among the paths of the peoples, there is a good way and all of us have a need to know where that is. Of all that you gather and learn about different ways to walk and the people who travel those pathways. These are the questions you are to ask in order to find the good way THE LORD wants you to take.

  • What of these things appeals to the higher nature?
  • What is agreeable to the senses and profitable for the body?
  • What is the most excellent?
  • What is valued in other people’s estimation and in God’s?
  • What is appropriate for the situation, the time, the person?
  • Which becomes your unique self the most?
  • What is ethical and of moral benefit?
  • What is best for the collective good?
  • What is beautiful?
  • What will add to your economic situation?

and walk  (H3212) therein,

Once you learn, you need to do something with what you learn. Start WALKING! Move your feet in the direction that met all of God’s criteria. Carry the good of what you learned with you on your way. Use it as you come and go, and live life. Never turn your back away from the good, old path God has laid at your feet. Why? Because He will reward you.

and ye shall find (H4672) rest (H4771)

You will secure what is sought after because

  • you will be able to devise a plan to survive combat that will leave you in a safe place.
  • You will be able to detect those conditions, things, or persons that were lost.
  • You will be found sufficient for any task at hand.
  • You will learn to present God with an acceptable offering.
  • You will be able to act confidently in any given instant as needs arise.
  • You will know when to disturb a person or process for the best possible result.
  • Your action will shine.
  • You will not feel forced to fight for what is right. 
  • The turbulent waters around you will calm down. I like that idea a lot, because the actual definition says “cause the sea to rest”. 🙂

for your souls. (H5315)

All these parts of rest will be yours in your inner most person, your blood, your breath, your mind, your passions, your appetites, your emotions, and your desires.

But they said (H559), We will not walk (H3212) therein.

They what?! “Oh the joy we often forfeit. Oh the needless pain we bear…” When I first read this, knowing the extent of the benefit, I was shocked. But they chose wrong! Get ’em back! That was not God’s solution. He let them go on their wrong path without their precious cargo and experience the trouble that brought to them.

To be brought to the crossroads and make such a choice is beyond tragic. Yet, there is something far worse. The kids and I have noticed that many in the church are too fearful to get to the crossroads. Such a pity, we hardly ever get to step one – the many peoples, the particularities of culture and successes in life – with a view to learn from the best. It is at these crossroads where we meet with Jesus and our lives realign. We choose directions based on His directives. We walk with baggage, carrying with us what we learn and frequently using it.

All doubt fades into the distance as Jesus speaks….

21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21New International Version (NIV)

 

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Knitting Friends God’s Way

The longer people’s lives are woven together the more their friendship resembles a knit fabric. I knew I was knit together in my mother’s womb but I never thought about being knit together with other people. Other people had friends so I had to figure it all out. I payed attention to, and tried to emulate, the people around me.  That’s fine, but it is not God’s way. It’s exhausting, and honestly it doesn’t always work  so good.

Since beginning this care giving journey for Steve’s dad, I find that several of my relationships have realigned. Old stitches were ripped open and only the wavy limp yarn remained.

I grieved over this many days. It is difficult for people like me who have been abandoned repeatedly, to choose friendships, so after investing in ones I thought would stand the tests of time, watching them unravel was so disturbing that it took a physical toll on me – I could feel the grief. Arthritis and eczema flared up. My whole body felt heavy. The bends and tweaks of myself I hadn’t thought about in years were open to plain sight.

The questions my mind and heart asked were in themselves a weaving of despair: Can I even be a friend? Had I grossly misunderstood what being a friend is. Have I chosen so poorly that I will never have any friends in my life? What is a good friendship like? Can I be a friend to those who are not friends to me? …Should I be? Is that healthy for me or will I just wither up and die lonely at the end of my days? Will my children understand that my actions are obedient to God, not my feelings, when I do and say kind things to those who they know have hurt me deeply? How will my choices … how have my choices impacted my family? Is that good or have I ruined them for life? Is loneliness God’s will for me? Please God! Undo these stitches. I don’t like them.

Into my mind came the word of God.

Then I started to thank God for the realignment and joy returned to everyday living.

But then I started to thank God for the realignment and joy returned to everyday living. Though the questions remain; the truth about God’s trustworthy nature and the relevancy of His commands remain constant. Some of those that had separated themselves from me returned while some who had feigned friendship felt the freedom to walk away. What shocked me was that I was able to maintain stability through those realignments just by realigning my thoughts to thank God.

With new found joy, peace, and well being, I had a renewed thirst for choosing friends The LORD’s way. Not by the standards of those around me which is a terrible trap for those who have been weakened by faulty relationships. No, this time I would choose friends based on the way set forth by the Everlasting God, LORD of all creation, Maker and True Friend of my soul.

So what is God’s way to friendship?

Here’s a good starting point:

I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts. Psalm 119:63

While we cannot quantify a person’s fear of God, for we are all unable to determine the various states of another person’s inner most being, we can, however, witness and process the keeping of precepts. Let’s learn more from investigating a few key words. Pay attention to the overall themes tying the grammatical usages together.

I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts . Psalm 119:63 (KJV)

COMPANION: Chaber

united

associate,

fellow,

worshippers

companion

King James Word Usage – Total: 12
companions 7, fellow 4, knit together 1

From 02266 Chabar Definition

to unite,

join,

bind together,

be joined,

be coupled,

be in league,

heap up,

have fellowship with,

be compact,

be a charmer

(Qal)

to unite, be joined

to tie magic charms, charm

(Piel)

to unite with, make an ally of

to unite, join, ally

(Pual)

to be allied with, be united

to be joined together

(Hiphil) to join together, pile up (words)

(Hithpael) to join oneself to, make an alliance, league together

I love that friends are knit together. The way the yarn weaves in and out of itself to form a strong fabric creates an appealing picture of the kind of friendships I would love to incorporate into my life. Certainly those who worship with me could be woven in, and yet this idea of being joined together with another person or group of people makes me want to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction.

For the previously abandoned, allies – those that stick with you through troubled times or difficult tasks – are few and far between. Trust is a valuable, yet fragile, commodity. Unravel it repeatedly and there is no maneuver on earth that can restore trust to its former glory. The yarn loses its resiliency becoming a functional but tired version of itself. For my part, I’m much more comfortable wrapped up in the woolen coat of impartiality than the whimsical scarf of alliance. Unraveled coats are problematic. 

Fear : Yare’

Strong’s Number: 03372

to fear, revere, be afraid

(Qal)

to fear, be afraid

to stand in awe of, be awed

to fear, reverence, honour, respect

(Niphal)

to be fearful, be dreadful, be feared

to cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe

to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe

(Piel)

to make afraid, terrify

  1. (TWOT) to shoot, pour

King James Word Usage – Total: 314

fear 188

afraid 78,

terrible 23,

terrible thing 6,

dreadful 5,

reverence 3,

fearful 2,

terrible acts 1,

miscellaneous 8

Friends should be aligned in their fear of God. What I take away from this is that one criteria of friendship is the constant acknowledgment of the reality of the greatness of God. If you know people like that, keep them close. Allow them to inspire you.

Have you ever asked yourself what or whom the people around you fear? It is a question with revealing answers. Do they fear people? …Things? …Creatures? …Situations? If they reserve fear for the One who deserves to be feared, they are allowed on the “friends” knit together list.

Keep :Shamar

Strong’s Number: 08104

to keep, guard, observe, give heed

(Qal)

to keep, have charge of

to keep, guard,

keep watch and ward, protect, save life

watch, watchman (participle)

to watch for, wait for

to watch, observe

to keep, retain, treasure up (in memory)

to keep (within bounds), restrain

to observe, celebrate, keep (sabbath or covenant or commands), perform (vow)

to keep, preserve, protect

to keep, reserve

(Niphal)

to be on one’s guard, take heed, take care, beware

to keep oneself, refrain, abstain

to be kept, be guarded

(Piel) to keep, pay heed

(Hithpael) to keep oneself from

 

King James Word Usage – Total: 468

keep 283,

observe 46,

heed 35,

keeper 28,

preserve 21,

beware 9,

mark 8,

watchman 8,

wait 7,

watch 7,

regard 5,

save 2,

miscellaneous 9

Friends are to be keepers. They remember. They observe, and wait. Good friends have good personal boundaries keeping themselves from harm. People who get to be on the “knit list” value celebration, and routines. They are true to their word and can be counted on.

Precepts: Piqqud

Strong’s Number:   06490

  1. precept, statute

King James Word Usage – Total: 24

precept 21,

commandment 2,

statute 1

From: Paqad 6485

to attend to, muster, number, reckon, visit, punish, appoint, look after, care for

(Qal)

to pay attention to, observe

to attend to

to seek, look about for

to seek in vain, need, miss, lack

to visit

to visit upon, punish

to pass in review, muster, number

to appoint, assign, lay upon as a charge, deposit

(Niphal)

to be sought, be needed, be missed, be lacking

to be visited

to be visited upon

to be appointed

to be watched over

(Piel) to muster, call up

(Pual) to be passed in review, be caused to miss, be called, be called to account

(Hiphil)

to set over, make overseer, appoint an overseer

to commit, entrust, commit for care, deposit

(Hophal)

to be visited

to be deposited

to be made overseer, be entrusted

(Hithpael)

numbered

(Hothpael)

numbered,

musterings, expenses

King James Word Usage – Total: 305

number 119, visit 59, punish 31, appoint 14, commit 6, miss 6, set 6, charge 5, governor 5, lack 4, oversight 4, officers 4, counted 3, empty 3, ruler 3, overseer 3, judgment 2, miscellaneous 28

Real friends have a treasury of certain things. These things are on deposit with them from Yahweh Himself. We ordinarily think of them as rules and redundancies that make life boring but I have learned that these are not just laws to be obeyed or events that cause so much stress. Precepts and Statutes are directives – God’s direction for rules of action or conduct. They are injunctions and procedures that impact real life. Your life. My life. And they can be life giving and filled with joy.

God’s basic directive for knitting people together in snug friendship stitches is this:

  • To fear The Maker of Heaven and Earth

  • To do whatever God directs them to do

  • To order their lives according to His directives and protect that as a treasured routine

How do you see companionship after reading through Psalm 119:63? Let me know in the comments below.

This care giving journey is a God-fearing, keeping journey. My relationships have realigned joyfully because God’s directive to give thanks has been put into practice. May this joy be yours as well. Amen

 

Food As Consumed

 

Proverbs is one of the Wisdom books of the Bible. It has some interesting things to say about food that readers of modern translations may not fully appreciate.

Whoever loves discipline, loves knowledge but he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1 NIV

To any parent that verse is plain. If you correct a child over and over again but they continue on doing as they choose, one might say they lack sense. The verse and its meaning are obvious.  It may even be simple to some folks but not to me.

Not being stupid has been somewhat of a goal over the course of my life. Now that I’m older, occasionally, a person here or there will even say I’m smart. That feels good even when it is not true. None of us knows everything. Such goals and thinking were making me miss the point entirely.

With the rest of everyone around me, I believed the Scripture above to be talking about the English word ‘stupid’ instead of going to the real Hebrew meaning of the word. While reading my Bible the other day I decided to ask the question, “What is ‘stupid’?”

Fleshing that nuance of truth out provided me with the realization of years of wasted effort. Let’s see if we can work through this realignment and make our lives reflect #GodsWayNotMine and use our time more efficiently on purpose.

The English definition of ‘stupid’ is:

  1. lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull.

      2. characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness; foolish; senseless:

      a stupid question.

      3. tediously dull, especially due to lack of meaning or sense; inane; pointless:

      a stupid party.

     4. annoying or irritating; troublesome:

      Turn off that stupid radio.

     5. in a state of stupor; stupefied:

      stupid from fatigue.

     6. Slang. excellent; terrific.

      noun

     7. Informal. a stupid person.

(Source: dictionary.com)

In actuality the proper translation of this word as it is used in Proverbs is “food as consumed” which makes a lot more sense.

H198 – Ba`ar Most often used as ‘burn’, this word carries the picture of being burned cattle eaten by people or being grazed over grasslands that the cattle eat. (I used the My Sword app on my android phone as a source but you can also study this in more detail using biblestudytools.com where you will find the description brutish. That term comes from this word’s connection to the cattle raised for food.)

Food as consumed.

Therefore, following the logical wisdom of Proverbs, people who choose to hate correction are “food” just as the jungle animals view humans as simply another resource.

Image result for Jungle book 1994 

(In jungle book, Mowgli cautions jungle travelers to be careful because the jungle animals see them as “food”. In the 1994 version of the remake, Bagheera watches from among jungle greenery and catches the eye of a bad guy to make Mowgli’s point that much more dramatic. LOVE that version. )

So PAY ATTENTION! Image result for Jungle book 1994

This matches with all the surrounding texts about advice. Learn how to take advice. Be selective based on the guidelines set out in Scripture but do pay attention to what you are told, why and whether or not it is true and valuable. Then do something with the advice you receive. To do otherwise is to make yourself a prey to hunters who,like Kaa, are hungry… some are even hungry for your soul. 

 
For on account of a prostitute one is reduced to a piece of bread [to be eaten up],
And the immoral woman hunts [with a hook] the precious life [of a man].
Proverbs 6:26 Amplified Bible (AMP)

This is important especially to the previously abandoned. Often they perceive themselves as prey that no one will protect.

I remember one gal I spoke with described her frustration with trusting people as having a sign on her forehead inviting people to do whatever they wanted with her. Sometimes she thinks about it. Sometimes she doesn’t. Being preyed upon always catches her by surprise and has impacted her children as well.

So sad.

Here in Proverbs there is a realignment that provides a solution. Hallelujah! Thank you God!

Love discipline. Love knowledge

To be put another way, create a delight in your heart to do the right thing over and over and over again. Add to that a sincere seeking out of truth as it applies to each situation, and to the people involved including yourself. A little science. A few boundaries. A lot of love.

This is the practical way. This is God’s way.

The path of Love and Knowledge ensures you do not end up as someone else’s dinner. Image result for Hannibal Lecter mask(Two wrongs do not make a right. Eating people is wrong! Trying to take God’s job of executing wrath on wrongdoers is wrong. Hannibal is wrong and his thinking is twisted.

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. Romans 12:19 NIV)

Yet that movie also makes an interesting social point like Alice in Wonderland or Animal Farm make political ones.

That point? People consume people. Doing so is vile on a variety of levels..

In case you are thinking that eating people is a concept best left to the Donner party  or crazy movie characters, God talks about this same idea when He spoke though Micah. Apparently people have less compunctions about eating people’s lives than they do about eating people’s flesh but the reality is that both are just as dastardly…uh… stupid.

The words of Micah,  “The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Hear, you peoples, all of you, listen, earth and all who live in it, that the Sovereign Lord may bear witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.”

Micah 3

 Then I said,

Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel.
Should you not embrace justice,
    you who hate good and love evil;
who tear the skin from my people
and the flesh from their bones;
3 who eat my people’s flesh,
strip off their skin
and break their bones in pieces;
who chop them up like meat for the pan,
like flesh for the pot?”

Then they will cry out to the Lord,
but he will not answer them.
At that time he will hide his face from them
because of the evil they have done.

This is what the Lord says:

As for the prophets
who lead my people astray,
they proclaim ‘peace’
if they have something to eat,
but prepare to wage war against anyone
who refuses to feed them.
Therefore night will come over you, without visions,
and darkness, without divination.
The sun will set for the prophets,
and the day will go dark for them.
The seers will be ashamed
and the diviners disgraced.
They will all cover their faces
because there is no answer from God.”
But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the Lord,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression,
to Israel his sin.

Hear this, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel,
who despise justice
and distort all that is right;
10 who build Zion with bloodshed,
and Jerusalem with wickedness.
11 Her leaders judge for a bribe,
her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say,
“Is not the Lord among us?
No disaster will come upon us.”
12 Therefore because of you,
Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.

Image result for temple rubble of Jerusalem

This is a picture of the Temple in Jerusalem in ruins and thickets. Temples made by man will come to ruin but you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Food for thought, is it not?

Confusion Birthed From Abandonment

 Image result for tornado Sometimes I am in chaos. I call it confusion. It’s like free floating in a tornado during a lightning storm. It  must be akin to what I imagine primal chaos to be.

Impartial standards are grounding. So I return to the Bible, my impartial standard, and to the very beginning of it.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2 King James Version (KJV)

without form is connected to the concept of confusion. It is the “to be laid waste” part  of the definition that grabs my attention. (if you haven’t taken the opportunity to click on the link and read the definition, take some time now to do that. ) It was the action point “to be” not as describing an ongoing condition but as though some great momentous battle had occurred with ongoing results that riveted my gaze. There was a spot in space that was acted upon. The result of that action was desolation, waste.

Abandonment is an action that lays waste…facilitates a state of chaos… in the lives of children. Their resultant waste condition is a perpetual turmoil and tumult of thought processing, emotional disorientation, and vulnerability of heart in relationships whether those relationships are of supreme importance or a micro bit of insignificance.

I have written before about abandonment and the struggles I experience because of suffering abandonment in early childhood. Some, but not all, of these are: The Ghost in My Life, Lord of the Stir Point, #addiction and #family, Compassionately Challenged, Routine Brings a Harvest of Joy, Forgive Him?

At the risk of sounding obvious, childhood is a precious time of personality and coping development. These formative years are so important. They lay the foundation for our approach to people in later years. Recently, I discovered one insidious consequence of abandonment experienced in childhood: the repeated dealing with a personal chaos, a confusion of mind for no apparent reason and at seemingly random segments of time.

Part of the frustration with these episodes is the lack of gaining control over  them. Another is knowledge that we cannot survive the storm without help. Confusion draws us ever closer to the seductive power of lies from within and false comfort from without.  We look desperately around for someone to help but help is nowhere to be seen It is not caught up in the storm with us whirling about. For some of us the moment (s) of confusion come unexpectedly. Instead of a head on collision, we get T-boned from the side and end up like so much scrap metal wrapped around an uprooted tree.

Image result for tornado damage path

As I was reading through the Bible’s book of Esther, I saw that confusion hit the entire city in one afternoon totally by surprise. Why? The king was talked in to turning his back on (abandoning) a whole people … moms, dads, boys and girls, aged and infants… sold not merely as slaves, but sold to die. The story is here in Esther 3:14-15.

The result of  abandonment is a state of confusion. Think about that. In the book of Esther it was both a state of being and the communal state of an entire capitol city.

Confusion is worth thinking about. It has facets of meaning. Here is the Dictionary.com definition. I have highlighted the situations that those abandoned find familiar or deal with daily because of childhood imprinting.

Confusion

1. the act of confusing.

2. the state of being confused. (verb (used with object), confused, confusing.

3. to perplex or bewilder: 2. to make unclear or indistinct: 4.to fail to distinguish between; associate by mistake; confound

5. to disconcert or abash:

6. to combine without order;  jumble;  disorder:

7. Archaic. to bring to ruin or naught.

8. disorder; upheaval; tumult; chaos:

9. lack of clearness or distinctness:

10. perplexity; bewilderment:

11. embarrassment or abashment:

12. Psychiatry.  a  disturbed mental state; disorientation.

13. Archaic. defeat, overthrow, or ruin.

We find this confusion in Esther 3:13-15.  "...but the city of Shushan was perplexed [at the strange and alarming decree].

One minute the captives in Susa were going about their daily business, the next they were sold to utter annihilation. The result of this abandonment by one’s master is perplexity…confusion.

[H943 bûk BDB – to perplex, confuse, be confused Strong’s – To involve, to be entangled]

It is my experience that abandonment by a parent or a boss, or any person in authority whether the relationship is close or not– whether the abandonment is physical or emotional– gives birth to confusion of EF-5 storm damage.

 

Abandoned children are thrown into chaos. We are entangled in the inability to reason.  Our thoughts are jumbled. Our abilities to associate are often mistaken. We are embarrassed by communications that don’t come out as we intend.  Little decisions and big ones become gargantuan efforts to focus. We get discouraged when others seem to be doing so well and our own inner view sees only devastation.

Abandonment during childhood embeds this chaos into our daily lives. This inescapable personal flaw is just as epic in scope and just as difficult to process for us as it was for the Jews of Susa during Esther’s time. Just like them we must humble ourselves and beg the King of Kings — our only source of help —  for mercy and a powerful way forward that brings life.

Often the trust in God required to turn the tables on confusion also requires Esther’s attitude of “ If I perish, I perish” It is the abandonment of ones self and circumstances to the pleasure of the King’s choices. The great treasure of belonging to King Jesus is not only his matchless power but that our King is entirely trustworthy. He is loving and kind to all that He has made.

Image result for newborns abandoned
Dog rescues a child from the garbage. click here for the story

Psalm 71

In You, O Lord, do I put my trust and confidently take refuge; let me never be put to shame or confusion!

Deliver me in Your righteousness and cause me to escape; bow down Your ear to me and save me!

Be to me a rock of refuge in which to dwell, and a sheltering stronghold to which I may continually resort, which You have appointed to save me, for You are my Rock and my Fortress.

As I sought to understand confusion better I found these nuggets of truth:

Confusion is a lethal weapon in the LORD’s arsenal. Therse are a few of the outcomes from God’s use of confusion:

Why would he use such devastating tools? Take some time to read the stories linked to the words here and share what you learn in the comments below. 

When these weapons spring from seeds within the boundaries of our own psyche not of our own planting, the fatalities… the waste… increase exponentially.

We cannot catch confusion. It catches and traps us in the whirlwind.  We can, however recognize recurrent items zipping past us and do something about it.  If the LORD has taught you how to fight against recurrent confusion, please share your insights in the comments below.

The most effective course of action for me has been to call out for the mercy, the peace, and the love of God through King Jesus.

The primal place of waste in Genesis holds clues for recognizing and praying about confusion. 

[H8414 – tohhu – BDB formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness- formlessness of prmieval earth, empty space – that which is empty or unreal – wasteland, wilderness, solitary places – a place of chaos – vanity Strongs to lie waste, a desolation, a desert, a worthless thing, in vain, confusion, empty place, without form nothing, nought, vain, vanity, waste, wilderness]

If you feel like you are in a desert then you need the help of King Jesus. If you struggle with feelings of worthlessness, you need King Jesus. If your mind seems like it is empty, you need King Jesus. If your life seems like an endless wandering, you need King Jesus. If vain things and vanity of self plagues your persona, you need King Jesus. If you find patterns of solitary behaviors touching down inside of you wreaking havoc, you need King Jesus. If you exist in and prefer existing in places – internal or external — that have issues against reality, you need King Jesus.

If this  storm you experience is not of your making and abandonment has birthed your confusion, call out to the LORD of Creation and He will calm it time and time again.  YAY!!! Perhaps God uses confusion so that His glory may be made known to everyone with greater brilliance.

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Rescue Is Not Enough

Ships in distress need rescue. They crave it desperately.

The cross of Christ is a rescue but rescue is not enough. Jesus knew this to be true and wasn’t shy about setting the rescued straight. Real rescue is followed by real changes in living.

Recently my husband was reading the Bible to me. This was the passage:

John 5:1-14 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition 

5 Later on there was a Jewish festival (feast) for which Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is in Jerusalem a pool near the Sheep Gate. This pool in the Hebrew is called Bethesda, having five porches (alcoves, colonnades, doorways).

In these lay a great number of sick folk—some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)—[a]waiting for the bubbling up of the water.

For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted.

There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.

When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]

The invalid answered, Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me.

Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk!

Instantly the man became well and recovered his strength and picked up his bed and walked. But that happened on the Sabbath.

10 So the Jews kept saying to the man who had been healed, It is the Sabbath, and you have no right to pick up your bed [it is not lawful].

11 He answered them, The [b]Man Who healed me and gave me back my strength, He Himself said to me, Pick up your bed and walk!

12 They asked him, Who is the Man Who told you, Pick up your bed and walk?

13 Now the invalid who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had quietly gone away [had passed on unnoticed], since there was a crowd in the place.

14 Afterward, when Jesus found him in the temple, He said to him, See, you are well! Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.

*

There is a lot in that piece of history to change my life but this stuck with me – Rescue is not enough.

Those rescued must continue on… learning to live differently than they had before…learning to realign their surroundings and relationships.

For this man, the healing process involved being OK with carrying things on the Sabbath when everyone he accepted instruction from drilled into him —  from birth — the exact opposite. He had to recognize true authority and desire true freedom. In the blink of an eye he turned his back on his embedded personal and community culture in order to move and live and breathe in the life God restored to him.

Because those who are rescued must continue on, the rescue the cross work of Jesus gifted to us is not enough. It is only a part of the whole work of Christ.

Now before you start calling me a heretic and run screaming for the hills, pay attention to what I’m saying and to what I’m not saying. Did the cross work of Christ cancel the written code? YES. …Make a public spectacle of opposition? YES. Is it the fulfillment of prophecy – YES. The totality of the Gospel? NO. The end of our Journey? NO!

Christ was born, suffered, died was buried, rose again, appeared to many, ascended into glory and will come again to fight against his enemies then rejoice with His family and His bride who go into the world to come.

Christian Sunday schools, and book stores obsess about sticks and nails this time of year.  We get hung up on the cross. Image result for crucifixion jewelry

We love to reiterate how Jesus died and that He died for each one of us. Those truths are very dear BUT how I wish we concentrated more on the open…and empty… tomb! The fellowship of His appearing and His transport out of here…the clouds. Those would be the icons of a better focus. A cube with as many jewels on it as the New Jerusalem, my future home,  would be a grand reminder of the good news of Jesus Christ. These are just as much a part of Jesus work for our complete healing as the cross is. Why not make efforts to contemplate our total reconciliation to God? The birth, suffering and death events in Jesus life, precious though they are, do not form the entire gospel.

Paul tries to explain the value of the parts to the Corinthian church:

12 Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how is it that [a]some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain [useless, amounting to nothing], and your faith is also vain [imaginary, unfounded, devoid of value and benefit—not based on truth]. 15 We are even discovered to be false witnesses [misrepresenting] God, because we testified concerning Him that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised, either; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless and powerless [mere delusion]; you are still in your sins [and under the control and penalty of sin]. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hoped only in this life [and this is all there is], then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Did you catch that last bit? The miserable and pitiful part? Did you catch that more people are raised than Jesus?

 

If Christ has not been raised, then our faith is WORTHLESS. It is POWERLESS. It is a DELUSION.

One might say one’s entire life is “shipwrecked.”

 

This is a good place to insert that grimacing emoji. Surprise! The love that will die for a friend or even for a sinner – great though it is – is NOT enough. …Enough for an invitation. Enough for an opportunity. Not enough to bring about real change.  It is only a worthless delusion. Image result for grimacing emoji

Careful now. We are heading into troubled waters.

Just like the man at the pool, real change happens for us when living begins; When we, the dead, are brought forth to live the truth of the whole gospel.  James says we SHOW the gospel of Jesus Christ by what we do. John the Baptist says we SHOW the reality of our rescue by changing what we do.  Abraham SHOWS us that we should be looking forward to much more than this life has to offer as do Moses and the prophets. John the Apostle invites us through a door into the Great Beyond with our blessed redeemer, Jesus.

Come let us reason together. Jesus taught this to the healed man when he went back to him and told him how to live a better life. After Jesus was raised from the dead He went back to teach His disciples and many more about life after death.

Jesus rescued us at the cross but rescue is not enough. Resurrection living follows crucifixion rescue “…or something worse may happen to you”.

LORD of the Stir Point

My life is filled with various stir points. You know them too, I’m sure.

Stir points are those times when stuff from the past you thought you’d dealt with… successfully… has been somehow activated and brought to the front of your mind to deal with once again. Stir points have dates and times. They are usually emotional and always uncomfortable.

Here is an example of one stir point: My mother thinks I need to have high end jewelry. Almost every visit she will give me things she wants to get rid of … “after all, they’re better than anything you have,”  Well. that’s what I hear her saying anyway. She gives me gifts like grandma’s pearls that my sister doesn’t want because they were redone with beads that shed their fake luster over her clothes. Another time she felt so guilty about my not having anything of “value” that she decided to gift me with her relational trash — a ring redone using gem stones from a series of cast aside lovers and husbands.

I still have these but I never wear them because the ring makes me feel yucky just looking at it and I restrung the pearls ditching the flaky beads for stones I enjoy. Ya know I don’t like flakes on my clothes either. Somehow these gifts always remind me of the negative sides of the original presentation. (I think maybe I should flip them into something else entirely.)

Other stir points can be holidays. Valentines day might be one of yours. Mother’s day is one of mine. Every mother’s day I deal with the emotional abandonment that is foundational to my relationship with my own mother although that one is getting better since the LORD and I had a talk about ostriches. Every September I deal with harvest as a grief issue because it was at this time of year that a series of funerals popped into my life and feelings surrounding the dearly departed were… ahem… dealt with … years ago as a matter of God’s bringing home a harvest of souls around me.

This last trip to Texas was a a stir point.

We were there to visit with my husband’s mother and various people from her side of the family. It is our custom when traveling to attend the congregation of our host or to find an assembly of believers with whom to celebrate God’s marvelous wonders. We went to church with Mom, her husband, my husband’s sister, her kids and the cousins. The service and the people were wonderful but I had a carnal moment. I was looking at ladies hands; in particular my eyes would focus on their diamonds.

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Looking down at my hand I caught myself talking to the LORD…whining actually. But I don’t have diamonds on my hand. I feel so poor. Worthless…

It’s embarrassing. I had ring issues and God was listening.

My first band broke on a door knob. It was not wearable so it was replaced by another simple band. Then I decided that I was a silver girl and that ring was replaced by a silver band. My discontent ate energy.

So one day Steve took me to a pawn shop and I found a glorious set with diamonds set in silver that I really loved. I was almost going to give him the green light to get it. Then I read the inscription on the inside of the band. It said something about loving her forever. It was in a PAWN shop! Nope. This reminder of love gone wrong will NEVER be worn on MY hand. We went home.

I was cured. My simple yellow gold band will be here on my wedding finger forever. It has never been caught on anything. I can do anything without worrying about it. I can wear it every day. Simple gold rings are amazingly practical.

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Seriously, I’d already dealt with all this diamond business. I was at peace with my simple gold band. I was at peace until I went to evening church one Sunday long before our Texas trip.

The guest speaker and his wife were motorcycle missionaries. They were sitting right in front of me and the light caught her rather large diamond wedding set bringing it swiftly to my attention.

Oh LORD, I sighed, If this lady from the biker culture can have a diamond set, why can’t I?! She probably isn’t rich. Why do I have to be poor and look poor? Everyone knows that the women here are more friendly to women with diamonds.

Into my juvenile complaint God spoke. Christine, YOU are the diamond.

Oh. OK. That makes perfect sense. Diamonds are carbon under pressure brought to light, cut and set. I can see my life of trial, abandonment, and belonging with all the challenges those things put in my path today in terms of my life as a diamond. Please help me to be a beautiful brilliant diamond for your glory Amen.

I went on my merry way with my plain gold band trying to be a good diamond. I hadn’t had these trouble making thoughts for a very long time…years… decades even. Then one recent Sunday morning they descended on me with tear squeezing force in a well cushioned country Baptist pew.

What were these women wearing? I wonder what their lives must be like? Do they have lots of friends because they have lots of diamonds?

That feeling of worthlessness because of jewelry choices is so repugnant its almost evil. I dismissed these thoughts but God was listening.

We went back to my mother-in-law’s for Sunday supper. After everyone had their fill of chicken spaghetti, dishes were cleared and the rest of the family had dispersed, I sat down quietly to resume knitting a pair of socks for my daughter.

All of a sudden Mom pops out of her recliner, “Come here, I have something for you.”
She brought me into her bedroom and went into her closet. She returned telling me a story while holding out to me a ring with gorgeous diamonds.

“These are Jack’s diamonds.” (her husband number two and father of the man I love) “I didn’t know what I should do with them. Should I give them back? Should I keep them? Well, I ended up having them set into a different ring. Joe and I were talking about this.” (current husband whom she loves). Mom looked down at her present wedding set adoringly. “He wants his daughter to get these when I die. I thought these,” She spoke to the band she was holding out to me, “should be Christine’s. You have been such a good wife to Steve.” Thoughtfully she placed the diamond ring on the ring finger of my right hand.

We said together, “It fits!!”

My own mother’s ring gift was a jewelry cleansing that made me feel trashy. The feeling this one gave surprised me. I knew my mother-in-law was symbolically getting rid of her old relationship but in spite of that it made me feel so special.

I wore it the rest of the day and my man didn’t notice until he went to hold my hand later that evening and it kinda got in the way. “What’s this?!”

“You can tell him later, ” Mom instructed. That was fine with me. I was proud to wear it but I had already made an agreement with myself that I would try not to do or say anything that would purposely draw attention to it.

Having these diamonds stirred up a lot more thoughts in my mind. How do people take care of these things? Should I have it insured? What if it breaks? What if it falls off? How do I clean it? Well, It’s not a design I would pick…. Boy do they sparkle!

These too are embarrassing thoughts and God was still listening. God took care of the design because that was chosen by some random jeweler. Several stones above a swirl of gold. As I looked down on it pondering why anyone would ever choose such a configuration, a quiet voice in my head spoke into my heart.

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Do you see the swirl?
Yes.
Yes. I see it. Even the diamonds are set as if they are twirling in a dance around the center stone.

Doesn’t that swirl look like the paddle wine is stirred with?
It does!

Haven’t I stirred you up?
Yes. You stirred these ring issues up again, and again. Ahh, I get it! This ring is “THE STIR POINT!”

Yes. That is how you shall remember my work in you. I have stirred up your memories. I have changed you by this stirring into a beautiful treasure. You are my diamond.
But now when I wear it – and I shall because I never want to take it off — How will I outshine this earth bound treasure? These diamonds are so distracting.

The sun outshines diamonds.
It does. So I can? Hmmm.

This is how you outshine a diamond

14 Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [[a]against God] and [b]questioning and doubting [among yourselves],
15 That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world,
16 Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose. Philippians 2:14-16 (AMPC)
Thank you Father for the stir points of life and this diamond stir point. I love you too.
Oh, by the way. The pastor spoke on spiritual maturity that Sunday in Texas. I was impressed that maturity takes practice that is every bit as difficult and as transforming as physical exercise. I’m convinced that not complaining or arguing about things in life is the Crossfit of spiritual fitness. It is not casual. It is intentional, team oriented, progressive and intimidating at first.  Come to think of it, diamonds are that way too; force upon force, buried, transformed, chiseled, refined, one element reflecting all the rest.

Go Team Jesus! I’ll pray for you. You pray for me. Deal?

Abiding Belief

Image result for suitcase drawingWhat do you carry with you? What do you keep when life’s events are finished?

What spirit abides with you on your journey and away from it?

The power of abiding belief.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 (AMPC)

In 2016 a few excursions from regular life helped to cement in my mind and heart exactly what I believe in and if what I believe stays in my life for the long term.

In the Spring, I got a new job. We did rental move-out cleaning. Training was on an as needed basis. Every day I went to work the work itself was different; the job required different skills, different cleaners, different approaches, different techniques. Even the person we did the cleaning for changed. Would we be cleaning for a homeowner, a Realtor, or one of several different property management companies each with their own set of standards?


Nothing was ever the same except these things. It remained that if people were not messy I would not be working that day. To get clean there must first be a mess. It also remained that I still had only one boss; I must work as if I were reporting directly to the King of the Universe Himself.

22 Servants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not only when their eyes are on you as pleasers of men, but in simplicity of purpose [with all your heart] because of your reverence for the Lord and as a sincere expression of your devotion to Him.

23 Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men,

24 Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah). Colossians 3:22-24 (AMPC)

Who I serve was no longer a matter of whose names were on the paycheck. Who I worked for became  — out of necessity —  a matter of believing in what God’s role in my life at the time was and a deeply held belief that obedience to His word trumped all other input. These beliefs enabled me to do a good job with a good attitude.

What you carry with you through changing circumstances is very important. It is called an abiding belief. It is a belief that lives in you like protons and electrons live in the surging forces of the Sun.

Last December I experienced abiding belief in a judicial setting. My first time ever to serve God and my community as a juror brought about a lot of pleading with God for wisdom as well as conversations with Him about daily circumstances.

The charge against the defendant: Attempted rape of a child in the first degree. The instruction from the defense: innocent until proven guilty. Instruction from the judge: Pay attention to everyone’s demeanor. My heart’s cry: Please God, don’t let me screw this up!

Prosecuting attorney:

“If at the end of today, tomorrow, next week, two years from now you still think you made the right decision, That is abiding belief. We are asking you to make a decision without all the facts. We are asking you to decide if this man is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt or if he is innocent. The choice is yours. …”

All sorts of persuasive speeches lobbied for my attention. Yet, this one thing remained; God is the true Judge

16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice there was wickedness, and that in the place of righteousness wickedness was there also.

17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time [appointed] for every matter and purpose and for every work. Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 (AMPC)

The defendant was found guilty by a unanimous decision among the jurors. A series of events over time and demeanor of the defendant were the major topics during deliberations. Yes, Months have gone by and I still think we made the right choice. I have abiding belief in that choice.

It was a wonder to watch God’s justice unfold. As I prayed, God brought Scripture to mind. As I prayed more, God’s Word was enacted right in front of me …several times with several Scriptures. When I left that final evening I was so stoked that being in a hurry to prepare Dad’s house for his homecoming didn’t fluster me a bit. 

Abiding belief creates joy. Who knew?

From that moment on my abiding belief that God orchestrates circumstances for His glory and purposes has carried itself over to affect my daily life.

These days I live out of my suitcase between two homes as my husband and I try to care the best we can for his aging Dad who is in need of 24/7 supervision. Being ready at a moments notice is a shock to my system. Feeling at home in someone else’s house is a huge change. Keeping my established habits fit the range of problematic. The each thing I keep around me in my own home comes into life’s ring to be challenged for its right to exist. I am now responsible for four bathrooms, two kitchens, five bedrooms, an individual dementia care plan and the care giving associated with it, two grocery and home maintenance shopping lists…. Well, you get the idea. Things that aid organization and anti-inflammatory living are suitcase essentials right along side the hair brush and comfy clothes.

I am learning, among other things, that what I put in that suitcase matters a great deal to me. It matters because I need it in both places and would suffer consequences if it were missing. I have to plan for its maintenance and refill.

What can I live without? What is necessary to have within reach at all times for my emotional and physical well being? Is the attachment I feel towards an item appropriate or way out of whack?

Sometimes I feel selfish about what I carry with me but those feelings really set me back. What I believe about what I carry must be strong enough to last through anything.

Many things have been defeated in the life ring but this one thing remains; Those that care for others must care for themselves. It is right in here as one of the greatest commandments.

28 Then one of the scribes came up and listened to them disputing with one another, and, noticing that Jesus answered them fitly and admirably, he asked Him, Which commandment is first and most important of all [[a]in its nature]?

29 Jesus answered, The first and principal one of all commands is: Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord;

30 And you shall love the Lord your God [b]out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your [c]life) and out of and with all your mind (with [d]your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. [e]This is the first and principal commandment.

31 The second is like it and is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

32 And the scribe said to Him, Excellently and fitly and admirably answered, Teacher! You have said truly that He is One, and there is no other but Him;

33 And to love Him out of and with all the heart and with all the understanding [with the [f]faculty of quick apprehension and intelligence and keenness of discernment] and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

34 And when Jesus saw that he answered intelligently (discreetly and [g]having his wits about him), He said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God. And after that no one ventured or dared to ask Him any further question. Mark 12:28-34 (AMPC)

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You see, Friend, what you carry with you is very important. It may be in a suitcase as you endeavor to multitask. It may be in your heart guiding your attitude on difficult work days. It may pronounce verdicts after serious considerations. Of the things we all carry, abiding belief – that thought, decision or creed that stays with you no matter where you go or how long you stay – is very, very important.

#Visitors

Promotion has always been an issue with me. I suppose I could have more visitors reading this blog. That’s what spammers are saying.

I suppose Dad could have more visitors at the hospital. That’s what the doctor is saying. She pretty much encouraged patient “harassment” because their goal is to keep him awake all day. I know visitors would keep him awake during the in-home-care phase also.

So have you given thought to harassing fellow believers with your visits? The Bible cautions us to keep alert during these troubling times. Visitors just might be the solution.

I know that during this time of family upheaval, I need to be reminded of God’s works, His answers to prayer, and His incredible love for me as well as His incredible love for others.

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Most days praise is not on my lips or in my mind because I am physically and mentally exhausted.

Visitors might just be the solution.

 

In the Hospital

Relationships can be filled with adventure.

As I sit here in a hospital room waiting for my father-in-law to get back from his echo test and his dementia puts a Do-Not-Resusitate order within our sphere of knowledge, new angles to the adventure of long term relationships present themselves to my totally attentive gaze.

Sometimes relationships need a hospital.

This day when I was super emotional and forgetting all about food, God used two  special people I hadn’t seen for a long time to visit, think about food and to offer me some. Initially, I intended to refuse the offer but a still small whisper that only I could hear instructed, “Let them help” so my hesitation turned into, “That would be lovely.” Isn’t it great how my Heavenly Father works good into my life!

Thanks, ladies. That burrito was just what I needed. Even though I haven’t had beans for about two years now, they didn’t seem to phase me. (That right there is a huge God-gift!) The amount of food was perfect to take me through the  rest of the day.

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 Sometimes relationships just need the crisis of illness to improve. Sometimes our connections are the patients in need of their own kind of  medical attention.

As I observed Dad and the hospital staff, similarities to our more intangible personhood emerged. Relationships in a brick and mortar hospital have a lot to say about relationships out side of these antiseptic, neutral colored halls.

Relationships in the hospital:

  • Two parties involved experience helplessness in varying degrees
  • One is considerably less able than the other to meet needs and facilitate healing
  • Knowledge of the truth is key to good decision making
  • Resisting help causes more harm than good
  • Help comes from more than one person
  • Help comes from more than one “tool”
  • People in hospitals – doctors, nurses, patients and families- tend not to communicate well. One person who is there with the patient ALL the time can help them connect needed information (Isaiah 46:3-4)
  • Relationships in hospitals are necessary but stressful

 

There are some relationships we take to the hospital expecting a full recovery. Others we allow to go through their usefulness cycle and die naturally like the deciduous leaves on trees. Still others we decide not to work on at all. Each choice is valid and comes with its own set of guidelines.

Relationships can go to hospitals. These will seldom ever look the same; Talks with friends, professional counseling with clergy, hiring a psychologist, or simple personal soul searching. But the best of help for relationship comes from the One who made us and knows us best… The LORD himself.

Dad will have to go to a skilled nursing facility next. From there we hope to take him back home and set up a care-giver situation. Right now, I am the link to them all.

Because I am here, giving my time and attention, I am learning how to take care of him. I am learning how he – in his new frame of mind- communicates. God knows all this but I have to learn it…patiently…with love.

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“Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God … 1 John 4:7,8

This adventure is going to be a relationship boot camp of sorts. Loving kindness is always an adventure.

Be encouraged. God himself walks with us in our relationships … in relationship hospitals and their multiple adventures.

The Ghost in My Life

In this personal journey of healing from and living with the scars of abandonment, especially when I was going through my dad’s things after he died, much time was invested with the cliché “skeleton (s)” in the closet of our family. While this was a valuable time, it resulted in little or no attention given to the breezy but influential ghost in my own life.

Ghosts seem so mysterious but Christ understands them completely.  With His help, I am investing a bit of time sorting out truth from fiction, apparition from power, within the confines of my own experience. I would be honored if you would join me in the investigation.

As I often do, sharing the clarity of terms seems appropriate. What is a ghost?

Ghost — Strong’s number 4151 —  pneuma :- wind, breath; things that are commonly perceived as having no material substance; by extension, spirit, heart, mind, the immaterial part of the inner person that can respond to God; spirit being; evil spirit; ghost, God, the Holy spirit.

[from 4154 – pneō:-to blow (of wind) / from

1606 ekpneō:- to breath one’s last breath, die

1709 empneō:- to breathe,

2315 theopneustos:- God breathed, inspired by God, referring to a communication from deity,

4151 (see above),

4152 pneumatikōs:- spiritual, pertaining to the spirit,

4157 pnoē:- wind, breath,

5285 hypopneō:- to blow gently (of wind)

My ghost has a name. Control.

I can give up my ghost “control”. I can choose to employ the power of another Ghost “Control”. Notice the capitalization difference? This option happens as often as I have the ability and the inclination to choose. (That’s true of you too, by the way.)

Paul urges us to walk in the wind at all times … God’s Holy Breath, the capital “C” Control. Self control is a gift of the Holy Ghost. To be sure, walking in the same direction as the powerful breath of God sure beats walking in opposition to it. We have a choice. Wind walking can be scary and debilitating or it can be an energy charged blast.

So what happens if I ride on the wind? What does it look like to walk with,instead of against, the wind?

16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).  Galatians 5:16 (AMPC)

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22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,

23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [[a]that can bring a charge].

24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.  Galatians 5:22-24 (AMPC)

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25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit [a]we have our life in God, let us go forward [b]walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.] Galatians 5:25 (AMPC) 

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By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.

For this very reason, [a]adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in [b]exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),

And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),

And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.

For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [[c]full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [[d]spiritually] shortsighted,[e]seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins. 2 Peter 1:4-9  (AMPC)

That word “temperance” in verse six is another form of self-control. Looking at the word in the depth of its color… or should I say… in its spectrum of velocity…we can gain a better understanding of the strength available to us in our relationships.

Temperance 1466 enkrateia:- self control [from 1722 +2904 (en:-spatial – with among, logical – because of, Time – during, while) + (kratos:- power, strength, dominion/

from 

192 :Lack of self control, excess

193 Without self-control, incontinent,

1466, See above

1467, To have control of one’s self, contained.

1468 Disciplined, self-controlled,

2888 Powers of the world,

2900 Mighty, powerful,

2902 To arrest, seize into custody, to take, grab, hold on, obtain; to be kept from, held,

2903 most excellent, “Your Excellency”,

2908 & 2909 better, superior, greater,

3841 Almighty; this title for God translates the Hebrew 7372 “Lord of Hosts” (the heavenly armies), and Hebrew 8724, “Shaddai,” (probably) God the Mountain, powerful, immovable

So what I came away with from these definitions is that no matter where I am or who I’m with or what is being communicated, the LORD’s mighty power is the only power I need to help me. The strength and Majesty of the Mountain lives and moves me to conduct myself correctly. I especially like that 2902 word. Take hold. Grab onto Holy Ghost Control.

How might this work in relationship?

So my sister – older by 15 months – has difficulty treating me as an adult. Is it merely a quirk of birth order… this quest of hers to control something in my life… any least little thing? Of course not. It is a choice.

I could choose to wallow in anger and defiance employing several counter control measures. OR I could choose to call on the Name of the LORD, my Holy Ghost, to work and to witness through me to her.

Since I have opted to employ another Ghost, her control issues are no longer my problem and neither are my own control issues. I can blow them off in the name and power of the Holy Spirit. Living in the wind of the Holy Spirit, I can choose to communicate in such a way that both of us are clear about who controls me.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 (AMPC)

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The Ghost in my life is precious and life-giving. Relationships are just better when you take time to pay attention to The Spirit.