Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blessings Rain Down

 "He says to the rain shower, 
  'Be a mighty downpour.' "
Job 37:6

Hot, hot, hot today. 

And surprisingly humid for Southern California.  The kids and I were hoping it would rain, but no such luck.  I mean, I suppose it still could, but it's getting less and less likely as the minutes tick by.

And I got to thinking about this verse in Job, hoping that God would, indeed, speak to the rainclouds that were near us.

But what I love about this verse is not that God tells the rain shower when to rain, but that He can command it to be a mighty downpour.  I love the power He has.

He is holy, He is mighty, He is sovereign.  He created the earth and everything on it; the seas and all that is in them, and they respond to Him.  He has storehouses of snow, and hail reserved for times of trouble.

I think we too often forget, or at least underestimate, the amount of power He has.  He who commands the rain is also He who says, "Test Me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." (Malachi 3:10)

He doesn't just promise blessing, but in abundance.  Pressed down, shaken over.... Packed, crammed and stuffed in.  Blessings to overwhelmsion. 

I don't know if that's a real word.  
I might have just made it up.  
    But it's perfect.   
So I'm using it.

There are areas of my life where I am overwhelmed by Him, and His blessings for me.  But I forget to look at those when I'm thinking about the ways I think my life could be better.  But an abundance of blessings is due to His love ~ His mighty, powerful love.

~ "Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing
       in the heavenly places in Christ" ~
Ephesians 1:3
~

Friday, August 30, 2013

Eric Liddel and Creamed Corn

"to you it shall be for food"
Genesis 1:29

Okay, so remember all this?


A bountiful harvest in our kitchen, yes?  But it wouldn't all fit in my fridge, and it wasn't going to last long sitting on my counter!  So my kids and I got to work making the most out of it. 

The first thing to tackle was the corn.  Almost 30 ears of it, and starting to get a little dried out, so I decided the best course of action was to cream it, to infuse it with the moisture it had lost.  Then I could freeze it, and when I reheat it, I'll do so in cream, which will plump it up some more.  Then a little salt and maybe a teaspoon of sugar, and yum!

So I got to work.  First, I had to shuck all the corn, and then I had to remove it all the kernels.  For that, I had a special tool.  A very fun, very devoted tool. 


It's called a corn stripper, or a corn zipper.  I also saw a variation called a Kernel Kutter.  But that seems a little too cutesy to me.  If you look closely, you can see the two little teeth on it; in the middle, pointing toward the handle?

You could, of course, do the same job with this good old-fashioned tool:


And I've done it that way many times in the past.  But a few years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a corn stripper in my Christmas stocking, and it's very effective.  More so than doing it with a knife.  A little neater, too.  The kernels don't fly so far and so high as they do with a knife. 

But more than being good at its job, what I love about my corn stripper is how happy it is. 


Just look at that face!  Such joy in doing what he was created to do!

And that, made me think of Eric Liddell. 

I know.  But as I say 
to my sister:  I can't help where my mind goes.  

Eric Liddell. The Scottish missionary, and Olympic runner on whom the movie "Chariots of Fire" was based.  A great story about a great man ~ far greater than they were able to depict in a two-hour movie. 

In that movie, Eric Liddell said, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast.  And when I run I feel His pleasure."

I love that line.  I suppose it's possible the man never said that line; that it was written for the movie.  But I am still inspired by it.  I, too, can feel God's pleasure when I do the things I was created to do, like mothering, and writing, and maybe one or two other joys. 

So as I prepped that corn I thought about Eric Liddell, feeling God's pleasure.  And I thought about that happy little corn stripper, smiling as he did what he was created to do.

We should find joy in being who He created us to be, and in doing what we are gifted to do.  But more than that, we should find His joy. 

~ "And whatever you do, do it heartily, 
as to the Lord and not to men,
knowing that from the Lord
you will receive the reward of the inheritance;
for you serve the Lord Christ." ~
Colossians 3:23-24
~

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fort Bliss

"Man the fort!"
Nahum 2:1

When my sweet girl was younger, we had a conversation one day, when she was having a bad day.  I went into her room where she was sniffling and grumpy, and asked her what was wrong.  And she said she didn't know.  She didn't understand.  She just felt cranky and impatient and mad at everyone. 

And haven't we all been there?

We talked about a few things that might be the cause:  not enough sleep, being hungry, and how some days are just bad days. 

And I told her she needed to find a way to help herself.  She should read something in her Bible, and pray, but that she could also play some music, or read a book she loves, or draw for awhile.  I said, "You need to find what will help you.  I can't do it for you."  And I gave her a kiss on the head, and walked out of her bedroom.

About ten minutes later, I came in to check on her, and you know what she had done?  Built a fort out of blankets and a chair or two, and brought every stuffed animal she owned in there with her.  And a little while after sitting in her "happy place," she was feeling better. 

I thought of this recently, when I read a great quote by Booker T. Washington ~ "Lay hold of something that will help you, and then use it to help somebody else."

I think it's important to know what helps us when we're discouraged, or faithless, or just plain grumpy.  Know what music, what Bible verse or Scriptural truth will bring our minds back to Him, and what's important. 

But that quote reminded me of our responsibility to others.  It reminded me of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ~ "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

Comfort others with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted.  I know the wording is a bit like a tongue twister, but it's such a beautiful passage.  It's both a reminder to be grateful for the ways He comforts us, and to see what we can do for others. 

My girl is one of the most compassionate people I know.  She not only thinks of others, she hurts when others hurt.  And she reaches out in ways she thinks would help.  She blesses me every day.

And I know, that if what I needed was a fort full of stuffed animals, she'd be the first to provide it. 

~ "that I may be encouraged together with you 
       by the mutual faith both of you and me" ~
Romans 1:12
~

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Running Low

"love, joy, peace..."
Galatians 5:22

Here's the thing:  I'm running low on maple syrup. 

I love maple syrup.  And I'll only use the real thing.  My dad grew up in Vermont, so I guess it's in the genes.  None of that artificial stuff for me. 

The last time we were grocery shopping, my Amazing Boy happened to say, "Do you need syrup, Mom?"  And I said, "Well, soon, but not yet."  After all, real maple syrup is not cheap, so I want to buy it at the lowest possible price.

Turns out his instinct was right; I was lower than I thought.  Then we had breakfast for dinner last night, so now I'm even lower. 

A couple of weeks ago, we were out of chocolate chips.  My son had a hankerin' for chocolate chip cookies, and I told him he could make some, and it used the last of our chips. 

This was a tiny bit of a problem, though, being out of them, because I really, really like Cream of Wheat for breakfast. 

Hold on, I'll get ya there...

I have Cream of Wheat almost every morning, but you gotta put something on it, right?  It needs a little hit of flavor.  So most mornings I use a few chocolate chips, toss them in there, let them melt, swirl it around, and my breakfast has that little twist that my sweet tooth loves. 

And when I was out of chocolate chips, I used maple syrup.  Put a pat of butter in my breakfast, drizzle in some syrup, and there it was!  Yum! 

Maple syrup was what I had plenty of (relatively speaking) when I was out of chocolate chips.  Now I'm low on syrup, but in the meantime we've replenished our our chocolate chip supply.   And it occurs to me to be grateful that I may not have everything I need, all the time, but I always have something of all that I need.

My aunt died this afternoon.  Unexpectedly.  She went in for surgery yesterday, and of course surgery always comes with risks, and this time they were very real.

And remember that joy that I had on Sunday, as I celebrated the life of my friend Terry?  Well, I really don't have joy today.  As my friend Bob reminded me, there is a time for mourning, and a time for weeping.  And that time is now.  

I'm temporarily out of joy.  But I do have peace.  I think about my father and my other aunt, having lost their sister.  I think about my cousins, who have lost their mother.  She had grandkids, and nieces and nephews and friends galore.  And though I know they are hurting, I also know that God is with them.  That He comforts those who hurt, and that He is never far from us. 

I have thankfulness for memories and long life and the fact that she was surrounded by family when she died. 

And I have faith ~ faith in His love for His children ~ faith in the strength that comes from family ~ and faith in His promises.

And faith that my joy will soon return.

~ "A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance" ~
Ecclesiastes 3:4
~

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Lesson From My Dog

"Come near now and kiss me"
Genesis 27:26


I got another sweet little lesson from my dog the other day.  And I didn't miss the beauty in it, despite the fact that it was first thing in the morning, and I was a little bleary.

It was Sunday morning, and the Apple of my Eye was up before I was.  'Course that's usually how it goes.  I'm not really a morning person.

I could hear noises in the kitchen as I got up, and when I came into view of the kitchen, I could tell why.  The Apple of my Eye was doing the dishes that never got done on Saturday evening.  And sitting behind him as he worked was our loyal dog.  She's devoted to him, and when he's home, if you want to find her, just look wherever he is.

So there she was, eyes on him, but when I came around the corner, she looked up and saw me.  I was all the way down the hallway, past the living room.  She didn't move, she just turned her head and looked at me. 

I'm not sure what she was thinking.  I'm also not sure what she ever thinks.  Or if, to be honest with you.  But she didn't move from her position.

Until I crouched down.  That was her invitation.  And she came running down the hallway, past the living room, to greet me and nuzzle me good morning.

It has happened before, that she comes to me when I crouch down.  Sometimes we'll be out in the backyard, maybe I'll be sweeping or something, and she'll be sniffing around the grass or chasing her ball.  But when I come down to her level, even without calling to her, she will come running to me.

And I love the lesson in that.  The reminder, really.  That Jesus, who loves us so, humbled Himself and came down from heaven to our level, and in so doing, invited us to come to Him. 

Love prompts the invitation, and love prompts the response.

~ "God will redeem my soul 
  from the power of the grave,
    and He shall receive me." ~
Psalm 49:15
~

Monday, August 26, 2013

Celebrating Life

"you shall celebrate"
Leviticus 23:41

We had a fun and interesting day today.  And surprisingly enjoyable.

After church we ran some errands, although not with success.  We couldn't find what we were looking for.  But we were enjoying being together.  It's actually kind of fun to do some walking when all four of us are together ~ me, the Apple of my Eye, and our Amazing and Awesome kids.  It's fun because we end up in pairs, but always evolving pairs.  Sometimes father/daughter, mother/son... sometimes mother/daughter, father/son... sometimes hubby/wife, brother/sister...  Then someone will stop to tie a shoe or something, and someone waits for them while the other two someones keep walking, and just like that, the pairs have switched up. 

So we chatted and laughed and talked as we walked and drove to a couple of destinations.  So there was some fun there.

Then we went back to church in the afternoon for a get-together.   There was music and laughter and good conversation.  We saw old friends and got caught up.  Oh, and we had amazing burgers and even more amazing fries from a food truck.


And then we had just-as-amazing desserts from another food truck.  Your choice of ice cream in-between your choice of warm cookies.

I had dark chocolate cookies and mint chocolate chip ice cream.  So delicious.

And we stood in the shade of the bounce house while we ate, and listened to bouncing, giggling children.



Oh, and did I mention we were at a funeral?

I have never been to a funeral like this is in my life.  And believe you me, I have been to a lot of funerals.  A lot.  I asked the Apple of my Eye, and we figure I've been to about 50 in my life.

I have a big family.

And a lot of friends, apparently.

Although who could blame you for wondering if I have any left...

But this was the first one I've ever been to, that had a bounce house.

The service was for Terry, the friend that died last week of cancer.  The family called it a Celebration of Life, and they certainly came as close as one can, at an event that causes people to cry.  Which we did.

But that's okay; sometimes crying is celebrating, too. 

We were encouraged to wear bright colors (no black).  The tablecloths were bright yellow, and there was a table outside with favorite things of Terry's:  chocolate donuts and chocolate cake.  And five different men, all chosen by Terry, shared the things that he had asked them to, and the things they wanted to share about his life and his friendship.

It was the culmination of the attitudes that Terry and his family showed from the day he got his diagnosis, and his prognosis.  Acceptance.  Peace.  Trust in God.  Terry's wife, my sweet and wonderful friend, had her own cancer diagnosis a little over a year ago.  She beat hers.  But only a few months after her clean bill of health, they found out that he was sick.  And in all that time, of her battling, not knowing what the outcome would be, and of his battling, knowing full well what the outcome would be, their faith never once wavered.

On the contrary, their faith was strengthened.

And so was that of their kids.

And so was mine.

And judging from the celebration, I wasn't the only one.

~ "this day is holy to our Lord.
Do not sorrow, 
for the joy of the Lord is your strength" ~
Nehemiah 8:10
~

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Produce Aisle

"the produce of the land"
Genesis 41:34

I've been feeling productive lately.  And you know what's got me feeling that way?

Produce.

Which just seems right, that produce would lead to productivity.  Or does productivity produce produce?

I love the English language, don't you?

Anyhow, this is the produce that has me producing:


I got it all from church a few weeks ago.  When we were doing our Vacation Bible School.  As I think I mentioned, the theme was a farm theme, so there were fruits and veggies as "decor" in the kitchen area.  And when the week was over, and everything was getting cleaned up, someone asked me if I wanted the vegetables.  It was a lot, but I didn't want them thrown away, so I said sure!  And my kids and I took home a plethora of potatoes, apples, onions, oranges, lemons, peppers and corn.

It had all been sitting out for several warm days, so I knew none of it was at its best.  So after my Awesome Girl took a few pictures of our bounty, I got to work caring for it. 

In some cases it needed to be processed immediately (i.e. chopped and put in the freezer) and I'll share some of that in future days.  But other things still had plenty of life in them, they just needed to be stored properly to extend that life.

As I found homes in my kitchen and garage for all these blessings, I thought about how different they all are.  The onions and potatoes need someplace cool and dark, the tomatoes need someplace cooler than that, but not as cold as the fridge.  The corn needed to be refrigerated in a hurry if there was going to be any chance of salvaging it. 

Apples and oranges and lemons are pretty cooperative.  They'll sit in the counter in a bowl ~ even together if you want ~ looking pretty until you're ready to eat them.  But not for too long, and not if the weather's too hot.  They have their limits, you know. 

The bananas, too, will do better on your counter, but you should separate them from each other, and they'll last a shorter time on the counter than those others. 

In addition, carrots, berries and mushrooms should not be washed before being stored.  Melons like room temperature, pineapples don't care but they should be stored upside down. 

And on and on.  They are not created equal and you have to know what's best for each one, if you're going to get the best out of them. 

So it is with us.  You're zucchini and I'm asparagus.  Or, you know, whatever.  You're creative and energetic, I'm introverted and analytical.  You need to plan well for something big, then deal with it one step at a time.  I work better under pressure.   But He has plans for us.  Things He wants us to achieve for our growth, and the blessing of others.  And in order for us to meet those challenges, He has us in the perfect time and place, with the perfect people. 

Some of those circumstances might not seem perfect to us.  In fact, we might be convinced there are people or situations in our lives that are holding us back.  But He knows.  He knows how productive we can be for Him, and He knows how to bring that out.

So if you think you're not where you'd like to be in your growth, take heart.  You're getting riper all the time.

~ "You have planted them, 
yes, they have taken root;
   They grow, yes, they bear fruit" ~
Jeremiah 12:2
~

Saturday, August 24, 2013

You can fool some of the people...

"test the spirits"
1 John 4:1

Syllogism.

Argumentum ad absurdum

Also known as Reductio ad absurdum.

I love the Latin word absurdum.  Our English word "absurd" is already practically onomatopoeia.  Absurdum takes it that extra step.  The word itself looks ridiculous.  Which it should.

I like nauseum, too.  For the same reason. 

And while we're on the subject, have you ever noticed that the word "awkward" is awkward looking?  Seriously:  w-k-w??  Clumsy. 

And the word "weird" is spelled weird.  "I before E, except after C..." and all that.  But it doesn't conform, making it weird. 

But let's get back to the concepts of "syllogism" and "argumentum ad absurdum".

Syllogism is a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two premises.  One example is ~ "All animals have four legs, and all cats are animals.  Therefore all cats have four legs." 

It's a form of deduction used in formal arguments, but the definition also says "a subtle, misleading or crafty argument."

Okay, now let's look at "argumentum ad absurdum".  This is a form of argument in which one takes a true statement, and uses it to demonstrate that accepting (or denying) that truth will lead to an absurd conclusion.   My favorite (which I think I've shared here before) is:  "God is love.  Love is blind.  Ray Charles is blind.  Therefore Ray Charles is God." 

Or maybe that was syllogism.  Either way, it cracks me up.

The lesson is about the danger of drawing conclusions.  Taking a fact, and then believing something that seems to make sense, in connection with that fact.  The serpent did this to Eve in Genesis 3.  Twisted the truth, but not so far as to make it seem illogical.  And she believed him.

And false teachers have been doing the exact same thing since the time of Jesus.  Acts 16 tells us the account of a demon-possessed woman who was following Paul around, repeatedly crying out, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation."

Now, what she was saying was true, but Paul rebuked her.  He commanded that the evil spirit come out of her.  And I've always been intrigued by this.  She was speaking truth; why stop her? 

The fact is, she was dangerous.  She was a messenger for satan, even though, at this point, she was speaking the truth.  satan is a counterfeiter, and he doesn't mind using Jesus' name to get attention.  he speaks the truth when it suits his purposes.  And then, without warning, he lies.  And if you don't know God's truth; if you don't have His Spirit giving you discernment, you are liable to believe the lies that seem to go along with the truth.

Read the Bible, people.  You've got to know the truth if you're going to recognize the lies.  After all, believing everything you hear would be, well, absurd.


~ "Beloved, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits,
whether they are of God;
because many false prophets
   have gone out into the world." ~
1 John 4:1
~

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Private" Conversations

"they gather themselves together"
Genesis 34:30

Well, no one can say I haven't been making good use of my downtime... One of the organizational projects I've been working on in the summer heat (sitting in the living room, in front of the fan) is organizing the pictures on my computer.

For instance, there was a large group of photos was from my Awesome Girl's last volleyball tournament.




But one in particular stood out to me...


I remember taking this picture, and wondering what the girls were talking about.  They huddle before each game, and at the end of each match, and sometimes in between, if there's a timeout. 

The coaches never join them for this.  It's just the team.  And I always wonder if one person assumes the role of captain, and gives a little pep talk.  Or do several of them say something? 

And when there are breaks between games, and they sit outside in the shade eating their lunch.... There are no parents and no coaches with them.  Do they even talk about volleyball?  Or do they take that time to talk about movies and clothes and school?

And while I sat there looking at that huddle of friends and teammates, all of a sudden I found myself wondering the same questions about the disciples.  I pictured this group of men who worked together and walked together and ate and slept together, and I wondered what they talked about when Jesus wasn't around.  Their childhoods?  Their occupations?  What they hoped for the future? 

They probably talked about Him a lot.  About the things they had seen and heard from Him.  I would love to have been a fly on the wall (or tent) as they compared the Scriptures they knew so well with the teachings of the Son of God.

Good-spirited debate, discussion, encouragement... the kind of atmosphere and intimacy that only comes from being together and vulnerable 24/7. 

And you know what makes my imagining even sweeter?  The knowledge that Jesus knew all about their "private" conversations.  Every word.  And I think He looked upon those conversations the way a parents does when they are listening to their kids over a baby monitor in the playroom, or standing outside the bedroom door as they whisper in their little beds in a dark room.  There's such joy in those conversations, hearing how kids interact with each other, and the things they say when they think they're alone.

I love how much God loves us, and how well He knows us.  I love that we have no secrets from Him, and that He adores us, even with all our immaturity and our flaws.  And I think He especially loves when we're enjoying interacting with each other.  After all, what would God, who is love, love more than when we're loving those He loves?

~ "He knows the secrets of the heart" ~
Psalm 44:21
~

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Selah

Psalm 62. 

A friend of mine recently showed me the beauty of this psalm.  It's sort of "a day in a life" encompassed in a few verses. 

Verses 1 and 2 are how we should start our morning ~ praise and joy in the knowledge of Him:

"Truly my soul silently waits for God;
from Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved."

Isn't that a great way to start your day?

But then something goes wrong.  Traffic, co-workers, health problems, family, money, schedules, problems, issues, struggles, struggles, struggles.  They attack, and we reach out to the Lord in prayer.  Verses 3 and 4:

"How long will you attack a man?  
You shall be slain, all of you,
Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence. 
They only consult to cast him down from his high position;
They delight in lies;
They bless with their mouth, 
But they curse inwardly."

Yeah, it's a little bit whiney, maybe.  But sometimes that's how we feel.  And that's okay.  As long as we don't wallow.

But then it continues, and by continuing along with it, I am brought back to where my heart and my mind should be.  David almost scolds himself a little, pulling himself up by his faith, if you will:

"My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
and my refuge, is in God. "

And then he reminds us what we all should know:

"Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us."

He gives us truth...

"Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed on the scales,
They are altogether lighter than vapor."

... and a warning:

"Do not trust in oppression,
Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase, 
Do not set your heart on them."

And he closes with the praise that is acknowledging God's power:

"God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God. 
Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy;
For You render to each one according to his work."

Power belongs to God. 

'Nuff said.
~

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Not Sparing the Rod

"When it is My desire, 
I will chasten them."
Hosea 10:10

One of my offspring had a sleepover the other night.  And by that I mean that said offspring had a friend over to our house.  They were at a Youth Group bonfire, so since they were going to be out late already, I invited the friend to spend the night. 

In addition to that, my schedule, and that of the friend's mom, necessitated that the friend spend the day with us after the sleepover.   It was an interesting day. 

Since their very first sleepovers, my children have known that it is unacceptable for them to show any evidence of the lack of sleep caused by slumber parties.  They were not going to have a ready excuse for a cranky attitude, napping, or a change in schedule.  In other words, chores or other responsibilities would not take a day off for them. 

And all their lives, they have lived by that very well.  They are cheerful and helpful despite how sleepy they might be feeling.  Whether or not they had to work very hard to keep up the facade, I don't know.  And I don't care.  {I mean that in the most tough-loving way, of course.}

Well, on this particular day, my offspring was not his/her normal self.  Though he/she was hanging out with his/her friend all day, and I had less contact with my child than usual, it was obvious that the normal good-nature of the child was not there. 

But I said nothing.  Not yet.  The time wasn't right.  First of all, the child was tired from lack of sleep.  Second, the child was still enjoying time with his/her friend.  These things would combine to mean that any serious conversation would not be effective.  I knew I needed to wait until my normally wonderful child was back to his/her normally wonderful state.  Then my child would be receptive, would take my words to heart, and seek to do his/her best to learn from the scenario. 

And yes, that's how that conversation will go.  I know my kids.  I'm not kidding when I say they are Amazing and Awesome.  {Although, to be honest, the offspring that's innocent in this particular crime would probably not appreciate that I'm implicating both of them so as to not embarrass the actual perpetrator.}

But it occurred to me that by not saying something while the "crime" was going on; in other words, by waiting until after the friend had gone home and my child was no longer exhibiting sub-par behavior, I might be condoning his/her attitude.   What was the message I was sending by saying nothing?

And then I turned it around, as I am wont to do.  {I am also wont to use words like "wont".}  And I thought about times when maybe God delays His discipline or the consequences of my actions.  How many times have I persisted in attitudes or actions that displease Him, simply because nothing was deterring me?  I've seen God delay justice for the Israelites over and over again in the Bible.  And the Bible also tells us that He is longsuffering, giving us time to repent of our sins.  But I'm sure I sometimes misinterpret His silence for apathy, or acceptance. 

He deals with me on His time, knowing when I'm the most teachable and the most impressionable.  He does discipline those He loves, but He does it with wisdom and love.  And there's no better model for a parent.

~ "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, 
as some count slackness, 
but is longsuffering towards us, 
not willing that any should perish, 
but that all should come to repentance." ~
2 Peter 3:9
~

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Triune

"righteousness and peace and joy
in the Holy Spirit"
Romans 14:17

In Exodus 31, Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, was filled with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.

In Numbers 24, and in 1 Samuel 10, Balaam and Samuel, respectively, were filled with the Spirit, and prophesied.

In Judges 3, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel, the son of Kenaz, younger brother of Caleb, and he became the judge of Israel.

In Judges 6, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he led his people.

In Judges 14, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson in power, and he freed himself from that which bound him.

In 1 Samuel 11, the Spirit of the God came upon King Saul, and his anger was greatly aroused.  The result was that the fear of the Lord came upon the people he ruled.

In 2 Chronicles, God's Spirit came upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he taught.

In Ezekiel 11, the Spirit of God enabled Ezekiel to see in a vision what was not apparent to him otherwise.

In Job 33, Job credited the Spirit of God with making him, and the breath of God with giving him life.

Daniel tells us that the Spirit of God is the source of light, understanding, and wisdom.

Matthew tells us that by the Spirit of God we can cast out demons.

Paul tells us that we are led by the Spirit of God, and as such, we are children of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in us.

We have been baptized by Him, sealed by Him, and filled with Him.

He is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

He us upon us, enabling us to preach good tidings to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and open prisons for those who are bound.

And He causes us to rest.

He is Helper, Counselor, Comforter, Teacher.  He is a Promise.  He is a Gift.

We can ignore the Holy Spirit, we can grieve the Holy Spirit, we can even blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

We can receive Him.
     Or we can resist Him.

~ "Do not cast me away from Your presence, 
and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me" ~
Psalm 51:11
~

Monday, August 19, 2013

We grieve, but not as those who have no hope

"How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!"
Psalm 84:1

It's Sunday as I write this. 

First thing in the morning.

The house is quiet.

As is my habit, I went to my computer and checked my emails.  I always do, when I wake up; partially to see if I have anything from after I went to bed the night before, and partially because the brightness of the screen forces my eyes to wake up a little bit.  Although truth be told, I generally turn the screen down quite a bit, because my eyes aren't ready to wake up that much...

But this morning I was checking for a specific message.

I was wondering if a friend of mine had died. 

He is close to death.  He's been battling cancer, and we were told on Saturday that the family thought it was only a matter of hours.  And the way we'll be notified is via a church-wide prayer request. 

I did not get that notification, so I said another prayer for the family, and turned to Charles Spurgeon. 

Well, not Spurgeon himself, although I'd love that.   Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening".  My all-time favorite devotional.   And the verse for this morning coincided so beautifully with where my thoughts are. 

"Strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the Lord's house" ~ Jeremiah 51:51

Now, I don't really know what this means.  I'm not that familiar with the Book of Jeremiah.  My guess would be it has to do with non-believers desecrating the temple.  But what it means to me today is we, as believers, are invited into His presence.  That when we take our last breath on earth, we will take our next in heaven. 

Once, we were all strangers to Him.  But faith makes us His children.  "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19) 

And we, who once were strangers, will be welcome in the presence of God.
~

It's Sunday evening as I finish this.  And another saint is in the arms of His Savior. 

~

~ "I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope...
For the Lord Himself will descent from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.
And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words." ~
1 Thessalonians 4:13,16-18
~

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Name above all names

"faith in His name"
Acts 3:16

Are you a collector?  I wonder if people are, by nature.  It's hard to go into a home without seeing a grouping of items on display, that gives insight into the owner.  Stamps, coins, figurines... I watched a home improvement show the other day where someone went to an estate sale and bought everything the owner had, that had an apple on it.  Baskets, place mats, magnets, dishware, decor... he purchased every piece he found.  

My biggest collection is books.  I still have most of the books I studied in college, plus a host of others I have acquired since then.  But I only have so much shelf space, so it's a constant battle to decide what's worthy of keeping.

But I also collect intellectual things.  Quotes, Bible verses, words and phrases that teach or inspire me.  I have them written in books, and jotted on my computer and hiding on scraps of paper in my Bible or on my desk. 

And along those same lines, I also collect truths about God.  Promises, characteristics, and names.  And those ~ the names ~ are what I'm thinking about today.

El Shaddai, Jehovah-Mephalti, Elohim, Abba.... they all tell us something about Him.  All-Sufficient, Deliverer, Creator, Father.

So sometimes I take it a step further.  Sometimes I think about who He is, or who I need Him to be, and I try to meditate on Him or worship Him for that.

Jehovah-Berakah, the Source of Blessings.

Jehovah-Chakah, God who waits.

Jehovah-Mysterion, He is a mystery.

They aren't Biblical, of course; they are just for me.  And I'm not even sure they're accurate.  I think of a word to describe Him, or one of His characteristics, and then I find it in a Bible verse.  Then I look that verse up in a transliteration, to find that word in the Hebrew or Greek.  Languages being what they are, I'm sure sometimes I'm getting it wrong.

But at the same time, I'm discovering something new.  For instance, I recently thought to myself how silent God can seem sometimes.  So I found Psalm 83:1 ~ "Do not keep silent, O God!" The Hebrew word used there for "silent" is "demiy", but here's where it gets a little hinky.  The word "demiy" actually means "silence", not "silent".  Small difference to me, but it might be huge to someone else.  Which is why I stress that this whole process is for my own edification, to help me worship Him better. 

But what I discovered that blessed me, was that when I was thinking of how God is silent, I was not really appreciating that characteristic of His.  I was in a place where I was doing a lot of talking to Him on a particular subject, and He didn't seem to be responding at all.  So my considering Him as "silent" was a little bitter on my part.

But then I found the word "demiy", which in addition to silence also means peace, quiet, and stillness.  And who doesn't love those?  So by focusing on His attributes, through my love of words, I am reminded that His attributes comprise who He is.  All of who He is.  And it's all good.  Even the parts that sometimes feel not-so-good.

The Bible calls God our Father, our Redeemer, our Protector and our Bridegroom.  He is all that and more.  He is more than we know, and everything we need.

~ "let us continually offer
  the sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of our lips,
giving thanks to His name" ~
Hebrews 13:15
~

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Comfort in Listening

"I know My own, 
and My own know Me"
John 10:14

Such a comfortable verse.

He knows me, indeed.  I am His own.

He knows every hair on my head, and loves me to the maximum allowed by His definition of the word.

I know this, and as a valuable a piece of information as it is, I often forget it.  Could there be any thought more comforting than His knowledge of me?

And I know Him.  I know much about Him, from His word.  I know everything I have read; everything He has revealed to me.  And the more I study, the more I will learn.

Admittedly, it's sometimes hard to recognize His voice.  The enemy does great impersonations.

But He states a fact that His own know Him.  It's a promise.  He also gives the gift of His Spirit, giving us the discernment, that we will not be fooled.

I know His voice.  The trick is to listen to nothing else.

~ "Yet they will by no means follow a stranger,
but will flee from him, 
for they do not know the voice of strangers" ~
John 10:5
~

Friday, August 16, 2013

Walking through

"I will fear no evil"
Psalm 23:4

When I was little, we lived on the east coast, but we still had family on the west coast, so occasionally we would come out for a visit.  One of those times was in the late 70s, when my sisters and I came out without my parents, to spend the summer.  We lived with my grandmother while my mom was redoing each of our bedrooms.

She was very creative about it, my mother.  She asked each of us two questions:  what color would you like your room, and would you like wallpaper?  My older sister said "green and yes" so she got two walls of green and two walls of daisy wallpaper.  I said "blue and yes" so I got a light blue room with a wallpaper border around the top of the room.  My younger sister said, "pink and no" so she got four walls of different shades of pink.   Plus we all got new carpet, and curtains made by my mom.

To this day, I still own those curtains, and the matching comforter.  The curtains haven't fit on a window in any house since that one, but I still own them, just in case I can re-use them someday.  My daughter used the comforter for a long time, until her tastes changed.  Now it's in a trunk, occasionally being re-used. 

But back to my grandma's house. 

We slept in the room that three of my uncles used to sleep in, and there was a poster on one wall.  It was, shall be say, a variation of a portion of the 23rd psalm.

I wonder why people say "the 23rd psalm" instead of "Psalm 23".  I mean, I'm sure sometimes people do, but it just flows better as "the 23rd psalm," don't you think?

But back to the poster.  I don't remember if it had the whole psalm on it, but it did have the ending.  Sort of.  It said, "... even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, 'cause I'm the meanest dude in the valley." 

I used to lie in bed looking at this tough looking guy, and thinking how weird that poster was.  And even at that age, I knew it wasn't true.  That meanness isn't enough to get one through when it's really the valley of the shadow of death.

When I was a kid, I always pictured the Valley of the Shadow of Death as the Grand Canyon.  But, you know, shadowier.  Dark.  Scary.  And one's life in danger.  From what, I was never quite sure.

But now I know that that valley may not necessarily be a place of danger at all.  At least not physical danger.  I think it's any place or situation that threatens your light, your joy, or your hope.  It's a place of worry or anxiety or fear.  It's a place of sleeplessness or that nameless funk that accompanies not knowing what's going to happen in your life.

And what's worse, sometimes just be being a shepherd, we have to accompany the sheep into a dark place.  It's a place our hearts and minds don't want to go.

But see, that's the thing.  This is not one of those things God says we won't have to endure.  The verse doesn't say "I shall not walk through the valley..."  But He promises us that if we do ~ when we do ~ we need not fear.  We shall not fear.  We are not alone. 

~ "Yea, though I walk 
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" ~
Psalm 23:4
~

Thursday, August 15, 2013

And yet...

"afterward...
compassion"
Jeremiah 12:15

Yesterday I was thinking about sinning, and our propensity to keep right on doing it.  Our obstinacy.  Our stubbornness.  Our hard-hearted, stiff-necked-ness.

Today, I'm thinking about how His love outlasts all.  That we are never too far gone to be forgiven.  To get back in His good graces.
 
The apostle Paul is a good example of this.  God completely welcomes us. 

And we are given a place among His people. 

~ "Now this is what the Lord says:  'I will uproot from their land all the evil nations reaching out for the possession I gave My people Israel... But afterward I will return and have compassion on all of them.  I will bring them home to their own lands again... And if these nations truly learn the ways of My people, and if they learn to swear by My name, saying, "As surely as the Lord lives," then they will be given a place among My people.' " ~
Jeremiah 12:14-16
~

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Over and Over

"we have sinned;
in these ways we continue"
Isaiah 64:5

People in a position of power thinking that the rules don't apply to them.  Anyone come to mind?

If yes, don't say it out loud.  That's not necessary.  And it might be risky, depending on the company you're currently keeping.  But people like that exist, so I was pretty sure you'd think of someone.

Maybe it's not just people in power, so much as people in certain positions.  Sometimes people can get comfortable because of a sense of security in their position, and it stops them from being worried about the consequences of their decisions.  Maybe that position is one of power, or maybe it's in a job or a relationship.

We recently finished studying the Book of Jeremiah at my church.  It's a long book, and sometimes a bit depressing ~ Jeremiah was, after all, known as the Weeping Prophet.

As I studied it, I found myself thinking a lot about the Israelites, their continual worship of other gods, and the punishment that was imminent.  But I also came around to directing the lessons to myself.  You know, trying to see what I should be applying to my life.  And of course, the same lesson applies.  Refusal to give Him priority in my life.  Weakly succumbing to the same sins of defiance and laziness.

My salvation is secure, but that doesn't mean my behavior doesn't matter.  Paul said in Romans 6, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!"  But he also said, in Romans 7: "the good that I will to do, I do not do.  But the evil that I will not to do, that I do." 

In other words, it ain't easy.

That's why it's called a battle. 

Just because the temple was in Jerusalem did not mean that Jerusalem was invincible.  Being God's beloved does not mean we are free to do whatever we want.  Carrying His banner before us is a privilege, but it is also a responsibility.

~ "Be ye perfect, 
even as your Father in heaven is perfect" ~
Matthew 5:48
~

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fearing and Hearing

"golden bowls full of incense,
which are the prayers of the saints"
Revelation 5:8

Does God always hear?  Can He choose not to?  Or can He just not help it? 

Or is it all in the definition of the word "hear" vs the word "listen"?  Like when I'm not paying full attention to my kids:  I'm aware they're talking, but I'm concentrating on something else, so I don't really hear what they're saying.

Except, of course, that He is omniscient.  I'm not.  So I don't already know what my kids are going to say. 

So I'm looking at Hebrews 5:7 today.  And it's reminding me of what my attitude should be.  See, sometimes I forget.  He's Father, but He's also Lord.  He's Abba, but He's also King of kings.  I think we can get a little familiar sometimes, you know?  Not respectful enough.  Forgetting fear.  Forgetting awe. 

And then I come across a verse like Hebrews 5:7.  Here it is in a few translations:

"Jesus, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared"
(King James Version)

"While Jesus was here on earth, He offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the One could rescue Him from death.  And God heard His prayers because of His deep reverence for God."
(New Living Translation)

"While He lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as He offered up priestly prayers to God.  Because He honored God, God answered Him."
(The Message)

"... He was heard because of His godly devotion."
(Common English Bible)

"... He truly worshiped God, and God listened to His prayers."
(Contemporary English Version)

"... His prayers were answered because of His great respect for God."
(Easy-to-Read Version)

"... Because He was humble and devoted, God heard Him."
(Good News Translation)

"... His prayer was heard because He trusted God."
(New Century Version)

"... God heard Him because He truly honored God."
(New International Reader's Version)

"... He was heard because of His reverent submission."
(New International Version)

Okay, several translations.  

But do you see the point?  First, please note that the word "heard" does not just mean God perceived the sound of His voice.  It means that God heeded Him.  Valued His words. 

Second, please notice that even though God heard and answered (according to the ERV), Jesus still didn't get what He wanted: namely, the cup to pass Him by.  Being heard and answered by God doesn't mean you get what you want.

Third, notice Jesus' attitude toward His Father in heaven.  Crucial.  If you want to be heard, be worthy of being heard.

~ "Hear my prayer, O God;
give ear to the words of my mouth" ~
Psalm 54:2

~ "I will praise You, O Lord my God,
with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore." ~
Psalm 86:12
~

Monday, August 12, 2013

He calls them all by name

It's nearly bedtime as I write this.  But we're not headed to bed. 

We are headed outside to lie down in the backyard, and watch the Perseid Meteor shower.

photo credit: wikipedia

Yes, it's time for a little awe and wonder, a little praise and worship to the God of all creation.

photo credit: nasa

But whether or not you are in a place where you could see them, you can still be in awe, and you can still praise.

"He made the greater light to rule the day,
and the lesser light to rule the night. 
He made the stars also."
Genesis 1:16

"Look now toward heaven,
and count the stars if you are able to number them."
Genesis 15:5

"Is not God in the height of heaven?
And see the highest stars,
how lofty they are!"
Job 22:12

"Where were you when the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Job 38:7

"When I consider Your heavens, 
the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars, 
which You have ordained"
Psalm 8:3

"He counts the number of the stars,
He calls them all by name"
Psalm 147:4

"Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all your stars of light!"
Psalm 148:3

"we have seen His star in the East
and have come to worship Him."
Matthew 2:2

"When the saw the star, they rejoiced
with exceedingly great joy"
Matthew 2:9

"one star differs from another star in glory"
1 Corinthians 15:41

"I am the Root and the Offspring of David,
the Bright and Morning Star."
Revelation 22:16
~

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Marshmallow, Chocolate, and Prayers

"roasted in fire"
Exodus 12:8

Our church had a beach bonfire the other night.  It's a very August-is-winding-down-and-with-it-summer-is-disappearing kind of thing to do.  The Apple of my Eye will attend another one with his Bible study next week. 

It was exactly what you'd expect from a beach bonfire.  Food, sodas, hymns sung around the fire (yes, the guy who brought a guitar even played "Kumbaya".  Haven't heard that since I was about ten.) 

And, of course, s'mores.  That wonderful combination of marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker.  I don't know who came up with that idea, but it sure works. 

The only problem is, it's a little messy. 

Well, that's not the only problem.  They're also a little tricky to properly prepare.  Hazards include burnt fingers, burnt marshmallows, and marshmallows that fall off of roasting sticks into the fire.

But what was bothering me was the "messy" thing.  The marshmallows are sticky, the chocolate is melty, the graham crackers are crumbly... it's difficult for one to eat a s'more and look dignified while doing it. 

And I realized, as much as I wanted a s'more, that I didn't want one badly enough to eat in that group.  There were people there I didn't know, and I guess I was just too embarrassed to risk making a mess of myself.  There are times and places to let one's guard down, ya know?

But that was the second time that day that I'd become aware of the fact that we choose to be vulnerable sometimes.  The other time was that morning, when I got together with a friend for coffee, and over the course of the conversation, we prayed together.  We had a very honest and open heart-to-heart, even laughing about how some of the stuff we were sharing, we wouldn't have shared with just anyone.  Even when you need prayer, there are times when you need to pray about who you want to pray for you!

I'm grateful for those people in my life that I trust.  I'm grateful for people who keep secrets, who don't judge, who handle my fears and anxieties with tender loving prayer, and who won't laugh at me if I get marshmallow in my hair.

~ "there is a friend
     who sticks closer than a brother" ~
Proverbs 18:24
~

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Good Books

"the words of God...
the knowledge of the Most High"
Numbers 24:16

I love reading.  But even more than that, I love books.  I say that because I own books that I've never read.  I have every intention of reading them, but it's possible I never will.  And yet I own them. 

I also own books that I have read, some of them only once, that I don't plan on ever reading again.  It's not that I didn't enjoy them, or didn't learn from them, it's just that once was enough.  And yet I haven't given the book away because I want to be able to find something I know I read there.  It's there for my remembering, or my research. 

But I'll be honest: some of them are on my shelves because I like the look of them, the smell of them, the feel of them... Often, what I love about a book is the idea of it, or what it represents.  Books represent knowledge, or truth or beauty in some way, and I love that about them. 

Now here's something fun:  to think about the Bible not as a book, but as a collection of books.  What a beautiful collection that would be, each of them, separately published, in hardcover, on my shelves.  Genesis, Esther, Psalms, Isaiah, Obadiah, Luke, Titus, Revelation... Each with an intriguing and appealing cover giving a glimpse to the contents. 

Some of them are harder to read than others.  Some are more interesting.  Some I've read many times, some only once.  Some are welcoming, some are intimidating. 

Winston Churchill said, "If you cannot read all your books, at any rate, peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are.  Let them be your friends; let them be your acquaintances."

That's good advice.  We don't have to love every part of the Bible, but we should be acquainted with each book.  We should know who wrote it, and what it's about.  Let it fall open where it will.  Read from the first sentence that arrests your eye.  Be comfortable with every book.  Let each be your friend.

Knowledge, truth and beauty, in every book.

~ "Search from the book of the Lord,
and read" ~
Isaiah 34:16
~

Friday, August 9, 2013

For His Name

"the martyrs of Jesus"
Revelation 17:6

While I'm not a big fan of watching the news, I do like to pay attention to current events.  That can be hard, to stay aware, while avoiding the sensationalistic or yellow. 

One thing that always catches my eye, on TV, online, or in print, is stories of people being persecuted for their faith.  I keep a list of countries where Christians need prayer, or places where friends of mine have gone as missionaries, so that I can continue in prayer for the work they did there.

I also have a few pictures out of magazines, of bombed-out churches.  I hang on to them because I think sometimes I need to be reminded of the lives that others are leading, and how privileged I am to be living in a country where I can worship as I please.

Well along this same line, I came across an article the other day that talked about martyrs.  It was some sort of conference whose goal was to decrease religious persecution around the world.  But apparently there was a disagreement about what exactly constitutes a martyr.  It matters, I suppose, if you are trying to get the United Nations or individual countries to appreciate the magnitude of it, so they'll do something about it.

The definition some were working from was "believers in Christ who have lost their lives, prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility" (emphasis mine) which hearkens back to the original meaning of the word martyr, which comes from the Greek word for witness.  

But then others argued about those who were not witnessing, per se.  What about families who are persecuted because one member converts to Christianity?   Can you be a martyr for someone else's faith?  Those at the conference disagreed about whether those people should be considered martyrs. 

Another group summed it up by defining a martyrs as "those who would not have died if they had not been Christian".  But that left others wondering about persecution that does not lead to death.  What about those who suffer disease or malnutrition because they live in areas of war or conflict, based on religion. 

At first glance, this might seem like a silly disagreement.  Shouldn't we be more worried about the martyrs themselves, rather than how to classify them?  But I appreciate that the discussion is being had, that governments and churches and people like me are being reminded that the problem exists. 

But I also am reminded ~ yet again ~ how difficult it is to judge others accurately.  In my mind, a martyr is anyone who suffering in any way, because of their faith.  And that can take all forms.  It can be death, certainly, in a third-world country.  But it can also be an elementary school student, here in America, who is mocked for coming in to school on Ash Wednesday, with ashes on their forehead.  Martyrdom, like sacrifice, takes many forms. 

None of us can ever know what it means for each of us to live out our faith in difficult circumstances.  Indeed, what's difficult for one might not be for someone else.  We need to be praying for strength, for ourselves and for others, and remembering that Jesus Himself died for sake of the truth.

~ "Blessed are those who are persecuted
for righteousness' sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven" ~
Matthew 5:10
~

Thursday, August 8, 2013

More Thoughts on Anger

"God said to Jonah, 
'Is it right for you to be angry?' "
Jonah 4:9

I had an interesting moment of introspection recently.  It came from a scrap of paper on a table in my living room.  I think the piece of paper had a phone number on the front, but it was on the table back side up, and what I had written there was an out-of-context Bible verse.

Sorry it's kinda blurry.  I took the picture with my phone, which is old-fashioned.  For a cellphone.  I didn't even want one with a camera but the Apple of my Eye made me. 

"Be angry and do not sin."  Ephesians 4:26.  It's a verse I'm very familiar with, and to be honest, one I'm comforted by. 

And I'm thinking it's a verse that many of you are familiar with, too.  The post I wrote on anger in 2011 is the second most popular post I've written on this blog.  A lot of people have stumbled on here because they were searching the words "rage", "anger" or "fury". 

That says something.

The reason this verse is comforting to me is because it gives me permission to be angry.  It tells me that it's okay, but that I need to be cautious with my actions when I'm angry.  Alright, that's something I can work on. 

And please don't think I'm a rageaholic.  I really only have reason to be mad about once or twice a month. 

{I confirmed that number with my Awesome Girl, 
in case I was seeing myself through rose-colored glasses.  
Which would be totally cool.}

But that's far more often than the Apple of my Eye, for instance.  He's just not of that temperament.  And I used to be a lot worse.  Starting about 12 years ago, I made a concentrated, prayerful effort to get less angry, less often.  And God blessed my efforts.

Nevertheless, I remain someone for whom anger is never far away.  It will probably always be that way.  And for that reason, I have occasionally thought that the command, "Be angry, and do not sin" is sort of unfair.

{Yes, I think it's unfair, 
even while I think it's comforting. 
I'm complex like that.}

What if a person cries too much?  What if they are too often apathetic about important things?  Where is the command to them to not sin, even while they're being how they are?

And all of a sudden, as I saw this piece of paper lying there on the table, with those six words staring at me, I saw encouragement, permission, and a warning.  Encouragement, in that God created me just this way, and He loves me perfectly.  Permission, in that He expects me to be who I am, without embarrassment, even if it means not being understood by others.  And a warning not to sin.

It was as if the verse said, "Be yourself, and do not sin."

It's for all of us.  Be shy, be bold, be extroverted, be introverted, be passionate, be low-key.... but in being who you are, do not sin. 

We have the potential, each of us, to be amazing at who we are.  Loving, serving, growing, and glorifying Him.  But even though I'm better at being me at anyone else could possibly be, I can't do it without His help. 

~ "If you do well, will you not be accepted?
And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.
Its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." ~
Genesis 4:7
~