Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Party Weekend

As I've posted on the sewing blog, we've got a big, busy weekend coming Dear In-Law's 60th Wedding Anniversary (Yes! Sixty Years!! That's worth a cheer!)is going to be celebrated this weekend with a NUMBER of different little commemorative events; My Sweet Baboo has his 35-year high school class reunion...wasn't it nice of the reunion committee to do it the same weekend? AND, since we have folks coming into town who haven't been there for a few years, we're having a family reunion.

For one of the 'commemorative events,' we (The honorees, all their kids and kids-in-law, and all but the two youngest grandkids) will be singing the 'special music' in church Sunday, which is kinda neat. We're singing the same arrangement of 'I Love to Tell the Story' that we (w/the three oldest grandkids) sang on the weekend of their 50th Anniversary celebration, which was the same piece that we...minus grandkids, the oldest was only three...sang on the weekend of their 40th Anniversary Celebration. There will be 18 of us singing, assuming none of the grandsons backs out. That's bigger than the choir was in the little Baptist church we were in for years and years.

But it's really neat to be part of a family that is so blessed. 60 years of marriage is a real landmark; what an example they have set!

Needless to say, I probably won't be posting much until we're all done, if I don't catch up before then, have a safe, happy and blessed Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ruth Recap

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

In case you missed anything, here's the whole study linked up:

Ruth: A Blogged Bible Study


5/20/08 Introduction

5/27/08 Chapter 1: Losses and Gains

6/3/08 Chapter 2: Gleaning

6/10/08 Chapter 3: Redemption Requested

6/17/08 Chapter 4: Redemption Manifested

I guess I'm still adjusting to a different corner of the blogsphere; I've got something like 100 folks a day who stop by the sewing blog...this one averages 5. So I really shouldn't expect a lot of interaction/comments/ etc over here. But I will admit that I was hoping to have some discussion of the lessons as I posted them...maybe I need to rethink what I've done here.

Blog sphere experts tell us that folks will only really read about 2 paragraphs...if they're short...of a blog post. Folks don't like scrolling.

It's hard to write anything meaningful in one screen.

I don't want to sound whiney...that's not my intention. I really want to post useful stuff. It might just be a while before enough folks find their way over here to develop a real community discussion; and it could be that I end up writing mostly for folks who know me IRL, since I've got (I hope!) some measure of credibility with them. So please don't misunderstand; this is not just a shill for comments: I really want to know:

Did/how did the study of Ruth impact your life?

I know I saw a real passion for the inheritance that hadn't registered with me before. I guess it's because this has been taught almost allegorically...the Kinsman-Redemmer thing being a picture of Christ. And it is. But when I really looked at the people, and what they were experiencing, i just saw...people who cared about what they were responsible for. Who took their responsibilities more seriously than they took their personal happiness. Who had the ability to think of being part of something bigger than themselves. And it challenged me.

So...if you've got a minute, share an insight you got from looking at Ruth, if you please! ;)

There won't be a Bible-study post for a couple of weeks; we've got some travel coming up and I don't think I'll be able to get anything put together. Meantime, I'll pray over what to do next....

Thanks, to all those who made this journey with me! (Even if you didn't have a comment!) I'm just grateful that you stopped by!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Retreat Report

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
This was my reward for rising early for a little QT on the balcony of our lodge:
It's a pity the swirling of the mist can't be seen; it was a gorgeous, peaceful, satisfying few moments before I had to wake the girls up.

There is a story behind the ribbons; a story of God's grace. The red ribbons represent second place in the human video competition. Now, this group of girls is VERY sanguine; practices were almost like trying to corral and coordinate a bunch of puppies. We had a couple of run-throughs before we left church Thursday morning; none of them were really satisfactory. It wasn't that it was so difficult; the girls just didn't seem to see the need to focus on what they were doing. It had been the same at the competition at our local level, but because they were the only ones competing in their age group they advanced to the state level. I had no idea how they would do on stage at the retreat.

But they walked on grace, and pulled together to do the best presentation they'd ever done. First place went to a graduating high school senior who did an amazing presentation about an old man who looked back over wrong decisions in his life and just rejoiced that he had finally learned that God was trustworthy; it was on a whole 'nother level than any of the rest of the entries (the 'rest' were two other groups plus our girls). I was tickled that they placed second, but to be truthful, I really was mostly proud of them for finally getting it and focusing on what they had to do.

They will get to do the video at least one more time; our end-of-the-year advancement program for all the girls ministries will be August 6, so all the girls in the class will get a chance to be part of it. It's a Barlow Girl song, Mirror, Mirror, and participation in the video was the project for our unit of study on Peer Pressure; the point of the video as they presented it is about not using your peers as the reflection of who you want to be. It's a great lesson for junior high girls...shoot, that's a great lesson for anybody!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Flashback Friday #6: A Reminder

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We're home from the statewide Teen Girls Ministry retreat...I'm a little tired, and a little crisp (I didn't know I'd be standing in the sun playing photographer as long as I did...), but weary in a good way. It was a real ministry to the girls (we took 10); it is so worth it.

But I still felt like I wanted to do the Friday Flashback post nonetheless, so I picked up a random journal and started hunting. And what caught my eye was this, dated Oct. 13,2004, when I was in a place of needing to know we were not forgotten...

I picked up my Bible, which was opened to Esther, as I had been reading there earlier. My eyes fell upon the phrase, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!" I was reminded that this honor came [a good while] after Mordecai had given the honorable service, and I felt the Holy Spirit's nudge that 'though the seed seems forgotten and the promise tarries, it will come at the most appropriate time.'

Thanks, God, for lots of reasons, I needed that right now...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Simultaneous Thinking

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I had a horrible thought the other day.

There are about a bazillion blogging Christian ladies out there (just click on the 'CWO' link on the sidebar if you haven't yet and see what I mean). I've got a bare handful that I've actually read; there's just not enough time in the day to get to all of them.

But, as I was preparing last week's Bible study, I found another blogger had written on the same topic and looked at it from an angle I hadn't considered. Her post caused me to see some things there I hadn't seen...and probably wouldn't have seen if I had not happened to read it. Now what? I linked back to her post and went ahead with my thoughts on the passage. What else could I have done?

But it made me think of one of the dangers of blogging. How can I prove I didn't copy something from someone else out there in blogland? With so many blogging ladies, it's very possible that two (or more!) of us could be reading Scripture and have a similar revelation and blog about it...totally unknown to each other.

I've seen instances sort of like that amongst the sewing bloggers. In one case, one lady (A) made a statement and another blogger (B) took it personally and got offended over it...when A hadn't even seen whatever it was on B's blog and her remark had nothing whatever to do with that. It was a total coincidence, but there were hurt feelings and unpleasantnesses.

As I see it, that's just going to be a hazard of public blogging; you can kind of step on each other's mice without realizing you've done it. Maybe without even having any way of realizing you've done it.

So, let me state right here that if I *ever* see something on someone else's blog that triggers a revelation that gets mentioned here, I will absolutely link back to the original post, like I did last week. If I have NOT linked to another post, then it came out of my own head; it's not meant to be either a comment about or a plagiarism of someone else's writing, even if by coincidence it looks similar to someone else's posting.

And I guess you'll just have to take my word for that; it can't ever be proven.

Oh, and the little byline that I *try to remember to* post at the top isn't because I fear one of my Christian sisters might use my words, it's because there are folks out there who swipe whole posts verbatim and post them in their blogs as their work. They do this because of keywords in those posts that will cause search engines to hit them; they are trying to increase their hits to generate revenue from the ads on their sites. It's sad, but it happens (it happened to a friend of mine who blogged about surviving a potentially fatal illness; the illness googled, and someone plagiarized her post). Anyway, the byline is supposed to help avoid that.

Does anyone have any ideas about dealing with the likelihood of totally unrelated posts looking quite similar? It's bound to happen; we're all dealing with the same human experience and being led by the same Holy Spirit; it's only the Enemy who tries to convince us that our circumstances are unique...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ruth: Lesson 4

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Ruth: A Blogged Bible Study


5/20/08 Introduction

5/27/08 Chapter 1: Losses and Gains

6/3/08 Chapter 2: Gleaning

6/10/08 Chapter 3: Redemption Requested

6/17/08 Chapter 4: Redemption Manifested

Chapter 4: Redemption Manifested

I love Naomi's words at the close of chapter three: For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today. That is such a contrast to the usual assurance of deliverance ...sometimes it seems God's favorite words are things like 'in due season' or 'soon' or 'in the fullness of time' or some other such thing that really doesn't tell us when we can expect Him to show up. Oh, we know He WILL show up...but we seldom know when to expect Him. And, in all honesty, Ruth and Naomi had no real idea of when to expect redemption, either. The guy who was nearer kin than Boaz did not appear to be in a hurry to do any redeeming. But things had changed subtly; Ruth had requested redemption of Boaz and he declared that he would put the guy into a position of either redeeming the inheritance or allowing him to redeem it. Naomi understood he meant 'today'.

And Boaz did mean that very day. He left the threshing to take care of it. He went to the city gate, the place where all transactions that needed legal witnesses took place. When the guy who was ahead of him in the redemption line came through the gate, Boaz called him over and asked him to have a seat. Since this was the place for legal business, there were always city elders there at the gate and Boaz collected ten in a group and asked them to come sit with him, too.

Now he had official witnesses for what was going to transpire. First, he mentioned the property that Naomi had to sell... Elimelech's inheritance. "I thought I would bring the matter to your attention," Boaz said, giving the fellow the benefit of the doubt that just perhaps he was not aware of the situation. This would scarcely be news to any of them; Boaz was being polite. The kinsman-redeemer should already have acted on the issue, but he had not. By collecting the witnesses, Boaz placed the fellow in the position of having to that moment.

First, the guy replied that he would buy the property. Fine. But Boaz pointed the presence of the witnesses...that redeeming the property would also entail taking Ruth as a wife in order to raise up a son to inherit that property, in accordance to what was termed the 'levirate law' (see Deuteronomy 25: 5- 10). The first son born to Ruth from that union would be counted as a descendant of Elimelech.

Now the fellow states plainly that that won't work for him as it might endanger his own inheritance. I'm going to do a little guessing here and guess that this guy had no sons of his own to inherit after him...or, at least, he didn't at that time. If he did not, then Ruth's son would not just inherit the property from Elimelech, but could possibly also inherit his and he didn't want to risk that. So he formally declined to redeem the property, and gave his sandal to Boaz to indicate that Boaz now had the right of redemption.

Y'all, this is a wedding now...and we don't even see the bride. Boaz declares to the witnesses that he:
1) has bought all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon from Elimelech's widow, Naomi
2) has acquired Ruth as his wife, in order to maintain the property as the inheritance of Elimelech, in his name, so that the name of Elimelech will not disappear from the town records.

The elders who were the official witnesses agreed that these things were true, then spoke blessings over Boaz and Ruth. At that point, all Boaz had to do was pay Naomi for the property and take Ruth home as his wife. There wasn't an engagement period; there wasn't a wedding feast. Under the law, Ruth was his wife the moment he redeemed the property.

But Boaz's duty...Ruth's duty...was actually to raise a son to inherit that property. And, in the course of time, Ruth did indeed become pregnant and give birth to a son, and Naomi became his nanny. The gloom of Naomi's life had broken; now she had something she had never had...a grandson (do you not think it significant that 'Obed' means 'Worshiped?'). And the only time 'love' is mentioned is in verse 15: '[Obed] will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For you daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.' There's a little commentary note in my Bible that says 'Ruth requited with marriage'...but, not intending to belittle Mr. Scofield, I believe Ruth's real reward wasn't was a son. That meant she had a future and a legacy.

And what a legacy...the last verses trace the linage of Obed, from Perez (whom Tamar bore to Judah, as noted in verse 12) down through to David...who we know became a man after God's own heart and the king of all Israel.

One thing I'd like to point out, though...I've heard teaching in odd places about how things must've gone badly for Obed and/or Jesse. By David's time 'son of Jesse' was not exactly high praise. The implication was that either Obed or Jesse had squandered the inheritance of Boaz, since Boaz had been a man of means and property and respect. But remember...Obed did not inherit Boaz's property! I believe Boaz had older sons who inherited his property; there was no risk to his inheritance by marrying Ruth. Obed inherited Elimelech's property, and that was passed down to Jesse.

I don't mean to cast this whole transaction as cold business and duty! Ruth respected and honored Boaz, Boaz honored and respected Ruth. And in many ways that is a much better foundation for a marriage than the heat of passion that passes for love in our society. They were working together to fulfill an an ancient law, and that work required a lifetime: raising a son to be an heir.

Closing Thoughts: Notice verses 9 & 10 use the past tense of the verb! Boaz says "I have bought... I have also acquired..." The money had not yet changed hands, but the transaction was considered done. Ruth and Naomi were still at home, wondering what was going to happen, and it was already done. Now, think of the things that God has put in the past tense for us...phrases like 'you have been set free' (Romans 6:22), 'Christ accepted you' (Romans 15:7), 'God...has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ' (Ephesians 1:3); 'God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms' (Ephesians 2:6); ' his wounds you have been healed.' (1 Peter 2:24); 'His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness...'(2 Peter 1:3); just for example. How would my life change if I really, really understood what God has already done on my behalf?

Ruth is also a study in submission; we see Ruth submitting to Naomi and to Boaz, but she has entrusted her life to the God of Israel. To modern American women, this kind of submission is the equivalent of emotional death. Yet it is a picture of the submission we are all to display (not just women, by the way) to the working of God in our lives. In what areas am I still trying to 'do it my own way' or 'get my fair share (of happiness, of respect, of...whatever)? Am I really willing to trade the legacy God intends for me to leave for the opportunity to have it my way? How do my thought patterns need to change in order for me to choose the legacy/inheritance?

I'll have a little follow-up on this study next week...thanks for sticking with me through it!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Flashback #5: See the Shadows

Here's a short one! ;)

Dated April 1, 1993:
In the light of the Son, you can see the shadows (acts/schemes of the enemy), but if something obscures the Sonlight, the shadows are invisible.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Being an Influence

Last night was our monthly ladies' night at church. About Saturday, the table leaders got emails with a discussion topic and the info that there would be summer recipes and some devotional materials on our tables. So we didn't have to come up with our table time activities.

Well, I don't know what happened to the devotional suggestions, and we never even got to the discussion topic at my table. We glanced at the recipes and laughed at how we all wanted to make the lemon cake and the fruit salsa, then just chatted about where people were from and what fun things there are to do in our area (one lady was in town visiting her brother). Then we went to the sanctuary for some teaching.

The teaching was about being a woman of influence; we concluded the evening by pairing up and sharing with our partner about what we could do ....something specific... to be a Woman of Influence. What stirred in my spirit was that I was to be an influence to a room of junior high girls...

We do have a girl's ministry at our church; formerly it was known as Missionettes, but in the last couple of years it has been renamed to Mpact (K - 5th grade) and Teen Girl Ministries. The material is produced by the Assemblies of God; we're not an AG church but we're using the material. Youngest DD has been in the ministry since we started attending the church just before she entered Kindergarten. When she was in 3rd grade (Stars Club), a memo went out to all the moms of girls to come and help in the class one night. I sighed, and signed up to help the first available Wednesday get my turn out of the way.

Then I found out that the request was to come and help once a month. So, for two years I was a once-a-month helper. By the end of the second year, I was also a sometime substitute teacher for the 4th grade Stars. But I am not totally comfortable w/elementary may have noticed my teaching tends to get kind of detailed and abstract. For elementary kids, that's the same as BORING. I told the program director that if we ever get a high school girls class going I would be interested in working there. Well, about 2 years ago she asked if I'd be willing to help in the Friends (grades 6 - 8) class. The primary teacher for that class really had had no help and she needed help; plus she sometimes was out of town and needed a reliable substitute. There was one other lady who said she'd help every Wednesday; due to other duties I had in the church I didn't feel like I could commit to *every* Wednesday, but I did realize that, with jr high kids, I couldn't sub teach if they didn't know me. I agreed to work in the class *as much as I could*.

Two weeks into the year, the primary teacher, who'd been teaching by herself for two years, quit. The other assistant and I looked at each other and realized we were IT. We spent that year learning what we needed to know to teach Friends. This past year, we worked on making sure the girls were on target to achieve what the program has for them; we also had another assistant teacher move up w/her daughter from the Stars.

Halfway through the year, my teaching buddy had to step down due to some family issues, and I became co-teacher with the lady who'd moved up (she's been with the sixth grade group of girls since at least 4th grade). But her daughter will be leaving the program at the start of the school year (at 7th grade, the girls have to choose whether to stay in Friends class or go to the youth group, which also meets on Wednesday night. We lose most 7th graders to youth group.). I'm suddenly in line to be the Primary Teacher for the class.

I knew Pastor Leisa would be putting out a plea for teachers/helpers for the Mpact/TGM program as part of her message for last week's Honor Star service, and just before the service started I prayed for God to raise up someone that I could train to teach the class. I was fussing that I never really was called there...I got pulled in reluctantly through the back door of 'There's no one else'.

But by the end of that service, I had actually heard God say 'You're the teacher.'

Last night, in asking where I could be a Woman of Influence, I saw the faces of those girls and realized that that was the place.

So, until God raises up someone who says 'I have a passion to mentor Junior High girls!' I'm going to be the teacher. We'll work around some of the other things I have to do somehow.

What a position of influence...

After the meeting, I chatted with a couple of other of whom is a fellow blogger who stops by here from time to time. I lamented that I didn't have any real 'Table Time' to post she (and a couple of ladies who were at her table) informed me that I HAD to blog about what they discussed at their table...the urgent need for properly fitting foundation garments for well-endowed ladies. 'You sew, Lisa!' she said, 'You could design them!'

Hm... I think I'd rather teach junior high girls that tackle that one...

(Incidentally, I was sorely tempted to title today's post 'The cup runneth over', just in honor of that requested topic...)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ruth: Lesson 3

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Ruth: A Blogged Bible Study


5/20/08 Introduction

5/27/08 Chapter 1: Losses and Gains

6/3/08 Chapter 2: Gleaning

6/10/08 Chapter 3: Redemption Requested

6/17/08 Chapter 4: Redemption Manifested

NOTE: I am indebted to Angie Smith for sharing insights on threshing in her blog this week. If you haven't read Bring the Rain, be sure to drop by, and click on the archives to read the story from the beginning. You will be awed and humbled and moved. Make sure you've a box of Kleenex handy...

Redemption Requested

Ok, I'll freely admit this is the most difficult chapter of Ruth to discuss. To our modern thinking, it is just plain weird. But as Mr. Scofield points out in the footnotes on this passage, all of it has to be 'interpreted in the light of the customs of that day,' and none of those customs involved romance or seduction. It was all about the inheritance.

Naomi, of course, was the catalyst. She knew the customs, and she knew her family. And she'd watched Ruth follow Boaz's workers around to all the fields and taken note of the treatment she received from him. She could see that he was an honorable man, and she knew what that would mean...that he would recognize his duty as well as Ruth's. So after the harvest was done, when it was time to thresh the grain, she sat Ruth down and had a little heart-to-heart chat with her. Here was a chance for Ruth to have a place, and provision, for the rest of her life. Also, Elimelech's name and inheritance would go to the first son Ruth bore to Boaz. Naomi's instructions were, as bizarre as they sound to us, an honorable way for Ruth to request that Boaz redeem her and her deceased husband's inheritance. Ruth agreed; dressed and perfumed herself and went down to the threshing floor.

The threshing floor is a place of separation...grain from chaff; what is valuable from what is worthless. But it is also a place of celebration. The harvest is gathered, and the goodness is collected. There is feasting. And Boaz feasted. Verse 7 says that he had 'finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits.' The men slept at the threshing floor to guard and protect the harvest (although how much protection a bunch of guys who had eaten and drunk themselves into 'good spirits' would really be is kind of open to speculation), and Boaz found himself a spot at the far end of the grain pile...a rather secluded spot that worked well for Ruth's purpose.

I honestly do not know if there is a custom associated with uncovering his feet, or if that was just the way Ruth got his attention. Because if you're sleeping soundly and your feet get uncovered and chilly, you'll wake up. Boaz woke up...and found a woman at his feet!

Ruth immediately asked him to spread the corner of his garment over her. He was a kinsman-redeemer, and he had the right to do that. Protecting her, protecting the inheritance.

Boaz is even more impressed with Ruth. (Note that he calls her 'my daughter' again...). By 'this kindness' he speaks of her willingness to do whatever needs to be done to secure the inheritance for her family. She could have left Naomi and gone after a young husband to suit herself, but she did not. She could have kept her commitment to Naomi for the rest of Naomi's life, then pursued her own agenda. But she raised her own level of commitment; instead of just being committed to Naomi, now she is committed to Naomi's family. She went to the one who could maintain the lineage of the family she had married into. Boaz recognized and respected that. The whole village had been impressed with Ruth's character.

But wait...there's a slight problem...Boaz is NOT the closest relative. He cannot just take her as wife; the other fellow must have an opportunity to do so first. But he promised Ruth that, one way or another, she would be redeemed. If the other guy wasn't willing, Boaz would take care of it.

So she stayed at his feet till morning, and arose before dawn to return to Naomi. Boaz didn't want any hint of scandal; so he sent Ruth away very early, but he filled her shawl with barley to take back to Naomi.

Naomi was no doubt waiting for her to return; she may not have even gone to sleep. When Ruth came in, Naomi wanted to know what happened. Naomi could not have been happier... the grain was a good will gift, and she recognized that things were in motion now to bring about a resolution to their situation. One way or another, the inheritance would be redeemed...and Ruth would be redeemed as part of that inheritance.

As Angie pointed out in her post, it is significant that this took place on the threshing floor...the place of separation. If Ruth is going to commit herself raising up an heir, she will not marry some young dashing fellow her own age; she will be bearing children to a man old enough to be her father. Yes, she was giving up something; make no mistake. She had begun to give up those things when she decided to follow Naomi and dedicate her life to her service; now that service meant going as wife to Boaz. The winnowing of her heart was completed here. But when that chaff was blown away, she was left with what was good: a place of blessing; a place of honor; a place in the lineage of kings.

Closing thoughts: How highly do I esteem the inheritance? Do I esteem it enough to make it a priority in my life? In what ways do I go to my Redeemer and ask Him to spread the corner of His garment over me? Am I willing to go to the threshing floor and allow my motives to be winnowed? What might that entail?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pride vs. the Party

Pastor's sermon was from Matthew 25 today, and in passing I found I had another note about oil squeezed into the margin on that page:
[the five foolish virgins] weren't locked out of the feast because they had no oil, they were locked out because they weren't there when the bridegroom arrived

If they had stayed, they would have been obviously foolish to the wedding party: waving sputtering, smoking lamps that were burning out. They would've had to own their error...but I do not believe having a lit lamp was a prerequisite to go into the banquet. Being present was.

By running off at midnight to buy oil, (and who sells oil at midnight? No 7-11 in those days....) they were trying to cover up the fact that they were foolish. Hide the mistake. Avoid being seen to be obviously unprepared. So they left.

And they didn't make it back in time to greet the bridegroom.

It wasn't their foolish lack of preparation that kept them from the feast; it was their pride. They weighed the risk of looking foolish against the risk of missing the party and they chose the risk of missing the party.

And that shows how truly foolish they were.

Once again, preparation must be made while nothing's happening...while the bridegroom tarries. Once he shows up, there is no time for more preparation: ya gotta go with what you got.

And even if it shows how foolish I've been, it's still better than missing him when he comes.

Don't miss the party...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday Flashback #4: Preparation

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This one is dated June 26,2001:
...I happened upon a note in my Bible that states 'The widow's blessing was in proportion to her preparation.' It was a note I'd made about the widow who had the miraculous flow of oil that paid off her debts (2 Kings 4:1-7) Something registered with me -- the woman made her preparation out of obedience and faith; she made her preparation when no oil was flowing; once the oil started flowing, there could be no more preparation.

Ok, every commentator agrees that the oil represents the Holy Spirit. What I get out of this is that my time of preparation is NOW: when the oil (anointing power) of the Holy Ghost starts flowing, the measure I receive/use is going to be determined by the capacity I have built up during the time when it looks like nothing is going to happen.

So - how do I 'increase my capacity?' I don't think it's a matter of studying so much as it is a matter of how much I'm willing to believe God for. But, 'faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,' so study IS necessary. The key is that the objective of study is not increased knowledge, but increased faith.

As a current note about increased faith, DS #1 is currently on a ministry trip to Mexico with a church from Nashville (that's a long story; I'll just say that the connection was made in Master's Commission; he's one of the chaperones for the group of 9 - 12 year old kids). Yesterday was their last actual ministry day; I asked him (via text messaging) how the day went. The conversation went something like this:

Him: Good. It was long. Prolly the biggest eye opener. We did some ministry at the dump.

Me: At the dump? Eye-opening for sure.

Him: Yeah. We had a blind guy healed.

Ok, that'll increase some faith! God is amazing...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What's your seed?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Last night was the Honor Ceremony for five young ladies who have completed three years of Stars Club (grades 3 - 5) and completed a list of requirements for study, attendance, memorization and the like. There were five girls who were honored, and after their ceremony, Pastor Leisa (almost our entire pastoral staff is comprised of husband/wife teams; our senior pastors are Rusty and Leisa Nelson) addressed the girls. And in her message she mentioned seed, and talked about the things she used to play at as a young girl that have now become part of her call and ministry. She asked the girls not to lose sight of those things that stir them now; and she asked the rest of the congregation to remember what it was that *we* had loved as children...have we neglected those dreams?

So I sat down today and thought--really thought-- about what I did as a youngster. It was eye opening.

I wrote poems in 5th grade; some were published in our county paper.
In high school, I wrote plays that our youth group presented.
Every time my father turned on the home movie camera, I was in front of it, jumping around and/or dancing ... up until, oh, age 10?
I read and read and read.
I memorized scripture.
I excelled on the junior high youth group Bible quiz team.
I wanted to go to church *all* the time.
And, when reading Madeleine L'Engle's second Time Book (A Wind in the Door) I declared to myself that I wanted to be a Teacher.

So much of that is now reflected in what I do; I didn't realize it. Some things I had neglected until recently, and I didn't even know I was returning to the dreams of my youth. As Pastor Leisa pointed out, it's easy to write those things off as childish fancies when adult responsibilities start moving in; the challenge was to go back and see...what is really seed?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Movie Musings: Prince Caspian

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Spoiler Alert: I may give away more than you want to know if you haven't seen the movie yet...just a warning.

Now, it's not like I'm a big time movie critic; the LAST movie I saw in an actual theater may well have been The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, so you'd be quite justified to give my opinion very little weight. But I thought I'd throw my two cents out there....

And I'll admit readily that The Chronicles of Narnia, like The Lord of the Rings and A Wrinkle in Time are books that have wound their way into my View of Life; they are stories that I read and re-read...over and over. So my standards may be unreasonably high.

But my test for a movie-made-from-a-book is 'Does it tell the same story that is in the book?' And for that, I'd give Prince Caspian about a B-. Yeah, overall, it tells the same story. But it does it with some characters that are not quite those presented by C.S. Lewis, and that bothers me a bit.

Perhaps the filmakers did not want the honest nobility that Peter displays in the book; perhaps they thought it was not realistic. Perhaps they wanted a heart throb factor in making Caspian considerably older than Lewis described him. Perhaps they wanted to demonstrate a stronger Susan by putting her in the battles that Lewis deliberately left her out of.

But to hold Aslan back until the very critical moment, to place the characters in a position of relying on their own intelligence rather than having the assurance that he was there, fighting with them in a different manner, bothered me. To hear Peter say, "I think we've waited for Aslan long enough!" really bothered me. My heart dropped at that point and I didn't really get it back until I realized that what followed allowed for the return of Dr. Cornelius and laid the foundation for the desperation that drove Nikabrik to try to call up the White Witch.

But those were, I suppose, my own issues. Overall, with Aslan's aid, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy did accomplish the same goal -- restoring freedom to Old Narnia and placing Caspian on the throne. The groundwork was laid for the making of The Voyage of the Dawntreader. I loved the mice. I loved the Centaurs. It *looks* like Narnia should look. I laughed at the very dry humor that is evident throughout the film. And I did...mostly...enjoy the movie and plan to get the DVD version.

But a little more evidence of Aslan's guidance, and a little less belligerence on Peter's England and in Narnia...would've left me a lot more satisfied.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ruth: Lesson 2

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Ruth: A Blogged Bible Study


5/20/08 Introduction

5/27/08 Chapter 1: Losses and Gains

6/3/08 Chapter 2: Gleaning

6/10/08 Chapter 3: Redemption Requested

6/17/08 Chapter 4: Redemption Manifested

Chapter 2: Gleaning

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleainings...leave [it] for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God. -- Leviticus 19:9 - 10

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the works of your hands -- Deuteronomy 24:19

And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor." -- Ruth 2:2

Remember, Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem just as the barley harvest was beginning. That was not pure chance, nor was it just a random thing that the first field she went to...which was obviously a large field as it required a team of workers to harvest it...belonged to a man named Boaz, who is described in verse 1 as 'a relative on [Naomi's] husband's side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing.' I also believe he was in his mid to late 40's; based not only on his position but also on the way he speaks about and to Ruth, whom I believe was probably still in her teens.

I have heard the story of Ruth referred to as a romance, a love story...but the plain truth is there is not one drop of evidence that romantic love played any part in this story whatsoever. There is respect, there is honor, there is favor, but the only love mentioned is the love Ruth had for her mother-in-law. Ruth went to the fields because it was a legitimate way for her to provide for herself and her mother-in-law; she asked permission to glean from the workers, and she worked steadily but wisely, resting when she needed to.

Bethlehem was a small town and Naomi's return was News. However, despite the fact that Naomi declared she came back empty, the townspeople had noticed (and obviously discussed) Ruth. Boaz had already heard her story and been impressed by it...not only had Ruth demonstrated remarkable loyalty and care, but his family had been the beneficiary of her dedication. In appreciation and, I think, as an intentional expression of the grace of 'the God of Israel, under whose wings [she had] come to take refuge,' Boaz blesses Ruth with both protection and provision:

He instructed her to glean only in his fields, and he had given his men instructions not to touch her; she would be protected in his fields (no small thing in those rather lawless times).

He told her to drink from the water provided for his workers.

He provided her lunch along with his workers; she received a portion too large for her to eat and carefully took the rest back to Naomi.

He instructed his men to leave extra grain lying for her to pick up, and to allow her to get grain wherever she wanted to...even to pulling it from the sheaves they had already bound.

The marginal note in my NIV indicates that when Ruth had threshed out the grain she had gathered, she had about 3/8 of a bushel...based on Naomi's reaction, that was quite a bit for just picking up what was left ungathered the first time. Naomi recognized that Ruth was receiving some preferential treatment. With a practical mind, she noted that Boaz, who was being so kind, was one of their kinsman-redeemers. That is, he was a relative close enough that he could purchase and hold the property of Elimelech and raise up a son in his name to inherit it, so that the family line and inheritance would remain intact.

So, following the instructions of both Boaz and Naomi, Ruth gleaned in the fields of Boaz for the rest of the barley harvest and on through the wheat harvest, staying with his servant girls in the fields. Boaz no doubt kept an eye on her, and noted that she came and worked regularly and with diligence to provide for herself and her mother in law. Need I say it...she was seen.

"Gleaning" is the practice of picking up that which was overlooked, dropped, leftover or forgotten but yet has value. Ruth gleaned in the barley and wheat fields, but I believe there was more gleaning going on here. She herself may have felt overlooked, dropped or forgotten. In a foreign land, caring for a sad older woman with little hope of any kind of future, she was doing what she needed to do to survive. Like the leftover scrap clay used in the plaque I posted yesterday, her purpose seemed to be missed. But the Master Potter had a different plan, and was creating something unique. Even though the fiery trial caused what looked like a fatal crack, the Father knows how to apply the glue that mends and restores.

Gleaning is hard work; it is not something that gets any kind of accolades or reward. It's an invisible sort of task. But God knows how to bring favor even to someone who is laboring invisibly; Ruth did nothing unusual...but she did it willingly and uncomplainingly and without worrying about how *she* was going to be fulfilled. And THAT was what proved her character to those in the area.

Once her character was proven, she was in a position to receive a greater blessing than she had ever considered.

Closing thoughts: What tasks are before me, that I can undertake with the attitude of Ruth, in order to prove my character (or, *im*prove my character, as the case may be)? What around me has been overlooked, dropped, leftover or forgotten that I can recover and restore to its purpose? Where do I need to trust God to recover and restore what appears to be broken and hopeless in my own life?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Leftover Art

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
Because I want to reference this on this week's lesson on Ruth, I'm posting a bit of artwork:

During our monthly Night of Worship services at church, we have one corner dedicated to spontaneous artwork (I wrote a bit about it on the sewing blog: see Poured Out). One of the artists who works is a gentleman who is a potter; he brings in his wheel and some molds and works with clay.

Youngest DD, who is 11, was fascinated with this from the start, and began by watching and making suggestions, then the next month she helped make a pot, then she began making some things under the artist's supervision.

Last month, she made a pot, and, after she was done with the pot, she took the scrap pieces of clay and pushed them together and made that plaque at the top of today's post.

The pieces were glazed and fired last weekend and this piece, because it was made of scraps pushed together, cracked apart when it was cooling after being fired. My Sweet Baboo found some strong glue and mended the split.

Things to note and remember: It was made of leftovers; it cracked when fired; it was mended by her Father. ;)