Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Word for the Day

In staff prayer today, as our church heads into the final days of the corporate fast, our pastor shared a You-Tube video that had stirred his heart while on a mission trip.  He felt it was time to return to this word and take it to heart.

The speaker is David Wilkerson; a name I first encountered when I read The Cross and the Switchblade while I was in Junior High.   He was killed in a car accident in Texas on April 27 of last year...while we in Alabama were taking cover from devastating storms.

The word he presents is 'Anguish'...allowing oneself to feel God's heart over the condition of His people.

As I watched the video, I was once again challenged to move beyond what is comfortable...to engage my spirit in the warfare.

It is a strong word; and no, it will not make you feel comfortable or give you warm spiritual fuzzies.  But it is a message the American church as a whole needs to hear and heed.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to imbed properly so you'll have to click on the link to see it on the You Tube site.

David Wilkerson: Anguish

Monday, January 30, 2012

Off the monitor...

because the first week showed the problem.  I've got  an electrical malfunction called 'Superior  Ve*ntrical Tachy*cardia', which means I've got an intermittent arrhythmia.  We go to talk over treatment options with a cardiologist who specializes in such things next week.  Not terribly excited about having to deal with it, but for the moment I'm delighted to be done with the electrodes and leads and straps and monitor and cell phone that dialed the monitoring crew if I bumped it a little too hard.  I finally just put it in the case backwards and that stopped it.

I'm not looking forward to dealing with 'treatment options,' but I'm very glad to be able to get dressed in the morning without worrying about having to camouflage the equipment. ;-)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On Wings

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

 We had a treat today; for the past 3 years, My Sweet Baboo has been doing stringer analysis for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  The plane flew into the Rocket City Friday so that company folks and their families could take a tour of the plane they'd help design and engineer.

 It wasn't quite as large as the 747 cargo plane sitting near it on the tarmac, but it was quite impressive nonetheless.  And the interior was amazing.  I'm not a flyer (motion sickness...ugh), so it's not likely I'll ever get to actually ride in one, but the spaciousness was incredible. 

But what really impressed me was the shape of the wings.  From the interior,  looking out, the sweep up and out surprised me.  The ground shot doesn't quite convey the  angle, but you can see the curve of the tip. 

So I thought I'd just post some verses about wings today.

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. - Ex. 19:4

May the LORD repay you for what you have done.  May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge. - Ruth 2:12

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. - Ps. 17:8

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; - Ps. 91:4a

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  - Is. 40:31

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings - Mal. 4:2a

...how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  - Lk 13:34b

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Not Getting the Game Thing

I know what I'm writing today is bordering on heresy, but, well, sometimes ya just gotta put something out there.

I just Do. Not. Get. the whole football frenzy thing.

Which is truly sad, because I live in Alabama.  Fish outta water, I am.  Counter to the whole state in my apathy, I rebel.

A  friend of mine told me she would never wear black and white plaid, lest she be taken for an Alabama fan; I love houndstooth, and I have some very nice black and white glen plaid in my fabric stash waiting to be made into a jacket that now I will have to convince myself it's ok to wear.  There is no copyright that says only Alabama fans may wear it, and I daresay that in any other part of the country it wouldn't matter. But here, it does.   I rebel.

The coaches trophy from the College Bowl Series made a tour of the state; its local spot for photo ops was the Kroger on the other end of the county.  People went out of their way to look at it.  I was just glad that I didn't have to buy groceries there that day.

I celebrate when football season is OVER. 

But the insanity of Alabama spreads across the whole country for the Stupid, er, Super Bowl.  Work stops.  People skip church.  In an effort to prevent church skipping, some churches have game-watching events.  Let's set aside our worship time and honor the pigskin.

Can you tell I have real problems with that??

Why does everyone in the country stop what they're doing to watch a football game?  Why does it matter that much?   I can see the entertainment value in watching athletes compete, but when those athletes are paid millions of dollars to play, it looses a little bit of the appeal.

Do we as a society really value the ability to run/throw a pointy ball down the field over the ability to teach math and science?  Over the ability to protect our streets and neighborhoods?  Over the ability to enter burning buildings and carry folks to safety?

Over the willingness to serve overseas in hostile environments to find and bring terrorists to justice?

Considering what we pay folks who do those things, apparently we do. 

And I am offended because all the advertising seems to expect me to join the bandwagon, throw a party, prepare fattening gloppy snacks and make a holiday out of game day.

Sorry.  A football game does not a holiday make.  I rebel.

I feel better now.  ;-)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Faithful Friday Faves - 2 John

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I confess to reading ahead last week and kind of pre-picking the verses for 2 and 3 John. It may sound weird, but I had a very poignant morning looking at the writings of John the Beloved, penned years and years after the events he recorded in his gospel.  His heart and concern for those he ministered to just shimmered out of the text as I read.  He warns and he encourages.

You can read the warnings for yourself; they are every bit as applicable to today's world as they were in the closing years of the first century.  I'm going to look at his encouragement today:

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning.  I ask that we love one another.  And this is love:  that we walk in obedience to his commands.  As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love - 2 John 5 - 6

'Walking in love,' as John calls it, is often applied to how we treat our fellow man, and it is that.  But I think this passage also indicates that we are to walk in love with God, by obeying Him from a position of trust. 

Because isn't disobedience basically a lack of trust anyway?  That God really doesn't know what's best for me, so I'm going to make my own choices?

If we really trust Him, if we really love Him, obedience follows.

And, if we're obeying Him, we'll be doing right by our fellow humans.

That's walking in love.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Busy Thursday

Some Thursdays are almost as busy as Mondays.

I don't always work on Thursdays; because  I missed most of Tuesday for the stress test, I worked all day today, had a bowl of soup and then went back to church for choir practice.

All day I've been pondering a post for today...but, while I have several topics that are percolating, none of them are quite ripe.

And I'm tired.

So, I thought I'd just leave you with a random quote from my little quote book:

"If you do something perfectly the first time, you waited too long to do it." - Rev. Wm. E. Davis (AKA 'Pastor Bill'...former senior associate pastor at our church).

Every once in a while I need to remind myself of that. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not So Bad

The worst thing was the IV port.  Took two tries and I ended up with it in the back of my right hand.  Once that was in and secure, the testing wasn't so bad.

I had visions of being on hooked up to an IV stand on one side, a bank of machinery on the other, while the treadmill was cranked until I puked or passed out.

The monitoring was remote, so I wore a transmitter.  The IV was just one squirt into the line that was taped to my hand when I hit the appropriate heart rate, and, while I was working fairly hard (if I remember correctly, it was 3.5 MPH at 14 degrees incline), I could've gone  a little longer or a little faster...but not steeper.  When she told me the next increment was 4.2 MPH and 20 degrees, I said, 'You've just talked me into stopping here.'

It only took about 10 minutes.

It was a little unsettling to watch her put the syringe holding the substance that she had just shot into my veins via the IV back into a lead capsule.  I mean, really?

Then all I had to do was to sit and consume peanut butter crackers and water and read some more of Beth Moore's Breaking Free while I waited  for the isotopes to distribute through my bloodstream.

I actually started reading that book back when I had mono a year ago.  I only got half way through it and got busy again; so I thought I'd take it in today and read while I sat around. I really need to go back and read it straight through.  There is some incredible, amazing stuff in there.  But I digress.

Anyway, the next step was to lie perfectly still on a really hard pallet while a big camera took pictures of the little glow dots moving around my heart.  Good time to pray for a couple of friends who need healing.  The technician told me there were no blockages evident, so I don't have to go back tomorrow for a repeat 'at rest' picture.

The echocardiagram technician said that I should hear something from my doctor within a few days; she said if everything looks normal I'll probably just get the 'happy letter' in the mail. I'm taking that as a hint that she didn't see anything out of the ordinary, either.

So I'm back to thinking the problem I've been having may have more to do with my upper GI tract than my circulatory system.  But I'm feeling better there, too...for the first time since the trip to the ER a couple of weeks ago, I actually felt hungry today.

So the fast has gotten tougher all of a sudden.

Not something I'd want to do too often, but it really wasn't worth the dread after all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

How Connected are We Supposed to Be?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Facebook.  Twitter.  Blogspot.  Wordpress. Pinterest. Forums. Skype.

The list could go on and on of ways we are instantly connected to others via electronics and phone lines and wi-fi.  It's a good thing to be connected...right?

Certainly it's a great way to share information and learn from others.  I know my sewing skills have increased dramatically over what they used to be largely because of the online sewing community.  And it's a wonderful way to know what is going on...who needs prayer...where and when I can meet up with friends...


The truth is that we carry a teeny bit of responsibility for everyone we are in contact with.  The more we're in contact with them, the more responsible we are to be a positive influence, to help bear their burdens, to value them as fellow humans.

One of my favorite authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder, lived in a world that only had instant communication with folks who were in the same location.  To communicate with folks more than just a few miles away took great effort, whether it was a journey in a horse-drawn sleigh, buried under blankets with heated rocks or a letter that was written on both sides and crossways to squeeze every last thought into the least possible paper, both to conserve paper and to keep the expense of the postage at a minimum.  The letter might take a month to six weeks to get to its recipient.

Her world of contacts, until she reached adulthood and began writing, was very small.

And even after she became well known for her writing, contact from the those outside of her little community in the Ozarks was still limited to hand written letters and the U S Post Office. Even then,  Laura's world was small.

Now the internet has given us a very large world...social networking yields instant contacts with hundreds; with blog sites and such it's potentially thousands.

I recently read an article that said that people who had higher social network interaction with folks tended to describe themselves as less happy than people who spent less time on the site. I don't know if that's because unhappy people are spending more time on the site trying to fill a void, or if spending time on the site actually contributes to unhappiness.

I know I've had my moments of misery when I've gone online and stumbled upon photos of my social-network friends having a lovely time at a party to which I was not invited.  Without the internet, I'd've known about the party...maybe, anyway...and shrugged it off.  But it's hard to shrug off so many photos of so many folks having a perfectly lovely time without me.  That little voice of the Enemy seizes that opportunity big time.  And those pictures have a way of resurfacing with new tags or comments and suddenly the event that I forgot is all in front of me, reminding me that I ...didn't make the cut.  Wasn't worth inviting. Wasn't wanted.

Whatever.  You know what the Enemy whispers to you in similar situations.

But of course its impossible for me to be invited everywhere.  I couldn't go if I were. And I've wasted precious moments being hurt over such things...when I have family that I haven't connected with in ages.  What's up with that??

But I've found I can't just drop off line.  I have friends on the internet...old school friends, singing group friends, sewing friends that I've never met in real life but who are my friends anyway....connections that would be painful to break.  And despite my intention to stay off Facebook for the fast, I keep finding myself there.  Because it's the communication link of choice with people with whom I need to communicate.

So I'm asking myself...how many connections can a healthy human maintain?  Really?  Are our face-to-face connections seriously weakened by time and energy  diverted to virtual connections; are the virtual connections necessarily bad?   Or is it really just another version of the old party line?  With the gossipy neighbor who'd listen in on conversations just because she could?

These are the kinds of thought processes that I'm working through.  Should my internet involvement change permanently?  Am I trying to spread myself too thin...be connected to too many...?

Am I trying to fill a void with the internet that could be filled so much more satisfyingly Elsewhere?  Do I use the internet...blogging, facebook, forums, etc...as way to substitute many shallow, minimally responsible connections for the important ones in my own house/family/neighborhood/city?

Or is this just my equivalent of Laura's yellow tablets, written from edge to edge with no margins, because I must tell the story whether or not anyone reads it?

I don't have answers...at least, not now, not yet...but these are the questions I'm asking.

And I'd written all that and was about to click 'Publish' when I realized I was about to post it to the sewing blog.  I'd written it all in the wrong place.

There's probably a lesson in that...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

From the Plain Vanilla Files: The Bane of Comfortable

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Every once in a while I rather randomly click through to the smattering of writing I did years ago on the topic of a plain vanilla testimony; I've posted bits and pieces of it here from time to time.

Tonight was one of those nights; I stumbled across a passage that once more addressed an issue that I've been mulling over for a while...the necessity to get over 'comfortable':

  ...we tend to grow comfortable in whatever state we are in.  Not ‘content’, as Paul says in Philippians 4:11, ‘comfortable’.  Happy with the Way Things Are and unwilling to do anything that might upset the status quo.  We become afraid of doing anything unusual or unfamiliar.  In short, we fear to undergo a risk for the kingdom.  Now, risk is a somewhat subjective thing; one person would not hesitate to give extra for a particular need, another might quail at extra giving for fear an unforeseen expense could put him in financial difficulties.  One person can stand and speak freely in front of a crowd; another might nearly hyperventilate at the thought of reading a verse aloud in a small group study.  Fear of rejection might keep an individual from speaking his/her convictions in the lunchroom at work; fear of looking foolish might keep someone else from donning goofy clothes to work in children’s church.  There are many things humans fear, but we cannot allow ourselves to give in to fear and believe that a Plain Vanilla Testimony means that we never will have to face a fear and take a risk to follow what God has clearly put in our hearts to do.  Spiritual contentment is a good thing; spiritual comfort is too much of a good thing gone stale and stagnant.  Don’t confuse the two.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Ever been monitored 24/7?

It's kind of a creepy feeling...but that's part of the 'let's see if we can figure out what's going on'  processes the dr. ordered.  So I'm strapped up to a little gizmo that transmits EKG data to a cell phone (which is much nicer than my actual cell phone) that can't be more than 10 feet away from the monitoring device.

Can you say bulging pockets?  Sagging overweighted waistbands?  Looking for my baggy mid-90's sweaters?

We're doing this for 21 days and I'm supposed to punch a button if I experience any more odd/fast pulse episodes...and then the technicians will call me on the cell phone to see what's going on.

I could see this could be interesting if those arrhythmias hit at inopportune moments.  And I may have to forego church choir while I'm wearing the monitor, as electronic stuff like that tends to mess with the wireless microphones on the platform.

But I've also been put on a low dose of some alpha/beta blocker medicine, and I can tell that I feel more, um, stable, for want of a better word, so who knows if I will even have another one of those episodes in the next three weeks.

All of this is an interesting counterpoint to the fast.  While I'm talking about health things, I might as well mention that part of the reason I wanted to go on an extended fast was to give my upper GI tract an opportunity to heal.  I've been really battling w/ acid reflux and an apparent hi*atal  h*ernia,  to the point where eating just about anything costs me sleep and comfort.

Which is making it relatively easy to fast.  I can't eat anyway.  Is that cheating? ;-)

I did a 3-week highly restricted fast a few years ago that brought those symptoms under control; I am giving it another try before going back to the GI dr for more aggressive measures.  So now you know the complete truth.  This is a spiritual fast, yes, but there's more going on.

Physical healing is one of the things I was seeking, even before all the other stuff happened.  And I believe I'm on a journey to that point, and that changes in diet and activity and such will be made, and I will come out of it healthier and more responsible.

So I will try hard not to complain for the next 3 weeks about the monitor.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Faithful Faves - 1 John

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We are heading into the home stretch.

First John is when anyone reciting the books of the Bible knows they've got it and begins to pick up speed in the recitation....but it is a book to slow down and savor.

By the time John wrote his epistles and the book of Revelation, he was very likely the last of the twelve disciples still left on earth.   It was somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus when he penned these writings, and he had seen much since then.  John was a remarkably old man for the time in which he lived, which accounts for his frequent referral to those to whom he writes as 'dear children'.  His top concerns for his readers are that they continue in right relationships with God and with one another, avoiding deceiving teachings that were not in compliance with what John had taught. He begins his letter by reminding them why they could have confidence in what he had shared with them:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched -- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.  We proclaim to you that we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.  And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. -- 1 Jn 1: 1 - 3 NIV

After sixtyish years, the immediacy of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus had turned into history; stories from grandpa's day. The majority of the people John ministered to probably weren't even alive when it happened.  Jerusalem had been sacked and the Jews sent into exile twenty to twenty five years earlier; the world had changed.  John reminds them that he was there with Jesus; he knew Jesus had been an actual human being, walking around and interacting with people.  He was an eye witness to all of it.

You can imagine how pained he had to have been to hear the beginnings of false teachings of who Jesus was and what he did emerging.  He knew the truth...and the passion of his heart was to share it and see it rooted and unshakeable in those who received it...as you'll see in the next two weeks as we look at Second and Third John.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Don't Like Cranky

But I am. 

I could go into some of the reasons, but it would just be a whine so I'm not going to subject you to that.

So here is the real challenge of a daily blog; what to share when I got nothin'.

So I'll share a joke one of the pastors told the office staff in the hall this morning:

The pastor's little girl was having a very bad day.  Her mother was at her wit's end to try and control her behavior.  Finally, she sat her daughter down and said, 'I'm so sorry, dear, but you have just behaved atrociously today.  I'm afraid I'm going to have to keep you home from the Sunday School picnic on Saturday."

The little girl was heartbroken and wailed piteously, but her mother was firm that her bad behavior  had to suffer the consequences.

The next day, the child's behavior had done a complete reversal.  She was submissive, helpful and obedient.  The good behavior continued the next day and the next.  Impressed, her mother spoke to her husband, wondering if perhaps they should now reward their daughter's dramatic improvement.  He was agreeable, so they called the little girl in and told her that, due to continued good behavior, she would be allowed to attend the picnic after all.

To their astonishment, she began to wail piteously once more.  'Honey,' her mother asked,'what's wrong?  You can go to the picnic!'

'No, I can't!'  the child sobbed, 'I've been praying for rain!'

Well, maybe the sentiment was wrong, but I need to learn to have that much confidence in my prayers... maybe that would help the cranky... ;-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Always New...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Ok, earlier I wrote about re-reading an old favorite book and seeing new stuff, but today I sat down and read a verse I have MEMORIZED...and saw a new application.

This ties in just a bit to last week's jaunt to the ER; my follow-up with the cardiologist was today, so while I was in the youth sanctuary for prayer time I was understandably somewhat preoccupied with the upcoming appointment, in which I hoped to do a few minutes on a treadmill and have some answers.

I want to KNOW what is going on.

Because, you know, there is a certain amount of 'freak out' that happens when scary physical things manifest that no amount of mental rationalization can quite eradicate.  Knowledge that it really and truly is an innocuous event is about all that will counter the freak out.  Because, as humans, we are always playing Worst Case Scenario.

So it was interesting to me that the study guide for one of the books I'm reading took me to Proverbs 3:5-6, which is the theme verse for the high school girls' class that I teach.  I smiled and just wrote it down.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

Suddenly, that little phrase lean not on your own understanding jumped right off the page at me, and this verse that I have applied so many times in situations where I didn't quite know what was coming next spoke right to my spirit about trusting Him through this little journey that I seem to be taking with my physical body.

Especially when I went for my appointment and the doctor mentioned that there were some things that weren't absolutely normal noted in that report from the ER and ordered a round of testing and monitoring, which will be scheduled tomorrow after insurance approval.

This is not what I intended for the fast to be like.

But I trust Him.  And I trust Him to let me know what I need to do each step of the way.  So I am not going to try and figure things out ahead of time, but take it...one. step. after. another.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Invisibility Revisited

 Posted by Lisa Laree to  Beer Lahai Roi

After yesterday's post on being invisible,  I began to wonder if I had posted Nicole Johnson's piece on being invisible and I did a little search on my blog for 'Invisible'.

The posts that came up surprised me. I didn't realize I had talked about invisibility before.  I read over them and was chagrined that  I seem to be still learning those lessons.

However, the post on diamonds made me smile.  Invisibility is a grand thing if it means His light shines through.

And I found I have not posted the link to Nicole's Women of Faith presentation on being an Invisible Woman.  It's definitely worth sharing, so as we're contemplating being the implications of being invisible, I'll let Nicole speak to us about it:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Some time with an old friend

I have several books that I have started over the last few months that I want to try and finish reading during the fast...non-fiction books to get me to look at things in my life...and as I have thoughts on those I'll no doubt be posting them.

And I also have some pretty substantial Bible work to do...more on that on another day, too.

But the last few days I have been savoring a bit of time with an old friend of mine that has suddenly come back to mind, Hannah Hurnard's classic Hinds' Feet in High Place 

I can't really remember how long ago it was that a friend loaned me her copy and said I must read it...but I read it, gave it back, immediately ran out and bought my own copy and read it again.  I have no idea how many times I've read it since...and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before on the blog.

If I had to move to some small dwelling and could only take a half dozen books with me, this would be one. (Oy, sudden thought....I don't know if I COULD just take half a dozen books...)

This time, though, I'm doing something I've not done before...I'm actually underlining some passages.  Here is one from chapter 4 that particularly encouraged me:

All the fairest beauties in the human soul, its greatest victories, and its most splendid achievements are always those which no one else knows anything about

But, you know the Good Shepherd knows...

I struggle with feeling invisible.  When we first started attending our church, I very clearly heard 'You are to be invisible.'

Just coming from a very small congregation in which we were most certainly visible participants, my weary self relished that word.

But I had so very little concept of what it really meant.  Many times in the past 10 years I've come back to that, when my flesh wanted to be offended over some oversight, and reminded myself that He said I was to be invisible.

If He has put a cloak of invisibility on me, I can't be offended by people who don't see through it.

I'll tell you this...invisibility is a wonderful test of motives.  It has really made me inspect my actions ...why, really, did I do something?  Was it to serve the kingdom...or get grateful kudos for my service?

I'll be honest, I haven't always liked my answers.

But slowly I am learning this lesson...that the most wonderful service is that which is done in secret.  Invisible.

Because, you know, He sees the invisible.When He is the only one who sees it, there is no mixture of personal agenda in it. So what is left is pure in motive...and beautiful.

If it needs to be seen by someone else, He's the one that will point it out to them.  I don't have to.

And yes, I needed to remind myself of that very much right now.

That's what old friends are for.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

So...Yea or Nay?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I mentioned a couple of days ago that, as I listened to the panel discussion at church about fasting, I heard something I hadn't heard before.

Now, back in 2009 (wow, I didn't realize it'd been 3 years!), I wrote a little study on Fasting when we did that year's fast (see sidebar).  The first study I did looked at the two men in the Bible who were recorded as having done 40-day fasts( Fasting in Faith).  So far as I knew, those were the ONLY two men who were recorded as doing it.

So imagine my surprise to hear one of our panelists state there were THREE men who were recorded as doing 40 day fasts...Moses, Jesus and Elijah.

Elijah!  I didn't know Elijah had done a 40 day fast!  How did I miss that?

So I pulled out some Bibles and went looking.

To my relief (because I didn't want to make such a boo-boo!) I found that the scripture does not specifically say that Elijah fasted for 40 days.

It can, however, be one way to interpret the verses.  That interpretation had just never really occurred to me.

Anyway, here's the passage, from the New International Version:

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.  When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert.  He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die.  "I have had enough, LORD, " he said.  "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."  Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

All at once, an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat."  He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water.  He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you."

So he got up and ate and drank.  Strengthened by that food,  he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.  -- 1 Kings 19:3-8

It is the phrase 'Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights.' that is the key.  Other translations render this as:

[He] went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights - King James

[He} went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights - Amplified AND NASB

And, just for grins

Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and forty nights - Message

Now that it has been pointed out to me, I can see why folks make the assumption that Elijah ate nothing after that miraculous meal.

But I never read it that way.

See, prior to that meal, Elijah had already traveled a days journey into the wilderness alone.
Before that, he had traveled with urgency all the way from Jezreel to Beersheba...a little over a hundred miles.
Immediately before that, he'd run from Mount Carmel to Jezreel, outrunning Ahab on his chariot (although it's possible that Ahab's chariot got bogged in the mud and was delayed).
Immediately before that, instead of eating, he had prayed earnestly for the rain to return.
Immediately before that, he'd spent a day on Mount Carmel confronting the priests of Baal; then he'd built an altar, butchered an entire bull, and dug a trench around the altar that he'd built.  Now, he may or may not have eaten anything during that day...it would have been in character for him to make a point to eat at least a little while the priests of Baal were whipping themselves into a pointless frenzy, but he may have fasted that day as well in preparation for the prayers he made later.

Anyway, my point is that by the time Elijah was sitting under that broom tree, he was completely and utterly spent.  I never even considered that the strength that he received from the food the angel gave him was sufficient to get him 40 days down the road without another bite; I always read that that it gave him enough energy to get up and get going...it replenished what he'd depleted and gave him enough strength to go on.

Now, if he DID go 40 days on the strength of that one meal, I'd say that was some pretty potent bread and water the angel gave him. He was obviously supernaturally enabled to do it...which makes his fast of the same sort as the fast that Moses did.  It's an interesting point that his journey took him to the same mountain that Moses was on when he did his supernatural 40 day fasts.

So...any thoughts?  Did Elijah have a miraculous energy boost?  Or did he get enough to get up and get on down the road and eat what he found along the way?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Faithful Friday Faves - 2 Peter

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

As I read through 2 Peter this time, I was really hit with the poignancy of the book; it is truly Peter's 'last words' to the church, as he knew his martyrdom was imminent.  If you have time, read through it  (it's only 3 chapters) with the mental picture of Peter sitting in a prison cell, knowing that when he left it would be to go to his death, pouring the burden of his heart to those he has discipled in the faith.

How incredible, then, are these words:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  - 2 Peter 1:3

I think my prayer in response to this has got to be something like

Lord, let me be satisfied with those things that YOU say I need and not be pining for what I THINK I need...and give me discernment to know the difference.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Maybe Not Wednesdays...

I woke up around 3 AM this morning, which is not terribly unusual. What was unusual was that I really couldn't fall back asleep, for one reason or another. And, somewhere in the rearranging of pillows and blankets to find that magic spot to doze off before the alarm, I suddenly realized that I hadn't posted yesterday.

So much for successfully posting every day for 40 days.

But, as I laid there, I realized that it really would've taken an incredible effort to have posted yesterday. I worked all day, went to church last night, and helped The Flute Player with a costume for a birthday party tomorrow night. (She would NOT process the words 'You.Don't.Have.Time.' And, softie that I am, I am trying to keep her from complete failure on her effort.) So, not only did I not post, I didn't even THINK about posting.

And, you know, I think it is a little far fetched to expect myself to post on Wednesdays, which are very busy days even without last-minute costuming whims. But, I can talk about yesterday for a moment.

The main service last night was a panel discussion of prayer and fasting, and I ended up taking my Friends girls down so they could hear it. I got an usher to reserve us some seats up in the eye-contact section, gave them notepaper and told them any notes they took would count towards the project for this unit. (note: I believe there will be a podcast of that panel available in the next few days; if I can find it I'll link it...just in case anyone's curious)

What was emphasized over and over is the necessity of prayer to accompany fasting, with the explanation that it is not the act of fasting itself that is important, but the shift of focus to an unusual pursuit of the heart of God for the season, which fasting facilitates.

And I heard something about a person in the Bible fasting for 40 days that I didn't recall...so I'm off to check that out and report later. I may have to go back and edit one of my old posts in the fasting study if it turns out I really did miss that...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Not to be Shaken...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I will admit to being a bit, um, shaken by the events of the last 48 hours.  I went back to work today, which is staff prayer day,  and sat down  in the sanctuary during that quiet time before we come together to pray corporately and found myself asking God what was going on...I wanted to have faith and believe that it's all going to be alright, but my human spirit was not feeling very faith-filled.  And this was really a pretty minor thing, considering none of the lab work showed anything out of the ordinary.  I just don't like uncertainty...and I was trying hard to fight that off

This time, when I opened my little NASB office Bible, it fell open to Acts chapter 2, and this is what began the page:
I was always beholding the LORD in my presence; For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.  Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will abide in hope. (Acts 2: 25 - 26)

One more time, God used His Word to speak directly to the questions and issues of my heart.  I know this is not the best way to hear from God, but it is more objective that journaling in some ways; there's no way I subconsciously picked that verse. 

God is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken

That prompts a mental picture of a dad running alongside a bicycle, ready to steady his youngster's wobbling ride.  The only difference is I will NEVER cease to need my Father alongside of me to steady me when I wobble...and He will never fail to be there.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Didn't Plan to Start This Way...

...with a little trip to the ER...

Without going into a whole lot of boring tedious detail, I had an episode of tachycardia (elevated/irregular heartbeat) that I thought I probably should get checked yesterday. 

I felt really foolish because I wasn't feeling ill...just very odd...and all the tests came back normal.  Around midnight my pulse was back into the normal range and I was sent home with instructions to follow up with the heart center and come back if it recurred.  And I was grateful for the medical personnel who'd told me I'd done the right thing by going down when I admitted to feeling rather foolish for being there.

Now, I'd planned to work my way through Lysa TerKeurst's Made to Crave while I was on the fast, but I picked it up on my way out of the door.

Y'all, I read The. Whole. Book.  Even went over the questions at the end of the chapters and mentally answered them; I didn't have my journal with me but I couldn't have written anything anyway owing to all the stuff attached to my right hand.

I probably had time to go back and read it again, but by the time  I finished My Sweet Baboo (who'd been on a business trip to Nashville) arrived and relieved The Artist, who'd played chauffeur,  and was admitted back to the little room so I had someone to talk to.

So the observations that I'd planned to share over a series of posts got pretty condensed and I really came away with two or three points that applied to me, specifically.

The first is that I really don't think  I use food as comfort.  I don't crave sweets when I'm stressed (actually, I lose my appetite under extreme stress) or needing validation or any of the other reasons folks use food to appease their emotions; I eat too much simply because I enjoy it.  "I deserve this" isn't the motivation for eating something, although I might joke that it is. The truth is I am simply indulging my flesh.  I need to substitute discipline for indulgence.  Lysa's statement that I hold the power, not the food applies to me more as My spirit makes the decisions, not my flesh.  I don't look at a 5 Guys Hamburgers sign and hear the siren song of the cheeseburgers, I hear my flesh saying,'Oh, that would taste so good!'.  Food is not my enemy.  My flesh...that pleasure-seeking, appetite-driven, self-centered human spirit...is the enemy.

And we have less than healthy meals because, well, it's quick and easy to make mac-and-cheese and hot dogs.  It takes PLANNING to eat healthy, both making the plan and executing the plan.

In other words, I need to be more responsible in the 'meal planning/grocery buying/ stopping what I'm doing and cooking a real dinner' department.

Not just for myself; my family deserves healthy meals, too (although they will likely prefer mac and cheese and hot dogs...)

And finally, she said that it was the fourth week that the sugar cravings peaked.  I gave up sugar and sweets for 12 weeks a couple of years ago, but not breads and pasta, so I don't think I've really walked through that before.  I'm at least forewarned that the 4th week may be rough.

But for the moment, the trip to the ER has pretty much killed my interest in food.  For at least the first few days, I shouldn't have too much of a battle.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Making an Exception

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We have a pretty standard policy in our house that we do not buy stuff on our doorstep.  Now, kids selling fruit for band and the like are not under that policy, but door-to-door salespeople just annoy the stew outta me.  If I want to make a purchase of magazines or cleaners or whatever, I want to do it at my convenience, with ample time to consider my options.

And I'm really put off by the folks who want me to 'vote' for them by buying stuff.

Now, I am not without sympathy for people who are working the best job they could find.  What I have problems with are the manipulative techniques used.  So we just made a policy that we don't buy from door-to-door salespeople. 

So why did I buy a CD ROM of Native American artifacts/historical sites on my front porch a couple of days ago?

The guy even mentioned that he is an out of work programmer/graphics designer when he introduced himself.  Lose points for playing the sympathy card.

But, unless he was lying to me (and I don't think he was), the product he was selling was a result of 8 years of his own work on something that he was passionate about.

He has been researching and photographing Native American sites and artifacts that are all in our area of the country.  With the work that we do with kids, particularly My Sweet Baboo's work with low income boys, I could see the potential for educational use of the disc.  But beyond that, something stirred in me that I really didn't identify at the moment and I surprised myself by giving him ten bucks for a CD....which I haven't even looked at yet.

It wasn't until the next day that I realized what it was that touched my spirit.  He was selling his own dream; something he cared about.

I can identify with that.

Now, I'm not peddling it on doorsteps, but I have a labor of passion that I would like to 'sell' to some folks.  Not exactly for money, but for favor on it.

A script.

And I realized that by seeing his dream and offering my bit of support, I was doing for him what I am praying will be done for me.  Which is why my spirit reacted so quickly to buy the disc, before my conscious mind even processed why.

He was taking a great risk by exposing something dear to him to possible rejection.   I just couldn't stomp on that.

Even if the CD turns out to be pitiful, ten dollars is a small price for encouragement to try.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Faithful Friday Faves: 1 Peter

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I have a lot of verses underlined in 1 Peter; there's a lot of solid teaching on a variety of subjects there.

But, maybe because it's the start of the year, there was a repeated phrase that stood out to me as I skimmed through; I hadn't noticed the repeat before.  So I'm going to list all three verses in which that phrase appears:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1:13)

The end of all things is near.  Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. (4:7)

Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (5:8) 

Seeing the verses together like that, I see another concept that is likewise repeated, having to do with the mind:

prepare your minds for action...be clear minded...alert

One of the purposes of the upcoming fast is to eliminate distractions; it will be a practice of self-control.  This is not something to be endured, but something to be exercised.

It is not and end in itself, but a foundation for later.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ten Lords A-Leaping

Hard to believe that, technically, it's still Christmas for two more days.

I didn't grow up in a liturgical church; I came late to the idea of a church calendar with such seasons as Advent, Lent, and those that end with '-tide'.  But My Sweet Baboo did, and he quickly made me aware of such things...when I began dismantling Our First Christmas Tree on Our First New Year's Day Together 31 years ago.  I saw the light, brothers and sisters, and I have been a proponent of celebrating Advent and THEN Christmas ever since.

But, as I have lamented on previous posts and will no doubt lament on future posts, life in the US does not lend itself to celebration of the 12 Days of Christmas.  So I took all the decorations off the tree yesterday, when I had time, and was rather shocked to see the tree abandoned in the side yard when I came home from work today.  I was perfectly willing to leave it as a rather large fragrant bouquet in its stand in the living room until we could haul it to the community mulch pile, but MSB was tired of trying to keep the kitty out of it, so into the yard it went.

There is very little associated with the holiday more pitiful than the discarded tree laying around.

We had a fresh cut tree this year, since we didn't travel as we usually do.  It came from the tree farm that grows Charlie Brown trees, and it had a crooked trunk and two peaks...the largest of which was well off from the center.  But a little love did wonders and I really enjoyed it for the 2.5 weeks it was up.

But, unlike an artificial tree which can be packed away and consigned to the attic, something must be done with the fresh tree.  So, for the moment, it's flopped all forlorn in the side front yard.

And, me being me, I started looking for Spiritual Applications from the sight.

So I have you, my dear readers, all primed for some lovely bit of wisdom pertaining to the sight of the tree that I'd carefully lit and decorated and enjoyed as the focal point of my living room drying out in the chilly winter sunshine.

Except my revelation is really very trite and very lame...our society's substitute celebration  of the birth of Christ is fun while it lasts, but in the end...it dries up.  It is Christ Himself that is the ever-increasing glory, and if we miss that in the tree and lights and presents and holiday busy-ness, we really have nothing.

So, get a mental picture of ten stately proper society gents doing grande jetes  because God came to live amongst us, and have a merry last two days of Christmas.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome to 2012

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I don't really make New Year's Resolutions.  But Jan 1 is a good time to take stock of what's happening, what shouldn't be happening that is, what should be happening that isn't, and what I can do about either one.

If 2011 was about transition, I think 2012 is going to be about implementation.  The observable changes from 2011 aren't so obvious; but I have some internal things that have changed.  I think there is a 'critical mass' point of, well, disgust with the status quo that must be achieved before any real change takes place.

And I think I spent most of 2011 building up to that critical mass point in a number of areas.

But I need to be strategic in how the changes are implemented or I will overwhelm myself and flop right back down into the comfortable but unproductive mess. Only it won't be comfortable any more and I'll feel even worse.

Now, every January we have a 21 day fast declared at church.  A Fast of Submission, for those of you who weren't here when I did my little study on fasting.  For quite a while...maybe the past 3 months...I've been feeling a call to take this year's fast to another level, because *I* have issues that I need to deal with by focusing on them with prayer and time priority.  The idea of a 40 day seeking fast began to present itself to me.  Not a total abstinence sort of thing, but 40 days of minimal food and media with the purpose of setting priorities on some other things that have been sorely neglected.

I was kicking this around on one of the last staff prayer mornings, wondering if I were just trying to be religious or if I really had the call and grace of God to to that.  Because if it was just my own will power trying to assert itself, I might have a religious exercise but no transformation.  But if this is a God-inspired idea, well, things will change.  But how could I know?

Well, I did the ol' random-verse thing.  And the passage my Bible fell open to was in Ezekiel 4, where Ezekiel is being given instructions about the demonstration of siege that he was to give the people of Israel and Judah.  I began in verse 1 and read along, almost amused at the scenario (THIS is what I need to hear??), plainly thinking that there wasn't anything here for me, when I came to a phrase at the tail end of verse 6 that seemed to jump off the page at me and straight up gave me goosebumps:

 I have assigned you 40 days

So.  40 days it is.

I will have a short list of foods that I will eat; I've discovered that I can't go more than about 2 days on juice and water or I get can't-spell-my-name stupid.  So I will have some low fat protein in the mix.  But only a little.

And I will forgo Internet media and the like except for one thing.

I intend to blog daily on Beer Lahai Roi.

Part of the reason I started BLR was to put a demand on the revelation of God in my life.  And I have been very lax in doing that.  The sewing blog will sit idle for 6 weeks,  but I plan to blog HERE to keep myself accountable and to keep myself  looking and seeking. I need that discipline back in my life.

This is really different than any other fast I've done;  I'm excited about it and intimidated by it at the same time.  BUT...I know God has great reservoirs of grace, and it's that grace that I'm depending upon to get through it.

The church's fast is set to go from  (I think) Jan 15 - Feb 4; I'm going to start about  week early (Jan 9) and go almost two weeks longer (Feb. 18).

It's kind of interesting that the Friday Faithful Faves post at the end of the fast will be Revelation

I debated the value of sharing all this publicly, because a fast really is supposed to be very personal.  But my motive here is not to demonstrate my spirituality...but to just be honest and say I am sick and tired of the same old traps and habits and patterns and I need to break out of them.

Its time to implement some change.

So 'Change Twenty Twelve' is going to be the label for the series...however it turns out....