Friday, January 25, 2013

Facing Fear

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I intended to write a little essay today about real-life home decorating/design and how the world sets us up to be unsatisfied with our environment, but before I could even begin to put it together I found that Beth Moore had blogged an assignment for her readers.

This is real Bible-study homework and my plans to gripe about false standards flew out the window and I decided to dig in and see what 'Mama Beth'  had laid out for us.  We're actually supposed to answer in the comments section, so I will likely edit today's post to respond properly instead of linking back, but I thought I'd share the process here...and as I read through I realize I may be biting off way more than I'm comfortable chewing anywhere other than in my journal...but, well, it's about being transparent and getting out of the comfort zone, right?

Deep breath and a little prayer...God, use this to break and heal what needs breaking and healing in me...

1. Please go to a website like Bible Gateway or to your Bible software if you have it and look up Isaiah 30:15-18. Please read it thoroughly in 3 different translations. In your response to this first exercise, please tell me what 3 translations you read then copy and paste the one that spoke the most blatantly to you. (In your answer you will have the abbreviations to three translations and then the full text in one of them. Make sense?)

I cheated a bit; having a plethora of translations available on my shelf rather than go online.   I decided to look up the passage in my ESV, and also my Parallel Bible, where I paid particular attention to the NIV and the Amplified.  I have to say, the one that spoke most deeply to me was, of course, the Amplified:

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,  In returning to Me and resting in Me you shall be saved; in quietness and in (trusting) confidence shall be your strength.  

And you would not, But you said, No!  We will speed our own course on horses!  Therefore you shall speed [in flight from your enemies].  You said, We will ride upon swift steeds [doing our own way]!  Therefore shall they who pursue you be swift, so swift that One thousand of you will flee at the threat of one of them; at the threat of five you will flee till you are left like a beacon or a flagpole on the top of a mountain, and like a signal on a hill.

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits  -- expectant, looking and longing -- to be gracious to you, and therefore He lifts Himself up that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you; for the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed -- happy, fortunate [to be envied] are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him  [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy and His matchless, unbroken companionship].

2. Look up the word “threat” in any good English dictionary and write the full definition. After you write the definition, please share how it hits you and how you feel most threatened in this season, if at all. Keep in mind that nothing trips the switch on our insecurity like feeling threatened. Be careful as always in this community not to over-share by telling things about other people who wouldn’t necessarily appreciate it.

Threat: 1) An expression of an intention to inflict pain, injury, evil, or punishment on a person or thing.  2) An indication of impending danger or harm  3) A person, thing, or idea regarded as a possible danger; a menace (American Heritage, 1971)

I have a recurring dream, that I have mentioned before in a random questions response, in which I find myself paralyzed by a fear of heights.It's a crazy thing, but I have gradually come to see this as an expression of the fear of aging...not a fear of death, mind you, but a fear of the loss and change that comes with the passage of time.  That fear has gripped me in odd moments over the past year and a half or so;  sometimes there has been an event that triggered it; sometimes it was just the possibility of such an event. Sometimes it just seemed to come from nowhere.  There are some scenarios that I am just not prepared for in a practical sense, let alone emotional. I know that life is an uncertain thing.  I also know that, unless Jesus comes to get us, the loss and change, in some fashion, is inevitable; I suppose now that I'm past 50, the reality of that is starting to soak in. It's the primary reason I selected Is. 41:13 for my first SSMT verse.

3. What does “fleeing” tend to look like in your life? In other words, how are you most prone to flee? And, are you in fleeing mode right now?

This is a hard question...I suppose 'fleeing' is actually getting so busy with stuff that I just can't pay attention to the thing that is intimidating me. Actually, a friend pointed this out to me a number of years ago...that I use 'busy' as 'avoidance'... when I was even less obligated than I am now.  Judging by the amount of 'stuff' I have to which I seem to be obligated, I must really be in serious fleeing mode.  Not good.  Question for myself:  How can I reduce my commitments so that I can take care of ...whatever it is that I am actively avoiding?

4. Compare or contrast the Isaiah text (30:15-18)  to 1 Peter 5:8-9.

I suppose the most meaningful comparison would be to match translations, so here's 1 Peter 5: 8 - 9 in the Amplified:

Be well-balanced -- temperate, sober-minded; be vigilant and cautious at all times, for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.  Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset], -- rooted, established, strong, immovable and determined -- knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.

Whoa.  The text that comes to mind to me for 1 Peter 5:8 is the NIV, which starts off  'Be self-controlled'.  But how pertinent to me at the moment is the Amplified's  phrasing, 'Be well-balanced'?

If I'm trusting God completely with EVERYTHING, then I am not leaving  my spiritual center of gravity; I am balanced.  Trying to take care of it myself would mean leaving the place of trust -- the place of balance -- whether it's because I'm running away from something or trying to fix something that is out of my control.

I don't need to react to the perceived threat of the enemy's roaring; I need to pay attention so that I know God's direction through the struggles that are common to all of us.

5. One of my translations this morning for this text was The Message. Here it is on the card I wrote out.

Do you perchance need to hear the words “settle down!” as much as I do? If so, why?

Oh yeah.  And I perceive that this is going to be a continual settling down...over and over again, focusing on Him and not on what is trying to make me flee.

6. Finish your assignment with any particular personal insight you gained from it and, most of all, what you discern God is saying to you through it.

I saw that most of the things that cause me to want to flee -- whether it means picking up and running away or just getting so busy that I don't deal with what needs to be dealt with -- are threats.  Not actual impending harm...just threats.  I'm reminded of a 'Rocky and Bullwinkle' series in which the villain turned out to be a really teeny, insignificant individual who intimidated folks by the size of his shadow.

It is the shadow that is threatening me.  Not an actual reality...just a shadow.  

Yes, though I walk through the  [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil; for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. -- Ps 23: 4, AMP

If you stop fleeing from something...that means you turn around and face it.

But I am not facing it alone.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It's a Heart Matter

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Sometimes you just can't get away from something.

So... (all references today from the NIV 84)

Ps. 14:1 and 53:1 both read:

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."

I have heard that statement referenced in conversations, both public and private, regarding politicians and celebrities who have made no secret of the fact that they do not believe in any kind of supernatural entity at all and scorn those who do.

However,  I would like to point out that these verses do not say that a fool is one who says with his mouth, 'There is no God,' but one who says in his heart, 'There is no God.'

The difference is that the first doesn't even pretend to believe, but the second...well, consider the narrative that begins the book of 2 Kings.

Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, was king of the northern kingdom of Israel.  He had an accident and was injured, so he sent some guys to an idol shrine to inquire of the idol to see if he would live.

At the word of God, Elijah met them on the way and said (paraphrased),"Go back and tell the king, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you have to inquire of idols?  God says, because you have behaved like this, you will not get up from your sickbed but die there.' "

The king was less than pleased this response and figured out that it was Elijah who had sent this message back.  So he sent a captain with a company of 50 men to bring Elijah back to him.

The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, "Man of God, the king says, 'Come down!' "

Elijah answered the captain, "If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!"  Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.  (2 Kings 1:9 - 10)

When those guys failed to return, Ahaziah sent another captain with his fifty men and the above scenario was repeated with the second captain being a little more insistent:

"Man of God, this is what the king says, 'Come down at once!' "

This group got the same response as the first, fire included.

When the second group failed to return, Ahaziah sent a third captain with his fifty men.  But this guy had a clue.

The third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. "Man of God," he begged, "please have respect for my life and for the lives of these fifty men, your servants!" (2 Kings 1:13)

So, I ask, which of the three captains actually believed Elijah was a man who represented the most high God?  Who believed that God's authority exceeded the king's?

Yet they all referred to Elijah as a man of God...they all proclaimed God, but only one actually behaved as if he believed God was somebody to be respected.

The fool, the psalmist says, is someone who, in his heart, does not believe God matters.  Oh, this may be a person who proclaims God with the same words as one who follows God, someone who may even follow the ritual of worship.

But when it comes down to it, they live their lives as if God did not exist.  As if God's decrees really do not matter.

These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.  - Is. 29:13

I grieve when I hear people tossing around the respect of God as rhetoric or social obligation but negate the truth of God by their actions...and believe me, no one group has a corner on that market.

There are still areas of my own life that are not submitted fully to God...things in which I am yet foolishly not applying the truth of God's sovereignty.  I struggle with my flesh.  I cannot judge others.

This is my prayer for revival...that the blinders would fall off, that we would draw near with our hearts.

That the people who proclaim God with their mouths would truly serve Him in their Hearts.

If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. - 2 Chron 7:14

It is not up to the folks proclaiming anti-God rhetoric to repent to save the nation, it is up to those who bear His name.  Individually.

We can send 'round emails and campaign for rights and protest injustice, but the secret is changed hearts.  And it must begin with me.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Baby number one was a tough one; fussy and rather frustrating.  I discovered that about the only thing that would guarantee a peaceful day was to spend it walking outside or at the mall.

The umbrella stroller saw a lot of use.

Baby number two was even tempered and contented; he would play in his crib for an hour after he woke up.

I thought it was because I was a more experienced mom; I knew what I was doing the second time around, so the second kid was more relaxed and secure.

So when baby number three was on the way, I figured I'd just add one more right into the mix with no trouble...I was a pro, right?


Baby number three was not just fussy, he was demanding.  He was impossible to satisfy.  When he started crying, he went at it with a vengeance.  And he never slept more than two hours at a stretch until he was nearly two years old.

I was one desperate mama.

During one of his crying spells, after trying everything I could think of, (he hated being in the car seat, the baby swing, or being rocked, just to name a few things we tried), I tried deep, swift knee bends.

It calmed him down.  Soon, not only me and his dad, but all the ladies in the church nursery knew the deep knee bend trick.  I joked that I had great quads but the knees of someone way older than I was...

When baby number four came along, they all begged me, 'Please don't do knee bends with her!'

Fast forward to today.

Baby number three, AKA The Actor, currently in the ministry internship program at church, was pegged to work in the nursery during third service.  My Sweet Baboo happened to walk by...and The Actor was doing deep knee bends with a crying baby, explaining to the other interns that I had done that to calm him.

Yes.  There is justice in the world. ;-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Verse 2 - Heb. 4:16

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

During this fast, we have been encouraged to read R.A. Torrey's little book,  How to Pray.  I've heard much acclaim for this classic, but had never read it, so Sunday I stopped by the church bookstore and picked up a copy.

Challenging and convicting are the words I would use to describe what I've read so far...and I'm only about half way through the first chapter.  How's this for a knock-you-back-to-think-a-minute:

...prayer took much of the time and strength of Jesus; a man or woman who does not spend much time in prayer cannot properly be called a follower of Jesus Christ.


Now, Torrey does allow that we can be praying often, even continually, as we go about our business; the logic of this made me smile:

the woman who has to take in washing for a living can have part -- she can mingle prayers for the saints, and for her pastor, and for the unsaved, and for foreign missionaries, with the soap and water as she bends over the washtub, and not do the washing any more poorly on that account;

...but he does go on to state that  we must...take time -- and take plenty of it -- when we shall shut ourselves up in the secret place alone with God for nothing but prayer.

So, I have chosen for my second SSMT verse of 2013 a verse that Torrey mentions in the first chapter; one I already know...sort of...but want to make a part of my daily walk, not only during the fast, but from this point forward:

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. -- Heb. 4:16, NIV 84

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dancing myself awake...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

On a lighter note...

I don't work on Fridays; our church offices are closed (currently - that's about to change back to a 5-day week but since I'm part time I likely will still not work Fridays) so I normally turn off the alarm and give myself a sleep-in day; My Sweet Baboo handles getting the One Remaining Student to her bus stop.

But I forgot to turn off the alarm yesterday and it went off as usual.  I keep it set to a local contemporary Christian station; normally the chatter with the morning show folks is what I hear.

But this time, a song happened to be playing -- Chris Tomlin's 'Indescribable' (this is the best video I could find on You-tube; sorry..)

But... I didn't wake up.

I dreamed I was in a warm, flowery field and this song was, like, the soundtrack coming from nowhere and everywhere and I just let go and danced.

I'm not a dancer by any stretch of the imagination, mind you, but in my dream I danced and danced...sorta like Snoopy.

When the song ended and the morning hosts began to chat, I woke up and realized what had happened and turned off the radio.  But I woke up smiling.

And it's been a rough...week.  Can't always help when I want to, you know.  Some things just have to be walked out.  So dancing with joy was a gift to me.

I've always rather liked that song...we sing it in church...but it is not at the tip top of my list.  Still...I will always smile when it comes up again.

And maybe someday I'll find a field and dance. ;-)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Preparing for the Fast - 2013

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

As sure as New Years Day follows Christmas, a fast follows the turning of the calendar.  For my liturgical friends, that will likely be Lent.  But for non-denominational us, the fast always begins in January.  This year, we begin our corporate church fast on Jan 13...Sunday.  There are no set requirements for the fast; although a dietary fast is strongly encouraged, folks are instructed to make sure they will have no particular health issues that will preclude such a fast.  Fasting something other than food certainly has the potential to free up time for prayer.   Generally, we are encouraged to be in prayer and be sensitive to the Spirit in order to see what we are prompted to fast.

Some years, I have a very definite picture of what my fast is to look like.  This of this moment, anyway...I don't.  Or rather, what I'm hearing in my spirit is not anything like I've ever fasted before.

I found myself thinking about an old blog post in which I admitted longing for a little structure, and what I began to hear was that I needed to put some serious structure into my life.  How about fasting spontaneity?

To live 21 days with hyper-focused intention...strictly planned...perhaps even timed out.  Some folks live like that all the time; very defined schedules as a lifestyle. I can't imagine life like that.  For me, making a schedule is sort of like closing myself up in a box.  But an unscheduled life can be...well, let's be honest, right now it is...chaotic.

I spent a lot of time on last years' fast seeking changes that I need to make.  And there are a lot.  However, identifying the changes is only the first part; if they are not actually implemented then identifying them is just an exercise in personal guilt.

I need some personal discipline to see those changes happen.  Even if, just for the start, it is making a simple plan...which will include specified times of prayer... and sticking to it.

If I can do that for 21 days, I can make a daily plan a part of my life.  Not necessarily having every moment of every day planned out, but definitely part. 

I believe I will maintain the blog; certainly the 'step up the game' prompt I felt last fall indicates that the blog needs to be part of a plan.  I don't expect to have big revelations to share regarding the fast,'s just going to be about doing what I know I should be doing.  But I may have something to share from the prayer/study time that I will be focused on.  We'll see...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

On the Outside Looking In

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

While leaving a comment on a friend's blog, I found myself wandering off the subject onto something only sort of related and realized that I needed to just turn it into a blog post myself and have done with it.  It's been percolating around for a while; maybe it's time for it to hit the page...

Anyway, if I were to ask you who Jesus' best friend was, you'd no doubt answer John. (all verses today from the ESV)

One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the table at Jesus' side (John 13:23)...This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things (John 21:24a)

And if I were to ask you who Jesus was closest to, you'd reply John, but you'd also add his brother James and Simon Peter.

...Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves (Matt. 17:1b)

And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him,, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. (Lk 8:51)

But they were only three of the twelve guys that Jesus picked to be with him all the time:

And when the day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles (Lk 6:13)

And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him.  And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out. to preach (Mark 3:13)

But those twelve guys were chosen from the whole group of disciples, from whom he later chose more to go out and preach in his name:

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. (Lk 10:1)

But there were about hundred and twenty  folks who were dedicated enough to Jesus to obey his last instruction:

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120)... (Acts 1:15 a)'s my question...which has been rumbling about for ages and ages... who were those other folks?  The ones who weren't picked to be the closest to Jesus?  We know there were a number of folks who had followed him from the beginning and stayed all the way through;  Acts 1:21 speaks of them.

Did these folks sit on the outskirts of the group, watching Jesus teach the 12?  Did they watch the boat sail with Jesus away from the shore, then trudge around the lake with the rest of the crowd?  Did they press up against him as he went to the home of Jairus, hoping for a word, a nod...something to indicate that they were seen?  That they meant something?  That they had a part to play in the ministry?

I've heard many messages that had the point that 'You're as close to Jesus as you want to be'...but then I think of those disciples who followed but who were not chosen to be one of the elite.  Were they as close to Jesus as they wanted to be?  Was that why Jesus chose some but not others?  Were the unchosen ones flawed in some way...some way that was more significant than the flaws in the ones who WERE chosen?

See, I find myself on the outside most of the time.  Not in the realm of the chosen.  And, I might as well admit, I struggle with jealousy of those who seem to slip right in and be comfortable.  Well, maybe jealousy is a strong word...but I wonder how people can do that, when I feel I have to earn my place and then earn the right to stay in that place, and then still keep looking over my shoulder for the person who will point at me and say, 'What's she doing here?'.

But...the 72 had a place.  And likewise the 120.  Do you suppose each of them had a moment with Jesus, all to themselves, in which he called them by name and spoke of their purpose in him?  They all saw marvels and won great victories.

Like the 72, I must realize that not everyone is called to be one of the 12.  But if I am one of the 72 (or 70, depending on your translation), then I am called to be faithful to the task He has given me.  Maybe I'm not one of those closest to him, but I can go ahead and prepare the way and be a representative of Him. 

Or, in earthly terms, I may never be someone who truly moves with leaders (or, as my friend with the blog who prompted this post calls it, 'The A List').  That may not be my calling.  But maybe I am one who is to give aid and support to those who do.  And if I am faithful to that, to my two talents' worth, I will hear the same thing as one who was faithful with five talents' worth.

Because that's what really matters...doing what I have in front of me to do...not wishing I were in another place, doing something else.

Lord knows I have enough right here to keep me more than busy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Verse 1 - Isaiah 41:13

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Hello, 2013. 

So much has been flying around about cliffs and whatnot; fear is a big factor for many folks.

And, I'll confess, I've had my own battles with fear in recent times.  Amazing how quickly the mind goes to 'Worst Case Scenario' entirely on its own...

Anyway, the verse I've chosen to begin the new year and my participation in Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team is this one, to combat any fear that tries to get a grip on me:

For I am the LORD your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear;  I will help you.  - Isaiah 41:13 NIV 84

I was actually looking up another verse when I read this one; such a comforting thought it brings. 

Here we go...

Happy New Year!!!  God's Blessings be with you!!