Monday, November 25, 2013

Menu Planning and the Holy

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I've talked from time to time about Thanksgiving...with that holiday just a couple of sleeps away (an interesting way to mark time that I've really only recently heard)  I'm thinking turkey again.

If you've been around Beer Lahai Roi for more than a year or two, you know we do traditional around here.  No fancy new recipes, no forays into alternative main dishes.
The menu changes not.

Turkey and my grandma's dressing (made with white bread, thankyouverymuch)
mashed potatoes and gravy
my mother's candied sweet potatoes
My Sweet Babboo's mother's green bean casserole 
Aunt Judy's apple salad
Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce
cheese tray
relish tray
rolls (if I have time, my other grandma's dinner rolls.  If not, well, I punt.  For various reasons, this year it's Sister Schubert's...)
pumpkin pie
Aunt Ruth's pecan pie

The Princess is insisting on bringing macaroni and cheese this year, even though I've maintained we really don't need another starch.  She says she has a fancy recipe that she wants to try.  So, well, it'll go on the buffet with the rest, I guess.

But, really, aside from the mashed potatoes, the whole menu is something that I just don't make any other time of year.  And even those will be potatoes that we peeled and cooked and mashed, not instant, which is the usual.

I love turkey.  Really.  But I only cook turkey on Thanksgiving.

Because it's special.  I mean, if we ate turkey on a regular basis, what would be special about Thanksgiving?

And as I've pondered the special menu, I've been reading in Exodus.

Last night it was chapter 30...the last bit of which consists of God's very specific instructions about anointing oil and incense.  Look at what God says about these concoctions:

This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations.  It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition.  It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.  Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.....make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy.  You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you.  It shall be most holy for you.  And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves.  It shall be for you holy to the Lord.  Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people. (Ex 30: 31b - 33, 35 -38, ESV)

When I read Leviticus for the Faithful Friday posts, I looked at the word 'holy' and wrote that it means 'set apart as special' and I realized all over again this week just what that meant.

It means it is reserved for a special purpose.  It is not ordinary.  Just as our Thanksgiving menu is reserved for Thanksgiving, and kept only for Thanksgiving, in order to make Thanksgiving a special day, things that are designated as holy have a unique service.  The anointing oil was reserved for the sanctification of the priests.  The incense was to be burned only in the presence of God, in the Most Holy Place.  Any other use of either of those brought dire consequences.

Because it was holy.  Special.  Dedicated.  Using it for ordinary purposes would detract from its distinction...just as eating roast turkey and dressing for random meals would detract from the celebration of Thanksgiving.

Once again, I come face to face with the fact that God's instruction to me to be holy is not about walking in piety, although that could well be part of it.  It is not about living by a strict code of dos and don'ts, although certainly there are standards.  It is about recognizing that I have been set apart for HIS purpose, and I am not to let myself fall into the trap of being indistinguishable from that which is not set apart for Him.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Musing on .... Comments and discussions

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Not what you're thinking. ;-)

I had two different experiences reading comments on other blog posts today...or, rather, I had a variation on the same experience reading comments on two other blogs today.

The first was this morning; I happened to check Face book, mostly to see if there were any posts about storm damage in Indiana, but someone had linked a blog post they liked and I clicked through and read it.

It was a piece about character, basically, and it was well written and I agreed with it.

Then I read the comments.

Most were favorable, but there was one commenter (there's always one) that felt compelled to argue against the points made by the author.  Then there were comments arguing with the one who disagreed.  Then there were defensive comments on both sides.  The one who disagreed expanded his argument to include his opinions about faith and morality, making blanket statements that both were without value.

I quit reading there.  Grieved.  He has a right to his opinion, obviously, but what was the point of telling people of faith that their faith is worthless?  How could he possibly have a clue of the value of another person's faith?  But I was also grieved at some of the harsh things that were said to/about him by folks who defended the original article.

Then, later today I read one of the blogs in my subscription list.  The author had done a (very fair, actually) assessment of a product, but the product developer had an issue with the constructive criticism and emailed some rather condescending correction to the reviewer.

Who posted the communication on her blog.

Comments ensued, ranging from supportive to indignantly supportive of the reviewer until the product developer joined the fray and began defending her position.  She seemed utterly clueless as to why her position and the way she stated it had upset people.  Three or four responses later, I quit reading.

Again, I wondered why folks would take such tones with each other.

I learned a long time ago that mere writing does not convince anyone of anything if they don't want to be convinced.

I once carried on an email conversation with someone whose views of God and spirituality were quite different from mine.  However, when the discussion would reach a critical point, the other person would just say something to the effect of 'you write better than me' and drop the discussion, rather than see the point I was trying to make. 

Nothing I wrote changed anything.

Without relationship, without credibility, the best discussion, most complete apologetics, loftiest truths are seen as just a way with words.

And, you know, there is really very little credibility on the internet.  I know I have no credibility; so why write things that could be offensive?

On the other hand,  how can I share the convictions of my heart and not offend someone who doesn't share them?  Or, more to the point, how can I share the convictions of my heart and at least get that person to not have a knee-jerk reaction to them, but consider the possibility that I have those convictions for plausible reasons?

That, I believe, is the fine line a faith blogger has to tread.  I don't know if I actually walk that line or if I maintain too much of a safe, non-threatening, virtually useless distance away from that line.  If Beer Lahai Roi is boring,  it doesn't matter what I one will read it.

But, you know, I think I'm ok with that.  Maybe nobody will read it.

Maybe I just needed to write it.

I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that a blog isn't for the's for the author. 

And if there IS an audience, that's fine.  But if there isn't...that's fine, too.

Because I've really just about decided that no comments at all is better than comments that are a war of words.

Friday, November 15, 2013

SSMT Verse 22: Ecc. 1:1

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We are fast approaching the last of this year's Siesta Scripture Memory Verse
Today's verse is from the 'familiar but never actually memorized' category again...and when I decided this would be my verse for today and looked it up, I was surprised at how unlike my sorta kinda memory of the verse the NIV version actually is:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven - Ecc. 3:1 NIV 84

I'm afraid the version of the verse in my head was mostly the Byrds.

See, I woke up this morning with a nearly irresistible urge to pull out the Christmas decorations and start festifiying up the house.

For some of you, that doesn't seem so may already have lights on the eaves and a tree twinkling away in a corner, but for  I don't do Christmas before Thanksgiving.  It's an important distinction to me, and I really, really am set on that.  No decorations, no Christmas music, and no Christmas movies before we pause to thank God for the blessings He gives us every day.  We enjoy Thanksgiving as its own day before jumping into Christmas.

 Yet I found myself thinking, 'This is my house.  I could decorate now if I wanted to.'

I was surprised that the urge was strong.  And so uncharacteristic.

Especially given that the last 3 or 4 years have found me severely lacking in the Christmas enthusiasm department, for one reason or another or maybe a whole bunch together.  I wondered if I had come to the point in life where I decided Christmas was just not what it used to be.  I remember watching that happen with my elders; wondering how they lost that Christmas twinkle.  When I discovered it playing hide-and-seek in my own heart, I began to understand.  But it made me sad.  I didn't want to lose that part of myself that rejoiced with family and music and tradition and awe at the miracle of God coming to us; I didn't want the celebration to be something that I endured for the sake of the kids.

So, while this morning's urge was surprising, it pleased me.  I have not moved completely into fuddy-duddy-dom yet.  I was relieved even as I sternly told myself I had to get the house cleaned and straightened and ready for festifying first.

Because there is a time for every purpose activity under heaven. :-)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hebrews: Chapter 4:14 - 16 - The introduction to our High Priest

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Interesting side note:  I did find  my ESV Bible (I'd left it in my office), so I have been using that as my primary text for this study.  And, as I've been reading, I have noticed how many times the word 'therefore' appears (as of 4:13, I have counted 8 'therefores', not including those that are part of an Old Testament quote).

But the passage that was assigned for this week, Heb 4: 14 - 16, in the ESV, begins 'Since then...'

And the discussion for these verses begins  with a look at the word 'therefore', which is how verse 14 starts in  the NIV.

So I'm not sure there's much point in counting the 'therefores', since it varies from translation to translation.  But the use of connecting words such as 'therefore' and 'since then' indicates the logical structure of Hebrews,  the building of one concept upon another.

And these three little verses are just such connectors,  connecting the argument for the superiority of Jesus to his superior priesthood.

We actually looked at the temptation of Christ in our Friends Club lesson last night, comparing the temptation He endured in the desert to the temptations that face us on a daily basis. It was one of those classes where the teacher (i.e., me) just didn't feel like the essence of the scripture was adequately communicated; a typical junior-highish night, so I was a bit amazed to see this discussed today.

My concept of that passage has been based on Matthew's account...which states that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted.  I've supposed that he was in the wilderness all that time, waiting on the devil to come to him and try to deflect him from his purpose...and that the devil waited forty days, until Jesus was exceedingly weak and weary from hunger and near hydration (I think he found at least some water, but that's another post), and THEN the enemy came at him with his enticements. 

 But, because we looking at Luke's account last night,  today I happened to re-read that and  I noticed something a little differently than I had ever noticed before; the first two verses of Luke 4 tell us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted by the devil. The verb tense here suggests that my suppositions are wrong.  It almost reads as if the enemy was tempting him the whole time; we just see the biggest guns that he saved for the last, when Jesus was at his weakest.

That would make sense.  Not that the enemy hit him hard, but that he hit him consistently, with annoying and distracting petty temptations with the intention of keeping him from his communion with the Father.  Then, when Jesus was worn in body AND mind AND spirit...THEN the enemy pulled out those temptations to satisfy his physical appetite and achieve the honor and the wealth without enduring the suffering that following the Father's will would cost him.

But...Jesus did not even try to fight the devil with his own strength.  He just applied the scripture...common, ordinary, well-known scripture to the situation at hand.  I almost wonder if he were using the scripture to strengthen his own resolve not to give in.  Luke records the temptations in a different order than Matthew, and Matthew includes Jesus' dismissal of Satan, but the two accounts both show that Jesus never called on any supernatural power to defeat the enemy...Scripture, applied to a specific situation, was enough to keep the enemy at bay.

Our Superior High Priest, having been weakened as a human, withstood the enemy as a human, using the same weapon that is available to the rest of us: the sword of the Spirit.  He knows what it is like to be tempted, and he knows how to use The Sword to avoid temptation's trap.

And, as this little passage in Hebrews reminds us, he is available to us to help us do the same.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Punching Through

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi.  I originally posted this as a Facebook note, but decided to put it here, too...

2nd service today, we were singing the bridge 'Show us, show us your glory, Show us, show us your power, show us, show us your glory, Lord...'  and somewhere around the third repeat I heard in my spirit:

Do you really know what you're asking for here?

Suddenly, I experienced one of those moments when I realized that what I thought I was doing wasn't what I was doing at all. Of course, I was earnest in my desire to see God's power and glory, but how blithely I was expressing if a revealing of God's glory and power would be something to see; as if the measure of God's glory and power that I have experienced in my life were the total of what He has and I'm just asking for a second helping.

Do you really know what you're asking?

There was a dangerous edge to that, a 'count the cost' connotation.

Because when we really see God's glory and power, nothing about our lives will be remotely the same.

'Show us your glory/show us your power' is sort of the same as saying 'take my life totally apart and turn it inside out and throw away anything that makes me feel safe and remind me just how NOT IN CONTROL OF ANYTHING I really am.'

And that's putting it mildly.

I remembered an article I'd recently read about a storm chaser, a article that had a bit of the science of severe weather in it.  "Warm, moist air rises until it hits warm, dry air --the cap.  If the moist air becomes warmer than the cap, it can punch through it explosively." 

In a flash, I saw that my requests to see God's glory and power were hitting a cap.  "It's unbelief, isn't it?"  I prayed. "Help my unbelief!"

But the response I got back knocked me back.

No, it's not unbelief.  The cap is your comfort zone.  When your desire for God's manifest presence becomes greater than your desire to keep life safe, simple and comfortable...that's when the punch through will come.

As I related this to My Sweet Babboo on the drive home from church, he reminded me of a story that teacher Steve Thompson related about asking to see God's glory...and actually getting the tiniest glimpse of something supernatural.  As Steve told the story, he came to himself about two hours later, driving down the road repeating, 'God, don't kill me!  God, don't kill me!'

Do I really want to see God's glory and power, knowing it will take me to places I can't imagine and cost more than I can calculate in terms of anything the world values?  Recognizing that the folks who DID see God's glory and power in biblical days were misunderstood, judged, outcast, abused and even killed?  That to whom much is given, much is required...and the glory and power of God comes with profound responsibility to handle the revelation correctly?  That the concept of 'comfortable' will become foreign?

Do I really know what I'm asking?

But, having seen the choice, how could I choose anything other than to tell my screaming selfish nature to talk to the hand, put my head down and say, 'No, Lord, I don't know.  But I want it just the same.  Teach me how to punch through to the other side of comfortable and walk where I don't care if I'm comfortable or not.'

Friday, November 1, 2013

SSMT Verse 21: Hebrews 10:35-36

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Tonight was the sectional Royal Ranger commander pitch-in dinner; we do this every year about this time and, to be honest, while I like eating all the home cooked food and visiting with folks, it always seems to be something that requires more fuss and bother than I have time for.

I did cook for it and came home and cooked more (how did our school get signed up to provide breakfast for the theater festival judges in the morning?) kitchen is WRECKED. 

I think I'm going to do an unheard of thing and bail from the festival as soon as my kid is done tomorrow; come home and clean up the mess I made today.

But I digress.  Tonight was worth the fuss and bother and then some.

Our feature this year was a young lady who is on the worship staff at our church and is just launching out into her own ministry, Kat Holder.  She did an awesome job singing three of her original songs, and she challenged us along the theme of tonight's banquet, 'Top Shot'.  She kinda made a play on of the things the Ranger Boys have to earn is something called a 'Cut and Chop' card, which they must have on them in order to use any sharp tools on any Ranger event; so she said that we would earn our 'Top Shot' card tonight. 

Basically, she anagrammed 'top shot' down the side of the card, then challenged us to consider what makes someone a 'top shot' in the kingdom.  She described her choices, but told us that we would probably all pick different words, depending upon where we each were  in our spiritual journey or how we saw our position.

We were also challenged to post photos of the cards to the Sectional Ranger Facebook page, but, well, since I'm not on that page I just decided I'd do it here:

One of the verses she mentioned tonight caught my ear and I scribbled it down. When I got home and read it, I decided that verse and the one preceding it would be the SSMT verse for Nov. 1:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. - Heb 10:35-36 NIV84