Friday, February 21, 2014

Oh, and one more thing...Hebrews 13

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I don't know why I have been so reluctant to sit down and do the last Hebrews post.  I've enjoyed taking a close look at this book and have loved reviewing the logical progression of the themes (I have marked the word 'therefore' 19 times in my ESV) ...and been surprised by the warnings.  Yes, I knew they were there before, but, well,  maybe it's a reflection of the current state of things that the warnings to pay attention, to not harbor an unbelieving heart, to not neglect these great truths and go off searching for something that isn't there all really stood out to me as I studied through this time.

Suzanne wrote her post on chapter 13 last week, and I had to grin when I read her post because so many of the same things had occurred to me.  I wonder what the impetus was to finish the letter quickly so that chapter 13 becomes a list of things the author wanted to say before he had to send it off.   He includes one very short little logical discussion comparing Jesus' death outside the city to the disposal of the sacrificial animals  outside the city, but the rest of the chapter is a shotgun of last minute thoughts.

Let brotherly love contine
Be hospitable even to strangers
Remember those in prison (one little aside...not to say anything negative about the powerful prison ministries that are changing lives, but I really believe this is referencing those who are in prison because of their faith)
Keep marriage honorable and pure
Don't be greedy but be content with what you have
Don't be led away by strange teaching
Offer up a sacrifice of praise to God
Do good
Share what you have
Obey and submit to your leaders (and I think this is referencing those who are spiritual leaders, as they are described as 'keeping watch over your souls'); make their leadership easy and joyful

The benediction isn't  a prayer for peace, favor and is a prayer for God to equip the readers with everything needed to do his will, that God would work through us to do what pleases Him.

Which is a pretty good prayer to pray every day...

Lord, give to me whatever I need this day to do your will, and work through me that what pleases you is the thing that gets done.

That should pretty well shoot down my inclination to procrastinate...if I mean it when I pray it... :-)

Finally, as Suzanne also stated, there's some pretty powerful evidence here that the author is Paul in his relationship with Timothy...stating that Timothy has been released (so he was imprisoned somewhere for a time also), and our friend intends to travel with Timothy in the near future. But, Paul or not, this has been a treat and I'm thankful to Suzanne for providing the push to dig into it a bit this winter. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Love, Lincoln, and a Snow Day

Posted by Lisa Laree at Beer Lahai Roi

Writing on Tuesday to publish on Wednesday, but, well, that's ok...

A fuzz over an inch of snow brings the Rocket City to a standstill; hard for my friends in the winter-battered states north of us to comprehend, I know, but, well, we only have solar snow removal down here.  That means once that frozen stuff hits the road it may slush up but will refreeze and...oh, it gets very unpleasant to those who must go out.  I spoke to Number One Son, who had to be at work at 6 AM, and he said he slid around a bit but hit nothing worse than a curb.   

But ...we have enough to be pretty.

So it's a snow day.  I brought work home that I can do, as the data base is in the cloud and I can access it from the comfort of my very  messy house...and I will likely pull it out in a bit...but for now I took time to linger over a cup of actual brewed coffee and peruse the Old Reader feed list.

Of course, I came across Joyce's prompt post for the weekly Hodgepodge link up and I thought, hey, I can do that this week. the link to join the party...

1.What makes love last?

I believe love doesn't just either grows or dies.  And to grow it must be cultivated.

That requires a mutual decision.  We WILL work through the rough spots.  We WILL continue to respect each other.  We WILL NOT let disagreements or misunderstandings or disappointments in each other grow into irreconcilable differences. We WILL NOT be deceived into thinking of each other as an opponent. We are on the same side.

Of course, there's a lot more to that than just those statements, but lasting, growing love requires intentionality.  

 And, by the way, that does require one to be somewhat selective in choosing a mate.  If those things are not mutual...if your prospective spouse is not in agreement...well, be aware that there could be trouble ahead.

2. The Beatles made their US debut fifty years ago this week. Are you a fan? If so, what's your favorite Beatles tune?

A fan of the, that's hard to define.  They were musically ground-breaking, so, yeah, from that standpoint I'd have to say I at least appreciate them.  But would I put them on the semi-divine pedestal that so many others created for them, following their opinions as definitions of how life was meant to be?  Um, probably not...

But they did make some great music, and I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite.  Although at this moment I feel a definite preference for  'Here Comes the Sun'... ;-)

BTW, I remember watching their debut on Ed Sullivan.  My parents had gone square dancing and my teen babysitter turned it on.  I just remember thinking those guys looked really silly swinging their heads around as they performed.  But, then, I was 4.

3. Valentine's Day-your thoughts? Do you celebrate in any way? Do anything special for the people you love? Expect anything special from the people who love you? 

I think Valentine's Day is greatly overblown.  As a day to be intentional about making the folks around you feel loved and appreciated...that's great.  As a day to buy someone an expensive present or overpriced flowers to prove your love for them...give me a break.  

But, My Sweet Babboo and I usually try to manage some sort of observance, even if it's just exchanging sappy cards.  Our celebration this year will likely be at home, with grilled steaks (weather permitting) and a decadent chocolate dessert.   We could go out, but I really don't like crowds and, with the 14th being on Friday, I would expect it to be worse than normal.  Plus, I wanted to include our kids, although the Flute Player appears to be the only one who doesn't have other plans this year.

4. Steak or have to choose. Now that that's settled, how do you like it? 

Steak.  Medium Rare.  Well soaked in Dale's sauce and cooked over a bed of coals.  Since  you asked.

5. The Hodgepodge lands on the birthdate (February 12th) of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America. Lincoln is quoted as saying, 'Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test his character give him power.'  Do you agree? Why or why not?

Sounds like real truth to me.  One of the marks of a true statesman is to choose the good of the nation over his personal agenda...or, rather, to not have a personal agenda other than the good of the nation.  A person of character will use his power for the good of those who are under his authority.  Someone who has no character will use his power for the good of himself and his close friends.

And I'm hushing before I wander into politics or something.

6. Honest Abe's image is featured on the US penny (1 cent coin) so I'm wondering...what do you do with your pennies (or your country's equivalent)?  It's been suggested the US stop making the penny, and two bills have been introduced proposing just that, but neither were approved. What say you?

I like pennies.  They get saved and rolled and eventually carted back to the bank to convert into larger denominations.  Besides, we need pennies for sales tax...folks with credit/debit purchases would be fine, but for folks using cash, they'd have to round up/round down or some such thing and it would be a mess to track.

7.  Do you think pop culture deserves serious study?

 Are there things we can learn about human sociology/psychology/ development from studying pop culture?  Can it teach us anything about economics, the marketplace, politics?  Can we learn the answers to questions like - if the influence of pop culture is detrimental to the society as a whole, is there a way to counteract or reduce that influence?

If the answer to some or most of those questions is 'yes', then, by all means, someone should be looking very critically at pop culture to learn what it can teach us.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Shirley Temple.  I wanted to sing and dance and be loved by everyone.  Failed on all three counts, but Shirley will forever be one of my heroes.  RIP, Shirley Temple Black, 4/23/1928 - 2/10/2014.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hebrews 12 - Running the Race

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Oy.  What is it about cold weather and junk food?  Here in the Rocket City we have another  winter weather frenzy building...this will be about the third one this year, but we have yet to see more than a dusting of frozen precip, for all that it's been way colder than normal.

This has played havoc with my plan to eat healthy and get moving; when the weather's cold outside every instinct is to hunker down with comfort clothes and comfort food.

So that injunction that leaps off the page right at the top of Hebrews 12 brings a bit of a blush to my good intentions...

let us lay aside every weight...and run with endurance...


Seriously, though, Hebrews 12 is a call to get focused and stay focused; maintaining the enduring faith.  And, as I read that first verse again, I suddenly saw it in a new light.  I'd always considered that 'great cloud of witnesses' being the folks who had been described in the previous chapter, now, having run their races, cheering on those of us who were still running ours.

But it struck me that 'witness' may not be referring to watching may be referring to the testimony of God's faithfulness that those folks now can proclaim.  Suddenly, I didn't see the cloud of witnesses as folks that we are to perform for, so to speak, but folks who have shown us what God did in their lives so that we can dare to believe He would do the same in ours.

So, how do we maintain this enduring faith?

- Get rid of anything that distracts, disables, entangles, or hinders (vs 1)
- Follow the example of Jesus and focus on the joy after the trial (v.s 2)
- Endure discipline as sons (vs 3  - 11)
- Encourage and strengthen yourself and those around you; keep your relationships pure (vs. 12 - 17)
- Do not refuse to hear God as the Israelites coming out of Egypt did (vs 18 - 25)
- Be grateful for the kingdom that will not be shaken when everything else is shaking (vs.26 - 28a)
- Worship God with reverence and awe (28b - 29)

I think I'm going to set myself the challenge to read Hebrews 12 at least once a week...until I can get the discipline back and throw off some weight and move with endurance.

In more ways than one. ;-)

Check out Suzanne's breakdown of discipline .

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hebrews 11 - By Faith...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This post, I get to answer some questions.  Suzanne asks, 'Which act of faith speaks to you today?  Why?'  and, kind of corollary to that, 'What is it about Hebrews 11 that causes you to have deeper resolved faith?'  (there are two other questions, but, wow, I'm not sure I'm ready to throw those answers up here...)

I have to admit that among all the acts of faith listed in Hebrews 11, one has always stood out to me as the most astonishing.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, 'Through Isaac shall your offspring be named'.  He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead... -- vs. 17-19

Abraham lived for the promise of God.  His whole life had been structured around that promise.  Isaac represented the fulfillment of that promise.

And God told Abraham to give it all sacrifice the son he loved and the promise he represented.

And Abraham obeyed absolutely without hesitation, because he trusted God to make it ok.

If there is anything that challenges me in that chapter, it is that.

Do I trust God enough to release to him even the promises that I am counting on...those things that I hold dear as my hope and my future?  Do I really believe that he will make it ok, even if it looks hopeless?  Even if I don't understand?

Sometimes I wonder.  I like being reasonably comfortable.  I like being secure.

And I don't like that I have this nagging doubt in my head that if God said to me that I should give it up, sacrifice it to him...I would actually have enough faith and obedience to do it.

But I remember a story in The Hiding Place...Corrie had asked her father about some future fear she had, and he responded by asking her a question...when they were taking a trip, when did he give her the ticket she needed?  Corrie responded that he always gave it to her just before they boarded the train.  Her father then assured her that her heavenly father, in the same way, would give her the grace she needed to face any challege at the moment that she would need it.

So I have to remind myself of the same thing...that if there is ever a need for me to trust God to that extent, and, you know, sooner or later there will be, he will provide the grace and faith I need to walk it out.

Even if it seems far beyond my ability at this moment.

As to the second question, I have always been amazed that this list contains people who saw God's miraculous deliverance and healing right along side of those who were not delivered or healed but suffered greatly.  They were all commended for their faith.  Yet some were answered...and some, apparently, were not. And none of them saw the ultimate fulfillment of the ancient promise. take home message is that  a 'no' answer is not a judgement on my lack of faith. It is a reflection of the purpose of God.  Somehow, 'no' accomplishes his purpose... and if I get hung up on and offended by a 'no' answer, I won't go past it and see His purpose.

Because, after all, what happens here is temporary, even if we don't see it.  The other side...His purpose...that's forever.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hebrews 10 - The New and Living Way

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The author sums up the argument of the superiority of the covenant  that is administered by Jesus with one last declaration and affirmation that that covenant is based on a superior sacrifice...the blood of Jesus, offered once, perfecting all who come to him forever:

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified - v. 14

Because, you know, once something is cleaned away, it's gone.  Forgotten.

I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more - v. 17

Once sin is gone, there's no reason to keep sacrificing offerings to deal with it.  It's done.


And...guess what the next word is after this point is firmly established...


(That's 'Therefore' number 10 in the ESV, if I haven't missed any)

He restates the argument he's so carefully structured:

Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God...

Since we have the superior offering, the superior covenant and the superior, the author says, we need to put that to work in our lives.  To do that, we need to

Draw near to God
Hold fast to our hope
Stir one another up to good works
Put a priority on meeting together

Because...we have the power to do that!  Christ has opened the way!

Interesting that at this point, the author stops once more and repeats the warning  to anyone who hears and understands what it is that Christ is offering:  if this truth is rejected, there's nothing else out there that can cleanse that sin away.  To look at the sacrifice Jesus gave and then reject it is to cut oneself off from the grace of God and stand with the enemy and all his followers who are under the sentence of destruction.

This is a serious thing; this warning has been repeated and will be repeated.  Jesus receives everyone who comes to Him, and everyone who truly comes to Him is transformed.  For those who do not want to give up the comfort/pleasure/familiarity of the lifestyle they lead before learning the truth but just want to add the rituals of worship and fellowship onto their former way of life...participation without repentance...well, the author pretty bluntly states that will not bring about the salvation of God.  In fact, he says it is an act of blasphemy against the very blood that was given to redeem them.  It is hard.  It is heavy.  But it is the Word.  Jesus opened up the way for us to go into the most holy places, but we cannot take our ungodliness in with us.  Paul gives us a partial list of these deeds in Galatians 5: 19-21:

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

My point is not to try and lay some heavy oppressive guilt trip on anyone;  this is not talking about the process of maturing in Christ in which we learn not to give in to weakness but grow in grace and learn from our mistakes.  This is referencing folks who attempt to add the benefits of faith to a self-promoting, self-centered lifestyle...whether that self-centeredness manifests itself as drunkenness, sexual immorality or being a gossip who stirs up trouble  is not really part of the discussion.  Any of those things are 'works of the flesh'...the selfish, self-promoting human nature.  And only true repentance...stopping, turning around, and heading away from them...will put us into position to receive the cleansing power of Christ and the ability to enter into those holy places.

But the author then reminds his readers of how they stood under persecution when they believed, how they helped others and did not revolt even when their property was knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.   

We do not shrink back and cling to an unrepentant lifestyle...but by faith...through the new and living way... we enter those holy places where that better, abiding possession lies.

Suzanne said all of that in about half the space...someday I'll learn to write succinctly.. ;-)