Thursday, December 24, 2015

Season of Promise: The Shepherds...and all of us

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Luke 2:8 - 14  is one of the most well-known passages of scripture, thanks to Linus:

It's King James, of course, which is actually my favorite rendering of that passage, just because it's so poetic.

I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people (v. 10)

We have gone full circle...back to Eve's promise that the deliverer would come and Abraham's promise that his offspring would bless all nations.

The message of joy is for all people..the Savior has been born.

I'm reminded of God's words to Moses in Ex. 3:  I have seen...I have heard...I know their sorrow...I am come...

The promise that He would come was fulfilled that night; now we are standing on His promise to return.

Advent is not just about anticipating the coming of the is about anticipating the coming of the Savior.

Another favorite King James passage...John 14: 1 -3:

Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would've told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may also be.

Approximately 2000 years had passed between the promise to Abraham and the angel's announcement of the great joy, to all people.  Now another 2000ish years have passed, and we are waiting for another joyous, time-changing appearance of the Savior.

Surely, I come quickly.  Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  (Rev. 22:20b)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Season of Promise: Mary

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

(All scripture today from the 1984 edition of the New International Version)

Of all the promises of the coming deliverer, none were so personal and intimate as the promise given to a little Jewish girl living in a small town well away from the focal point of Jerusalem.  Nazareth was in Galilee...a place considered backward by the folks who were In Charge.

Scholars believe that she was in her early teens, engaged but not fully married, when Gabriel was sent to her with the announcement.

All the reading I've done...not research, mind you, just reading of period fiction and history...has given me the impression that the Jews of that day, by and large, interpreted the 'virgin shall conceive' prophecy from Isaiah to mean that the deliverer would be conceived in the usual fashion, at the consummation of a marriage.  Apparently no one considered that it might mean that the child would be conceived completely apart from human activity and born to an actual virgin.

Which, in my mind, is one of the things that makes the Biblical text so intriguing.  Fiction would not have thrown something so miraculous and completely unexpected into the plot.  A virgin conceiving was...inconceivable.

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God - Lk 1:35

Holy one.  Set apart. Special. Not ordinary.

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.  - Lk 1:32 -33

We see the promises in reverse order...the promise to David, the promise to Abraham through Jacob, the promise to Eve in that her seed would completely overthrow the serpent.  All in the promise to a girl who was a nobody in a backwoods corner.

I have heard the theory that Mary was not the first girl to whom Gabriel was sent...she was the first one to agree.  But I don't think God would've wasted His time or Gabriel's missions by asking any girls who did not have the willing faith and intestinal fortitude to respond as Mary did.

I am the Lord's servant.  May it be to me as you have said.

Mary had found favor with God; He was with her.  Before Gabriel came to her, that was true.  She didn't earn God's favor and presence by agreeing to His plan; He included her in His plan because she was the very person who would do precisely what was needful. AND...she fit the prophetic description:  she was descended from David through Nathan, Solomon's full-blood younger brother; and she was marrying a man who was descended from David through Solomon, who had the legal right to the throne.

And, she was living at the precise point in history when a promise given to an insignificant person in a remote area could hit the Roman world and spread.  There was common language, there was transportation, there was relative peace.

The only requirement that rested on her was that she be willing to walk God's plan out...regardless of what anyone thought about her or how anyone treated her.  She had God's promise that He was with her.  That was enough.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SSMT Verse 22 - Galatians 6:9

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This is late because...I can't find my spiral notebook.  I thought it was in my purse, as I pull it out at odd times to study,  And I'm extremely frustrated.  I sincerely hope it hasn't fallen out in some odd place; but it patently isn't in any of the places I rather thought it might be.

Of course we have been moving and shifting stuff around quite a bit in the last few weeks, so, well, it could be in an unaccustomed spot.

But I have picked out the last verse of the 2015 Siesta Scripture Memory Team challenge and have decided to go ahead and post and add it to the spiral as soon as I find it.

Gal 6: 9, NIV 84:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Simple and familiar and yet...not something I've not really committed to memory.

But it is a verse that has been knocking around the edges of my spirit in the past few days, as 2015 is winding down and wrapping up and I'm starting to turn my thoughts to 2016...what is it going to be?  If 2015 was a year of New Beginnings, what is going to be the theme of the new year?

What I keep hearing is 'growth'...the seed is planted, now it's time to push into it, keep at it, nurture and grow what began.

I'm not really sure what exactly that's going to look like, but it is something to ponder and pray over as we pause for the celebration of the holidays and the turning of the calendar to a new year.

But this is definitely a word to carry forward....Don't grow weary...don't give up.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Season of Promise: David

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Yes, chronologically, there were promises made between Abraham and David.  But I only have 4 Sundays in Advent, and David is another level of promise from the rest.

David's promise is Kingship.

We know, from Eve's promise, that the Deliverer is Coming.  We have pinpointed his nationality by the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We know the tribe from the promise to Judah.

But the promise to David is not just that the Deliverer will be born to his descendants, but that his descendants...including the coming one...will be kings.

The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish you a house for you: when your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom...but my love will never be taken from him, as I took it away from Saul...your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.  (taken from 2 Samuel 7:11-16)

We see the selection process....if Eve's Offspring was to be everything God intended, He would be a king.  But to be truly established, a king must have a people to be king of, and he must be born to a royal line.  So God's promises have selected, from all the people of the earth, one nation for the deliverer; and from all the families in that nation he has declared one family to be the royal family.

Always, always, God points to the deliverer to come. David's promise applied to himself and his son immediately...but it also applied to generations he would not see.  The lineage of the king would not fail.

What a blessing!   Can you imagine receiving such a promise from God...that your children and your children's children and your children's children's children and...and...would always be God's special, chosen, anointed,  and guarded servants?  What more could a parent ask, really?

The deliver, the one who claims the authority the enemy has usurped, the one with a new name written. is coming; he will not only be king-like but, being in David's lineage, he will legally be the king.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Season of Promise: Abraham

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Eve's promise tells us the deliverer, the savior, the one who will defeat the serpent, will come.

The next promise tells us his God establishes and confirms His covenant with Abraham (Abram) (all scripture today from the ESV):

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. -- Gen 12:2-3

I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.  And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice. -- Gen 22:17-18

And we also know which son that covenant would be reckoned through:

God said, 'No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.  I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.' - Gen. 17:19

Lest there be any confusion, God designated Isaac by name, as Abraham had other sons; not only Ishmael, from Hagar, but he took a second wife, Keturah, after Sarah died and had children with her also; her sons were named Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian(who was the father of Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah), Ishbak and Shuah.

All of these were given the same treatment as Ishmael...they were given gifts and sent away from Isaac, through whom the covenant would be established.

And, notice...we have a singular pronoun again in 22:18... And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies...  'his' not 'their', and 'gate', not 'gates'.

We are still looking at a one-on-one battle; one offspring, one gate.

But we have narrowed the field a bit.  Whereas Eve's promise was equally likely amongst all her children, Abraham's promise now states that the Enemy-defeater would be born to the children of his son Isaac.

In other words, now one nation is selected from all the nations to be the one from which the promise will come.

But this is still a promise for all mankind:
...all families of the earth shall be blessed...all the nations of the earth shall be blessed...

Because, you know, in that culture the gates represented authority.  He is going to possess the authority that had been given to his enemies.

In Advent, we anticipate the coming of the one who will  destroy the serpent and bless all people by possessing the authority that had been given to the enemy.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hello again!

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Just a quick little blurb.  As I supposed you noticed, I've kinda suspended the New Beginnings study; I'm going to pick back up with that in January.  I'm going to do a little Advent Exploration that occurred to me, in honor of the season, and I'll be doing that on Sundays.

We are very, very slowly getting things moved around. There's just too much that needs doing and not enough hours in a day.  I am absolutely loving our new space, but there's still a lot of 'What are we going to do with this?' left in the rooms that we had to move everything in to.  We are not traveling for Christmas this year;  My Sweet Babboo doesn't have enough vacation days left, so we're going to get a fresh Christmas tree, which means we've got another week before we put it up.  But I"ve still got to get on with the internal moving party...

I've already put our little trees up in the new rooms...this is the first year to put up the vintage aluminum tree that found its way to my house a few years back.  It's glittering away in the sunroom and makes me smile every time I see it from the kitchen window. My grandmother had a similar...although I remember it being much nicer...tree.

Thought it would be fun to take the annual Christmas Card photo around it.  Ha ha and ha.  There are goofy people in the family who just didn't get the whole sentimental retro cool vibe.   Sigh.    We did eventually get a usable one...

I've laughed at the number of folks who've left comments on FB and the sewing blog along the lines of 'Love that tree!  My grandma had one!'

Makes me wonder if they only sold the trees to

So have a blessed Advent and I'll try to get by here a little more often now! :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

SSMT # 21 - Col. 3:12

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I pondered my verse for a bit in Genesis, read a bit in Galatians, a bit in Ephesians, and ended up in Colossians, where I found another verse that struck a chord with me.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  -- Col. 3:12

I'm probably not the only one who is appalled at the strident, combative, petty  and downright ridiculous things that are being attributed to folks who call themselves Christians.  I'll be honest, I wonder if some of that crazy stuff isn't being propagated purely by internet trolls just to provoke controversy and drama.  

And yet, those folks are becoming the face of modern Christianity to many who live in areas where, to quote one person who posted on a  craft-based discussion board, they've 'never actually met anyone who believes in the christian god.'

Yes.  Right here in the United States.  Never MET ANYONE who how would they know that the crazies, the trolls, the folks who live for controversy, are not a true representation of those who follow Christ?

Counterfeiting is a common strategy of warfare.

So, my beloved friend, what is our counter to that?

Colossians 3:12.

Remember, the opposite of holy is not evil...the opposite of holy is ordinary.

We are to be wise, yes.  We are to be strong, yes.  We are to be holy, yes.  But we are also to be compassionate, kind, humble...all those other things that Christ was, even as He uncompromisingly stood for what God declared to be right and true.

If people recognized Christians by their likeness to Christ, and not by their rhetoric or indignant  reactions to people who truly know no much more impact would the good news of Christ have on those who do not even recognize the darkness in which they live?

Compassion.  Kindness.  Humility.  Gentleness. Patience.

Oy.  What if I leaned into Christ to develop those things in my life, instead of asking Him to grant me favor or answer prayers for provision or achievement or or or...

God, I confess that I am inherently selfish and short-sighted.  I plan my life around my security and  my comfort, when there are so many who have neither.  Teach me, Lord, to show YOUR attributes, and take away the fear that shies away from them.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Season of Promise: Eve

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi 

Advent Musings 2015 Week 1

Easing back into the blogsphere slowly as things settle into their place little by little, I find myself on the threshold of another Advent season...and thinking about the people who received a promise anticipating the coming Messiah.

I think it's kinda wonderful that the first person who received the promise was Eve, after her devastating failure and loss, even if it was a kind of backhanded promise given in the form of judgement against the serpent:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;  he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. - Gen. 3:15, NIV 84

This first promise, that a specific offspring of the woman ('he' not 'they') would deal a death blow to the serpent who deceived her, was to Eve and her descendants... really to the entire human race.  The battle with the enemy will not go on forever, and, while he can and does wound, the ultimate victory in that battle will be his final defeat.

Folks, this is hope.  In all the pronouncement of judgement and consequences, God proclaims hope.  There won't always be a battle.  The enemy will be defeated.  Oh, it will come at a terrible price...which is only hinted at here as a heel that will be struck...but God himself had already determined to pay that price.

In Advent, we anticipate the coming of the one who will deal that death-blow to the enemy's head.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Now to get back to normal...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi.

How many years ago was it that we realized we had a serious water problem in the sun room?  And began the long..and sometimes misguided...road to fix and restore?  Seven?

We're down to the last bit of electrical work and then it's done.


I'm so excited.

And, we didn't plan or budget to revamp the den at this point, either, but, well, we knocked a wall down and should have realized that that would mean we would have to redo the den...or live with weird half done for another couple of years.

That bullet is hard to bite, but we bit it.

So...I promised pictures...

Both start upper left, with what the room looked like when we bought the house, and then ends bottom right, with what it looks like now....

First the sunroom...

Then the den...

But we've got to reshuffle furniture around the whole house now, and, well, that's going to be a bit of a challenge.

But we have a deadline.

I want things straightened out for Christmas decorating.

Which may be a bit late this

All we have to do is decide what's going to go where.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

SSMT Verse 20: Col. 4:5 - 6

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Yes, this one's two days late. And I wasn't going to blog about this week's verse...I didn't write up verse 19, being up to the ears in a mess...but the verse that presented itself for memorization this week struck such a chord that I just had to say a little about it....

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer every one. -- Colossians 4:5-6, NIV84

Now, I'm not going to repeat what is being stated vehemently by many folks.

And there is vehement declaration being made by two different...dare I say opposing...factions.

And, to be sure, both sides have merit in their positions.

Which means the right way is going to lie somewhere in the tension between the two extremes.

Be wise.

Make the most of every opportunity.

Present grace...seasoned with salt, to be sure, but grace every answer.

With wisdom.

And that ain't gonna come by figuring anything out.  That will only come from the Spirit of Wisdom.

Which is also the Spirit of Grace.

Grace with wisdom is not easy.  It is not obvious.  It is not...natural to the human spirit. 

And I'm going to be pondering this in my own spirit, because I have to admit understanding  it is beyond me.  I don't know that I have the capability to walk it out.  I probably don't.

But, with God...all things are possible.

Even speaking and acting on  grace with wisdom.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Good intentions and all...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Y'all.  This home renovation stuff is not fun.

We're not even doing any work yet...just writing checks to the contractor.  Our turn will come when the rooms are ready to paint and finish out the electrical.

Which is probably still a week off.

Meantime, we have two rooms of stuff crammed, stacked, stuffed and piled around the rest of the house.  It's almost claustrophobic.

I missed the SSMT verse for Oct 15, and I missed last week's New Beginnings post. While I have been thinking a good deal about that next post, I don't think I'm going to get to it tomorrow.  My computer desk is piled as high as anything else and, well, it's not at all conducive to creative thinking.

So I've pretty much decided I'm going to take a little blogging break until we get things straightened out somewhat.

I will have pictures. :-)

Friday, October 9, 2015

All Things New - Joseph, the Road of Transformation

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

While Joseph's brothers dealt with...or endured...the consequences of their actions in Canaan, Joseph had some dealing of his own to do.

Yes, he'd been an aggravation to his brothers, but I wonder how he pondered the events that led up to his captivity as they journeyed on to Egypt. Joseph was not stupid.  I suspect that he suddenly had a massive shift in perspective that precipitated a huge change in him on that journey.  Seeing his life from his brother's viewpoint may never had occurred to him before, but he had plenty of time to think it over.

There is nothing more humiliating than the realization that other people have seen your actions and heard your words in a whole 'nuther context than you anticipated.  By the time Potiphar encountered the merchants, Joseph had reconciled his circumstances with his past actions. He willingly served Potiphar and excelled in everything he did.  No more mention of dreams of glory.  In fact, he refused to take advantage of his position when given the opportunity.  He repeatedly refused, in fact.

And that refusal landed him in prison.  Another drop in status.  From favored son to slave to prisoner...and this time, there was no foolishness on his part to which he could attribute the misfortune.  He had done what was right, with the right attitude, in the most respectful way possible.

But God was still working transformation in Joseph.  Forgiving Potiphar's wife was nothing compared to forgiving his brothers.  And he had to forgive his brothers, freely and completely, before he could be trusted with the position God had for him.

I will point out that he was not killed for the crime for which he was accused; I think Potiphar did not believe his wife's story, as he could have had Joseph executed.  But public accusations had been made and Potiphar had to make a public response.  He could not officially believe a slave's story over his wife's.  So, he put Joseph into the prison reserved for the king's prisoners...political offenders.  And, incidentally, Potiphar was the captain of the guard  (Gen. 39:1), and the prison where Joseph was kept was  'the house of the captain of the guard'  (Gen 40:3). The keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of everything -- who was it who put the bug in his ear that this was a trustworthy prisoner?  Could Potiphar have interceded there, giving his commanding officer a valuable administrator?  But it definitely was the captain of the guard, i.e., Potiphar, who put Joseph with the king's servants -  the cupbearer and the baker (Gen 40:4) - which gave Joseph the opportunity to tell his story to men who potentially had Pharaoh's ear.

It wasn't long before Joseph had his chance with them...they both had perplexing dreams, which Joseph interpreted.  The cupbearer had a favorable interpretation, and Joseph slipped up just a the only recorded account of him complaining of his circumstances -- For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me in this pit. (Gen. 40:15)

I've often wondered if that bit of self pity is what cost Joseph two more years in the prison, as the cupbearer promptly forgot the whole incident once he was restored to his position.  Not as a punishment...but because that was an indication that his heart had not yet come completely around to where it needed to be.  Joseph had to come to the position that it was God who was moving in his life...not unfair circumstances...and as long as he felt he was being treated unfairly he could not move in faith.

Which would mean that when God saw Joseph was ready,  He started the timetable to pull his people out of Canaan and put them in isolation in Egypt, where they would grow from a tribe to a nation.

God sent Pharaoh a most perplexing dream.  And the cupbearer suddenly remembered who had given him and the baker accurate interpretations of  their respective perplexing dreams.

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit.  And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh.  (Gen 41:14)

Talk about a transformation.  An hour or two -- maybe-- and he went from another-day-just-like-the-others-in-prison to an audience with Pharaoh himself. 

But wait -- there's more.  At the end of that audience,

Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are.  You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command.  Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you...See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt."  Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck.  -- Gen. 41:39 - 42

Literally, in one day, Joseph had gone from forgotten prisoner to second in rank in the entire country.

It had been thirteen years since he'd left his brothers at Dothan.  Thirteen years of  service, misjudgement, unfair circumstances.  Thirteen years that seemed to be the very opposite of everything he had expected from life. But Joseph did not fight the process; he learned. He served where he was.  And it didn't matter where he was once God's timetable started...God was able to pull him out and put him exactly where he needed to be exactly when he needed to be there.

All that Joseph had to deal with people, how to be Egyptian, how to manage property...were skills that he needed now to mobilize the country for the coming famine.  Just like he'd done in Potiphar's house...just like he'd done in the king's prison...Joseph went to work.

How do I need to let my perspective shift from my viewpoint?  What differences will that make in my approach to my circumstances?  What complaining to I need to get over so that I am ready to go on to the next thing God has?  What are my circumstances teaching me that I need to be ready to apply to new scenarios and situations?

Friday, October 2, 2015

All Things New: Judah, the Guilty Road, Part 2

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Now comes the bit in Judah's story that is not often discussed or taught.

It's a rather awkward chain of events to discuss in a church setting,  to be sure. But  it brings Judah to his first place of recognizing and confessing an error; perhaps this is the preparation for what comes later?

The story is recorded in Genesis 38;  you can go and read the details.  Judah got a bride for his firstborn son, Er, named Tamar.  We do not know her nationality or ethnic background, but she was a remarkable young woman who was determined to have a place in the family lineage.

Judah, however, does not seem to have raised his boys to honor God.  At least his first two had some real issues.  Er's error is not recorded...just that he was 'wicked in the LORD's sight'.

I checked the Lexical Aids and found that the word translated 'wicked' is ra, meaning bad, of inferior quality, wicked, evil (thoughts, actions), mischievous, severe, malignant, noxious, injurious, hurtful,unpleasant (giving pain or causing unhappiness) hideous, fierce, wild; a wrong, a moral deficiency, ...a bad thing which someone does...  Turns out that is the same word used in Genesis 6:5...The LORD saw how great man's wickedness [ra] on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.  God had basically wiped out all of humanity for the ra they were pursuing; how could He allow the lineage of the coming king to be tainted with such?  Er died very young, having fathered no children.

Onan, to whom Tamar was given as wife to raise up a son to inherit Er's portion, was little better.  He refused...and you can read for yourself the details of his engender a child that would be counted as his dead brother's.  What he did was wrong in God's sight...and Onan died.

Judah  was suspicious that something Tamar did was causing his son's deaths, and feared that Shelah would also die.  He stated that Shelah was too young for marriage so Tamar was sent back to her father's house to live until  the boy grew up and could fulfill the duty of the brother to give a son to his widowed sister-in-law.

Time passed; Shelah grew up but Tamar was not given to him.

Then Judah's wife also died, and he apparently spent some time mourning her.  But when it was time to shear the sheep, he left his mourning and headed out to oversee the shearing with his buddy Hirah.

Somehow, Tamar got word that Judah was headed to Timnah to the sheep-shearing, and she decided to take her future into her own hands.  She put away her widow's clothing and disguised herself and sat by the road where Judah would pass by.

In perhaps what is one of the most pathetic accounts of one of God's people, the newly widowed Judah spotted the young lady by the road and, assuming she was a prostitute (probably with reason, owing to her dress and location) immediately went over to avail himself of her services.  She bargained with him to receive his staff and seal  as a pledge for the young goat that would be her pay, and then fulfilled her side of the deal.

Immediately afterward, Tamar took the staff and seal and left, returning to her widow's attire in her father's house.  When Judah's buddy Hirah returned to the place to trade the goat for the items left as pledge, she was gone and no one around knew anything about her, stating that there was no such person in the area.

Judah decided to write off his staff and seal, trying to keep his one-night-stand from becoming discussed by local gossips.  And, as he heard no more from anyone, he no doubt thought it was not significant.

But, three months later someone came to him with news.  His widowed daughter-in-law was pregnant.  She had not maintained her purity in her widowhood;  now she was an affront to his family.  The rumor was that she had engaged in prostitution.  Prostitution!  Judah was furious.  But...and he may even have thought he had reason to have her killed.  It didn't matter if she was guilty of any wrongdoing with his two older sons; he was no longer obligated to risk his third son.  She was pregnant and obviously guilty...and she deserved to die. He had her brought from her father's house to his tents, telling his servants to burn her.

Do you suppose what happened next looked anything like this...

As they were building the pyre on which to burn her, one of Tamar's father's servants came to Judah, with a bundle and a message.  'Your daughter-in-law Tamar sends word to you identifying the father of her child.  She says it is the man to whom these items you know whose they are?'  He handed Judah the long, linen-wrapped bundle.  Judah tore the wrappings off, looking for the other guilty party...and saw his own staff and seal.  Suddenly, he knew what she had done.  The child was his.  Tamar had merely been trying to fulfill her duty to raise up a son to inherit his portion. Feeling nauseous, he picked up his staff and seal and went out to the almost completed judgement pyre.

"Stop!"  He bellowed. Stunned, his servants halted in their tracks and looked at him. He turned to the two servants who were holding her closely, where she could see the fire prepared. Tamar simply looked at him, knowing that her life was in his hands.  "Don't hurt her." She drew a deep, shuddering breath and closed her eyes, sagging against her captors.

Judah fumbled for words. "She is more righteous than I....I would not give her what she has taken as her right."  He took a breath and looked around him.  Most of his household was there...good, he would only have to say this once. "She should have been given to Shelah as wife, so that she could have a son and an inheritance.  I withheld that, so she has risked everything to make sure that the son will be born in spite of my actions."  He paused, making sure they all heard.  This would have to be  public, so the child's legitimacy would not be questioned.  He held up his staff and seal. "The father of her child is the man to whom these items belong.  I acknowledge in front of you all that these items are mine and that the child is my child."  A surprised murmur ran through all assembled, and he walked over to Tamar, who had recovered from her momentary swoon and stood with her head bowed, tears dripping slowly into the dust at her feet.

Judah was overwhelmed with her simple courage. He put one hand on her shoulder and, with the other, raised her chin so that she was looking into his face. 'Daughter, ' he said, his voice cracking, 'You have done what is right.  I promise you that your child shall be reckoned as firstborn, and inherit Er's portion.  You may have your own tent in my household, and no one will harm you.'  He nodded at the female servants nearby, and they came and escorted her, one on either side, to the women's tent  until her place could be prepared.

He watched as they threaded their way through the compound and had a sudden, surprising thought. 'It's a shame none of my sons were worthy of her.'  Well,  he could, perhaps, do better with her son.

Maybe it was time to return to his father and his brothers and face his mistakes there, too.  Perhaps the youngest of his sons could still grow up to be a person of courage and honor.  Like his mother.

Judah's journey to chagrined repentance is also Tamar's journey to historical significance.  We tend to think that what happens to us is all about us...forgetting that our lives also impact others.  The value Tamar placed on the inheritance may have reminded Judah of his inheritance, that he seems to have left behind. This story is not placed in a chronological flow with the rest of the narrative, but it is apparent that Judah had rejoined his brothers and father by the time the famine in the land reached the point that they felt it necessary to go to Egypt, where there was grain stored and available. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

SSMT Verse 18 - 2 Cor. 4:17-18

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

It always amazes me that the Apostle Paul,  who would list out his sufferings later in this very book this way: 

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one [note:  this was a prescribed punishment, so dictated because 40 lashes was deemed a fatal beating].  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea  [note: this was written BEFORE Paul was sent to Rome and was shipwrecked off the coast of Malta]. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in  danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. --  2 Cor 10:24 - 27.

would have a perspective on the hardships of life that challenges me today.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  -- 2 Cor 4:17-18, NIV84

If that was what Paul considered 'light and momentary troubles', then I am embarrassed by my petty whining and complaining.

And I need to remember that a little more often.

Beth has a great devo today on frustration...particularly regarding getting frustrated w/trying to commit scripture to memory; it's like she's been eavesdropping on my mental conversations with myself.  If you've got time, go have a listen. :-)

Friday, September 25, 2015

All Things New: Judah, the Guilty Road, Part 1

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

There are so many overlapping stories in the last half of the book of Genesis...

Only two brothers are mentioned by name in the narrative of  Joseph's abduction in Genesis 37:17-35...and they are Reuben and Judah.  Most of the statements and decisions were attributed to 'his brothers', but we know at least two of them were not in agreement with the rest.  They may have been in agreement with each other, but they did not have the chance to put their thoughts together and override the hotheaded ones.

Here's what we do know:  Joseph had already taken a 'bad report' back to his father about the way four of his half brothers...Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher, who were the sons of the maidservants...had handled the flocks.  So those four had a special grudge against Joseph, and now they saw his fancy coat headed their way to check up on them and report back again.

We do not know if the 'bad report' was that they were not properly caring for the flocks, or if it had to do with moral failures while they were in the field, or both, or something else entirely.   That 'bad report' may have been the reason all the brothers were together; it's possible that those four were no longer trusted to take the flocks without some sort of supervision.  Do you suppose one of those four was the first to call out, 'Here comes that dreamer!'  Or that one of the other three was the next to chime in with the idea to kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns?

It really didn't matter...the other brothers were offended with Joseph as well for being a know-it-all, braggart of an obnoxious kid who kept their father from seeing the value of any of his other sons. The mutter was taken up, and, even if it had been originally spoken in bitter jesting, the general offense of them all turned the talk to a serious contemplation.  Could they do it?  Could they get away with it?

Reuben was not in earshot when it began; he may have been taking care of an urgent matter because, once he got his brothers to agree to just put Joseph in the cistern, he seems to have disappeared for a time, leaving them to eat supper while Joseph hollered from the cistern.  He patently was not there when the Ishmaelites and Midianites came by with their trading caravan on the way to Egypt.  But Judah came up with an idea.  He hadn't picked upon Reuben's intention to rescue the boy...or maybe he had.  My heart wants Judah to be acting out of concern for Joseph's life...if not at that moment, then in the future...and jumping at an opportunity to get him away from the murderous elements of the family.  But it is possible that he had an eye for a quick buck and was as eager to get the nuisance out of his life as any of the rest.

What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?  Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.

At least Judah used the phrase 'our brother'... so much harder agree to bloodshed than when he was just 'that dreamer'.  And, when he put it that way, his brothers agreed.

So they hauled him out of the cistern, someone did some negotiating and twenty shekels of silver was traded for the boy, and they saw him hauled away...ignoring, I'm sure, his entreaties to them to not take him away from his father.

Reuben returned to the cistern a bit later, expecting to find Joseph. Joseph, of course, was gone, and Reuben tore his clothes in grief, perhaps concluding that they had killed him anyway.   The boy isn't there!  Where can I turn now?  We assume the other brothers told him what had happened and gave him his two-shekel share of the price before they came up with the plan to ruin the coat and present it as evidence that Joseph died in the wilderness.  I wonder if he and Judah had words over his foiled attempt to save Joseph, and Judah's decision to send him away.  But no angry words or what-if scenarios prevailed; they could not leave the sheep and go after the caravan to buy their brother back, and perhaps Judah convinced Reuben that Joseph really was safer far away from his adversaries. He may have put forth the possibility that Joseph, preserved alive, could return some day, after everyone had gotten over being angry, and they could all be reunited like their father and his brother Esau.

No one went after the caravan.  The coat was torn and bloodied, and they returned home to tell their father a devastating lie.

Even so, I don't think they were prepared for the extreme grief Israel exhibited.  He refused to be comforted, insisting he would mourn for Joseph until the day he died.   Reuben would've taken it hard...if things had gone his way, there would have been no grief.  Were there whispered conversations when no one was around...'If only...'  'If you...' ?  Judah could bear it no more.  The grief of his father, the oppressive blame shifting that was going around his brothers...he had to get away.

At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hireh.  There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua.  (Gen. 38: 1- 2a)

Judah left his family,  met and married a girl from the pagan culture around him and had three sons: Er, Onan and, sometime later, Shelah.  To all appearances,in his attempt to cut himself off from the irritation and aggravation of his family and his own guilty conscience,he was falling away from the worship of the God of his fathers.

Running away from guilt never works; somehow, the guilt always comes along and taints everything.  Is there anything in my life that has caused me to try to run away?  What errors has that introduced into my life?  Am I ready to take it all to God in repentance and confession --release it all to Him and receive forgiveness?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ten Years Down the Road...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Changing up the family room/sun porch was one of our prime projects when we bought the house.

Unfortunately, before we could do that we had to 1) re-roof the house and replace the skylights. 2)Repair water damage to the porch...which ended up being a complete rebuild.  3) save up enough to tackle the wall/door.

But, with My Sweet Babboo's severance package from the layoff at the start of the year, we were able to pay off the debt from the rebuild and proceed with Phase 2 of the sun room renovation.

So, 3 1/2 years after our contractor packed up and moved on with the porch stable and dry, we are seeing the work pick up again.

 This is what that wall looked like Saturday.

From the family room side...

...from the sunroom side.
 Yesterday...the wall came down, the support beam was installed and the new door was framed in.
 After we saw how amazing the space felt opened up, it was a real temptation to just get two more doors to flank the center one, but we decided to be practical and stick with the original plan. The new wall was framed out today.
And...for my sewing buddy friends who came over from Sew Random, here's a unique use for a Really Big  The door from the dinette into the construction zone.

That barrier is kitty proof; she tried to come through it last night but couldn't.  Which is a good thing; we don't need her crawling around on the fiberglass insulation..

It's so incredible to see this happening after we've dreamed about it for so long.  It's going to be almost like having a brand new house...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

'With Brave Wings, She Flies'

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The first night of the women's conference, I was given a little appreciation gift. It was a bracelet, with a charm that reads, 'With Brave Wings, She Flies'.

That was a God-kiss on several levels...but here's one that made a difference to me today:

Last summer, when I was going to the sanctuary every day and writing in my journal, just trying to keep myself together for the girls and wondering what on earth I would do when that assignment was over, I heard something in my spirit and wrote it down:

You will be out of your comfort zone, but you will be flying in Mine.

When I left the DIVE school last fall, I knew there was a songwriter's conference coming this fall.  I made myself a deal:  If I could write one song a month in 2015, I would go to the conference.

Not finished out songs, mind you.  Just completed thoughts.  Seeds of songs, more like.

I wasn't sure I could do it.

But I have a notebook with a song for each month of the year in it.  One or two actually have some potential, I think.'s a chunk of money.   The Rocket City has the dubious distinction of being the MOST EXPENSIVE airport to fly in and out of in the country.  And we're about to embark on Part Two of the porch upgrade...the one that we started when we found rotting structures in it back in 2011, and has been sitting half finished waiting on funding since it was stabilized in 2012.

I waffled when I was on the websites to register and then to book my flights.  I didn't have frequent flyer miles available this time.

I got cold feet.

But I had met my requirement.  My hubby gave his blessing.  Why was I hesitant?

It's outside of my comfort zone.

I don't think it's a coincidence that I just got the message, 'With brave wings, she flies.'

I gulped and booked the conference and the flights.

Here we go.

Friday, September 18, 2015

All Things New: Israel, Road of Grief

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Years passed.  Israel suffered some setbacks and losses before he finally returned to his father, Isaac, who was still living.  He'd left Shechem, abandoning the property he had purchased there, after his sons had slaughtered the men and looted the city in retaliation for the ravishment of their sister;  he'd had another son but lost his beloved Rachel as they journeyed.  Israel's oldest son, Reuben, had disgraced himself with his mother's maid, the mother of his half brothers.    But Israel did see Isaac again, although the details of that reunion are not recorded.  Isaac died, and Esau came down and they buried him together.  Esau returned to the land he called home, and Israel and his family stayed on the inheritance of Abraham and Isaac.  His sons tended his flocks and herds.  Joseph had already shown signs of inheriting his father's canny eye for management and, being the older son of Rachel, was clearly his father's favorite.

But in his late teens,  Joseph had too much mouth and not enough wisdom.  His older brothers, none too developed in the 'wisdom' area themselves, took offense at the favor Joseph had and the dreams he shared and, oh, he was something of a tattletale regarding his brothers attention to the flocks when they were in the field.  That didn't sit well, either.

The day came when Israel sent Joseph off to check up on his brothers and report back.  Joseph packed up some supplies, shrugged himself into his fancy coat, and headed off down the road.

He was gone rather longer than Israel expected, but he probably was not particularly concerned; after all, he had to find the flocks first and they moved around according to the pasturing and how many other flocks were in the area and whether or not there was water.

But when he looked up and saw his older sons returning and he'd still had no word from Joseph, his spirit froze.  It was a very subdued group of young men who offered a torn and bloody cloak to him...'Um, we found this out in the wilderness.  Look at it it the one you gave to, um, your son?'

Of course it was. What a horrible death...torn and devoured by wild beasts. Israel tore his clothes, put on mourning and refused to be comforted.  In his grief, he never noticed the awkward glances his other sons were giving one another.  What was he send the boy off without even a companion to help him if he fell into trouble?  Now Joseph was gone and there was nothing he could do to bring him back.  He declared he would spend the rest of his life grieving for Joseph.

In mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.  (Gen. 37:35)

Of course, we know the rest of the story...that Joseph was not dead, had not been torn by animals, but was in fact at that very moment headed toward an Egyptian slave market.  But it would be 20ish years before Israel learned the truth.

And the truth was that God was already at work to provide for Israel and his family at a point so far down the road they couldn't begin to see it.

This is one of the most difficult things to truly believe...that God uses ALL things for the ultimate good of His people.  Even hard, tragic circumstances have their place in His purpose...not that He causes them, but that He has the ability to use them, to turn them around and make even the attacks and plans of the enemy fit into his timetable and his outcome.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SSMT Verse 17 - 2 Chronicles 16:9a

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I'm going to be one verse behind now, but that's ok.

Once again, I've pulled a verse from our lunch group to commit to memory.  One I should've memorized by now, to be sure, but it struck me as particularly pertinent to this season.

Because the first part of the verse, which is what was listed on our study sheet, is a promise:

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.  (2 Chron. 16:9a, NIV 84)

And, I'll confess, I didn't go back and get the context of it as I considered it; that really  had enough right there to give me pause.

He's looking for fully committed hearts.

Where in that is there room for 'I'm a Christian, but...'?

We have forgotten the origin of the term 'Christian'.

We have forgotten that it was originally a derogatory, marginalizing term meaning 'Little Christs', only not in a good sense. The New Testament authors never referred to themselves as Christians, although they did acknowledge that they would suffer in being called Christians.  The closest equivalent phrase we would  have today is 'Jesus Freak'.

How much sense would it make to stand up and say 'Yeah, I'm a Jesus Freak, but...' ?   To claim radical commitment to following Jesus, and yet point out that one really isn't any different than the popular culture?

God is looking for people whose hearts are fully committed to HIM.  When I read the whole verse in context, all that feel good about God looking for people to strengthen takes on a whole 'nuther concept, because it actually is part of a prophetic scolding.  Asa, the king of Judah, had hired Ben-hadad, the king of Aram, and his army to come and fight with him against Baasha, king of Israel, who was blockading Judah.   Asa and Ben-hadad had actually conquered several cities and ended the siege.

But Asa had not relied on God, and the prophet took him to task, reminding him of the time that he had been under attack by a large army and had been delivered by the hand of God and pointing out that now he would not be able to defeat Ben-hadad.   The rest of verse 9 shows the consequences:

You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.

Asa aligned himself with an unbelieving nation in order to strengthen himself, when God was waiting to give him the strength necessary to not only conquer those who were against him but also to conquer the very pagans to whom he had paid tribute.

God says it's a foolish thing to align oneself with those who do not follow Him.  For those who are fully committed to 'ifs', 'ands' OR 'buts'....there is strength.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Selfie anyone?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I'm trying to learn about successful blogging from the blogs I read.

Only, I don't really read successful blogs.  I read blogs that stir a sense of connection between me and the author.

I don't read blogs for edification, I guess.  I read blogs because  I  don't get to go have coffee with friends often.

And that statement just hit my mom's generation, friends went to each other's homes to have coffee.  Now they go to Starbucks.  But that's a digression.

Anyway, I often find myself skimming by posts that describe events people attended. And if that's the case...there's not much point into going into details about this year's women's conference.  At least, not from the standpoint of providing information for my readers.  So I'll skip the details of an absolutely amazing conference and cut to my take home message.

There was a big difference in my conference experience last year and my conference experience this year.  If I had any doubts about the growth and healing that has taken place in the past twelve months, all I have to do is look at the mess I was in virtually every session last year.   Last year I was dealing with a wound that was still raw.  This year,  I found myself contemplating other areas in which I need to grow and mature and open up.

Several areas were addressed, but the one that resonated in me as MY take away had to do with isolation.

And I know it is my take away because it surfaced last weekend; it was already on my heart before the Friday night speakers spoke to it and prayed over it.

Last week, we did a video shoot in the mountains in Tennessee for background video for our conference closer.  There were about 80 of us that rode vans and carpooled and such up to a wedding venue on a really back road.  We all got various stripey designs on our faces; I took a rather  bad selfie of myself with the paint on:
This is supposed to be a 'Not on my watch!' face;  I cropped the photo really tight because otherwise it looked kinda lame.  In the background were other ladies taking selfies as well.'s the deal...I'm in my selfie by myself.  All around me, ladies were taking photos of themselves with their friends, sharing the experience.

I'm in my selfie by myself.

Part of this is a technical difficulty;  I don't have a smartphone so I have to use my tablet, which is two-handed awkward and, at best, takes rather grainy photos.  So it would have taken some effort for me to grab someone and take a photo and I just couldn't muster the oomph to mess with the tablet enough to get a picture. And I was reluctant to try to explain my camera to someone so I could get a photo of me with anybody.

But part of it is also that I am not selfie-close-buddies with anyone.  I rode in the van, and I made new friends whom I enjoyed talking with very much, but they were part of the groups of other folks.

I actually looked around at the other ladies laughing and taking photos, and found myself wishing I was 'selfie-close' friends with someone.

Now, I knew nearly all of them at some level.  And we are smile-and-greet-and-hug compatible.  But I have somehow not gotten past that.

I have written about this before, my seeming inability to let my walls down enough to be close and vulnerable and mutually supportive with others.  I did not have this issue when I was younger; it's definitely a product of aging.  And it rests entirely on me.

Somehow, I have gotten so busy and so consumed with all that is to be done on so many areas that I've totally forgotten how to be a friend.

One of the speakers reminded us that we had to be intentional to leave space in our lives for other people.


For me, this was my assignment as I left.

Make space.

Be intentional.

Embrace friendship again.

A friend of mine got this on her camera; it's not a produced video so the technical quality detracts considerably from the experience of being in the sanctuary, but you can get an idea of the closer and how the video footage worked with the live presentation to send everyone out:

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Cookie Notice

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I happened to check around on one of the other tabs connected to the blog this morning and I read the following notice:

European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies.

You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you.

So I did a little more checking and found that a really ugly notice pops up at the top of the screen if you happen to be visiting from the European Union:

 This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalize ads and to analyze traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies.

 This is a generic notice provided by Google to comply with the EU's requirements.  So I thought I'd do a little 'splainin' :

The only use of cookies THIS blog makes is to see who's visiting. I use a hit counter that generates a list letting me know who visits (IP/ IP address; city/state/country; the link they came on, the page they landed on, the page they left on and how long they were here; all of which can be blocked if you're savvy enough) .

I check the list periodically just to see if anyone is reading. It shows me that only a few folks have found their way over, and that over half the visits are my mother.  Seriously.  A busy day is one in which I have more than six visits.   And of those six who are not my mother, most land on the post, glance at it, and leave.  Guess it wasn't what they were looking for.  Sometimes I think I should ditch  the stat counter and then I can maintain the illusion that there are folks who are reading. ;-)

That's all the use I will ever make of cookie information. I am very honored that anyone would click through from where ever you found a link...face book, a search engine, whatever...and allow me to share a bit.  If you'd like to leave a comment letting me know you stopped by, that'd be great, but really, I'm just glad you're here.

Now I must go eat a cookie, because I have suddenly developed a craving...

Friday, September 4, 2015

All Things New: Israel, the 'Face the Music' Road, part 2

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

When we last left our hero, he was standing on the shore of the Jabbok, having just sent the last of his family and possessions across.

And then what has always seemed to me to be one of the strangest events recorded in the Bible takes place:

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak -- (Gen. 32:24; NIV 84 on hand today).

The narrative in Genesis is extremely abbreviated in places, just conveying the most pertinent information. This is one of those places.  There was more to the story...much more, I'm sure...that Jacob never told a soul.  Where the man encountered him...what passed between them...why they wrestled.  I kinda think it was something Jacob didn't understand himself...something he kept private for the sheer awe of it.  But, as that encounter left him limping for the rest of his life, he had to tell something of the story.

So all we have recorded is that a man suddenly was there in the wilderness and they wrestled until daybreak.

Perhaps Jacob had seen him approaching as he sent the last of his goods over the river and remained behind for the purpose of engaging the man to keep him away from his family and belongings.  Perhaps he had stayed behind to spend the night in prayer again and suddenly found himself confronted with someone who could not give a credible account of himself...and Jacob was alarmed and wrestled with him rather than run the risk of having him go tell Esau that Jacob was alone on the far side of the Jabbok.

We just do not know what the context of the wrestling match was...but we do know that Jacob was determined to win.  Even after having his hip put out of socket, Jacob would not let go of the man and let him go free unless he blessed him...which may have been synonymous with promising to do him no harm.  They took those things seriously; if the man pronounced him blessed, Jacob may have reasoned that he would not be likely to act contrary to that blessing and so bring judgement on himself.

Jacob received more than a blessing; he received a new identity.  No longer would he be known as 'heel grasper' ...he would now be known as 'He struggles with God'.  Jacob didn't really start using that name until it was confirmed to him later, but after he let the man go he stumbled across the brook, limping, exhausted, but strangely exhilarated...I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.

If he had not only survived a meeting with God but had been blessed as well -- what could he possibly fear from his brother's hand?  It was a massive paradigm shift, and Jacob/Israel was still processing it once he got across the water and saw Esau and his army approaching.

There was no time now to decide what to do next; he just had to go with his first instincts.  Quickly he put the children with their mothers and lined them up...servant and their children first, then Leah and her children and lastly Rebekah and Joseph.  Then Jacob/Israel turned his face towards his brother and began limping towards him, bowing to the ground a total of seven times as he approached to show his brother honor.

This was it.  The watershed moment.  Esau would either kill him and his family...or not.

I think he was shocked when Esau ran up to him, threw his arms around him and began to weep.  His fear and dread washed away with relief as he realized his brother did not hold the old injury against him and he wept with relief and joy.   The 400 men blinked at the array of women and children they'd come against.  Esau may have very well assumed that Jacob was coming back with arms to assert his rights to the inheritance and was himself surprised that there was no army, no showdown...only a lot of livestock and ordinary folks.

When the initial flood of relieved tears had subsided, Esau looked up and asked who the women and children were.  Jacob/Israel introduced them in turn, and they all came and bowed to their kinsman.

Then Esau asked him about the droves of animals he had met, and tried to convince Jacob that he really didn't need them... I have already have plenty, my brother.  Keep what you have for yourself. (Gen 33: 9).

Jacob/Israel insisted, however, If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me.  For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.  Please accept the present that was brought to you; for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.' (vs. 10 - 11).

Eventually, Esau relented and accepted the gifts his brother had sent ahead.  He wanted Jacob/Israel to come to Edom with him, but Jacob declined, reasonably stating that he had herds and flocks and women with children and would not be able to travel fast.  Esau wanted to leave some of his men with them, but Jacob also declined that, saying he just wanted Esau's good will.

They agreed that Jacob would eventually come to Seir, and Esau and his posse turned around and headed home.

Now, Jacob/Israel had faced and gone through the second confrontation that he had feared on his journey home, and he was finally his own man with no threat hanging over him.  He took his herds and family to Shechem, and bought a plot of ground within sight of the city.

There he built an altar to the Lord and called it El Elohe Israel...'God, the God of Israel'.

It was a new day.

What is the thing I fear most?  How can I confront that and move through it to the other side?  How will I embrace the changes God will bring about in that process?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SSMT verse 16: Ps. 34:3

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Yeah, I know, I know.  This is supposed to be verse 17 this week.

But we were on vacation on Aug. 15th; the instructions allow for two missed weeks.  So I decided to cut myself some slack and not worry about making the post on 8/15.

So here's what's actually my 16th verse:

Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.  - Ps. 34:3

We've started a lunchtime Bible Study at work; we are to choose a passage and journal about it.  My passage this week was the first 3 verses in Ps. 34, but this verse kinda jumped out at me.

I've been doing a bit of songwriting this year; I gave myself a  challenge to write a song a month.  So far I've managed to come up with something...certainly not polished or even really developed beyond just the roughest basic  plan..but something...for every month.

This verse struck me as the motivation behind the writing.  It's to invite folks to come and join me in glorifying God.

Whether the songs ever make it out of my notebook onto anything else, it's still an invitation to come and glorify God.

Who knows?  Maybe I'll craft some  lyrics around Ps. 34... ;-)

Friday, August 28, 2015

All Things New: Jacob: the 'Face the Music' Road - Part 1

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

With Laban's reluctant blessing, or at least his promise not to do anything that would cause him or his family problems, Jacob was now able to quit looking over his shoulder for pursuit.

But now he had to face the very threat from which he fled twentyish years earlier.


If he were to return to his inheritance, to the land of his fathers,  he was going to have to make peace with Esau.

But he had God's instruction, so he put his camp in motion again and continued moving south.

In Geneses 32 today; my ESV is the translation that's handy....

Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.  And when Jacob saw them, he said, "This is God's camp!  So he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

(Gen 32: 1- 3, ESV)

Jacob has an angelic escort waiting for him as he approached  home.

Do you suppose they were there to encourage him?  Protect him? Warn him?

Maybe all of the above?

Jacob saw them and, to all appearances, camped there for a while.  The atlas I consulted said the exact location of Mahanaim is unknown, but it was definitely to the east of the Jordan and the north of the Jabbok. 

Before he crossed any rivers, he wanted to get an idea of what kind of welcome he would get.  I don't know how he knew to send his messengers to Seir in order to find his brother; maybe word of Esau's move had come back to the family while he was in Paddan-aram...maybe he just did some asking around in the area after he stopped.  But he parked his flocks, herds, servants and family there until he heard back from his messengers.

And the word they brought him was not exactly what he was hoping to hear.

And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, "We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him." (v. 6)

Apparently Esau had already heard of Jacob's journey home and was headed his way.  Four hundred men...that was a small army.

Jacob had flocks and herds and women and children...there was no way to run from his brother, even if he had had anywhere to go.

Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed (v.7)

'Greatly afraid and distressed' is probably a gross understatement.  Jacob had God's promises, he was acting under God's instruction...and he was terrified.  That's not weak faith, that's just being a real human being.  There was an army coming to possibly annihilate him and his family.   He'd seen the angels earlier..where were they now?  He had run from Esau once; he could not run a second time.

So he began to plan.  The first thing he did was to split his entire entourage into two parts and sent them to camp well away from each other.  If Esau attacked him in the night, Jacob reasoned, he would not expect two camps and might only wipe out one...and at least some of his people and possessions would survive.

Then he stayed at Mahanaim and prayed.  There's no time frame on it, but I kinda think he prayed all night.  Part of what he prayed is included in the narrative...or maybe he just repeated the same prayer over and over, in various iterations.

O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good.'  I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I  crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.  Please deliver me from the hand of my brother Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children.  But you said, 'I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.  (vs. 9  - 12)

Jacob reminded God...and, incidentally, himself...that he was here in this threatening place because he had obeyed God.  He told God what he was afraid of,  asked for deliverance from that threat, and reiterated God's promise.

It was a long night, but when the day dawned Esau had not attacked.

So Jacob came up with another strategy.  Now, I don't think the fact that he did this indicates he did not trust God to take care of may have been that God inspired him to deal generously with his brother.  Esau had been angry with Jacob for what he took...Jacob decided to counter that by giving.

And he seriously gave.  I don't know what percentage of his flocks and herds that all worked out to be, but it was a substantial number of animals that he selected:  goats and sheep and camels and cattle and donkeys.  And he split them up into droves, with distance between, so that Esau would encounter massive gift after massive gift as his army drew closer to his brother.

Then, Jacob took his wives and their maids and all his children and all the rest of his goods and sent them across the Jabbok.  Whether by design or by accident, Jacob was the last one left to cross the stream.

Tomorrow would be the day.

How do I encourage myself in the face of an unknown or fearful situation?  Where have I recorded God's promises and instructions and past blessings, so that I can remind myself of them in a critical moment?  How ready am I to believe that when I ask God for wisdom in a particular situation, He will give it to me?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Breaking Free

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Our annual Women's Conference starts next week and we have been having weekly prayer meetings leading up to it.

I missed the first few...transportation issues and then we were out of town...but I was able to go to last night's meeting and was sorry I'd missed the earlier ones.

The conference this year is titled 'She is Brave' and is really about identity.

One lady related a illustration she'd envisioned the week before...of women coming in and old, ragged, disguising clothing falling off into a pile around their feet.

I was reminded of another kind of transformation...the cicada coming out of its shell.

I journaled about it last year as it was the picture I had in my head of what I had to do. That there was another plane for me to move to, but I couldn't get there in the form I was in.. I felt I had to clamber out of the old shell and emerge as something different, something I couldn't even imagine.  It was a challenge I didn't know I could face.

And I'd kinda forgotten that, until last night.

And then I was just a little amazed, because My Sweet Baboo and I had come across a molting cicada on a walk just a few weeks ago.  I happened to have my camera with  me; I posted the photo on Facebook.

Molting takes a lot of energy.'s the deal...those insects can't eat at all during the process.  I remember seeing a nature show dealing with spiders that discussed how much energy it took to molt.    They had a camera on a tarantula as she began the molting process but...she didn't have enough calories in her body and she literally starved to death before she completed it.  She died trapped in the husk of her own body.

It gave me the creeps all around...firstly, spiders just weird me out by themselves, and then the idea of being caught like that made me claustrophobic.

But...there comes a time when the constriction of self...what about me?  what will they think of me? what if they think I'm like THAT?  How do I keep their good opinion?...literally begins to choke, strangle and oppress.

When it's time to shed that skin, it is TIME.  It inhibits growth,  and it's gotta go.  There's no movin' on until it's left behind.

Sure, it's risky.  It's hard.  It takes all available focus and energy.  But if it's delayed too long, it's even harder and more draining.  

It's time to break free and be who God created us to be.

...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another...  2 Cor. 3:17b - 18a, ESV

Monday, August 24, 2015

In need of sharpening

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

As iron sharpeneth iron, so one man sharpeneth the countenance of another - Prov. 27:17 KJV

We began a weekly lunchtime Bible discussion amongst the office staff and a few others at lunch today.  Everyone (well, most everyone...I was on vacation and missed the submission) turned in verses to discuss; we'll be doing journaling on those verses on our own and then discussing them in the group on a weekly basis.

But, today being the first day, we didn't have verses ready to discuss, so our designated organizer, Miss Betty, put the above verse on the marker board of our conference/lunch room for us to discuss.

We had some really good discussion, and I had a bit of an epiphany about being sharpened that I shared.  Of course,  I knew it was blog material too... ;-)

I found myself pondering  the concept of sharpening and thinking of implements such as spades and shovels and such that my dad used for various tasks on the farm.  And I realized that there are two reasons why those tools would need to be sharpened.

The first reason was that it had been used and used and had become blunted with use.  Then it was in need of re-edging, refinishing, renewing.

The other reason was that it had been unused for so long that the edge had gotten rusty, dull and oxidized.  It had to be re-edged and restored before it would be usable.

I remember my dad cleaning his spade and shovel after use, brushing the edges down and then...he would stick them in a 5 gallon  bucket of used motor oil to prevent rust from forming.  I even remembered the thick  smell of the old oil.

It didn't matter how long the tools were unused if they were left in the oil...they wouldn't rust.  They would remain ready for use.

And this was my long as we're submerged in the oil of the Spirit, we'll stay sharp and ready for use.   Then the only sharpening we'll need is that which comes after hard, brushing and re-edging.

Made me wonder how well I'm staying submerged in the oil myself...

Friday, August 21, 2015

Press Pause

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I know, today is supposed to be 'Bible Studyish' day...and by rights I should be composing the next little look at someone going through a transition.

But, ya know, sometimes ya need a break.

I think that really is beginning to get through my thick skull.

We took a zippy 6 day trip up to Indiana to spend a day or two with our parents, and celebrate our 35th anniversary in the process.

My hubby surprised me by making reservations in the Inn at Turkey Run State Park.  The 'Anniversary Package' included  a night in the inn, dinner and breakfast, and a late checkout.  Oh, and a bottle of champagne (which we switched for sparkling grape juice.  Honest.) and commemorative stemmed glasses with chocolate.

It was quite a treat...and we hiked like crazy Monday morning to squeeze in our favorite bits of the park...the big trees on trail 9 and Rocky Hollow on trail 3. Climbed boulders, ladders, many stairs...yeah, we were feeling it the next day.

We tend to forget how much we enjoy each other's company...when we're so busy that we're basically just saying 'good morning' and 'good night' to each other.

We've taken the kids to Turkey Run a few times...this was the first time we got to go by ourselves.   And the first time we were there for sunset and sunrise.  We actually hiked the half mile down to the suspension bridge before breakfast to take sunrise photos.

Now, of course, I'm playing catch up and I have some pretty major stuff to cover this weekend at work.

Coming back, I told My Sweet Baboo that we need to begin now to schedule our next 'just us' getaway.  

And it needs to happen before Christmas... ;-)

Look for the post on Israel: The 'Face the Music' Road next week...

Friday, August 14, 2015

All Things New: Jacob, the 'Run for Your Life Road', part 2

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Years passed.  Jacob worked off his second seven-year obligation as bride-price for Rachel, then brokered a deal with Laban to work in exchange for flocks and herds.

Two schemers were pitted against each other.  Jacob attempted to use selective breeding to increase his herds, while Laban kept changing the specifics of precisely which animals and their offspring would belong to Jacob.  Jacob's methods don't seem to be terribly scientific; it appears he was operating under the assumption that whatever the animals were looking at as they mated influenced the appearance of the offspring.  Or maybe he thought the smell of the peeled branches would encourage the animals to mate.  Who knows what his plan was.  The plain truth was that God had promised to bless him and God did bless him, regardless of the shenanigans he attempted or the 'renegotiating' that Laban seemed to favor.  Whatever animals were designated as Jacob's...those were the ones that flourished.

Needless to say, this led to some stress in the extended family network.

Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, "Jacob has taken all that was our father's, and from what was our father's he has gained all this wealth."  And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before.   -- Gen 31: 1 -2.

So long as Jacob had served Laban alone, Laban had prospered.  But when Jacob began to accumulate his own flocks, his wealth grew at such a rate that the inlaws began to feel he had stolen from them.

Of course, he had not stolen from Laban any more than he had stolen the birthright from Esau all those years earlier, but the warm fuzzy family feeling was gone and replaced by something rather sinister and threatening.

It was threatening enough that Jacob was beginning to feel apprehensive.  So when he heard a word...and how he heard it is not explained...instructing him to return to his father's land, he didn't question or hesitate.

He did, however, scheme.

He called his wives and concubines and children all out to the  pasture where he was with the flock and rehearsed the whole situation with them...reminding them of how they'd all been cheated.  Rachel and Leah actually agreed on doubt they felt they had each been cheated by their father also.

Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, "Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father's house?  Are we not regarded by him as foreigners?  For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money.  All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and our children.  Now then, whatever God has said to you, do."  Gen 31:14 - 16.

So Jacob sent them right away...loaded wives, servants, children and all up on camels and sent them off towards Canaan.  He followed with his herdsmen, driving his flocks along as well.

However, it so happened that Rachel had somehow slipped into her father's house and stolen some small idols.  I've heard various explanations of this, but the most interesting is that apparently they were something of a signet...that is, the person who possessed them was reckoned as head of the household; the possessor of the inheritance.

They were nearly Jacob's undoing, however, even though he knew nothing of them.

Three days after they left, Laban got the word they had gone.  I don't know when he realized the idols were missing, or whether the missing idols really had anything to do with why he called all his kinsmen together and took off after Jacob. 

Ten days after Jacob headed south with his flocks and his family, Laban and his posse caught up to them.  The jig was up.

And who knows what Jacob's fate would have been had not Laban had a dream that he was convinced was God speaking to him, warning him not to do anything to Jacob.  Laban's story became
What have you done, that you have tricked me and driven away my daughters like captives of the sword?  Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre?  And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell?  Now you have done foolishly.  It is in my power to do you harm.  But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, 'Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.'  And now you have gone away because you longed for your father's house, but why did you steal my gods?

In my mind I hear a really deep breath following all of that...

Jacob, however, was not impressed by the story; I don't think he bought it. But the last bit made him angry.

Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force.

That pretty much shows what he thought of the likelihood of being 'sent away with mirth and songs'.

And being called a thief was insult to injury.  He thew open his whole entourage to be searched in full view of everyone.

Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live.  In the presence of our kinsmen point out what I have that is yours and take it.

So, with Jacob's permission, Laban began to dig through the tents.  He looked through Jacob's tent...nothing.  Bilhah's tent and Zilphah's tent...nothing.  Leah's tent...nothing.  They came to Rachel's tent, where she was sitting demurely on her camel's saddle.  I'm paraphrasing here, basically she said, 'Oh, please don't be offended that I can't get up to greet's 'that time' of the month' and I can't stand up.'

There was no 'feminine products' aisle at the local Wal-mart in those days.  They folded thick pads and sat on them.  And they spent the time in the women's tent, away from the men.  But, traveling, there was no 'women's tent', so Rachel would have to manage as best she could.  It was a huge taboo for men to have any contact with a woman on her period.  So they would not have searched anything that could possibly have been contaminated by her flow.  So consequently they did not check the saddle of her camel...where she had hidden the idols.

When the search of the camp turned up nothing, Jacob was justified in his indignation. 

What is my offense?  What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me?  For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods?  Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two.

These twenty years I have been with you.  Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks.  What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it myself.  From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night.

There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 

These twenty years I have been in your house.  I served you fourteen years for your daughters and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.  If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.  God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.

Laban had been called out and had nothing to show for his defense.  I kinda think his bravado withered away and he sullenly replied

The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks all all that you see is mine.  

But he also realized that he could not do anything to keep Jacob from taking what he had rightfully earned.  So he offered a compromise: they gathered a heap of stones and called on God to witness their  covenant not harm each other, and Jacob promised not to oppress Laban's daughters or marry other wives.  They called the pile 'Mizpah'.

Jacob made a sacrifice; they all ate together and in the morning Laban rose and actually kissed his daughters and grandchildren and blessed them, as he had lamented that he had not been able to do originally.

Jacob had to heave a huge sigh of relief to see Laban's back.  He wasn't out of the woods yet, though...he still had to face Esau.

What am I afraid of that God has already gone before me to protect me?  Why do I not believe He will protect what He has given into my responsibility? How can I deliberately make the choice to release those fears to Him?