Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Choosing deception

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

As I mentioned yesterday, the Gospels do not give us a day-by-day breakdown of when Jesus did what, taught what, etc. in the temple during that last week.  They all condense his teachings and debates into fairly continuous narrative, and with the mention that it was 2 days before the Passover, the focus changes.

Presumably Jesus was teaching in the temple courts while the little drama played out behind closed doors.

The chief priests and elders...the very folks whom Jesus had been thwarting in their attempts to discredit Him before the people...met in the High Priest's palace.

Matthew states, ...they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.  'But not during the Feast,' they said, 'or there may be a riot among the people.'  (26: 4-5)

Mark echoes with ...the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him.  'But not during the Feast,' they said, 'or the people may riot.' (14:1 -2)

Luke also declares, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.  (22:2)

It's interesting that, while John records the anointing of Jesus by Mary in Bethany in its chronological place, Matthew and Mark both do a little flashback right here, to 'when Jesus was in Bethany', and relate the story of Mary, her use of the nard to anoint Jesus, and the reaction of Judas Isacariot, although John is the only one who names names.  But the narrative continues in all three synoptics at this point...Judas goes to the chief priests and teachers and asks what they would give him to betray Jesus...to deliver Him to them away from the crowds.

They counted out to him thirty silver coins, not realizing that they were fulfilling yet another obscure prophecy (Zech. 11: 12 - 13).  And from that moment on he looked for a chance to turn Jesus over to them.

Judas is one of the most puzzling characters in all of the Bible.  Why would he do such a thing?  One who had been with Jesus, who had seen the miracles...had even been sent out with the power of the Holy Spirit to do miracles himself...who was apparently well liked and trusted by all the disciples...why would he do such a thing?

The Bible is very clear that he was operating under the influence of Satan himself, but Satan cannot occupy and call the shots unless there is an opening, a breach through which he can gain a foot hold and ultimately the ability to manipulate someone into doing his dirty work.

What was the weakness in Judas that Satan exploited?  What deception was he under that made him think this was a good thing to do?

I've heard lots of theories; here are three:

Theory 1:  Judas was a zealot, and was increasingly frustrated that Jesus did not blow the horns and call the fighting men and throw off Rome, and was trying to force his hand, thinking that if it came down to dying, Jesus would do what He came to do and blaze forth in victory over the oppressors.

Theory 2:  Judas was the keeper of the money bag; John records that he would steal from the bag and use the money according to his own wishes.  This had to be something they found out after the fact, when the bag was found and was short of what it should have had.   Judas honestly believed that the Jews would never be able to really capture Jesus..He had, after all, walked right through murderous crowds on more than one occasion...and his 'betrayal' was simply a ruse to get money to put back in the bag so it wouldn't be short, thinking that he was cheating the corrupt Jewish leaders.

Theory 3:  Judas had deep seated inferiority issues, and more than once found himself in a position he perceived as being slighted, ignored, misunderstood or shortchanged in some way; the bag had been entrusted to him by the others not because he was the most trustworthy but because they wanted to assure him that he was really part of the group...a key part of the group.  But the chip stayed on Judas's shoulder and, when he was publicly rebuked for speaking against Mary's use of the nard,  the deep anger began to boil up and the bitterness pushed him to try and show everyone that he was someone to be reckoned with.  The sudden flashback to that event in Matthew and Mark just before Judas goes to the priests is cited as evidence that it was a pivotal moment for him.

I have also heard the theory that Satan was hammering at all the disciples, looking for that opportunity, and that Jesus knew one would betray Him but, up until the time Satan actually entered Judas, Jesus didn't know for sure which one would crack...they all had the potential to betray Him, and He could see that potential.

All possibilities to some degree.  And they may all be wrong.  We just do not know what Judas believed himself to be doing. But whatever it was, he was convinced he needed to do it.

How have I allowed myself in the past to be convinced that something stupid, something selfish, something wrong was a good idea?  What were the lies I chose to believe in those cases?  What have I learned about the deceptive tactics of the Enemy, to prevent such a thing from happening in the future?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ask to Learn...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The day after the parade into Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples walked into Jerusalem from Bethany for what would be the last time.  Luke records that Each day, Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.  (21:37-38)

Jesus spent the few nights He had left on earth out on the hillside.  We know no more than that.  But...could it have been Gethsemane where He went each night?  Was He spending each of those nights praying?  Was He establishing a pattern, so that His movements could be anticipated? 

But that second morning, on the way in from Bethany, Jesus noticed a fig tree, fully leafed out, and He went to get some figs, as He was hungry.

However, despite the showy promise of fruit, the fig tree had none. Zip.  Nada.

In what was a seemingly uncharacteristic show of irritation, Jesus actually spoke a curse over the fig tree...'May you never bear fruit again'...and went on into town into the temple.

None of the gospels break down the dialogues and discourses that took place in the temple over the next few days into a daily account.     Basically, the folks who were opposing Him tried again and again to trap Him into some verbal mistake or obvious error, and time and time again Jesus turned the tables on them and made them look foolish.

At the end of the second day, they went only to the hillside and spent the night, then returned to the city in the morning. Mark records, 'In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.' (11:20)

It had shriveled completely in 24 hours.  Matthew writes, Immediately the fig tree withered. (21:19)

Jesus uses that as a teaching moment for His disciples.  Not exhorting them about bearing fruit, not yet,  but as a demonstration of  the power of  true faith.

'If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.'  -- Matt 21: 22

They then continued on into the temple, where Jesus spent another day teaching the people and turning the words of the authorities inside out.

When they left the temple that evening, the disciples commented to Jesus on the magnificence of the temple and the huge stones that had been used to build it.

'Do you see all these great buildings?' Jesus replied, 'Not one stone here will be left on another; everything will be thrown down.' (Mark 13:2)....echoing his gut wrenching prophecy from the parade two days earlier.

That evening, sitting on the Mount of Olives with His disciples, Jesus answered their questions about His apocalyptic statements in what has been labeled the Olivet Discourse... recorded in Matthew 24- 25, Mark 13, Luke 21:7 - 36.

There were two days remaining until Passover (Matt 26:2).

When have I  mistaken God's acts of instruction as His judgement or anger?  What could He have been teaching me at that moment? What kept me from asking Him about it?

If I do not seem to be receiving what I am asking for...am I really believing God will do it? Do I have assurance and conviction that I am asking in accordance with the authority of Jesus (John 15:16)?  Or am I praying incorrectly (James 4:3)?  Or is God answering it in a way I do not expect and therefore do not perceive?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Missing the Point

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. -- Zech 9:9

 (Source for the following: Matthew 21, Luke 19, John 2 and 12; all quotations from the NIV 84)

Six days before Passover, Jesus paid a visit to Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and Simon (the Leper, or possibly the Former Leper) threw a big banquet for Him.  Lazarus, being the man who was raised from the dead after 4 days in the grave, was almost as great a marvel as Jesus.  People came and hung out, hoping for a glimpse of either of them and possibly even a miracle of their own.  The next day, Jesus sent disciples into town for a donkey's colt, which they brought to Him and he sat down on it, riding the young donkey towards Jerusalem.

Somewhere in the crowd, a scholar must've remembered the passage in Zachariah, and told his neighbor...who told his neighbor, who told his neighbor...like a Facebook rumor gone viral, the crowd was reminded of the scripture and saw the fulfillment of it before their very eyes.  The King!

It's interesting to note that John records His disciples didn't understand what was going on until after Jesus was glorified.  They were as caught up in the festive atmosphere as the crowd around them.

Only the masses took it to mean a literal king, who would sit on the throne in Jerusalem in their day.  So, they threw their cloaks on the ground for Him to ride on and, just before Jesus crested the Mount of Olives  they began to shout and praise Him.  Some of the Pharisees who were tagging along to watch what might develop tried to get Jesus to make them be quiet.  But Jesus refused, stating that if the people were silent the rocks would cry out...nature itself would declare the praise of the One who was heading for His destiny and the redemption of all things.

The Pharisees were probably still trying to make sense out of 'stones would cry out' when the procession topped the hill and saw Jerusalem spread out before them...and Jesus stopped the parade, and suddenly began to weep.  But this was not a lip quiver with tears quietly sliding down his cheeks...this was agonized sobs of true grief.  He knew what was coming, He knew all the folks around him expected Him to go into Jerusalem and blow the horns and rally the tribes to supernaturally throw off the Roman oppression and restore the kingdom.  Instead, He lamented their blindness and prophesied the destruction that would take place some 40ish years later.
I think the momentum of the crowd jostled the donkey into moving again;  Jesus may have still been grieving as they started down the hill.  But He did pull that emotion into reign, and as they approached the city more and more people joined the parade, and they made a ruckus that stirred up the whole city and provoked the Pharisees to exclaim in disgust, 'This is getting us nowhere.  Look how the whole world has gone after him!' (John 12:19)

When He arrived at the temple, Jesus dismounted and, for the second time, went to the area where moneychangers converted the Roman coins into Jewish tender acceptable as offering and  livestock vendors sold animals that had been approved as sacrifices to people who either did not bring their own or whose animals had been found defective in some way...people were making money off of honest folks who wanted to worship God.  As He overturned tables, released the livestock and pushed the vendors out of the area, He declared 'You are making my house a robber's den!'...stronger words than He had used when he ran them out at the start of His ministry, 'How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!'

Then, He turned His attention to the crowd and began to heal.  Lame and blind people were made whole and seeing.  Kids were so caught up in the excitement that they were shouting praise in the very courts of the temple; Jesus was asked by the folks in charge there to please make them settle down, and again He refused, this time quoting Ps. 8:2.

And, at the end of the day, He returned to Bethany.  He hadn't blown any trumpets or summoned any freedom fighters...but He had fulfilled prophecies, healed people, and ticked off the religious leaders once more.

Passover...the day of sacrifice...was 4 days away.

How have I determined, like the crowd that day, what Jesus is going to do to break me free of my oppressors?  What will I do if His plan is something else entirely....something that looks to be the complete opposite of what I expected?  Will children...or rocks...give Him the praise I should be offering but am not, because I am too focused on my expectations to see what He is really doing?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hodgepodge of hope and tradition, with a smattering of candy...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

It's been awhile since I did the Hodgepodge...click the button to see all the linky fun!

1. This coming weekend is Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. Do you celebrate Easter in your home? What was your favorite Easter tradition as a child?

We do celebrate Easter...although I prefer to call it 'Resurrection Sunday'...but our celebration centers around worship.  We'll do 5 church services in the choir...but, as I'm on the church staff, I'll be working hard to make sure the proper follow up happens, doing data entry during 4 of the 5 services, as soon as I'm done singing.  We'll get some goodies for the kids; they'll all be at the house in the evening, where we'll have banana splits and watch 'Rise of the Guardians', if we follow the same pattern as the last two years.  That's a cute movie, btw, with a really good  message:  the Enemy's only weapon is fear.  But I have to choke a bit when Easter is considered as not happening just because the bunny didn't deliver the eggs.  The Grinch's looting of Christmas didn't stop it from happening, and an attack on Easter Eggs wouldn't stop a celebration of the Resurrection either. 

I kinda have to shake my head over 'Favorite Easter Tradition as a child'.  We were not a tradition-keeping family.  The only thing that was definite from one year to the next was 1) we would go to church and 2) There would be Easter baskets with candy.  Usually there were new clothes, but more because we needed them for spring anyway.  Everything else changed from one year to the next.

2. George Weinberg is quoted as saying, 'Hope never abandons you, you abandon it.' Agree or disagree? Share your own thoughts on the word hope.

Agree.    Not MY thoughts, exactly, but the first thing that came to mind for thoughts on hope:

 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Romans 5:3 - 5, NASB)

3. Weigh in with a yay or nay on the traditional Easter candies. A solid milk chocolate bunny? Cadbury Creme Eggs? Peeps? Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs? Jellybeans? Coconut Cream Eggs? Of the candies listed, which one would you most like to find in your Easter basket?

Love Cadbury eggs.  With cold milk.  But I'm good with any of the above.  You could also include Robin's Egg giant malted milk balls with the marbly candy coating, chocolate mini eggs, candy-coated creme eggs...chocolate covered marshmallow bunnies...

But the candy I would most like to see is a fruit and nut egg...the kind that used to be available about 40 - 45 years ago...vanilla nougat, sometimes with coconut, with candied fruit and nuts shaped into an egg and coated w/dark chocolate. With a sugar flower on the top.  Eaten by the slice.  Whatever happened to those?

4. When did you last feel 'like a kid in a candy store'

Probably last time I went to the Sewing Expo.  So much fabric...patterns...inspiration...

5. What's something you know you do differently than most people? Does that bother you? Does it bother other people?

We do Christmas different than most people; I've blogged about it once or twice before.  Christmas gift-giving at our house frequently happens on January 1, owing to travel, and, looking forward,  probably working around grown kids' need to be with inlaws.  We also didn't do Santa Claus, at least, we didn't tell our kids Santa brought the gifts.  I kinda like spreading the holiday out a bit; it is a little awkward when we're still playing Christmas music and the stores are suddenly all about the Superbowl, but we can deal with that.  Our treatment of Santa, however,  really irritated some folks...

6. Palm Springs CA, Palm Beach FL, or the PALMetto State...of the three mentioned, which sunny spot would you most like to visit right now? Which have you visited at one time or another?

Since it's been YEARS since I've been to the beach, I'll pick Palm Beach.  But I've never been to any 'Palm' places...yet.,..

7. If you could change the length of a day would you lengthen it or shorten it? Tell us why.

LOL!  It says right there in my bio blurb that I want 8 more hours in a day...just too much stuff to do!!!

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

Tonight's sunset...so pretty!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

When the shoes don't fit...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I ordered a couple of pairs of sandals from the mega online shoe store;  since my shoe size is pretty much a 6.5 W, that's about the only way I can find shoes in any kind of variety in my size.

But, being a bit chicken, I ordered both pairs in 7 W.  One is going back to be replaced w/6.5 W as it is patently too big, but the other is precisely the right length but a bit pinchy.  Not a true Wide.

But they are so cute.

So whaddya do to see if shoes that are a little pinchy can stretch?

You put on socks and see what happens.  Thin ones first, and then thicker, if you can.

Even if the pinchy shoes aggravate some chronic foot issues for a bit in the process.  Because if they *will* stretch, they will be golden.

Um, pun not intended. Well, maybe pun kinda sorta just a little bit intended.

And...just because I'm in a philosophical mood tonight, I began to think about extremes we will go to in order to 'fit' into social situations or groups that pinch.

Do we dress differently?  Talk differently?  Behave differently?  Treat people differently?

Do we put on masks and pretend to be someone we're not just to 'fit'?

I'll give these shoes a couple of days with the sock treatment, but if they don't adjust to me I'm sending them back.  Life is too short to go about with aching feet...and, since the neuromas will most certainly flare up if I'm not careful about wearing the shoes for short times, these have some serious foot pain potential.  Unless they stretch.  Unless they conform to ME.  I'm not going to grit my teeth and make myself pretend I fit THEM.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind... Rom. 12:2a NIV 84

ETA 2 days later...the shoes stubbornly refused to stretch.  I did a STEM treatment on my irritated neuromas, and sent the shoes back.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything -- James 1:4, NIV 84

I have been chafing.  Wanting to start a new Bible study.  Wanting to dive back into teaching...I have lots of  potential ideas.  A ladies' group, looking at some of the writings that have ministered to me.  Another bookstudy online.  Possibly a youth Bible study...although that has only been mentioned to me once and I've heard nothing more about it.

I commented to a friend a couple of days ago that I really miss teaching.  I miss the interaction, I miss the demand on the anointing.  I miss the communion with Holy Spirit in preparing to teach.

But I'm in class.

The prescribed route for ministry rehabilitation is to take the inner healing class offered at church, which is a facilitated school on prayer ministry, affiliated with an international ministry whose material we use.

We have two levels...the first is basically to look at what's going on in your own life and the second is preparation to be a prayer counselor.  I haven't exactly been instructed to take it with regard to the current season of transition, but I've been encouraged to take the class for general edification by a number of folks who are involved in facilitating it for several years now.  Only teaching three classes a week as I was doing really made it impossible.

But I'm not teaching now, so I took a deep breath and signed up for the first level.  I figured if I didn't take the initiative to do it I would likely be strongly encouraged to do so by anyone I could possibly serve under in another ministry anyway.

We have 25 lessons, consisting of a teaching CD to listen to, a workbook to read through, questions to answer and turn in, class lectures and small group discussions.  We've lumped all the class lectures/small group discussions into 6  class sessions, and we only have one more session left, covering the last 5 lessons in the school.

I'm going to miss that last class due to an unmovable conflict, so I've also got to summarize each of those last five chapters to substitute for missing the lecture and small group discussion.

I won't lie, this has been kinda rough.  I'm not always in agreement with all the teaching points of the material, so at times I'm gritting my teeth and pushing through.

But some lessons have been quite illuminating; I've seen some of my issues from a different perspective.

And I've identified myself as highly 'performance oriented', but that's a whole post by itself...maybe.

But it is taking a lot of time and focus.  And teaching ...or even just trying to do a personal study of some sort on my own...would distract from the course of study I'm in.

So.  I'm trying hard not to look ahead and see what I might or might not do after I've finished the class.  I have to remind myself almost daily that I am doing the prayer ministry school and that is my focus now.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

SSMT Verse 6 - Romans 8:26

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Having a deadline to choose a memory verse results in interesting verses to learn. Those SSMT deadlines seem to come around awfully fast, and I don't have a consistent strategy to use to pick the next verse.  Sometimes it's one that has been speaking to me over a period of time or it's one that is in a recent teaching I've heard; in which case I've got the verse picked out ahead of time.  But  sometimes I just go Scripture-cruising looking for one that seems to be meaningful in the moment.

Today, I decided to find a verse that I haven't memorized yet, but probably should have.

The one that I came across that seemed to fit that category is Romans 8: 26 (NIV 84):

In the same way, the Spirit helps in our weakness.  We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

That is incredibly comforting to me.  Yes, it's familiar and I've heard it over and over, but, you know, sometimes for the Word to get in you, you've gotta get it IN you.

It's in the spiral now.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lies the Enemy Tells Me # 4: 'You're on your own here.'

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

(Part 2 of the ruminations on Hagar)

This is a lie the enemy has been telling me for years and years.  Ever since I first found myself in a position of leadership...and that goes back to High School youth group.

It's a twist on something that IS true...leaders carry more responsibility, just because they are leaders.  One or two missteps, misspoken words,  even giving the appearance of not caring about something can cause a train wreck of hurt feelings, misunderstandings, offense...sometimes it goes beyond anything that can be repaired by anything other than the work of the Holy Spirit.

And if you've been hanging around Beer Lahai Roi for long, you know that even in the relatively short seveninsh years I've been here I've had my share of blunders.

So somewhere back there the true fact that leaders are under stricter scrutiny twisted itself into the lie that I have to carry all my wounds myself; I have to be the strong one who is not offended; I have to be the perfect example of how to handle the punches and twists that are part of living on a planet full of humans... lest I cast any kind of negative reflections of the church I'm in, the ministry I serve, or the Lord himself on folks who are looking to me as a leader and teacher.

It wasn't the 'I don't need anybody' lie...it was 'I can't admit to needing anybody.'

This is a hard one to counteract, because it lives right next door to the truth. Hit it too hard and it will ricochet off the truth and make a bigger mess.  This one has to be gently extracted.

And 'gentle' ain't my long suit.

The discussion of Hagar last month pointed out that Hagar carried her sorrows herself.  She had no one to take them to, no one to give her counsel and perspective.  This, the teaching indicated, was a large part of her problem.  She didn't even really go to God with her problems...she went into the desert and He came to her.  She obeyed what He said, but her heart didn't change.

Because issues that get stuffed, that are denied, that are not healed, always cause bigger problems later.

In the service that night, we all repeated to each other 'I need you.'

I need you to keep me accountable, I need you to keep me on track, I need you to pray for me when I don't know what to pray for myself, I need you to help me stand when I feel too weak.

I need you to remind me that I am not on my own.

And, of course, I'm not on my own.  I'm at the well of the One Who Sees Me, so I am not alone....but thinking that I don't dare share with anyone else, because it will reflect badly on Him...that's a lie.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed - James 5:16a, NASB

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed - James 5:16a, MSG

Sunday, March 1, 2015

SSMT Verse 5 - Col. 3:16

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

BOOM!  March 1 !

I know March 1 is not the same as Mach 1, but I still feel like I got hit with the boom...Feb. surely went by at the speed of sound.

Tonight was our songwriter's life group meeting, and one of our leaders mentioned a verse that he felt really was 'our' verse...both instruction of what we were to do as individuals, and confirmation of what we do when we get together.

I thought it would be worth committing to memory.  So it's appropriate for the Siesta Scripture Memory Team verse for today:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. -- Colossians 3:16 NIV 84