Friday, May 29, 2015

All Things New: Noah - The Solitary Road, Part 1

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

When I decided to look at folks who went through transitions, I kinda figured I'd start with Noah.   He was the first to really come through a transition and begin again with a promise.

Noah was a unique individual.  In a society that had become so evil and godless that God's heart was grieved and filled with pain, Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. - Gen 6:9 (all scripture today from the NIV 84).

Only one other person had been recorded as walking with God...

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. - Gen 5:24.

It was a pretty unusual thing, this walking with God.  Noah was alone in his generation. His grandfather, Methuselah, who lived until the year the flood came may have encouraged him; his father, Lamech, who died 5 years before the flood may have encouraged him, but outside of his own family...Noah had no one who honored God with whom to share fellowship.    In a society wholly given over to wickedness...such a family would be an anomaly.  The scripture does not recount Noah's interaction with his peers,  but looking at the track record of how a worldly society esteems those who do not join in their pursuits, we can deduce with some confidence that he had a struggle.  In fact, I've wondered if part of the reason God decided to destroy civilization was to protect Noah and his family and the lineage of Seth from being annihilated by folks who hated them.

But...despite any possible contentions with those around him, God gave Noah very specific instructions on what he needed to do to survive the coming judgement and Noah did everything just as God commanded him (6:22).

Prior to his transition, God prepared him.  And he did what God said to do.

Ya'll, that just hit me like a ton of bricks.

I just sat there and pondered that for a bit.

There's gonna be a part two, 'cause I want to hang there for a minute.

God prepares His people.  You may or may not know precisely what's coming...but He will provide instructions that, if you follow them, will have you exactly where you need to be when the moment comes.

I think  its interesting that the ark is never referred to as a boat.  In fact, the word used is Strong's 8392 , tebah,  which means  'a box'; the Blue-Letter Bible site states that it has the connotation of a chest or coffer; it is only used to denote the ark that Noah built and the basket that carried the infant Moses in the river. 

I wonder how accurate modern renditions of the ark...which all tend to look a lot like a big boat...really are.  Did he taper it fore and aft?  Did he curve the outside as a hull?  Did the hand of God, which closed the door, hold it steady as the storms raged and the geysers erupted and the moisture stored since creation in the firmament above crashed to the earth? 

Whatever Noah did, it was what God instructed, even though it might have seemed ludicrous to him and certainly would have caused a stir in the community.  Someone already conspicuous for righteous living would now be even more conspicuous for odd behavior.  Peter records that Noah preached to his generation...a message of God's judgement against wickedness that was no more likely to have been popular then that it would be now.  We know he had no one who repented and asked to be included.  Possibly some of Noah's own children had joined the society and only Shem, Ham and Japheth  remained loyal to their father and his God.  Noah's siblings and their children certainly had left the family values behind.

Nonetheless, as the day grew closer Noah did not fall off the pace.  The ark was completed and stocked with food.  Genesis 7:5 repeats the statement, Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.

For 7 days, animals from all over the globe suddenly appeared, heading to the ark.  One wonders if the neighborhood began to be afraid that there might be something to that crazy preacher after all, when animals that they had never seen before traipsed through their gardens and frightened their livestock.   Were there tremors in the earth leading up to the eruption of the fountains of the deep, or was there one cataclysmic heave after the animals and Noah's family went into the ark and the door mysteriously closed up tight?

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month -- on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heaves were opened.  And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights...and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.  The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.  -- Gen.7:11-12,17-19

Noah's preparation had ended; the transition of the whole earth to a new beginning had begun.

What transitions have happened in my life that I can clearly see that God acted to prepare me ahead of time?  What is He speaking to me now that I need to be careful to obey in order to be prepared for whatever might be coming next?

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Power of Heirloom Seed

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

One of our associate pastors, Pastor Scott, brought the message on Memorial Day Sunday...which also happened to be Pentecost.    His word challenged me on several areas and he said a thing during the second service that was paradigm shifting for me...a paradigm that I needed shifting.

But, as a good message does, it also sparked  creative connections in my spirit.  He talked a little bit about heirloom seed at one point...and connections started firing off.

My grandmother, whose 110th birthday would also have been that Sunday, was a farm wife from the depression generation who never wasted ANYTHING.  Most of her food was produced on her farm.

Although as she grew older they discontinued the livestock (hogs, chickens, a milk cow), she maintained her magnificent vegetable gardens and flower beds up until the last year of her life.  There were vegetables in that garden that were planted from her own heirloom seed.  

I remember the seed from green beans and tomatoes; there may have been others.  In between services, I shared a story with Pastor Scott about Grandma's tomato seed...

In the late 60's and 70's, Grandma was an active participant in the Indiana State Fair.  One of the things she entered was a plate of her cherry tomatoes...raised from her own seed, they were very small, very red, perfectly round and quite tasty.  They won awards at the Fair.

The year after she died, My Sweet Babboo, the Princess (who was about a year and half old at the time) and I managed to get to Indiana during the State Fair, and we went with my folks.  At one point, Dad commented that we needed to go to the Horticulture Building to see if any of Grandma's tomatoes were there.  I couldn't understand how Grandma's tomatoes could be there, but he told us that every year that Grandma won prizes for her tomatoes, by the end of the fair there were no tomatoes left on her exhibit plate.  All of them...20 or so...had been pinched and carried off by other folks.  And, as the years went on, the number of other entries of very small, very round, very red cherry tomatoes steadily increased.  Sure enough, when we went by the exhibit, there were several plates of those very tomatoes.  Grandma's seed was still producing fruit, even though she was gone.

Y'see, that's what heirloom seed does.  It is not a hybrid; its DNA does not change from one generation to the next.  But seed must be saved from each generation; if all the produce from one generation is consumed, there will be none left to plant the next generation.

This requires diligent and intentional action;  saving seed doesn't happen unless a deliberate decision is made to collect and process the fruit for seed.  Then the seed has to be carefully stored until the next growing season...protected from moisture, rodents and insects, and calamity (such as a fire).  Such valuable seed is only planted in ground that has been carefully prepared to receive it;  it is never thrown helter-skelter out in the wild to see if it will take root and grow.

Now, consider all this in the light of Luke 8:11...The seed is the Word of God.

It does not change from one generation to the next.
It must be intentionally sown into each generation and  preserved for the next.
It continues to bring fruit generation after generation.

What am I doing in my own life to cultivate and preserve the heirloom seed?  How am I sowing that seed into the next generation?

Friday, May 22, 2015

All Things New -- Cain: The Bitter Road

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I suppose it's just logical that when things begin in perfection the first series of transitions will not be good ones...human kind did not make stellar choices in the beginning.

First Adam and Eve chose to believe a lie the enemy told them...then Cain chose to believe a lie that was apparently his own fabrication.

We really don't know what it meant that God favored Abel's offering and had no favor for Cain's.  Did fire fall and consume one offering and not the other?  Was there apparent blessing on Abel's life after his offering and not on Cain's?

Scripture doesn't tell us.

It's also not specific about why Abel's offering was superior to Cain's.  I have heard people teach that it was because  Abel's offering was a blood offering and Cain's was not...but there is nothing here to indicate that this was specifically an offering for atonement.  The book of Leviticus describes all kinds of offerings...sin offerings, fellowship offerings,  offerings made to fulfill vows, etc, and not all of them involved animal sacrifices.

I think the only clue we have is that Abel is described as bringing a firstborn  from his flock and fat, he brought the best of what he had.  Cain brought some of his crop.   Abel's offering was a sacrifice.  Cain's offering...well, apparently didn't cost him much.

In other words, it wasn't the specific offering that was the big was the attitude with which the offering was brought.

And Cain was defensive.  He was angry that his offering was not deemed acceptable.

He was mad that God would not allow him to determine what constituted proper worship.

Think about that a moment.   Cain wanted to define how he worshiped God.  And God did not acknowledge it.

In fact, God pointed out to him that nothing was preventing him from obtaining God's favor except his own choices:

Why are you angry?...If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  (Gen. 4:6 - 7a; all scripture today from the NIV 84)

This was not a mystery of guess-what-will-please God, Cain KNEW what was expected...his father had taught him, his past relationship with God had taught him.  Simple.  If you want God's favor, just do what God has instructed you to do.

God went on to describe the conflict Cain was facing:

If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. (Gen 4:7b)

God did not prevent Cain from making his own choice.

Cain had the power to choose to be accepted.  Instead, he chose rejection.

He could not possibly have believed killing his brother was the 'right' that God encouraged him to do.  Therefore, he must have convinced himself that it did not matter what God accepted or did not accept, he was going to make his own way and please himself.  Abel's existence in God's favor did not please him.

So, for the first time, God pronounces a curse on a person:

Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground...when you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you.  You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.  - (Gen. 4:11)

Here is Cain's first transition:  the only occupation he had known, that which he enjoyed and performed well, was stripped from him.  He had to find another way to survive.

And here is is second transition: he went out from the presence of God (Gen 4:16).

There is no evidence that he ever regretted, mourned, confessed, or repented of what he had done.  He chose rejection and he walked it out.  He built a city based on his rejection and determination to please himself.

Scripture records the generations that followed of skill and men of violence.  His choice not only affected him, it affected all of his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  They all were born and grew to maturity outside of the presence of God.  They never knew Cain's father Adam, who had walked with God in the garden.

God KNEW what was in Cain's heart.  Yet He allowed Cain to make his own choices...murder, rebellion, ultimately creating a society that rejected God to such an extreme that God destroyed them and started again.

Such is the legacy of one who makes the choice to disregard what God has clearly said and choose to please oneself...and who is then angry that God does not acknowledge that choice.

There are so many applications of this to the world we find ourselves in today that I'm not even going to try and deal with them all.  My prayer is simply this...Lord,  point out to me and anyone who happens by this little corner of the blogsphere those areas in which we are choosing rejection.  Give each of us the wisdom and understanding to confess and repent of those areas and do what is right.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2015

SSMT Verse 10 - Hab. 2:3

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Amid the focus on the new Bible study and a day trip out of town, the fact that today was the 15th nearly got by me.

Which means it's time to choose verse number 10 for the 2015 Siesta Scripture Memory Team.

I can't even tell you exactly why I'm picking today's verse, except that the last half of the verse seems especially encouraging to me right now:

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it linger, wait for it, it will certainly come and not delay -- Habakkuk 2:3, NIV 84

All Things New -- Adam and Eve: The Hard Road

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Start in Genesis, I said.


At first, I thought I'd skip Adam and Eve as too obvious, but as I read through Genesis I decided I should not skip the foundational, um, transition.

Because, while I'd love to talk about new beginnings being a season of hope and fresh starts, sometimes new beginnings are at rock-bottom...that place where everything went wrong and it all fell apart and all the good that was there is gone.

It may come with large portions of humiliation and regret.  Maybe so much humiliation and regret that there doesn't seem to be any way of recovering, with pain that makes even breathing excruciating.  How can one move forward after such overwhelming loss?

No one can teach us about that devastation better than Adam and Eve.

The background is, of course, Genesis chapters 2 - 4.

The first transition we encounter is  in Genesis 2:21-22 (I'm using the ESV today):

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Adam woke up from his nap and found that there were physical differences in his body that he had to figure out...he was different; something had happened.  Then...there she was (for some reason the Monkees' Then I saw her I'm a believer... just randomly popped into my head).  It was the part he was missing.  The other part of himself. was different.  More.

The whole paradigm of mankind's life changed at that moment.  One mind became two.  Dialogue between equals became possible.  Teamwork.  They were counterparts...complimentary in all areas, in the geometric sense of complementary angles that make up the full 180 degrees. Or in this case, make up the full image of God.  It took them both.

And God saw that it was very good.

We have no idea how long that scenario lasted.  Days?  Weeks?  Months?  Was the serpent hanging around, having conversations with them, building a relationship that he could use?  The enemy is very patient; he never rushes his attacks but waits for the moment of prime vulnerability.  Then he strikes.

Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?  

And so it began...the convoluted argument of the enemy that convinced Eve that it would be a really good idea to do the forbidden thing. The first hint of the magnitude of the tragic consequences manifested when they looked at each other's nakedness and an awful feeling rose from within them that they labeled 'shame'.  Fear became the ruler where fear had never been known.  The  God whose only words to them had been loving, whose only actions had ever been for their good, whose communion blessed them every day became the One from which they hid.

The One who was Truth got only evasive answers and blame-shifting in response to His invitations to confess and repent.  Their relationship with God was broken; they could not mend it and they could not comprehend God's promise that He would.

When the judgements had been executed and they looked around, they found themselves banished from the garden, with nothing but each other, animal skins to cover themselves and what they had learned about cultivating the ground to sustain them.   Life was no longer about tending the garden and administering the kingdom on was about survival.  Being hungry, hot, weary, cold, sore...and all the while remembering what they'd had and how they'd lost it.  Arguments instead of conversation.  Hard work with little return. Blame.  Grief.  Depression. 

How does anyone deal with loss like that?

Eve had a promise...that her offspring would crush the head of the serpent who had led her astray.  That sounds so unrelated to the struggle of the moment, but what it meant was that the place where they were was not the end of the story.  Despite what was probably some pretty deep offense, they did not reject each other.  On the contrary, there is evidence that they made some effort to console and comfort one another.

Eve bore children.

How many, we really don't know.  We only know the names of three....and the third named one did not arrive until after more tragedy struck.  Again, there was loss and grief and blame. Cain banished, Abel dead.  Yet hope returned once more with the birth of Seth, who, in what must've been a much more marked degree than any of the others as it is especially noted in Genesis 5:3, was in the likeness and image of his father, Adam.  Eve recognized God's blessing in the birth of Seth.

Adam lived 800 more years after Seth was born; long enough to hold Noah's father, Lamech, in his arms before he died, if they had all stayed close enough around.  Eight generations of offspring could have been taught of  the value of following God and the cost of trying to live by one's own judgement from the ones who  had lived that lesson at a level no one else could even comprehend.

Adam and Eve show us that it is possible to focus on hope after devastating loss in order to deal with a new reality and find God's purpose there.  My struggles are almost laughably minor in comparison; what have I done to find hope in difficult times?  How have I tried to pass along what I have learned of God's faithfulness in difficult times to future generations?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

On Being a Mom...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

This Mother's Day finds me thinking more about being a mom myself than years past; I'm not sure why, other than the youngest graduated from high school last year, so, in theory, the bulk of my parenting years are well behind me.

I commented to someone once when the older kids were still young that I kinda missed being a student.  If you're a student, you learn material, you do the work, you study for the tests, you get a grade.  Pretty immediate feedback on the effort; you know fairly quickly if you did well or if you failed.

But parenting is different.  With parenting, you don't know if you did it right for something like 20 years.  And you only get one shot at it. No do-overs.

We  have great kids.  They are wonderful people.  But somehow I have the feeling that if we had done things better, were better parents, they would make choices that would make their lives easier.   Maybe we should've been stricter regarding video games; maybe I should've stopped what I was doing and played with them more when they were little.  Maybe if I had been a more organized mom, the kids would not struggle with disorganization.  Maybe if we had been parents who tucked in and sang songs and said prayers every night,  we would have prepared them better somehow to recognize their dreams and follow their passion.  Maybe if I hadn't lost my temper that time or that time or that time or that time...or maybe if we had done this or not done that...we'd've been 'A+' parents who gave their kids what they needed to go out and set goals and achieve them.

It's funny...I know that we had to have done things right, because the kids are great people who have (so far, anyway) not made life-crippling choices.  But I do see some struggles to establish themselves, and I wonder if we failed them somehow, made life more difficult for them.

And you know...I kinda suspect that this self-doubt is something that plagues most parents of young adults.  Because we did the best we knew how to do, and yet, somehow, feel like it wasn't good enough.

But God.

It is God who put in those kids their particular mix of gifts and talents and then put them in my house to raise.  I kinda have to assume that He knew what He was doing, even if I didn't.  And He has endless stores of grace to make up for where I fell short.  AND...He has a greater interest in my kids living out their destiny than I do.

And He has plans for them...plans to prosper them and not to harm them, to give them a hope and a future.  He created their inmost being, and He does all things well. They are His workmanship, created to do specific things that He prepared beforehand.

So...I need to give over all my doubts and insecurities and inadequacies and foul-ups and goof-ups and parenting mistakes  and let God redeem them all.  It would be pretty prideful thinking to believe that I could mess something up beyond God's ability to resurrect and restore it to what He originally intended.

If they will follow Him, it is enough.  He will take it from there.

Friday, May 8, 2015

All Things New: New Study

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Last week I had a dream; kind of a variation on the school dream...y'know, the one in which you suddenly realize that you are a week from finals and you forgot to go to class for the entire semester.

Only this dream wasn't about school, per se, it was about a Bible study at church that was to be taught online.  It had been publicized and had folks signed up.  And it wouldn't have been a big deal that I forgot...only I was the teacher.  The day after the first class was to have happened, I suddenly realized that I had missed the introductory live chat scheduled for the night before with all the folks who were signed up for the study.

I woke up pondering that.  Aside from the look at Holy Week, which was just a short daily deal, I haven't done a study since last fall's look at the Hebrew words for praise, largely because I was neck-deep in our prayer ministry school.

But one of the main reasons I started Beer Lahai Roi was to put a demand on the teaching anointing.   When I wrote that first post in April of 2008, I was just a helper/filler-inner in the Friends Club...I didn't see the lead teacher position that was waiting on me in just a couple of months.  When the fall came, I was solidly in that position and had plenty demand on the teacher in me.

But now I am back at the place I was in the spring of '08.  Maybe even farther back, as I was at least filling in as a teacher then.  Now...for this immediate season...there is nothing.

So last week, I dreamed that I had neglected my online study.

It's time to get it cranked up here.

I've been pondering all week what I should do for a study...pick a book of the Bible?  A character?  A theme?

It was the idea of a theme that resonated...2015 is a year of new beginnings...and I suddenly thought about a look at new beginnings in Scripture.  How many folks experienced transition from something to something...and how did they handle it?

I thought of several immediately.

So.  This is probably  not going to be heavy on the revvy or deep in any way, but I'm going to use the next however many Fridays to take a stroll through Scripture and look at folks who found themselves in a place of new beginnings, where the old paradigms were out the window and new, unexplored territory lay before them.

I haven't done a's going to be something of an unplanned journey.  We'll start in Genesis and see what we encounter along the way.

Join me for 'All Things New'...

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sweet 16

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We celebrated the 16th anniversary of our church today...we didn't have a big party and day of remembering, like we did last year, but we did have a video clip made by a number of the associate pastors.

I don't talk an awfully lot about church specifically...oh, it pops up now and again but mostly as backdrop.  We've been there since 2001, which seems awfully hard to believe.

It's been amazing.

When we first began attending, before we had decided to make it our church home, I remember commenting  to My Sweet Babboo on the way home after a Sunday service (in the renovated space that had been Joe's House of Entertainment...formerly the University Sheraton Inn, a really nice hotel back in the day.  All torn down now), 'You know, that church could consume our lives if we let it.'   I thought a moment and then added, 'But maybe it's supposed to...'

I never imagined being on the admin staff.

I never thought I'd sew dozens of costumes for all sorts of uses.

I'd've laughed out loud at the idea of working in the girls' ministry.

I've definitely grown and been stretched into new rolls.

Oh, it's not perfect, but what church is?  I've made enough blunders and boo boos my own self that I can't even consider being offended if I'm on the other end of a missed cue.  We see through a glass darkly...which means that everyone is doing the best they can. 

At the end of the day, the passion is to follow hard after God's heart....and I feel incredibly honored to get to be a part of it.

Happy Birthday, Rock Family Worship Center!

Friday, May 1, 2015

SSMT Verse 9... Isaiah 46:4

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

May 1.  So not...just not.

But that means it's time for the Siesta Scripture Memory Team Verse 9.

I decided earlier this week that I'd use the verse I found stuck in the back of my journal last Monday...

Is. 46:4  - 'Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.' 

Then it occurred to me that I have selected back-to-back verses dealing with God continuing to use and care for His saints even when they might have passed what most would consider to be the prime of life.

I'm not aware of being in any kind of midlife crisis, but I suppose it could be there, lurking in my subconscious somewhere. Or maybe the Holy Spirit is just heading it off before it happens.

He's kinda cool like that.