Friday, December 23, 2016

Advent is Upon Us: Not the 'Inn Crowd'

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
Ok, I admit it.  The title is a very, very bad pun.

And this is not so much as an Advent musing as a reaction to what's happening during this particular Advent season.

I was never, ever part of the 'In Crowd' growing up.  Something the folks in the 'In Crowd' would emphasize at times, lest I forget.

It's funny, because, you know, that was years and years ago and I thought it was all behind me.

But the news that is so prevalent has stirred it all up again.  Because the same thing is happening on a national level.  I'm not going to get political, but I do have to say this...what I'm seeing and hearing is very very very similar to so much that I experienced in my youth as one of the not-cool-people.

It actually has taken me a couple of weeks to realize that's the echo that's being generated by the current events.  'You're not cool and we aren't going to play with you....'

But, it being the season that it is and all,  I am processing this through the story of a little family from the backwoods...can anything good come out of Nazareth?...who could not find any room amongst caring people.  Not even in a moment of extreme need.  Was it because they were from out of town?  Was it because they were from the wrong neighborhood?  Was it because the rumors of Mary's out-of-wedlock pregnancy had preceded them?  Were they dressed differently, or did they talk funny, or not know the local customs? Or was it just because the folks around them were too pre-occupied with their own busy-ness that no one made it a point to help?  Indifference, rather than outright rejection?

He certainly understands what it feels like to be overlooked, rejected and excluded.  Born in a barn, raised in a small town away from any influential connections,  misjudged and misunderstood...oh, yes, He understands.  But the people who were like Him, the shepherds, the fishermen, even the prostitutes and tax collectors,  all outside of the In Crowd as well, those people were glad of Him.  He didn't even try, really, to win over the In people.  He let them hold their opinions and focused on the folks who followed Him.

The lesson I'm getting from this almost subliminally is that, you know, it doesn't always matter what the 'In Crowd' says and does; my part is to follow Jesus and let Him handle it.

And I need to let every little echo that hammers on that surprisingly still slightly tender nerve to remind me of that.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Advent is Upon Us: Home for Christmas

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

(Micah 5:2, Luke 2:4 - 5, NIV 84)

We have spent our entire married life 3 states away from our parents and most siblings;  generally speaking, December was a time of pilgrimage back to the home state of Indiana.  At first, it was just My Sweet Babboo and me, but over the years we added more kids...and the trip.  We've had issues with cars, issues with weather, issues with illness but somehow have managed to make it there and back safely...if a little travel worn...year after year.  We've even added the son-in-law a couple of times.

But schedules...and vacation availability...don't always cooperate.  This is one of those years in which we are not going to make the trip.  Christmas on Sunday is a tough schedule to work around.  And,  I have to admit, not having to deal with luggage, or worry about weather, sicknesses, car reliability, etc has been something of a relief.

But I miss the family.  I miss the traditional Christmas Eve service in the 100+ year old church in Elkhart.  I miss the sights and sounds and amazing smells that always accompany Christmas.  And, despite hating to drive in scary winter weather, I miss lake effect snow on Christmas.

But today, as I was listening to Straight No Chaser's version of 'I'll be Home for Christmas' play through our stereo, it suddenly struck me that Mary and Joseph didn't spend that first Christmas with family, either.

We have the impression that Mary was in the throes of labor when they got to Bethlehem, but the scripture doesn't say 'They arrived in Bethlehem,  and that night....' it just states 'While they were there....'.  I don't know how long the census taking process took; it may be that they had been there as much as a week or two or even longer.  They may have even thought they would have time to make the journey, spend a couple of days registering, and then make it home before the baby came....and then one day turned into another frustrating day turned into another frustrating day...and then it was suddenly Time.

There's a level of stress all its own when things go wrong on a trip.  There's nothing like sitting in a stalled out car waiting and waiting and waiting for AAA to send a tow truck...when you've got four hungry kids in the back.  Or postponing the trip home for a day...or two...because people are throwing up.  I have a feeling that, from the moment Mary and Joseph entered Bethlehem, nothing went according to plan. They were having to improvise just to have shelter.

At least, it didn't go according to THEIR plan.  God's plan was obviously in place and running right on schedule.

So this brings up my Advent pondering...God has a plan, and that plan will always make a way.  Even if it doesn't appear to be convenient,  comfortable or the way I'd like.

Even in years when 'Home for Christmas' means miles away from Christmas as It Used To Be.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Advent is Upon Us: Resurrection is Coming

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Another in the series of Advent Ramblings...

In the denominational church we were in for years and years, there was one section of the hymnal that we sang out of exclusively, starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving through the last service before Christmas, whenever that would be.  You know the section, if you're in a church that uses a hymnal.  The Advent and Christmas- themed entries.  The choir would have been rehearsing the Christmas cantata music since early in September.

But in our non-denominational, contemporary-worship-style church, where the musicians play by the Nashville numbers instead of from music staves,   it is rare that we sing traditional Christmas music at all before the last Sunday before Christmas.

Our choir set this past week was right in that pattern; it was not Christmas music.  In fact,  two out of the three songs (and maybe the third one as well; I can't remember for sure) were songs we've used in an Easter set.  I chuckled to one of my co-choir members as we left the  platform after the worship set second service, 'Only at The Rock would we be singing Easter music during Advent!'

I thought I was making a little joke, but that began to echo in my spirit and I suddenly realized it DOES make at least some sense to sing Easter music at Christmas.  Because, as one of my favorite Christmas songs remind us, Jesus, our Savior, was born for to die....

The first song in Sunday's set is soaring, both lyrically and vocally, and is appropriately titled 'Glorious' - 

My God You reign
Forever and ever
How great Your name
Your love remains
Forever and ever
You stay the same

He IS THE SAME.  The same God who took on human flesh and lived among us loves us as much now as he did when He stepped out of heaven and into the limits of physical life with the intention of restoring relationship with us.  The same Jesus who didn't reject any person who came to him but did exhort him/her to leave a sinful lifestyle...whether it was sexual sin or the sins of greed and lack of faith...receives folks just the same.  It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done, just that you're willing to leave what is wrong and follow Him.

But that brings up another's easy for us to get all awe-struck over a baby born in a barn, with angels and heavenly wonders announcing His birth.  He hasn't asked us to do anything hard yet.  But He's the same.  You can't truly embrace infant Jesus if you can't embrace what adult Jesus said...'One thing you lack. Go and sell all you have (or 'go and sin no more')...and follow me'.  What is the one thing (or maybe more than one) that He would say to me, 'That's holding you back from following me fully'....?

The second song in the set, 'Your Love Awakens Me', reminds us that because He is alive, we live.    It leans a little more into the theme of resurrection.. 

Hear the song awaken
All creation singing
We're alive
Cause You're alive
But the closer of the set is full on Easter morning:
The Anthem [Lyrics]
 by Jonathan Hunt, Henry Seeley, and Liz Webber

By His stripes we are healed
By His nail pierced hands we're free
By His blood we're washed clean
Now we have the victory

The pow'r of sin is broken
Jesus overcame it all
He has won our freedom
Jesus has won it all

Hallelujah You have won the victory
Hallelujah You have won it all for me
'Cause death could not hold You down
You are the risen King
Seated in majesty
You are the risen King

Our God is risen
He is alive
He won the victory
He reigns on high

 It's good to remember the why of the manger while we're focusing on preparing to celebrate His birth.  Because...without the 'why', we've really no reason to celebrate.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Advent is Upon Us: Let Your Light Shine

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Sigh.  Wrong watermark.  Ohwell...

At choir practice last night, our worship pastor made the statement that 'This year has gone by faster than any year has ever gone by!'   I kinda think I agree with him.  I'm shifting all kinds of paradigms now to try and get my spirit, my subconscious, my house and my gift giving preparations all caught up to the fact that it is December 2, the first Friday in Advent.

The antique aluminum tree was the first actual decor of the season that went up at our house.  I've had it for about 6 came from a hoarder's stash... but didn't put it up until last year.  I was waiting on the completion of the sunroom rebuild.  My grandmother had a tree that was the dead spit of this one when I was a kid...and there's just something about it that makes me smile.  My Sweet Babboo will put an American Flyer setup under it and our nostalgia corner will be complete.

Now, I've been mulling what to do for this suddenly arrived Advent season.  I've done a couple of studies in years past, and I still enjoy reading them.  I had an idea for a study this morning, but realized I didn't have enough time to put it together like I really wanted to.  Maybe that's next year's plan.

So, this's going to be a little more, um, inspired. And what has inspired my thinking for today is my rather pitiful little aluminum Christmas Tree.

The passage that got my attention today is Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV 84):

You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they  may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

The Advent season, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, is the darkest season of the year. The days are getting colder and shorter.  In the US, we have had an election that has exposed the deep rift in the beliefs and priorities of the populace.  Anger has surfaced and has sometimes turned violent. The media, in pursuit of notoriety, sensationalism and the accompanying advertising income, has proven itself untrustworthy to proclaim the truth.  Reason and common sense seem to have taken an extended vacation.  It is dark in these parts...very dark.

But what does Jesus tell us? To be light.  No,wait; that's not quite right.  He doesn't tell us to be light, He says we ARE light.    Set on a hill.  Or, like my shiny tree in the sunroom windows, on display.

But here's the kicker, and this is why the aluminum tree inspired this train of thought...look at that photo.  The tree is lighting up the room, not because it is light, but because it is reflecting light.

And the reason it is reflecting light is because it is appropriately located near the source.  And I realized that letting my light shine is not so much about doing as it is about being.

Am I positioned near enough to the Source of All Light that I am reflecting that light out into the darkness around me so that folks will know the Source?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Find the Happy Hodgepodge

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
I've got some deep thoughts moving around...I'm not sure they're ever going to make it to the blog; I just don't know that I could articulate it well enough.. In the meantime, this week's Hodgepodge meme is looking for happy, and I think it would be a good thing to share some.

Click the button to see what the others have to say...

1. Let's all think happy thoughts...share one of yours here.

Thanksgiving is next week.  NEXT WEEK.  Aside from the panic of 'not ready!!! not ready!!' I'm actually happy about it.  It's my favorite holiday, even though it's a lot of work.  We have much to be thankful for...however you slice it.

2. There's a Chinese proverb that says, "If you want happiness for an hour take a nap, if you want happiness for a day-go fishing...." What say you? If you want happiness for a day _____________.
Sew something! :-)  

3. Where do you go to decompress from the world around you? 

My favorite refuge is a quiet spot...and I'm not particular where, just so it's quiet...with my Bible, my journal and a good pen.  Some reading/listening/journaling never fails to change my perspective. 

4. What song never fails to make you happy? 

An obscure worship song by Morning Star... 'Fly Me Like the Wind' ...on a live recording from a conference about, oh, 18 - 20 years ago?  It's one of my walking songs...

Come Let's Go Up To The Mountain/Fly Me Like The Wind - Morningstar from Stephen Bezdicek on Vimeo.

I wanna worship You like the Levites in the temple,
I wanna worship You like David in the field,
But sometimes, Lord, you know I get so temperamental,
I need You to lift me up and fly me like the wind... 

5. Wednesday is National Fast Food Day. Should that be a thing? Apparently it is, so tell us what's the last 'fast food' you consumed? If you were putting together your own version of a 'happy meal' what would you include? 

Honestly, National Fast Food Day should be the day before Thanksgiving.  A national day of fasting would certainly make us better appreciate the feast.
Oh, wait, that's not you meant, was it? 
Last 'Fast Food' was probably a turkey gyro from Arby's.  Those are actually pretty good.
A 'Happy Meal' for'm gonna say a cheeseburger, because those are pretty much off my diet now for several reasons...but I love me a cheeseburger.  Also a small salad...and, believe it or not, my internal medicine doctor tells me salads are very bad for the gastritis that I have and I should never eat them.  And of course I love a good fresh salad.  Chocolate Milk and a cookie.  Oatmeal raisin would be lovely.  If I could have that, hold the guilt, it would be a happy meal.

6. In a few sentences tell us why you blog. 

Oy. The sewing blog...because I like sharing the creative side with like minded folks. And it's been an amazing record of life.  Something like 200 folks follow that blog...which is pretty small potatoes in the blogging world, but it's is being read.  This blog...has about a dozen followers, maybe, and I blog here because I like recording life for myself to read down the road, if nothing else.  I like the discipline....even though I'm not very disciplined. And it does give me some structure for Bible study from time to time.  Mostly, I love the fact that blogging in general has connected me to folks I would never, ever had gotten to meet otherwise.   

7. List seven things you're feeling especially grateful for today.

 -- 1) I'm grateful for all the men and women who stand guard in our military, police forces, firefighters, first responders...all the folks who risk themselves to keep the rest of us safe.
 --2) I'm grateful to still have my parents and my inlaws to call, visit, share with....and that they are cool and interesting people.  They range in age from 77 to 91, and they are a blessing.
 -- 3) I'm grateful for four kids who are certainly not perfect but who are fun people to know and hang out with.  And 
 -- 4) I'm grateful that the kids come 'round and hang out with us from time to time
 -- 5) I'm grateful for my hubby and the 36+ years that we've had together.  Not perfect, but comfortable and good.  Very good.
 -- 6) I'm grateful for everyone who actually took the time to visit the blog and read this far.  You're the folks who keep me from talking solely to myself! :-)
-- 7) I'm grateful for red shoes.  Sometimes it's fun to wear something a little quirky.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

My BFF from high school will be celebrating her dad's 90th birthday this weekend.  We were invited, but it's 450 miles away and it just wasn't going to work.  She suggested sending a card with a joke.  So I dug up a terrible joke...and I will share it with you.
Guy goes to his doctor.  'Doc, I'm having some really weird things happening.  I wake up in the morning and call my wife 'Minnie'.  I eat breakfast and sing, 'Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go' as I drive through rush hour.  Then when I get to work, for some reason I keep calling all my co-workers 'Doc', 'Dopey', 'Sleepy', 'Bashful'  and so on.  I can't seem to help it.  What's wrong with me?'

'Oh, that's an easy diagnosis,' the doctor replied.  'You're just having a few Disney spells.'


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Post I Meant to Write Yesterday but Ran Out of Time: I Wore Purple.

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Four years ago, feeling snarky, I tried to make an underhanded statement of support of my chosen candidate at the polls, which backfired hysterically.   Next time, I stated in a reply to a comment, I will wear purple.

I remembered that statement as I stood in the closet on this Election Day, and pulled out a purple kind-of-sort-of twin set to wear.  My own humble pie for trying to be too clever last go-round.

 You can see a bit of it in the obligatory 'I voted' selfie I posted to Instagram...

But in the back of my head I had a thought all day that, just maybe, wearing purple was a sort of statement after all.

Purple is, after all, a blend of red and blue.  Once blended, they can't be pulled out again.  There's something new.

Had I written this post yesterday, as intended, I would not yet have known the results of the election.  My plan was to write something along the lines of ...whoever wins, we've got to unite as people.  We've got to quit the 'us vs. them' business and figure out how to get along even though we may not agree.  We've got to quit being red states and blue states and be purple together.

I remember doing a mock election during the presidential election of 1972 when I was in Junior High school; one of my classmates pulled me into a toilet stall with an unflushed, completely foul commode and announced, 'That's [the candidate you're supporting]!'  Even as a 13 year old, such a statement made absolutely no sense to me. The truth was, she didn't know enough about the issues and the platforms to make a reasoned argument against the candidate my team was supporting...and so crude insults were her argument.

I have seen way too much of such junior high behavior from way too many people in this election process... from supporters of both major parties and a good number of independent voters.    Maybe the person you voted for won, maybe that person did not.  But guess what...the folks that voted for the 'other candidate' probably didn't do it for the reasons the [liberal or conservative] press may be touting.  Most folks who cast valid votes do so for the person they think will do the best job for the USA from the available choices (I am not so sure about the 11,000  or so folks who voted for a dead gorilla.  Surely they could have written in one of the independent candidates who better represented their values). I may not understand why someone would vote for a particular candidate, but I have to respect their choice.  I know I don't appreciate reading some blanket statement applied to the folks who colored in the same circle I did; I'm quite sure folks who filled in other circles will not be encouraged or uplifted by some similar blanket statement applied to them.  And we will not heal up until we learn that individuals vote for individual reasons and we cannot lump everyone who voted for [this candidate] under one offensive epithet.

There are people who revel in such notoriety, who are rewarded by the shock and pain on the face of the person whom they judge worthy of a an unflushed toilet, but the truth is when you try to shoot down those folks, you inevitably hit the folks who were standing on the same side, who thought their choice through and, because they might have slightly different perceptions or priorities or foundations for their thinking made what they believed to be a reasoned choice...but different from yours.  And they would be just as horrified to be shoved into a bathroom stall for their choice.

So be judicious, not judgemental. Because God says there's a better way to change a nation.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  -- 2 Chron. 7:14 NIV 84

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Splendiferous Weekend...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

July 2014 was the last time I took a group of girls to the state Girls Ministry camp...we were changing programs for our girls, which meant that we would  no longer be participating in the annual camp, as we would not be doing the curriculum associated with the denomination hosting the camp.

It was a lovely place and, despite the fact that there was a certain level of stress associated with being responsible for the girls, I savored moments of spiritual communing by the lake there. I always thought it would be beautiful in the fall, but, hey, there was no reason for me to go in the fall.  I was sad when we left that last year; I expected that was the last time I would be there.


Our boys program is still with the curriculum from that denomination, and my hubby has worked with the boys at church for something like 14 years.  Every year, there is a weekend retreat for the commanders (the term for the guys who teach the boys) and their wives the same camp/conference center, which is adjacent to the state boys' campground.  Historically, it has been the 2nd weekend in September...which is always the weekend of our big women's conference at church.  Until 2014, the men of our church worked childcare for the conference, but we had to quit offering childcare because we had more kids than we had space.

Off the hook for childcare, My Sweet Babboo went to the Royal Ranger conference.  Came back talking about how great it was and how much he wished I could've gone...or could go. base admin... registration... there's no way I could miss the women's conference.  He went again last year by himself.  The state senior commander talked to him about the dates...would we ever move our conference?

Um, not gonna happen.

Ok, he said, let me see what I can do.

About a year ago, he called My Sweet Babboo and asked him how the last weekend in October looked.  I checked the church calendar and there was nothing listed.  We agreed it looked good, and that we'd go together.

Well...due to a series of events, our first big Men's conference, which had been scheduled during the summer, had to be rescheduled.  Wouldn't you know...they moved it to the last weekend in October.

Data base admin... registration.... aaiiieeee.  I talked to our Men's pastor.  I've got a prior commitment. They moved the conference for us.  We have to go.  He shook his head...but agreed.

So I ended up creating the lists for check in...helping set up...explaining the processes to a few of our usual registration volunteers and one staff person.  Then I went with my Sweet Baboo to the conference center that had wifi I couldn't access and limited phone reception.

In all the years we've been going there, for Rangers and Girls camps, this was the first time we ever went together.

I did get a text yesterday morning...a list I was supposed to generate that I totally forgot about in the crunch.  But my back-home folks were capable and once I pointed them in the right direction, they ran the list without any more coaching.  Whew.

And I got to spend quiet time by the lake the fall...with My Sweet Babboo.   Add to that the word we received and the people I was a gift.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Growing up, 'Mommy' is the force that shapes the day.  The structure that supports everyday life.

And, like most support structures, taken for granted.

When 'Mommy' becomes 'Mom', that support structure can become the restrictive confines, and the 'take for granted' can become chafing aggravation.

If I had my growing up years to do over, the things I would most like to correct would be to notice more how much she did.  I'd complain less and help more.  And not say the spiteful immature things I said when I was completely self-absorbed.

Because she really is my hero.

And I'm blessed to call this one 'Mom'.

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed...

Happy Birthday! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Time for a little randomness...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

No blogging time means that sometimes, an instant post...just add the best I can manage.

But click the link to see what other moving thoughts are floating around today!


1. What would you say is the best and worst thing about moving house?
The best?  A new house!  New neighborhood!  Fresh start!  Dejunking!  The worst? EVERYTHING ELSE.

2. What's moved you recently?
The needs of others...from friends with ailing babies to folks I don't know who have been flooded out.

3. Do you feel your life is moving forward, backward, or is on hold? How so?
Honestly?  'On Hold' so many ways.  All doors seem to be closed at the moment. So...just keeping on doing what I know to do...

4. On the move, move mountains, get a move on, it's your move, or bust a move...which phrase best applies to some aspect of your life right now? Explain.
'Get a move on' free time is shrinking and I need to do some serious re-prioritizing...

5. What song makes you want to get up and move?
 Lots, actually, but the one that most folks will recognize is 'Good Vibrations' by the Beach

6. Your favorite snack to grab when you're 'on the move'?
The poor man's energy bar...a Snickers...

7. What one accessory makes your house feel like home?
I am a total decorating klutz.  The best I could come up with is a tablecloth on the table, even if it's just flannel-backed vinyl.  There was usually a tablecloth on the table when I was growing up and it does make me feel kinda homey.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 
One of the things I'm missing most about the shrinking free time is...I don't have much blogging time.  I think of wonderful things to post, but by the time I actually get a minute to sit down and post something...the inspiration has disappeared.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Tour through Ps. 119: Reflections

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I began the journey back in March...I really didn't have the intention of exploring all the Hebrew all the way through.  It's funny how these things take on their own style and character apart from anything I plan.  This became way more academic and technical...not to mention a lot more work, lol...than I ever expected.  It evolved as I went...I didn't start writing down the Hebrew until, I think, Teth.  And I didn't include an attempt to describe the letters until sometime after that.  So the weeks are not completely consistent.

But it was a good study.  No, I can't read Hebrew from a study of the alphabetical Psalm, but I do at least have a passing acquaintance  with it and it doesn't look totally foreign anymore.  And I really learned how to dig down to the origins of a verse.

And I did notice patterns in the 8-verse sections.  Not all of them followed the pattern, but many did.  The Psalmist, somewhere in the 8 verses, generally did some combination of:
1) Declares his love for the word (law, decrees, statues, ordinances) of God
2) Declares his intention never to leave, abandon or forget that word (law, decrees, etc)
3) Laments the persecution he is is enduring from the ungodly, wicked,  misled, often in authority.
4) Requests God to deliver him from those persecutors
5) Asks God to increase his understanding of God's word (law, decrees, etc)
6) Admits that he has wandered astray from God's perfect way and requests restoration
7) Declares the righteousness and perfection of God's word (law, decrees, etc)
8) Asks God for favor and blessing (not generally in those words)

My key verse for the chapter, though, is verse 160, in the Amplified:

The sum of Your Word is truth [the total of the full meanings of all Your individual precepts] and every one of  Your righteous decrees endures for ever.

To anyone who hung with me through this rather fine-toothed-comb study...thanks!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Tour through Ps. 119: Taw

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The final letter in the Hebrew alphabet is Taw (or Tau), and it looks very much like the letters He and Heth, which look a lot like the Greek letter Pi.  But Taw has a squiggle on the left leg, so that's how I've been distinguishing it from the other two in my head. (For the record, He's left leg stops a little short of the cross bar...that's the difference between He and Heth...).

Taw begins each of the last eight verses in the Psalm, and the NIV 84 has translated that passage so:

May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word.
May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.
May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O LORD,  and your law is my delight.
Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
I have strayed like a lost sheep.  Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

We are finishing up with a set of verses that have a very poetic structure...the first 5 verses all follow the same format.    The Hebrew interlinear I was consulting showed  the letter Taw in front of the first word on all those verses, and I took that letter to somehow indicate the word 'Let' or, as the NIV translated it, 'May'.

[Let] my ringing cry come near your presence, Yahweh; by your word give me understanding.
[Let] my supplication come into your presence; by your word rescue me.
[Let] songs of praise pour out of my two lips, for you have taught me your statutes.
[Let] My tongue testify of your word because all your commandments are righteous.
[Let] it be your hand helping me, because I have chosen your precepts.
[I] have longed for your salvation, Yahweh, and your law is my delight.
[Let] my soul live and praise you, and [let] your judgements help me. 
[I] have wandered off like one of the flock that has strayed; seek your servant, because I have not ceased to care for your commandments.

Verse 174 uses a word, ta'ab,  which is translated as 'long for' that is used only twice in the whole Old Testament...and both times are in Ps. 119 (the other use is back in verse 40).  That makes me wonder what was unique to that word that it was used so specifically and so deliberately.  As a fledgling songwriter, I know my word choices sometimes have more to do with making the rhyme scheme/prosody work than with being the best word for the thought...but I also know that sometimes I will change the rhyme scheme to fit the perfect word. Hebrew poetry doesn't rhyme, per se, but there are structural elements that may influence word choices.  Generally speaking, I wouldn't use an obscure word if I were writing a song that would be published somehow.  Ta'ab must have something unique to it that made it THE choice for those two verses.

Because, you know, we're still singing these altered versions, to be sure, but we're still singing them. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Tour through Psalm 119: Sin and Shin

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
The next to last letter is two letters in one; Sin and Shin.  It looks a lot like a capital W...with a flat bottom and the middle spike kind of offset to the left..  It has really taken me a while to not think 'W' when I'm looking at it...but I'm gradually learning to  think 'sh' when I see it.

Sin and Shin is the letter that starts each of the verses numbered 161 - 168, and that section reads like this in the NIV 84:

Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word.
I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law.
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.
Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
I wait for your salvation, O Lord, and I follow your commands.
I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.
I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.

And, once more to the land of dictionaries and lexicons:

Rulers have harassed me for nothing, but my inner man in is awe of your word.
I rejoice over your word, finding abundant treasure.
[I] hate deceit and consider it an abomination, [but] your Law [I] love.
Seven [times] in the day [I] praise you because of your righteousness [and] judgements.
Those who love your law [have] great peace, and nothing can cause them to stumble.
[I] have waited for your salvation, Yahweh,  and have observed your commandments.
My soul has observed your testimonies and I love them abundantly.
I have observed your precepts and your divine testimonies, for all my ways are in your view.

The word translated 'peace'  in V. 165 is, of course, shalom.  The lexicon cited in the Blue Letter Bible entry   lists the synonyms wholeness, safety, and soundness.  I have been told the implication is nothing missing, nothing broken.

And the condition that brings about such a desirable state in one's life?

Loving the law of God.  So simple...

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Tour through Ps. 119: Resh

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

If you were to take the top and right side of a square, add an little bit of boldness to the top, you'd have something that is a reasonable facsimile of the letter 'resh', which begins each of the verses in Ps. 119:153-160.

In the NIV 84:

Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.
Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.
Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees.
Your compassion is great, O LORD; preserve my life according to your laws.
Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes.
I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word.
See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your love.
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

And, here's the results of my crawl through the dictionaries:

Perceive my misery and deliver me, because your law [I] never ignore.
Act as a kinsman-redeemer in my dispute and ransom me; by your word restore my life.
Distant from [the] wicked [is] salvation, because your statutes [they do] not consult.
Your compassion is great, Yahweh;  by your judgments sustain my life.
Many [are] my persecutors and adversaries; from your testimonies [I do] not turn aside.
I perceive treacherous [ones] who give no heed to your word and [my self] grieves.
See how I love your precepts, Yahweh; cause me to flourish in your compassion.
The totality of your words is truth; all your righteous judgments are everlasting.

Ok...I'm going to be straight up honest; there was a particular verse  that prompted this whole study.
A quote I'd  heard years ago mentioned a verse that I wanted very much to find, but the concordances didn't turn it up in the NIV or the King James.  I figured it *had* to be in Ps. 119, so I decided to do a fine-toothed comb study to see if I could find it.

I knew when I read verse 160 that I had found what I was looking for, but not the NIV translation.  Not the KJV, either (Thy word is true from the beginning: and everyone of thy righteous judgments endureth forever).

I grabbed the Parallel Study Bible and found that the translation I'd heard was the NASB:

The sum of Thy word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting.

At least the use of 'Thy' explains why I thought it was King James...

But while I was in the Parallel Bible, I checked the other translation listed there...the Amplified:
The sum of Your Word is truth [the total of the full meanings of all Your individual precepts] and every one of  Your righteous decrees endures for ever.


Do you see it?  We have a definition of truth...the totality of the word of God.

The Hebrew word which is translated 'all' in NIV, 'sum' in NASB and AMP, 'totality' in my paraphrase and 'Beginning' in King James is the word rosh (Strong's 7218) and has this entry on the Blue Letter Bible site:

1. head, top, summit, upper part, chief, total, sum, height, front, beginning
  1. head (of man, animals)
  2. top, tip (of mountain)
  3. height (of stars)
  4. chief, head (of man, city, nation, place, family, priest)
  5. head, front, beginning
  6. chief, choicest, best
  7. head, division, company, band
  8. sum

 I can sort of see where the KJV translators got 'from the beginning', but, honestly 'total' and 'sum' are the  best fitting translations.  And the dictionary indicates that the word has a particular construction that makes it dependent upon another this case, it would be either 'word' or 'truth'; there's no indication of a preposition.

The sum of your word is truth.  That means one passage cannot be interpreted or applied in a way that is inconsistent with the rest of the word.  It also means that one passage or instruction cannot be pulled out and called 'out of date' and discarded; that takes away from the sum.  Not to mention that the rest of the verse indicates that those decrees are everlasting; they do not have an expiration date.

It also lends a new light to John 1:1, 1:14 and 14:6

...In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God ...And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us....It was he who said, 'I am the way, the truth and the light...'

God's word is truth...both the word he spoke and the word incarnate.

To borrow another great word from the Psalms...Selah.

Just two more letters to go... 

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Tour through Ps. 119: Qoph

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Sigh.  This has been two weeks in process; maybe that's the new normal for now.  But finally I can hit 'publish'

Besides being the 4th from the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet, Qoph is a really, really good word to remember when you're playing Scrabble (R)... :-)  It bears a passing resemblance to a capital P, if you stretch it out a bit, and it begins all the first words in verses 145-152.  Here's the NIV 84 version:

I call with all my heart; answer me, O LORD, and I will obey your decrees.
I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statues.
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your laws.
Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law.
Yet you are near, O LORD, and all your commands are true.
Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.

Now, I have had a bit of an epiphany-- someone who actually knows something about Hebrew left a comment on the last post about the translation.  And I went back and checked the dictionary I was using and found that the translation she gave me was not listed in the definition of the word, nor was it ever translated that way in King James.  So my dictionary has lost a bit of its credibility....or maybe my use of it is not quite correct. Because she KNOWS.

But, because it's all I have, I'm going to plug right along.  Just keep in mind...this is not any kind of authoritative work here.  I'm exploring and learning how to research.

Here's this week's exploration...

[I] cry out with [my] entire inner man:  Answer me, Yahweh; your statutes [I] will guard.
[I] cry out [to] you: Save me; I will protect your divine testimonies.
Before dawn, I cry out for help, waiting for your word.
My two eyes meet the watches of the night, [as I] meditate upon your word.
Hear my voice according to your kindness, Yahweh; by your judgements refresh me.
Pursuers of mischief come near [it? me?]; from your law they are distant.
You are near, Yahweh, and all your commandments are true.
From antiquity, it is obvious that your divine testimonies have been established as everlasting.

The last verse was hard...the individual words didn't match up well to the Hebrew listed in the interlinear, but I'm limited to looking them up by the numbers so I'm not sure what the extra letters are about.  And the word min, which modifies edah, which I have rendered 'divine testimonies' when I encounter it (the dictionary states 'always plural and always of laws as divine testimonies'), is particularly puzzling.  The most common usage of it is that it is referring to a part out of a whole...which made me wonder if the verse is actually saying something along the lines of 'I only know a part of your eternal divine testimonies'  ....but that really didn't match up at all with what any of the knowledgeable translators have said, so I backed off of that.  What I have is a pretty lame paraphrase, I think, but since I just couldn't come up with something I was confident in based on the resources I had...I think it works..

Verse 150 has an interesting construction, too.  The NIV implies that the wicked folks are near to the psalmist; the King James is a little more vague...They draw nigh that follow after mischief.  From the construction, it seems to me that the verse is demonstrating that folks who chase after mischief will pull right up to it, but in doing so they put themselves farther from the laws of God.

Which is kinda sad...

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Tour through Ps. 119: Tsadhe

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
The next letter is Tsadhe ...which looks a lot like a script Y; with a higher fork and swirlier tail than Ayin.  And I'm not really sure how it's pronounced. But it starts off each verse from Ps. 137 - 144 in the Hebrew; and translated as follows in the NIV 84:

Righteous are you, O  LORD, and your laws are right.
The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.
My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.
Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.
Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.
Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight.
Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.

I got exactly that far about two and a half weeks ago and all blogging pretty much shut down as we cranked out what needed to be cranked out to be able to head out of town for a week.  We had a great visit with family...but now I'm struggling to get back in the groove.

So, with a deep breath, I'm going to go dictionary diving in hopes of getting the post up before I forget how to do it. ;-)
Righteous are you, Yahweh, and upright are your judgements
Your divine judgements that you have appointed are righteous and exceedingly steadfast.
My zealous ardor has consumed me, for my oppressors have ceased to care about your words.
Your word is tried exceedingly and proven true; therefore your servant loves it.
I am despised and insignificant, [but] I [will never] forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is justice that continues on forever, and your law is true.
Distress and anguish have taken hold of me, yet your commandments are my delights.
The righteousness of your testimonies endures forever; give me understanding and I shall have life.

God's word is proven to be righteous and true; it endures forever and, despite what troubles come or what others may think, that righteous truth brings life and joy and hope.  Why would anyone abandon it?