Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Tour through Psalms 119: Yodh

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
This week's Hebrew letter is Yodh...which sort of looks like an apostrophe, a punctuation mark instead of a letter, to my western eye. But it is a letter, and, in the Hebrew it begins each of the verses in the section beginning in verse 73 and concluding in verse 80.  Here's how it is in my NIV 84:

Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.
I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,  for your law is my delight.
May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;  but I will meditate on your precepts.
May those who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes.
May my heart be blameless toward your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.

You'd think by now I'd be catching on to the Hebrew...maybe I am, just a little.  At least, some of the words are starting to look familiar.   I'm in awe of anyone who can actually write Hebrew; so many letters are so very incredibly similar.  Basically, though, I still feel like I'm muddling through.  But even muddling through will eventually get through...and here's my cobbled up paraphrase, based on the Hebrew dictionary:

Your commandments [and] your two hands have fashioned me and established me;  give me understanding and I shall learn.
Reverent ones consider me and rejoice because I have waited for your word.
I have been afflicted and I have known, Yahweh, the righteousness and steadfastness of your judgements.
I pray now, let your faithfulness become my consolation according to your word to your servant.
Your mercies come upon me so that I will live, because your law is my delight.
By your precepts the arrogant are confounded for their lying subversion, but I meditate [upon them].
Return to [you? me?] those who are reverent, who have known your divine testimonies.
My inner man - mind, will and understanding- stands soundly on your statutes so that I will not be ashamed.

My greatest struggle is the pronouns, and the...well, for want of a better term, the pleading.  Look at how many of the verses start with 'May' or 'let' in the NIV translation.

I really only found one verse that clearly started with a beseeching structure (verse 76, which I rendered 'I pray now'); it really isn't obvious in the others.  Of course, I'm using a purely amateur translation process, so I'm sure I'm missing obvious clues, but as I'm working through it the psalmist seems much more declarative....I believe, therefore such and such...not, please, I believe, so let such and such... 

But maybe I'm perceiving a difference that really isn't much of a difference.

However, I'm finding much more encouragement in the declaration than in the entreaty, and it seems more in character with what God does...he blesses, he comforts, he encourages, the folks who are committed to him and his word.

God's precepts confound the arrogant...but they are the source of joy and comfort to the one who will meditate on them. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

The first step on a new road...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi.

I mentioned in Saturday's post-that-should-have-been-Friday's that we are starting a school of ministry at church.  It's a unique program...affiliated with West Coast Bible College and Seminary, an online campus.  Our program will be centered around quarterly weekend seminars, followed up by online coursework.

I thought it looked good, so I signed up and went through the whole application process.

And the folks at West Coast recommended that I pursue a Master's degree instead.

After some discussion with a couple of pastors and my hubby, and some thoughtful and prayerful consideration, I decided to go ahead and go that route and was able to transfer my seminar registration payment to The Actor, who was also interested in working on his education.   I paid for the master's program coursework last week, downloaded the syllabus for the first class and ordered the book from Amazon.

So, instead of being a student at the first weekend seminar, I helped with the admin tasks.  Just for the record, I could hear some of the lectures...they sounded really good.  And the comments I heard from folks who were in the seminars were all quite positive.  That makes me hopeful for the classes I'll be taking.

The textbook for my first class....English Composition.. arrived today.  I printed out the study notes, put together my notebook, and read the first two chapters as instructed for the first assignment.

I figured the writing class would be a good place to start, since most of the grade is based on written work.

The first chapter is about using the least words, the second about using the best words.   I was a bit chagrined that I only did so-so on the first editing exercise, despite the fact that I'm well aware that I tend to be, um, wordy.  I shouldn't have been surprised that I didn't cut enough. I need to sharpen the editing axe.

You'll  have to pay attention to the blog posts over the next few weeks and see if I am implementing what I learn. ;-)

Now, I am fully aware that this is a correspondence school, not a fully accredited (although they are working towards accreditation) institution.  But it is enough for now.

A small step...we'll see where this road goes...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Tour Through Ps. 119: Teth

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I know, I know, I'm  a day late.  But, wow, it's been an insanely busy week.  I'm just glad I'm  getting a post up this week at all...

This week's Hebrew letter is Teth, and begins each of the verses in Ps 119: 65 -72, which the NIV 84 renders as:

Do good to your servant according to your word, O LORD.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

I think this time I'm going to do the Hebrew Dictionary Dive before I comment...

...and I worked on the Hebrew whilst waiting for the between-session moments when I had to enter attendance for the classes of our first-ever ministry school seminar weekend.  There's a story there, for another day, but for the moment, I had about 4 ish hours that I just kind of had to hang around, so I hauled the Zodhiates to church with me and dug through the passage and made notes.  And...I'm finding some interesting things.

I actually made an attempt to do a facsimile of the Hebrew listed on, so I could match the actual location in the sentence to the Strongs numbers listed.  Boy, that's a challenge.

I did, however, see one set of letters...that I would reproduce if I had easy access to a Hebrew font...that repeated over and over as a prefix to several words.  The letter sequence is Ayin-Samekh-Thau....I think.  There's very little difference between He, Heth, Tau and Thau and I'm not sure what I wrote down.  My scribbles really aren't precise enough.  But, in doing the facsimile, I noticed the repeated prefixes...that I missed when I was just looking up the words that actually had numbers associated with them.

Those prefixes do not have any numbers.

Plus, there was one word that I simply could not find in the verse in which it was listed.  I looked and looked at the Hebrew spelling in the dictionary, and at what was listed as the verse written in Hebrew and I could not find that particular set of  characters,  but...there are tenses and prefixes and suffixes and I'm not entirely sure there aren't typos in the interlinear Hebrew text as the Strongs numbers frequently appear in the midst of the Hebrew.  So,  I am considering this all with a very large grain of salt.

But it's still fascinating to dig in and look at the different shades of meaning.  Even if the pronouns and prepositions are something of a guess.

You have agreeably fashioned your servant by your word.
Good judgement and discernment teach me because in your commandment [I]  stand firm.
Before,  I was occupied; going astray, but henceforth I have kept your word.
You are good and do good;  teach me actions prescribed for me!
[I] have been plastered over with deception by the presumptuous; [but I guard] your precepts with the totality of my inner being.
Their inner being is insensitive from excess, but I delight myself in the body of your instruction.
[It has been] good for me since I have been humbled for the purpose of learning the actions prescribed for me.
The body of instruction from your mouth is better than a thousand (pieces of?) gold and silver.

5 out of the 8 of these verses begin with the Hebrew word 'Twob', which is translated 'Good' or 'Better'.

It may be that I'm deliberately picking out the more personal of the possible translations, but I see so much emphasis on 'the way prescribed for me'...that the Psalmist is not just asking God to instruct Him in God's general laws and precepts, but in the very boundaries that God wants to place in his own, specific, life.

That's relationship. Intimate and personal.

Yes, Lord, teach me in the way prescribed for me...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Death of a Swan

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Some days, there is a reaction to life that just erupts and must be given voice...
Let’s say, just for illustration, that I believe I am a swan.

Really. I am convinced a biological mistake happened and I have the soul of a swan. I was never meant to be human...I was meant to be beautiful and graceful.

I was meant to fly.

And, let’s say that I was able to find a doctor who, for a price, would surgically implant feathers into my arms and shoulders and back.

If you loved me, would you encourage me to be my true self, the swan? Would you help me raise funds so that I could afford the multiple surgeries to turn myself into a feathered being? Would you enable my starvation diet, so that I could become as thin and light as air? Would you defend me against the bullies around who told me I was never a swan, would never be a swan and would never fly?

Would you listen to my dreams of flying, of soaring, of being free of gravity? 

Would you stand ready with the video camera on the fateful day when the surgeries are complete and I spread my altered arms and leap into the sky from the rim of Little River Canyon, believing I will soar and swoop, just as a swan would?

At my funeral, would you speak movingly of my bravery to be true to myself? 

If you loved me?

And, hey, maybe your kid is a swan. I mean, she has dreams of flying, too, right? How young will he be when the burning desire to soar in the sky seizes him? If they show any signs of believing they’re swans, you need to act on it right away. If you start them young, before they ever fight the battles I fought (may I rest in peace) to be a swan, maybe it will be easier for them. 

They could have the feathers implanted and become accustomed to them as they grow older. Medically stunt their growth, so they stay small and light and more likely to fly. 

Of course, society will have to change to deal with kids with feathers. Fashions will have to change...hey, maybe some designer will get the idea to make clothes with feathers, so ordinary kids, kids who never thought of being a swan, can be cool like the feathered kids.

Anyone who dares to mention that the kids’ bones are full of marrow, and not light and hollow, like a swan’s, or that their chest muscles were never shaped properly to move wings, or that the artificial feathers could never function like the feathers of a creature who has flight in the DNA of every cell of its body must be silenced and shamed for their hatred of these brave children who are going to fly someday.

And when the day comes when the children launch themselves into the elaborate illusion for which they have sacrificed their humanity...will you cradle their broken bodies, and tell them how proud you are of them, as the lie kills them?

If you really love them?

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Tour through Ps. 119: Heth

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
Today's passage is Ps. 119:57-64; and each verse, in Hebrew, begins with the Hebrew letter 'Heth'.  NIV 84:

You are my portion, O LORD;  I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, O LORD;  teach me your decrees.

Do you see the intentionality in this passage? (Ok, I may have just made up the word 'intentionality'...the spell checker doesn't like it, but it is exactly what I want to say so work with me).

I promised to obey...I sought you...I considered my ways and turned my steps...I will hasten and not delay to obey...I rise at midnight to give thanks...

Not a lick of just going along with the flow there.  Seeking, considering, turning, moving quickly, rising from slumber...all of which are characteristics that I may desire but not push myself to actually walk  out with consistency. 

Intentional pursuit of God.  Why why why don't I keep that in the forefront of my daily activities???

Let's see how it breaks down in the the look-it-up-in-Hebrew paraphrase:

My portion, Yahweh: [I] have commanded myself to keep watch over your word.
[I] cause myself to be weak, entreating your face [with] the entirety of my inner man (mind, will, heart and understanding); be gracious to me according your word.
[I] consider my ways, returning my feet to your divine testimonies.
[I] made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.
[A] company of the wicked surrounding me, your instruction I have not forgotten.
[Your] righteousness in the midst of the darkness establishes my thanksgiving for your judgements.
I am united with all who revere you and guard your precepts.
Your goodness, Yahweh, fills the earth; teach me my portion [of it].

Y'all, I wish I could convey the undercurrents of all of this that I encounter as I dig though the dictionary and consider the intricacies of the verb tenses. I mean, I'm really swimming in waters waaaayyy over my head, but I get such a sense of ongoing, continual action.

He didn't consider God's ways in the past and adjust his directions; if I'm understanding correctly it is an ongoing, continual action of evaluating whether or not he is consistent with God's word and making adjustments;  he immediately makes a correction if it's needed.  He does not forget God's instruction, even when he is surrounded by evil in a very dark place...God's judgements can be trusted.

It's interesting that I found 'portion' in both the beginning and ending of this section...and the sense that I had is that the Psalmist  states that it IS his portion, his assignment, his territory to command himself to guard over God's word...both to observe it and to maintain it...and then he comes back around to ask God to teach to him the portion of God's earth-filling goodness that falls to him.

That's a good entreaty...

God, continually teach me to walk continually in the portion of your goodness that you have assigned to me.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Pondering a nudge...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Spring 2008 - Huntsville Botanical Garden.  Representing change...

Welp, this is one of those days...well, been one of those weeks...and I can tell that I am simply NOT going to have time to dig into the dictionaries for my weekly Ps. 119 post.  So Heth will have to  wait for next week, I'm afraid.

But I happened to check my facebook memories for the day and found that I'd posted two quotes last year, both of which have kinda slapped me upside the head:

'You'll never change your life until you change something you do daily.  The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.' -- John Maxwell

'What you don't confront won't change.' - John Bevere.

And, then there was also a reminder of the Choices unit I taught in Friends Club 2 years which I told the young ladies, 'Choice is not a decision.  Choice is an action.'

Y'all, I think that was a Holy Spirit nudge.

How many times have I decided, 'I'm going to get up early tomorrow and walk.  And I'm not eating any cookies/cakes/sugary snacky things,' only to hit the snooze button 4 times and feel I *have* to take advantage of the homebaked cookies someone put out in the conference room to share?

And that's just an example of ONE area of my life that needs some change...there are several...

But I don't want to bite of more than I can chew.  So for the next week, I'm making one change...I'm going to bed on time so I can get up on time.

One thing.  I just have to change one thing...and I have a feeling some of those others will fall into place.