Monday, January 15, 2018

What's My Motive?

 Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

(The back cover of the journal I customized at DIVE in 2014...that I use to record original song lyrics and other poetic stuff...)

One of my Blogging Buddies (and former BSF Teaching Leader), Suzanne Matthews, recently posted a question:

What Bible verse or quote impacted your life in 2017?

When I first read that, I paused, but came up with a blank.  I couldn't really think of one that stood out.

But, as these things go, one verse that caught my attention last year has resurfaced again and again in the time since I first read that question.

How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?  - Jn 5:44

I've just started reading David Binon's book The Invisible Worshiper, and, even though he hasn't mentioned that verse (at least not in the first two chapters, lol), I keep hearing that question over and over again.

Am I making an effort to obtain the praise that comes only from God...or am I looking for approval/praise from other people?

See, at the turning of the year I have become keenly aware that my creative self has all but shut down.  Oh, I'm puttering away here and there, but there's nothing consistent.  The urgency that had me writing even just three years ago has pretty much evaporated.  I sit down to write and...nothing.

I'll be honest; a lot of the reason I found myself floundering to write/create went nowhere.  I began to feel like I was spending a lot of energy...not just creating, but anticipating and hoping that the work was worth doing, could make a difference...and, by and large, it was met with a 'Oh, that's nice.'...and then, nothing.

Case in point...not meant to be a complaint or a whine, just a statement of fact...I went back and counted the comments I've gotten on the blog in the past year.  Not counting my

I shouldn't have counted.    Am I trying to gain the praise that comes from God...or praise from people?

I pulled out my songwriting notebook and read through some of the lyrics.  And I honestly think at least some of them are good.  But my attempts to turn them into something have just hit brick wall after brick wall.  So I'm pretty sure turning them into something isn't my calling.

That's trying to get praise from people, right?

Then... the Passion and Purpose post challenged me...I realized that another reason my creative unction had failed was that I failed to spend time in the presence of the Creator.  He is the SOURCE.

A wee bit squeezed in here and there ain't gonna cut it.  Not if I want to move forward.

I had given up on writing because it was going nowhere.  And I'd stopped spending quality time with God because the creativity that came from those meetings drove me to write...but the writing was going nowhere.

Looking for praise from people ultimately shuts down not only the output of creative but closes off the source of creative.

Ya'll, I am having my clock cleaned good at the start of the year.

So here's a paradigm shift...a challenge for 2018...become a person who seeks to please God...

Friday, January 12, 2018

Step commitments...yet...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi.

If you're contemplating a once-in-a-lifetime adventure,  start with the simple steps.

Go to the post office and get your passport renewed.

It doesn't obligate you...yet...

And you know time's running out; you might not make the deadline once all the discussions are completed and the finances laid out and all lights turn green.

But you might.

So you do the simple step.

And then know you've got to commit within a week if you're going to do it.

Because you really, really want to do it.

But it scares you a little.

Ok, a lot.

It's just that there's all those stupid niggling health issues...what if one of them (or more) decides to blow up at the worst possible moment on the other side of the globe?

And you know you don't fly well.

But you also know if you don't at least try you'll be disappointed in yourself.

So find the just-expired passport. Fill out the paperwork. Get the photo.  Pay the fee.  Send it in.

And trust that if God means for you to do it, there will still be a space available once all agree on 'go'.  And He's got all that health stuff covered.  And if it's a bad idea...well, the deadline will pass and that will be that.

And...truth...that's better than my drivers' license photo...

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Epiphany Challenge

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  (Matt. 2:1-3; all scripture today from NIV 84)

While we have many traditional ideas of the Christmas story that don't really line up with scripture; the Magi's part is probably the most distorted.  My little china nativity set underscores the errors...first, that there were exactly 3 (they have even been given names somewhere along the way...Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar.  According to this CNN Story,  Bede the Venerable listed their names and descriptions in the 8th century, but no one knows the exact origin of the tradition); secondly, that they came to the manger with the shepherds.  Nowhere in scripture is the number of Magi stated; given the stir they caused when they arrived in Jerusalem, disturbing the whole city with their quest, I rather think it was somewhat more than three.  And as to them coming to the manger, that's pretty much disproven later in the second chapter of Matthew.  It was somewhere in the neighborhood of two years later when they came to the house in Bethlehem where Joseph and Mary and Jesus were living.

But, be that as it may, it still is an astonishing bit in the story that wealthy learned men (again, not kings...nowhere in the narrative are they referred to as kings) understood the signs in the heavens and undertook the journey to worship the one they called the King of the Jews.  They had to also have understood the significance of that King...that His coming was for the nations, not just for the Jews.  Why else would they undertake such a journey? 

All Jerusalem was disturbed.

Herod called in the chief priests and the teachers of the law and asked them where the Messiah was to be born.

"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "For this is what the prophet has written:  But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel."  (Matt. 2:5-6)

Now, if you were a Jew, living in Jerusalem,  hearing the news that a troupe of foreigners, well-dressed and well-mounted, had arrived looking for the long-prophesied king...who was to have be born only about 5 miles away...what would you have done?

The Jews of that day did...nothing. Not one of them is recorded as going to see for himself if the story the Magi told was true.

Of course, perhaps they reasoned that it had been two years and there was certainly no guarantee that the family hadn't left the area, but still.  They had been looking for the coming of the Messiah for CENTURIES.  Would you not have been a little curious?  Would you not have taken a day to check the story out?

But Herod instructed the Magi to go and find the child and then come back and tell him...and everyone else, I suppose...where to find him.

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

I have heard critics of the gospel state that the sum given to Mary and Joseph should have set them up to be wealthy; I think it just financed the urgent flight they undertook probably less than 24 hours later.  Joseph had a dream warning him to go to Egypt; he got up and took his family and left in the middle of the night.   Herod, in his fury that the Magi did not return and tell him where to find anyone, sent his soldiers to kill all boys two and under in the entire area around Bethlehem.

The Jews had missed their opportunity to see their Messiah.  Of course, He would appear to all of them later, but that blessing for that time was gone.

So, here's the challenge to me from the story of Epiphany...Jesus is near to us today.  We can encounter Him just by taking the time to seek Him.   Every day is a new opportunity...but when that opportunity is gone, it's gone.  How many days do I let go by without spending some time with Him?  Why do I let the busy of life stop me from the very little effort it takes to hear a word or two for that day?  How can I shake my head over the Jews who wouldn't interrupt their routine for a 5 mile journey if I won't interrupt my activity for 30 minutes?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Purpose and Passion

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
 (the sunset photo really doesn't have anything to do with the post; but sunsets in general are good for a reflective mood and it gives Facebook a nice photo to post instead of the CWO

I actually made it to the beginning of staff prayer today; many days I come in right at the end of the 'quiet personal prayer time'  and catch the corporate prayer and the exhortation from one of the pastors.

But today, I got there early enough that I could do my Jericho march around the sanctuary.  I like to walk and pray...number one, it keeps me alert and, number two, it keeps me warm, lol.

As I was walking and praying, there was one particular face that came to mind and I found myself praying that God would put a passion and purpose into that life...someone who's in need of a bit of direction and motivation to get out of a rut.

When enough folks had arrived that the aisles were beginning to be congested (many other staffers like to walk and pray as well), I sat down, and the following thoughts just ran out of my pen onto my notepad (slightly edited for clarity and coherence, I'll admit...)....

Passion and purpose are essential for a satisfying human existence.

Folks who have neither move aimlessly through life, ineffective and invisible.

Folks who have purpose but no passion lose their sense of value, living under the drudgery of duty.

Folks who have passion but no purpose burn out on frivolity.

A God-given passion for a purpose will change the world...for someone.

But each of us have to CHOOSE to pursue the passion and purpose of God; it is tailored to fit each individual life and will go unclaimed if the person for whom it was fashioned...or, perhaps, who was fashioned for it...doesn't rise up and possess it.

Because the enemy will provide a counterfeit; passion can be twisted and purpose can be misdirected.  It needs an intentional choice to live in the passion and purpose of God.

And choice is never just a decision; choice is an action.

What am I doing today to choose to pursue the passion and purpose of God in and for my life? 

A good ponder for the start of a new year...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Through the Bible in 2018

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Gonna start from the top again with a different translation; I read the NIV '84 in 2017; this year, I'm reading and marking my ESV.

I think I've mentioned before that one of the best ways to get a fresh revelation of a passage of Scripture is to read it in a version that is not familiar.  The ESV is getting familiar...and it has a very King James feel to it without the archaic language, but I think it will be good to get into it just the same.

I've decided to modify the  3 + 1 format a bit; instead of doing it daily, I'm going to do it 6 days a week.  I'll still finish with, like, 3 weeks to go, but that should take some of the pressure off of it as I'll have one day a week for catch up if life gets busy.

But it's going to be hard to track where I am in the schedule.

So I sat down and made a weekly plan for the year, just so I have something to reference if I miss a few days so I can see what I need to do to catch up.

I'm following the same plan I used last year...grouping authors but going semi-chronological.

Starting with Genesis (2 chapters a day), Psalms (1 chapter a day) and the Gospel according to John (1 chapter a day).

The weekly plan looks like this:
Week 1 - Gen. 1 - 12; Ps. 1 - 6; John 1 - 6
Week 2 - Gen. 13 - 24; Ps. 7 - 12; John 7 - 12
Week 3 - Gen. 25 - 36; Ps. 13 - 18; John 13 - 18
Week 4 - Gen. 37 - 48; Ps. 19 - 24; John 19 - 21, 1 John 1 - 3
Week 5 - Gen.49 - 50,  Ex. 1- 10; Ps. 25 - 30; 1 John 4 - 5, 2 John, 3 John, Rev. 1 - 3
Week 6 - Ex 11 - 22; Ps. 31-36; Rev 4-9
Week 7 - Ex. 23 - 34; Ps. 37-42; Rev. 10-15
Week 8 - Ex 35 - 40; Lev. 1-6; Ps. 43-48, Rev. 16-21
Week 9 - Lev. 7 -18; Ps. 49 - 54; Rev 22, Matt 1 -5
Week 10 - Lev. 19-27; Num. 1-3;  Ps, 55 - 60, Matt 6-11
Week 11 - Num. 4-15; Ps. 61-66; Matt 12-17
Week 12 - Num 16-27; Ps. 67-72;  Matt 18-23
Week 13-  Num. 28-36; Deut. 1-3; Ps. 73-78 Matt 24-28, Mark 1
*End of March

Week 14 - Deut. 4 - 15; Ps. 79-84; Mark 2-7
Week 15 - Deut 16-27; Ps. 85-90; Mark 8-13
Week 16 - Deut. 28 -34, Josh. 1-5; Ps 91-96; Mark 14 -15. Lk. 1-4
Week 17 - Josh. 6-17; Ps. 97- 102; Lk 5-10
Week 18 - Josh. 18-24, Judges 1-5; Ps. 103-108; Lk 11-16
Week 19 - Judges 6-17; Ps. 109-114; Lk 17-22
Week 20 - Judges 18-21, Ruth 1-4, 1 Sam. 1-4; Ps. 115-120; Lk 23-24, Acts 1-4
Week 21 - 1 Sam 5-16; Ps. 121-126; Acts 5-10
Week 22 - 1 Sam 14-28; Ps. 127-132; Acts 11-16
Week 23 - 1 Sam 29-31, 2 Sam 1 - 9;  Ps. 133-138; Acts 17-22
Week 24  - 2 Sam 10 - 21; Ps. 138-144; Acts 22-28
Week 25 - 2 Sam 22-24, 1 Kings 1-9; Ps. 145-150;  James 1-5,  1 Thess. 1
Week 26 - 1 Kings 10 - 21; Job 1- 6; 1 Thess. 2-5, 2 Thess 1 -2
*End of June

Week 27 - 1 Kings 22, 2 Kings 1 - 11; Job 7 - 12; 2 Thess 3, Gal 1 - 5
Week 28 - 2 Kings 12 - 23; Job 13-18; Gal 6, 1 Cor 1-5
Week 29 - 2 Kings 24-25, 1 Chron. 1 - 10; Job 19-24, 1 Cor 6-11
Week 30 - 1 Chron. 11 - 22; Job 25-30, 1 Cor 12-16, 2 Cor 1
Week 31 - 1 Chron. 23 - 29, 2 Chron 1 - 5; Job 31-36; 2 Cor 2-7
Week 32 -  2 Chron 6-17, Job 37-42, 2 Cor. 8-13
Week 33 -  2 Chron 18 -29; Prov. 1 - 6;  Rom. 1-6
Week 34 -  2 Chron 30-36, Is 1-5; Prov. 7-12; Rom. 7-12
Week 35 - Isaiah 6 -17; Prov. 13-18, Rom. 13- 16, Eph. 1-2
Week 36 - Isaiah 18 - 29,  Prov. 19-24, Eph. 3 - 6, Philippians 1-2
Week 37 - Is 30-41,  Prov. 25-30; Philippias 3 - 4,  Colossians 1 - 4
Week 38 - Is. 42 -53,  Prov. 31, Ecc. 1 - 5, Titus 1-3, 1 Tim 1
Week 39 -  Is. 54 -65; Ecc. 6 - 11; 1 Tim 5- 6, 2 Tim 1
*End of September

Week 40 -  Is. 66, Micah 1 - 7, Joel 1- 3, Hos. 1  Ecc. 12, SoS 1-5, 2 Timothy 2-3, Heb 1-4
Week 41 -   Hos. 2-14, Amos 1-2 ; SoS 6-8, Heb. 5 - 10  (Books of Wisdom completed)
Week 42 -  Amos 3- 9, Jonah 1-4, Nah. 1-3, Habbakukk 1-3, Zeph.1 ;  Heb 11-13, 1 Pet. 1-3
Week 43 -  Zeph. 2-3, Jer. 1 - 16; 1 Pet. 4 - 5, 2 Peter 1-3, Jude (New Testament Completed)
Week 44 - Jer 17 - 40
Week 45- Jer. 41 - 52, Lamentations 1-5, Ezekiel 1-7
Week 46 -Ezekiel 8 -31
Week 47 - Ezekiel 32 - 48, Obadiah, Daniel 1- 6
Week 48 - Daniel 7 - 12, Esther 1-10, Ezra 1-8
Week 49  -  Ezra 9 - 10, Neh. 1-13, Haggai 1-2, Zec 1-4
Week 50 - Zechariah 5 - 14, Mal 1- 4

That *ought* to finish up sometime around the 2nd week in December.  I *think* it's all there; when I was typing it up I found some boo-boos in my handwritten schedule....which is a pretty scrawly mess.  (ETA - I discovered I completely omitted 2 Chronicles and Habbakkuk, and had the wrong chapter counts on at least two books and had to go back and refigure everything.    I THINK it's right now...)

So...anyone feel game to read along? :-)

Friday, December 29, 2017


Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I started the year with the intention to read through the entire Bible.  I've never done it entirely in one year before, and I thought it was high time I did it.

The reading plan I used was simply '3 + 1'...three chapters in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament every day.

I stayed fairly well on the plan;  I'd get a few days behind but then catch up again during a vacation or holiday when I had a bit of extra time.

I was on vacation in Gatlinburg at the end of October when I finished the book of Nehemiah in another catch up session.  I checked the list and I had only Zachariah and Malachi left.

Wait.  Only 18 chapters?  And I was behind?  I knew there was a little extra time but I'd never added it up.

I went back and looked at the numbers and realized that, reading three and one every day, you finish reading in mid October.   

There are 1,179 chapters in the Bible, dividing that by 4 is 295 days. Which leaves 70 extra days.  So if you stick to'll finish in the late part of October.

Or, you can skip a day a week; 3 + 1 six days a week and you'll finish mid- December.

Or, you do what I did...realize you had two months to read fourteen chapters and spend some time doing other stuff, like writing a little study on a chapter in Exodus, so that you end up finishing with two days left.

I wouldn't recommend that approach; it was too easy to slack back.

Overall, though, I'd recommend this as a way to cover the Bible without getting too rigid about it.  There is a little slack time for vacations or extremely busy work seasons, or know, life stuff that happens.  I did keep a journal, so I knew where I was in the reading and what I had to do when I got behind.  And I kinda sorta read through it in Chronological order, with a bit of exception (for instance, I started the New Testament with John, which was one of the last books written, because it began with ' In the beginning'...just like Genesis, then just read all of John's writings...1,2 3 John and Revelation before going back to Matthew).  I looked at what dates scholars believed the books were written and followed that, reading two from OT narrative, one from the wisdom books and one from the NT.  When I finished the Wisdom books I started reading three a day from the given book, going from 2 Chronicles to the prophetic books dealing with the last days of the kingdom and the exile before going back to Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah, finishing with the post-exilic prophets.

If I had been just a little more pro-active, I'd've finished Malachi during Advent, which would work very well with the season.

I read through my (relatively) new, unmarked NIV '84, marking as I went.  I'm actually thinking of starting again on Jan 2 with the ESV and going through again.

Wonder if I could just keep repeating the cycle with a different translation for the next few years...hmmm....

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Burning Bush: An Advent Study...the Imperative and the Promise

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

When I decided to do the study based on Exodus 3, I had in mind four little posts...perfect for Advent.  But, as I was actually writing it, I realized there is a fifth post that I couldn't ignore.

God told Moses...I have seen, I have heard, I am concerned, I have come.   Those were the phrases that echoed in my spirit as I considered what I would post this year.  Then a couple of weeks ago, another phrase crept in that was just as insistent.

See, He also told him something else...

"So now, go.  I am sending you...." ...And God said, "I will be with you...I will help you." Ex. 3:10a, 12a, 4:12a.

That sounds a little bit familiar, too.  Kind of like

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  - Matt 28:19 - 20

Here's what struck me...God's presence isn't just to make us feel better or get us out of trouble.

His presence is to empower us to do things beyond our natural abilities, for the purpose of freeing others.

We can't celebrate the coming of the Christ Child without accepting that responsibility.

That's a point that I will probably be pondering well into 2018.

Maybe I should move that bit of artwork to a more prominent place, to remind me that I am not just saved and delivered, I am also sent.

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to my fellow Sent Ones!