Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Good Father

What man would be considered a good father if he allowed his children to remain in destructive, deadly behaviors?  Who could look with equanimity, acceptance and mildness on the behaviors of his self-destructive child?  

Wouldn't a good father when faced with behaviors destructive to self and others, respond with a firm hand, a chastisement, a correction - not out of cruelty, or strictness for strictness' sake, but out of a deep love, a grieving heart and an understanding that his child needs a serious shaking up and rebuking of that rebellious and self-destructive spirit, that he might come to his senses and change for the sake of his own life and those in danger of being hurt by him?

That father would not be constrained by thoughts of whether the child approved or "liked" him.  He would do his job in submission to the higher calling of redeeming his wayward child.

Hear O Israel!  We are that child, and God is that loving and chastising father!  We are the children who have gone looking for fulfillment, meaning and pleasure in every tempting sweet on the smorgasbord of counterfeit spiritual pursuits, and eaten of them until we are sick, fat and more empty than when we started.  We have not liked to hear a word of rebuke, but have sought only affirmation, however undeserved.  We have chosen death over life because we preferred having our way instead of seeking God's way for us.

The God of the Tanakh, or Old Testament, is the one whose heart is broken by how far we have wandered from his life-giving word as found in our ancient scriptures.  He is the one who, instead of abandoning us to our apostasy, has chastised us in the hope of redeeming us.

When we are willing to confess that we have placed other gods before the one true God, Adonai, then a way opens to our redemption.  Recognizing how corrupt our hearts are and confessing it to God leads us to the brilliant news of the gift of redemption that has been set aside for us, his people.  "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

This redemption does not come as a surprise to anyone who has examined the Tanakh.  It is spoken of by King David, "O LORD, my sheltering rock and my redeemer", and by Job, "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives."  It is in the very telling of the Exodus, "I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments."  It is illustrated in the sacrifices of the temple periods, that redeemed our people from their sin for a time.  All these redemption patterns illustrate a more complete redemption that was made perfect in Yeshua, the Messiah of our people, who is the promised redeemer and the Passover "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

We have a loving Father.  He is real.  He is not a fabrication of weak minds.  He is the Ancient of Days who still redeems today, who loves with an everlasting love, who is still relevant, who speaks your language.  If you will turn to him, you will find he has already made the excursion so you won't have to go far to find Him.

"All those I love, I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest and repent!  Listen!  I stand at the door and knock!  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and sup with him, and he with me."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Carry Me Daddy

The other night I asked my husband, "What about all those prayers we pray that are not in the will of God? Like when I pray for something that doesn't happen, or I pray to prevent something that ends up happening. How am I to understand this?"

He began to speak of our daughter when she was a child. She would always ask Daddy to carry her up the hill to the house from the car, even long after she was too big to be carried. Daddy didn't always carry her, but still in asking she was expressing love and dependence on a father whom she knew cared for her above all else and fulfilled her needs as a father. In simply asking she was acknowledging the father role and her relationship to it. 

When we ask our Abba Father to carry us we may have to walk up the hill ourselves, but we express our love for Him in asking even for the unreasonable. Our asking is an expression of faith and dependence on Him.  That has to warm our Father's heart!

The other day I prayed before rowing that God would not let me fall in the water. That day I had my first fall in the water. It was my birthday, and as my boat folded me into the water as gently as egg whites into batter, my mind was screaming, "But it's my birthday!  It's my birthday! No, no no!" 

At first I concluded that my prayer was out of harmony with God's will, until I remembered that I'd also prayed for God to build me as a rower. When I fell in the water I had to learn to get back in the boat, no mean feat. My prayers were in conflict with one another, and God in His infinite wisdom chose which was the best prayer to answer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Parent's Reward

"Behold: The heritage of Adonai is children; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of youth. Praiseworthy is the man who fills his quiver with them;" (Psalm 127:2-5)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hunger for That Which Fills

"He humbled you, causing you to hunger, and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." (Deut 8:3)
Thank you, LORD, for the daily feeding regimen.  When I depart from it, I hunger!  The Living Water feeds us such that we will never be thirsty again, yet we hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Filled and hungry at the same time.
"Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry..." (Phil 4:12)
My son spoke to me of an unexpected ministry that has sprung up for him and for my lovely daughter-in-law.  They say grace before their meals.  When they eat in the company of their peers, friends, colleagues, this becomes remarkable since most of their generation do not revere God.  So to witness this Godly couple in their midst gives them pause, first to reexamine their idea of what a Christian looks like, and second to become aware of the presence of God.
On one occasion, my son was at lunch with a friend.  The friend was paying, so my son did not consider it his place to take authority at the table and say grace.  He may have done so inwardly, but just dove in to his meal.  The friend was shocked, stopped him and asked, perplexed, "Aren't you going to do that grace thing?"  This precious soul had already developed a hunger for worship, just from seeing the example of it in giving thanks for food.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Lib Rethinks Feminism

The word "feminism" ceased to be palatable to me after I realized that I had been lied to regarding my so called "right to an abortion", which turned out to be a doorway to all ugliness, an invitation from the culture of death to worship more deeply and more closely at the altar of the one whose aim is to destroy all of God's creation.  My divorce from feminism was final and without regrets.  
Being a wife only served to confirm how feminism handicaps women in relationships, as wives and mothers, with its insistence on the self-aggrandisement of the woman, the habitual stamping of the foot for "what I deserve!".  The one single ingredient that made my marriage finally begin to work is anathema to feminism - that was humility.  I have never needed the "f" word to define my strength, independence or achievement, and I have done what I could to warn off the young women in my arena to the hazards of feminism's braggadocio.
I am curious to read this from the critical liberal pen of Camille Paglia, who has been tracking the "f" movement and its weaknesses as it has morphed over the generations.  Perhaps she sees in Sarah Palin a new way of understanding how women are achieving some of feminism's goals wholly outside of the "feminist movement".  Here is Paglia:
"The next phase of feminism must circle back and reappropriate the ancient persona of the mother -- without losing career ambition or power of assertion. Betty Friedan, who had first attacked the cult of postwar domesticity, had long warned second-wave feminists such as Gloria Steinem about the damaging exclusion of homemakers from their value system. The animus of liberal feminists toward religion must also end (I am speaking as an atheist). Feminism must reexamine all of its assumptions, including its death grip on abortion, if it wishes to survive."
To read the whole piece, go to

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Forgiveness Story

Years ago I sat with my father in a cafe where his portraits of composers were on exhibit.  There was Bartok, Bach, Ives, Schubert, many beloved characters painted as though the essence of their music were swimming about their faces in brilliant colors.  He chatted with me about whom he had chosen to exclude from this series.  One excluded composer was Sibelius.  Dad explained, "He was at the premiere of Stravinsky's Firebird, and he booed!  I can never forgive him for that."  Then just as I was chuckling to myself about how ridiculous it is not to forgive something that happened over a century ago to people we don't even know, he chilled me with these words: "I don't believe in forgiveness, you know."
Because of the history of rejections and exclusions in our family, the most recent and painful involving Dad's rejection of my son, his words cut me to the quick.  I left there in grief for the ruined relationships and hurtful unforgiveness, and unapproachability of my father, and along with much of my family, carried the wound for a long time.  I endeavored finally to do what he could not, forgiving him and praying continually for him.
This last Father's Day we were in the same cafe again, at the same table, in fact.  My father's wife took me aside to share her disappointment in how my sister and I had dishonored our father by neglecting him in years past on Father's Day.  I saw that she was right.  Going back to the table I felt tears welling up, and had a quick discussion with myself as the scene blurred before me. I had a choice.  I could either pull myself together and write my father a letter some time later, or I could be a blubbering idiot, break down in tears right here and now and get it over with.  The decision was simple, once I put my pride aside.
I let it all out right then, tears, spittle, remorse and all, and asked my father for his forgiveness for dishonoring him on Father's Days past, and while I was at it, for some other not so nice stuff I'd done over the years.  What was the answer from the man who didn't believe in forgiveness?  "Of course I forgive you!"
That table in that cafe is a landmark for me, and that was a landmark moment, (which I immediately sullied by snapping at my step mother when she seemed to want me to stop my confession, but there again I went on to ask for her forgiveness and received it.)  The Lord did a beautiful work there, and if these were the bible days I'd put a rock there and rename the place Forgiveness Happened Here.
Oh, where would we be without our forgiveness?  In this season of the High Holy Days I treasure the forgiveness I received from my earthly father and I pray for myself that I will always be as eager to forgive others as I am to be forgiven.  Even more precious is the forgiveness offered by God through the sacrifice of His Son, the Lamb of God, which we need only reach out and ask for to receive all its blessings.  Let us not forget that the Lord wants us to be like Himself, and that means showing forgiveness, even seventy times seven times.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In His Likeness

That our bodies are just an approximation of the heavenly reality of Jesus' body, God's body, that we were made in His likeness, but of flesh rather than spirit, the best that could be concocted using the materials at hand.  (yet still loved by our Maker, the clay having been lovingly formed by the potter.)

That our tabernacle was a replica of a heavenly tabernacle; our worship, our songs, our beauty, all shadows and copies of the true heavenly things, that the spirit world is the real world, and this world of decay and flesh is shadow.

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;  (Hebrews 9:24)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Allow me to extend my hand to you, dear reader. Let me impart to you this gift of love that was given to me. It is the steady, daily, patient extended hand of love to you who do not know Yeshua HaMashiach, you who disdain the very mention of Jesus, you who can't even utter His powerful name, you who have not dared to consider that He is yours, as He is mine, a daughter of Abraham.

I love you, dear reader, as God loves you. I bless you, I pray for you, I extend my hand to you today and every day, that you might come to discover the love of Christ. I pass on to you by means of my prayers and appeals to God that very steady love that taught me what it means to be loved by Jesus, who loved me even when I rejected Him, as He loves you right now. May you come to step forward with courage and honest searching in our own scriptures, and in the New Testament, the B'rit Hadasha. You will find a book that was written for you, a seamless single book that runs from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus is present throughout. May your eyes be opened. May the seeds of joy be planted in you.

This is our joy, the redemption offered by the Almighty God who wept with his remnant in Egypt, at Babylon, at Masada, at Auschwitz. We who have grieved are offered joy. May it fall upon your head and spill over your whole being, until you are covered and glowing with the golden sweetness of redemption. May it be so today! In the name of Yeshua I ask this.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth." (1 Cor 13:4-6)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Messianic Prophecies

"Then he said, 'When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true.'"

Please consider these Hebrew Scripture prophecies and the New Covenant fulfillment by Yeshua:

  • Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7)
  • Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23) as a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18; Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16), of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23, 33; Hebrews 7:14), and of the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Matthew 1:1)
  • Herod killing the infants (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18)
  • Taken to Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14-15)
  • Heralded by the messenger of the Lord (John the Baptist) (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:1-3)
  • Anointed by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16-17)
  • Preached good news (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:14-21)
  • Performed miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6; Matthew 9:35)
  • Cleansed the Temple (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 21:12-13)
  • Ministered in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-16)
  • Entered Jerusalem as a king on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:4-9)
  • First presented Himself as King 173,880 days from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25; Matthew 21:4-11)
  • Rejected by Jews (Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:7)
  • Died a humiliating death (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53) involving: rejection (Isaiah 53:3; John 1:10-11; 7:5,48), betrayal by a friend (Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:3-4; John 13:18), sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:14-15), silence before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14), being mocked (Psalm 22: 7-8; Matthew 27:31), beaten (Isaiah 52:14; Matthew 27:26), spit upon (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:30), piercing His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:31), being crucified with thieves (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38), praying for His persecutors (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34), piercing His side (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34), given gall and vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21, Matthew 27:34, Luke 23:36), no broken bones (Psalm 34:20; John 19:32-36), buried in a rich man's tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60), casting lots for His garments (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24).
  • Rose from the dead! (Psalm 16:10; Mark 16:6; Acts 2:31)
  • Ascended into Heaven (Psalm 68:18; Acts 1:9)
  • Sat down at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3)
Consider the odds that:
Yeshua would be a descendant of David.
104 (1 in 10,000)
Yeshua would be born in Bethlehem.
105 (1 in 100,000)
Yeshua would be a miracle worker.
105 (1 in 100,000)
Yeshua would present Himself as King riding on a donkey.
106 (1 in 1,000,000)
Yeshua would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver.
106 (1 in 1,000,000)
Yeshua would be crucified.
106 (1 in 1,000,000)
Yeshua would first present Himself as King 173,880 days from the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem.�����
106 (1 in 1,000,000)

Total Probability (without God)
1038 (1 in a 100 billion, billion, billion, billion)

Mother Asks Again

At lunch with my mother, she again asks the question, the thorn that won't be removed, the stumbling block, the pet unanswerable: Where was God during the holocaust?

Hear, my beloved people! The Lord our God has answers to this question. They lie within the pages of His book, our own dear Hebrew scriptures, if you would only read them!

Here is an answer:

Where was God during our persecution and slavery under the Egyptians?
He was preserving a remnant of His people and preparing to deliver them for return to His promised land.
Where was God during our persecution and slavery under the Assyrians?
He was preserving a remnant of His people and preparing to deliver them for return to His promised land.
Where was God during our persecution and slavery under the Babylonians?
He was preserving a remnant of His people and preparing to deliver them for return to His promised land.
Where was God during our persecution and slavery under the Persians?
He was preserving a remnant of His people and preparing to deliver them for return to His promised land.
Where was God during our persecution and slavery under the Nazis? He was preserving a remnant of His people and preparing to deliver them for return to His promised land.

We are that remnant, and nothing could demonstrate God's existence, His purpose for us as outlined in His Holy Word, as convincingly as our mere existence: a scattered remnant, once a minor nomadic people that has survived through the millenia, with a Holy book that is a history of God's self-disclosure, an unlikely stiff-necked people that God made a promise to. It is because of that promise that we are still around, because God is a God of His Word. Who are we if not people of the Book? People of the Promise? People through whom the Messiah was promised and through whom the Messiah came, exactly as promised in our Hebrew scriptures. The Messiah not just of our people, but of the whole world. Read the prophecies for yourself! See how they came about! See Yeshua in the Tanakh!

What was God doing during those early Shoahs of the bible days? "The Lord said, 'I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey-" (Ex 3:7-8)

Where was God during the holocaust? He was seeing the misery of His people, hearing them crying, concerned about their suffering, preparing to rescue them and bring them back into that good and spacious land.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Gentle Knocking

As soon as I invited Jesus to enter my heart I recognized that He had been knocking at the door of my heart for a long long time. I didn't know what that knocking was until I responded to it, then I realized that the knocking was a warm, familiar old friend. Jesus, Savior, standing like a stranger in the night, out in the rain - as if my window were so important that anyone would want to stand under it - serenading me with his gentle, unperturbed, patient silence, simply waiting for me to be ready.

Lately I have become attuned to a new knocking at the door of my heart, and I know exactly what it is. I recognize in it an invitation from the Holy Spirit to worship. I have become attuned to how I postpone responding to this precious invitation, how I distract myself with competing activities, how I wait for the knocking to settle down and leave me alone, how I check in later and am relieved that the one at the door has finally given up and gone home.

But somehow the knocking is coming into focus, emerging from a fog of vagueness into the forefront of my thoughts. I can talk about it now. It is a phenomenon now, a subject to write about, an issue to bring up in conversation. I am turning to face it, I am walking toward the door. I am turning the knob, I am inviting the Holy Spirit in for a nice leisurely visit. I am putting aside my knitting, switching off the TV and tuning in to what my "guest" has to say. Holy Spirit says, "Worship more!" And in that message I also recognize an answer to prayer.

How many times have I asked the Lord to show me His heart? How many times have I asked the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me, to set my feet in the right direction? How many times have I asked for more faith, a deeper walk? Any number of prayers have come forth from my mouth, and this invitation is the answer. I will grow more faith, walk closer to the Lord, find relief from the stresses, have greater clarity and certainty about God's will for me, if I just spend more time in worship. The reward is there. The answers are there.

Do I have the stamina to stay awake in the garden, to stand vigil with my Lord as He prays? Do I have enough desire to commune with my God to fight off inertia, to overcome my laziness, and go that strange new path with no tools, no computer, no pencil and paper even, no guitar or cell phone, just my heart of worship?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Walk Through the World

Jesus was washing his disciples' feet when Peter in his enthusiasm suggested that Jesus wash not just his feet but his hands and head as well. Jesus replied, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." (John 13:10)

The meaning in this story told in John 13, as I heard it today, beyond the very important meaning of Jesus' example of service that He expects us to emulate by serving one another, and beyond His recognition that one of the disciples was soiled in his heart, is that we who follow Jesus have been cleansed in our spirits in a way that does not require repetition. We don't need to be saved, or wholly cleansed, repeatedly or regularly.

However, because we walk through the world, not as striclty spiritual beings as we will be in Heaven but as fleshly creatures, we pick up the filth and pollution of the world on our feet. That is, the part of us that touches the world, dominion of the enemy, must be regularly attended to with cleansing. Even clean, we continue to sin.

The task Jesus sets before us in His example of washing our feet is to attend to one another's spiritual cleanliness within the context of having been wholly saved. We must encourage one another in regular repenting in order to cleanse ourselves of the filth of sin we accumulate from walking in the world. We must participate in one another's cleansing process, as one body, as a family with no secrets, as members who trust one another with their dirty feet.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lesson From a Hymn

When I encountered the hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, I was very touched by it and added it to my repertoire. But as I examined the words, I found myself troubled to be singing lyrics that confessed to being prone to wander from God.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;

No Lord, not me! I will never wander! Those can't be the words of one who loves you as I do! I changed the verses around, since the song was too long anyway and I found I could combine this phrase with that one and make a perfectly good reduction that eliminated those lyrics that I didn't like.

Then one day I found myself wandering. I was undone, like a doll whose stuffing and stitching were coming apart. I had a bad week. I experienced chilling faithlessness. I forgot God's promises, His Word and His comfort. I found I hadn't read from the Word of God for so long I was lost in a foreign country. I let doubt, confusion and distress be my master. I couldn't maintain steady worship. As I groped to find my way back to peace and the familiar warmth of the bosom of the Lord, I finally saw myself in those words.

Left to my own devices I will revert to my former ways. I will become a slave to the desires of my flesh. I will descend into isolation and despair. I will worry myself sick. If I am passive, inertia will be the tool of the enemy to bring me to forget, disregard, doubt, neglect, and finally be swallowed up in a numbing sleep.

Christianity is not intuitive, it is not native to our selfish natures. It is not passive. Only by the daily renewal of vows, the constant involvement in spiritual surrender to the precious Lamb of God, the continual discipline of worship, can the Lord overcome the barriors of self and remake us in His own image. For this reason, I sing,
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

at the buffet

J: tell you what - when we get to the wedding feast in heaven we can meet at the buffet table. i'll be over by the prawns.

M: not sure there are gonna be prawns at the wedding feast buffet table in heaven. they're not kosher.

J: hmmm...

M: maybe we can meet at the salmon filet?

J: no, we'll meet at the prawns. in heaven the prawns are kosher.