Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2012

Does God pay attention to blood? Does He keep track of it? Find out how the answer to these questions significantly impacts your hopeful future.

This is our third week studying the Hebrew word for hope, MIQVEH, which also means a gathering, collection, or reservoir.  It is one of the words God uses to describe Himself as our Hope, as I mentioned two weeks ago.  Today we are going to discuss the second occurrence of MIQVEH in the Bible.  It is translated as “reservoirs” in the verse below:

Then the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and raise your hand over the waters of Egypt—all its rivers, canals, ponds, and all the reservoirs. Turn all the water to blood. Everywhere in Egypt the water will turn to blood, even the water stored in wooden bowls and stone pots.

Exodus 7:19 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

A few generations before this plague there was an imprisoned Hebrew slave named Joseph who rose to a place of prominence because he displayed God’s power to interpret Pharoah’s dream.  Joseph was a man of extraordinary administrative skill; everything he touched became successful and prosperous, even the nation of Egypt itself.  It is thought that he created an irrigation system in Egypt (perhaps to mitigate or as a result of a seven-year famine), of which the infamous Joseph’s Canal at Hawara played a part.  Joseph’s principles of irrigation seemed to bless and prosper the nation of Egypt posthumously: generations later while Joseph’s descendants and the Hebrew people were being oppressed as slaves, the Egyptians were still collecting water from rivers and canals into ponds and reservoirs “just in case”.  Never again would they suffer as they once had.  They had learned their lesson!  As the verse above indicates, the  Egyptians were also about to learn a new one…

Ironically, this was a lesson that the Hebrew people, as the nation of Israel, would also need to be reminded of.  The Israelites were engaging in the worship according to the pattern that had been given to them at Sinai: they offered sacrifices and they fasted.  However, their prayers were not being answered and they were wondering why.  This is the response God gave them through the prophet Isaiah:

No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
    lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
    and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
    and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
    and do not hide from relatives who need your help...

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
    Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
Feed the hungry,
    and help those in trouble.

Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
    and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The Lord will guide you continually,
    giving you water when you are dry
    and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like an ever-flowing spring.

Isaiah 58:6, 7, 10-11 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

The Israelites were acting religious on the surface, but they were insulting God by oppressing their workers and taking advantage of the weak.  They pretended that God was their hope even as they were depriving others of hope!  Their oppression took the form of deprived wages, denied assistance, no hospitality, ignoring relatives, false accusations and gossip.  God told Israel that if they fasted from their own selfishness and greed, it would do more to put them in a receptive position to receive His favor and blessing than if they tried to get His attention through comparatively meaningless self-deprivation.

This same issue with relying on oppression to get ahead was addressed earlier by Isaiah:

This is the reply of the Holy One of Israel:
“Because you despise what I tell you
    and trust instead in oppression and lies,
calamity will come upon you suddenly—
    like a bulging wall that bursts and falls.
In an instant it will collapse
    and come crashing down.

Isaiah 30:12-13 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

I find it interesting that whenever we have an economic calamity, we use similar terminology: the bubble burst, the markets fell, the housing situation collapsed…and it seems to happen “suddenly” and “in an instant” indeed, even though the pressure (with ignored warning signs) had been mounting for months, perhaps years.  We don’t have to investigate very far to find out that oppression and lies are endemic to economic maladies and can be singled out as the underlying cause of all material injustice.

This principle of avoiding oppression as a means to get ahead is recurrent throughout the Bible.  I wonder if the accusations against God being good for allowing suffering in the world could be immediately stopped if we would consider that it is OUR job to take care of their needs, yet God is faithful to give them justice in the end.  Consider these verses:

Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.
Proverbs 14:31 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

The wicked who oppress the poor are like a hailstorm that beats down the harvest.
Proverbs 28:3 The Message Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

“But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”
Jeremiah 22:17 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Even common people oppress the poor, rob the needy, and deprive foreigners of justice.
Ezekiel 22:29 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Listen to me, you fat cows living in Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy, and who are always calling to your husbands, “Bring us another drink!”
Amos 4:1 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

For I know the vast number of your sins and the depth of your rebellions. You oppress good people by taking bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
Amos 5:12 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.
Zechariah 7:10 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court?
James 2:6 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Wow.  God sounds ticked.  Is it any wonder that we see the problems we do today?  We insist that He do things for us, but we aren’t willing to lift a finger for anyone else.  Our prayers that we send to heaven would have been gladly received, had they not been caught on our selfishness on the way up! 

Perhaps you do give to the poor, practice hospitality regularly, care for your relatives and avoid gossiping about people.  If you really are genuine, then your prayers should be answered more than most other people’s.  It is important that we don’t get smug, however; oppression can hide itself in so many ways that it is not always readily apparent.  It is ugly to look at so we have become pretty good at covering it up, renaming it, and justifying it.

Let’s go back to Egypt and the Genesis verse above.  For years Egypt had been oppressing the Hebrews as slaves, using them for forced labor to make mud bricks.  While it is not likely the Hebrews built the pyramids, Egypt profited from their “free labor”.  Slaves were routinely violated and God saw it all.  I think that we forget His omniscience means that God not only knows THAT something has happened, but he has an intimate, experiential knowledge of it.  He sees every cell firing, the electrical impulses going down nerve pathways, the blood being spilled on the ground. Here is an example:

But the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!

Genesis 4:10 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

God HEARD Abel’s blood crying out when his brother Cain murdered him.  Personally, I think God feels every murder, every rape, every starving stomach crying out for food.  It is a wonder He can hear anything else over all that noise.  I’m pretty sure He is driven to distraction by it.  And then our prayers come up for… more food.  More clothes.  More success.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with those prayers, but they are probably less important to God than cries to God for rescue and to be allowed to live.  I am not suggesting that God has to prioritize: God is not limited in His resource to meet everyone’s needs.   However, I believe that God is not going to enable our disobedience by rewarding it unduly while others suffer.  Meeting others’ needs is a reward in and of itself!

We are very much like Egypt.  We have collected our hope into pools and reservoirs.  For many those reservoirs are material possessions like houses, cars, retirement plans, etc.  Those things are not at all bad, they are morally neutral; many of them have been collected according to godly principles even as the Egyptians had collected their water according to good irrigation principles.  Having a pool or reservoir is not a crime; it is a sign (not the sign) of God’s blessing.  For others, those pools are people; friends, family, followers, cities, communities and institutions.  It is wonderful to love people, but we can all be led astray if we go along with the culture by practicing what God sees as oppression and covering it up with popular rhetoric.

What happens when our pools and reservoirs, our collections of hopes and dreams, become tainted…by blood?

I think the answer to that comes from another question: What was the tipping point in Egypt’s history?  They had oppressed the Hebrews for hundreds of years and were prospering.  God saw the injustice, but He was waiting to step in to stop it.  I believe the tipping point came when Pharoah ordered the slaughter of all the Hebrew infants (it was also at this time that the sins of the people groups in Canaan were reaching their fullest expression).  One of the Hebrew babies escaped and became the very Moses who, by the power of God, turned the Egyptians pools and reservoirs–even their sources, the rivers and canals–to blood.  Those pools came to reflect the very injustice that had infiltrated Egyptian society and tainted what had once been the pride and joy of the civilized world.

Though the subject seems overdone in this pre-election season, I think abortion is going to be the tipping point that taints the pools of our material and cultural hope, though we may not see the full result for a time.  We keep covering up the issue by renaming it as reproductive rights, family planning rights, and health rights.  But God sees one thing and one thing only: blood.  Blood with one DNA and filled with potential being spilled by someone more powerful with different DNA.  Self-invented rights don’t get God’s attention over the screaming of blood: God knows He is the source of all truly ‘inalienable’ rights, especially the right to life that He  gave freely as a gift.  He also gave us our reproductive organs to enjoy (with instructions on how best to enjoy them), but not at the expense of His other gifts, including the right to life.  God expects the strong to protect the weak; just because He does not intervene in each case does not mean that the pressure behind the wall isn’t mounting.  His absence of intervention is not permission to continue; it is opportunity to repent and change course before the inevitable comes.

So let’s return to the person who has not oppressed the poor, who has helped friend and family member alike.  What happens if such a person neglects to oppose this one issue, abortion?  Or what if we should fail to do our part to bring an end to human trafficking, the modern sex slavery in which a girl can be bought for $150 (in the US civil war, a slave cost the equivalent of $30,000 in today’s money)?  Leviticus 20:1-5, while it may not be directly enforceable today, makes it clear that if we look the other way, God holds us accountable.  It isn’t enough to Him that we don’t do it, we must be fervent to eradicate it from our land.  If we do not, the reservoirs of all our hopes and dreams–our economies and our institutions–will be tainted and rendered useless by the blood of those we neglected to help.  The Bible makes it clear that everything touched by injustice will be destroyed beyond all hope of repair (Isaiah 30:14). 

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
    ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
    and see that they get justice

Proverbs 31:8-9 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

So what are you doing to clear God’s ears of the noise of human suffering?  Are you a voice for the oppressed?  Are you willing to bring hope to those who have none?

 

If you enjoyed today’s Faith Fridays post, please pass it along using one of the many options below.  Thanks!

Read Full Post »

Here’s a from-scratch recipe that even your picky eaters will love!

I finally figured it out!  After weeks of having my husband shake his head, “No,” I finally got the thumbs up yesterday for my Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe.  My husband (like most of us) is a victim of the SAD (Standard American Diet); if I make something that doesn’t taste “store-bought”, I do not receive the prestigious **HUSBAND-APPROVED** Seal.  I mention this not to make my hubby out to be a bad guy (he isn’t: I appreciate his honesty…most of the time… 😉 ) but to encourage you that if you see the phrase “husband-approved” in a recipe, even the picky eaters in your family will probably like it.  It isn’t a stretch to go from sauce-in-a-jar to sauce-from-the-garden.  Anyway, I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and let me know how it worked for you!

If you enjoyed this Recipe thuRsday post, please share using one of the many features below.  Thanks!

Read Full Post »

Get a Helping of Hope through your TV!

First of all, I’d like to say that this post is probably not going to make the point you think it will!  I could drum up the statistics on obesity, attention deficits, etc. to berate the use of Television in the home; however, the purpose of this post is not to criticize how long we let our kids watch TV, it is to give hope and help so we can make right choices (wherever we’re at) to a bright future.

Exempli gratia, if I told you to buy nothing but organic products (which would be a good thing: who wants to eat anything with 15 different pesticides on it?), you wouldn’t do it.  Neither would I: I can’t afford it.  Or more accurately, I haven’t rearranged my budget to make that a priority.  What I CAN do is buy the organic versions of  the 12 most pesticide-ridden vegetables and fruits and buy regular produce that has few pesticides.  It’s a step in the right direction; now I have significantly reduced my risk for developing Cancer and other bodily ailments.  Once I get used to buying some organic products I can buy more as my grocery budget increases…or maybe even contemplate growing my own as an investment stratagem!

It’s the same thing with TV, I think.  Ideally, none of us would use a TV except for Family Movie Night and documentaries.  We should be frolicking out in the fields, playing board games, reading stimulating books, and ACTUALLY talking with each other about our day.  Yes, we should.  I am sure in the long run the costs of NOT doing those things are pretty high, just as the cost of eating pesticide-ridden food is very high.  Few of us are in a position, however, to LEAP from where we are at now to where we ought to be.  There is little environmental support to do so; our lifestyles are systemically busy, we forget how to do things with our kids, and at the end of a busy day it is less emotionally and intellectually demanding to entertain ourselves to drowsiness than it is to engage in meaningful conversation with our loved ones.

For some of us, the situation is a little different.  Perhaps depression has set in and you just don’t know how to engage your kids; you feel worthless as a parent.  Your feelings aren’t motivating you to interact with your children and your self-condemning thoughts are preventing you from emotionally connecting to them.  You have “zero” physical energy to do anything other than sit on the couch.  The more you sit and criticize yourself for using the TV, the worse you feel and the depression deepens.  If that’s you, I want you to stop feeling badly about yourself and your kids’ situation; letting your kids watch a lot of TV may not be an entirely good thing, but it need not be a terrible thing if you know how to direct it (more on that below).  If these feelings describe you I have the following advice **from experience**:

  • Make sure you are getting the nutrition you need to physically recover (see my Transformation Tuesdays posts for positive steps you can take to start feeling better).  My brain completely crashed after eating a Standard American Diet through college; it took me over a year to write my undergraduate thesis, I forgot to pay the wedding videographer before he moved (I still don’t have my Wedding DVD after seven years of trying to get in contact with Hafer Video…), I was unemployed for six months and when I finally did get a job, I was not even close to being “myself”.  Working and suddenly pregnant, I ate out every day and the depression only worsened.  Only when I started eating eggs everyday did I start to feel better, and only when I got rid of corn syrup did I get rid of my Seasonal Anxiety Disorder.
  • Make sure you are getting a dose of healthy “thoughts” that will change your outlook (see my Faith Fridays posts for encouragement from the Bible).  I recommend listening to or watching Joyce Meyer’s Enjoying Everyday Life show (yes, on TV!); The Lord used her in my life to help me get over a nasty, three-year-long depression.
  • Please make sure you are talking about your struggle with someone who can love you into wholeness.  Not just someone who gives you advice, but someone who listens.  At my church we have Celebrate Recovery; if there isn’t a CR group near you, you may be able to find local support groups through your child’s school or you can speak to a professional counselor or pastor.  Stephen’s Ministry is another organization available at many churches; you will have to check out your local churches’ websites or call to find out if they have that or a similar option.  Make that your goal for this week, even if you don’t feel able to do the previous two recommendations.

Perhaps like me you have a special needs child who was (and may still be) unresponsive to your attempts to make a structured, educationally rigorous, and visually engaging work….um, home…environment.  You read the books (or blogs), created your homeschooling plans to have your child graduate from high school at age 14, and envisioned them memorizing the first five books of the Bible by age 13 like the Jewish children in Jesus’ time 😉 !  But the child you received as a gift from God did not roll, sit up, crawl, or even walk on time.  He did not speak, had difficulty eating, and refused to play with toys.  He did not pester you with questions as you imagined he would, did not ask for help, and didn’t want to do…anything.  Even touching, hugging, and smiling became difficult for him.

That’s what happened in our family; the only solution that seemed to make our Fragile X Syndrome Child (with Autism and Attention Deficits) engage in ANYTHING was TV.  It started with Veggie Tales, moved on to include the Gaither Gospel/Homecoming shows (how much music transformed our FXS child’s face!  The tube wasn’t the only thing glowing 😀 !), and then we progressed to preschool TV shows.  We read books and tried different toys but the majority of learning came from our TV.  When our FXS child became overwhelmed by all the sensory inputs in our home, TV was the only solution to the resulting outbursts and fits; it soothed and numbed a brain clawing for an input it could safely hold on to.

As I suggested at the beginning of this post, I am not going to say what you think I might say.  I’m not going to say TV is bad; through bouts of depression and coming to terms with special needs parenting, we have relied on it quite a bit.  I have no idea what is too much TV and for whom, but I have found the following RIGHT CHOICES very helpful:

  1. AVOID COMMERCIALS LIKE THE PLAGUE.  Bright future: children with a higher attention span who are less demanding or materialistic than many other children and whose self-esteem remains relatively untouched by the subliminal “sex, money & power” messages that come through advertizing.  There are several ways to do this:
    • DVR: whether you have a standard TV signal or cable/satellite, a Digital Video Recorder can help you to be more selective with the shows you watch, give you flexibility to watch recorded shows at a time convenient to you (so you aren’t forced to “watch what’s on”), and most importantly allows you to fast-forward through those dratted commercials and pause for real-life interruptions.  It is worth the additional $5/month or whatever promotion is available to you.
    • Cable/Satellite: only allow your children to watch commercial-free children’s channels.  With most providers, you can set locks for ratings and times you don’t want your children to watch.
    • Internet TV (Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime): If you have a PS3 (as we do), you can easily access internet TV companies and play BRDs.  I recommend Netflix on the PS3 because it has a child-interface that blocks scary grown-up icons and is easy to use.  You can select from many educational and age-appropriate children’s shows, including family movies, 24-7, for only $8/month.  (This way you can save your cable/satellite bill and spend it on organic veggies…right?)
    • VHS/DVDs/BRDs: make sure you skip past beginning advertisements to get straight to the main content, but this is the surest way to avoid commercials and control the content.
  2. USE THE ENGLISH DESCRIPTIVE VIDEO SERVICE.  Bright future: increased vocabulary and attention to descriptive language, including prepositions and adjectives.  On some DVDs and BRDs, there’s an extra audio track under languages (on the PS3, you can access it using the triangle button and selecting “audio” until you get the right track) that includes a complete verbal description of everything that is going on.  It is like turning on a radio story broadcast!  What a wonderful way to provide our children with descriptive words that are otherwise difficult to teach (prepositions, adjectives, etc.) FYI, we would never have known that Tangled’s Flynn Rider (Disney) had a “smarmy grin” if it wasn’t for this feature…
  3. STICK WITH EDUCATIONAL SHOWS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.  Bright future: your child should have a great visual repertoire of complex ideas that are best taught through repetitive demonstration.  There are five main types of educational shows we focus on:
    • Faith-based.  Teaching children about the Bible and God’s Love helps to keep them from succumbing to the negative ideas prevalent in out peer-pressured world.  Our favorites are Veggie Tales (Lord of the Beans is hilarious), the Animated Passion Series from Nest entertainment, and the King of Dreams (Dreamworks).
    • Kinesthetic.  Anything that gets our kids moving (Yo Gabba Gabba, Go Diego Go) or teaches them about physical interactions with objects (The Upside Down Show, Wallace and Gromit, Sean the Sheep, Pingu) is a plus when you have a child with limited mobility.
    • Reading & Comprehension.  Anything that reinforces the written word gets an A+, since reading is the gateway to all learning.  We have watched Your Baby Can Read, Word World, Super Why, Pinky Dinky Doo and now… the Electric Company!
    • Mathematics & Science.  Abstract concepts like mathematics are typically a struggle for people with FXS.  We have used Dora the Explorer, Team Umi Zoomi, and Sid the Science Kid to introduce our children to counting and measuring.
    • Social.  Yo Gabba Gabba does a great job of encouraging children to interact with others; we also like Nickelodeon’s Avatar for its character development and focus on forgiveness (it employs a lot of Eastern ideology that many Christian parents would find unpalatable; we point out these ideological differences to our children and use them to reinforce how and why we believe as we do.  As with all TV watching, please go with your conscience and be as interactive as possible).

In the end, TV is so endemic to our homes that the only way to get rid of it is to have something else to do.  Scheduling times to go to the library, go to church, go to the park, etc. are great ways to keep TV-free.  Doing chores and cooking together as a family is another way.  Incorporating reading and play times may be difficult at first, but are very rewarding if you can take the pressure off yourself to perform at a certain level.  If you feel in any way guilty about watching too much TV, slowly add one activity at a time to your family routine until it becomes permanent; you’ll watch TV less and less.  Most importantly, the best choice you can make is to pray and ask God to show you what is right for your family and to give you the Grace to get to that “place”; The more time you spend with Him, the more likely all your other activities (like watching TV) will fall into place as you step into the bright future He reveals to you.

If you enjoyed this Mama Mondays post, please share it using one of the features below.  Thanks!

Read Full Post »

Will you find Hope where others fear to tread?

I’d like to “camp out” on MIQVEH, the Hebrew word for hope introduced last week, for the next few weeks.  Last week we looked at three instances in which MIQVEH was used to describe God as our Hope.  Today I’d like to look at the first time MIQVEH–“collection” or “reservoir”–is used in the Bible and what that tells us about God as our MIQVEH, our Source of Hope.

The first occurrence of MIQVEH is in the very first chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis:

And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:10 (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

The phrase “gathering together” is translated from the word MIQVEH: “the MIQVEH of the waters He called Seas”.  Here God is telling us that the boundaries of the dry land were defined by the accumulation of the waters into one place.  This process is poetically described in the book of Job, the oldest book in the Bible:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know.
who stretched the line on it?
“On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
When I made a cloud its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
And I placed boundaries on it
And set a bolt and doors,
And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther;
And here shall your proud waves stop’?

Job 38: 4-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

God, our MIQVEH (and Job’s too), opens His defense of His sovereignty with a powerful account–using terminology that Job could understand–of the creation of the seas.

What is so significant about the Sea?  The first point I’d like to make is its vastness.  It is deep, still unsearchable even with modern technology.  The pressure within it is incomprehensible, crushing probes and unmanned marine craft.  It is a source of immense energy–as much energy as would be produced by burning up to 18 million tonnes of crude oil–that we are only beginning to “scratch the surface” of as a renewable energy source.

It is easy to feel in control when both our feet are planted squarely on terra firma: Man is able to build monuments to his own greatness and create a community to his own liking.  The ground is a canvas on which each one of us may paint an illusory sense of our own godlikeness.  On the ocean, however, one loses any notion of being in control; he is at the mercy of the wind, waves, and currents which he must learn to respect.  Man must acknowledge his own limits in combating the “elements” if he is to traverse the blue safely.  The ocean is overwhelming; when we travel on it, the smallness of our persons and our problems is swallowed up in its beautiful, seemingly endless vastness.

The vastness of the sea is a good analogy for the unsearchable and unfathomable mind of God and His limitless power in dealing with the affairs of man and the future of our planet.  God is overwhelming.  How can we say, God is my judge, I don’t have to give my account to anyone but Him  flippantly?  One could argue more effectively with the Sea than with God!  He is that He is: no argument can change Him or persuade Him to alter course.

The currents of God’s nature run so deeply that we at best can keep up them on a superficial level; how many of us could survive the crushing depths of His personality or understand the savage turbulence in which His passion for us is wrought?  Yet in His Mercy He doesn’t inundate us with things we cannot comprehend, He merely alludes to them.  He makes His appeal to what He has kindly given us by His Grace: our reason.  He calls us to contemplate His vastness for the purpose of inspiring hope so we can tread as lightly and navigate as purposefully on the land as we do on the MIQVEH of His waters, aware that “in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28 NLT).

To ignore the nature of the sea is to reject its great benefits and become subject to its great dangers.  In the same way, the only way to receive hope from God is to acknowledge Him for who He really is, not what we wish Him to be or think He ought to be.  We need to study Him to see what He is really like, not what our culture or feelings tell us that He is.  If we ignore His true nature we cannot expect to benefit from Him.  Jesus Himself asserted that the only way to know what God is like is to know Him; Jesus has seen the depths of God because He is God and He is the only way we can come to know what those depths are like.

I could stop here and I would have made an important point about the vastness of God inspiring us to put our hope in Him; however, there is a reason I highlighted certain verses in the passage from Job.  Notice that in the creation of the Seas, boundaries were defined, and that is the second point that makes the Genesis 1:10 discussion of the Sea significant.

In scientific terms, the location and volume of the sea has to do with gravity, water tension, tides, temperature, etc.  It can initially seem silly to think of God claiming to have put bolted doors on the sea, even if He were to speak metaphorically.  However, it is not so silly, not even “unscientific” for God to say so.

In our science courses in school, we are taught about three states of matter (there are at least two more, plasma and Bose-einstein condensates): solids, liquids, and gases.  What is the scientific definition of a liquid?  A state of matter in which there is INDEFINITE SHAPE but definite volume.  That is what leads us to say, “a liquid will take the shape of whatever container it is put in”.  So when God was talking about telling the sea, “Thus far shall you come, and no further” He was saying in vibrant, triumphant language “I made the container for the seas! I decided their shape and created the basins! I limited where the ocean would be.”  God, our MIQVEH, is the only One who can contain the powerful ocean; this puts His power in perspective relative to the ocean’s power and ours.

Does God, like the MIQVEH of the Sea in Genesis 1:10, have boundaries?  I am guessing half of you would suppose not, given that He is supposed to be “omni” everything (including omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient); the other half may suppose that God is indeed limited because He is not perfect, just some higher “life-form”–if He even exists.  I am here to tell you that God is not omni-EVERYTHING (although He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent), and THAT is what should give us hope; He does have limits and that is precisely what makes Him perfect!

There is an important principle to keep in mind when we are discussing God’s limits, what He can or cannot do and what He is and isn’t.  First, let’s dispense with the silly notion that God can do everything:

…He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed…

Deuteronomy 10:17 (NLT) copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.

Psalm 5:4 (NLT) copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

..the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised…

Titus 1:2 [NASB] Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Let no one say when he is tempted, “ I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

James 1:13 [NASB] Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

According to the Bible, God cannot pervert justice, cannot tolerate sin, cannot lie, and cannot tempt.  Those are definite boundaries on His personality.  It is ridiculous to assert that because God is omnipotent, He could sin but chooses not to.  Omnipotence is not omni-doing; it is having the absolute power to do every good (non-degenerate) thing.

God has no desire to do anything wrong and is not capable of it: this should give us Hope that He has absolutely no ulterior motive toward us; this was one of the teachings Jesus tried to instill in His disciples:

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

1 John 1:5 (NLT) copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

God literally doesn’t have it in Him to do wrong.  He never becomes normalized or desensitized to evil, despite being omniscient; the Bible says He is angry at the wicked (with moral outrage and indignation) EVERY DAY (Psalm 7:11).  Every time He sees sin, it is as the first time.  He is relentlessly perfect and completely uncompromising.  The principle we need to keep in mind is this:

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

2 Timothy 2:13 (NLT) copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

There’s another “cannot”.  God cannot stop being Himself.  God is Love.  God is Good. So if anything we see is not loving or good as the Bible would describe those terms, then it is not originally from God.

God has definite limits on His nature; boundaries He cannot cross, not because He is inadequate to do so but the opposite, He would have to become inadequate to do so.  He is that He is and cannot be anything other.  Because He is consistently pure, we can safely put our collection of hopes and dreams, our MIQVEH, in Him and trust Him to always be Himself.  Even when we change, He does not; He is always merciful, always forgiving, always powerful, always able to save.

So what about you?

Are you hoping in God according to His own definition of Himself, or have you redefined His boundaries to suit your “self-actualized” understanding of Him?  If so, you may come to realize that redefining God undermines our hope;in reality, we don’t want Him to be any different than He is.  We don’t want to give up our MIQVEH for a puddle of our own creation!

Are you toe-dipping in the tides; periodic touches of God’s Grace that make you feel better but don’t have enough “pull” to keep you from walking on your own two feet?  How far can you go through life solely on your own creativity and steam?  Where will your hope be when you realize how much you gave up to live independently of God?

Are you wading in the shallows: enough of God to provide some directional “tugging”, but not enough to surrender control of your life? How frustrating it may be to realize the fun others had diving into the Depths of God while you struggled to live in two worlds at the same time, “balancing” your spiritual and natural life independently of each other.  You divided your resources; where will your hope be when you lose the natural accomplishments at death and have little spiritual treasure in heaven?

Are you willing to take the “plunge” of faith, placing your complete trust in the One who has seen the depths of God (Jesus) and related them to us, Whose strength is so great that if you immerse yourself in Him, the strength of your “underpinnings” becomes irrelevant?  If so, He will carry you along by His Spirit to greater depths of Faith, Hope, and Love.

I sincerely desire that you would find your Hope in The Deep today.

If you enjoyed this Faith Fridays post, please share using your favorite option(s) below!  Thanks!

Read Full Post »

We eat a lot of eggs! Make sure to read why…

With all the negative press on cholesterol, few of us realize that we have been slowly moving away from one of the most nutritious contributions to our diets: eggs.

 

Eggs are not bad.

 

Cholesterol is not bad.

 

(Did you know your brain is 25% cholesterol?)

 

Guess what happens when you go on cholesterol-reducing drugs (An A-Z based on Dr. Mercola’s article):

  • Acidosis
  • Anemia
  • Cataracts
  • Chronic Inflammation
  • Cognitive and Memory Loss
  • Depleted CoQ10 Levels
  • Fetal Malformations (in pregnant women)
  • Immune depression
  • Impaired Vitamin D creation
  • Increased risk of Cancer
  • Increased risk of Diabetes: Blood Glucose Elevations, Hyperglycemia, Insulin Resistance, Misdiagnosed Diabetes 2
  • Increased risk of Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Muscle and Tendon Problems
  • Pancreas dysfunction
  • Polyneuropathy
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Sexual dysfunction

For a scientific discussion on exactly why cholesterol is needed and how it us used, read this Health Impact News Article.  Even if you aren’t on Statins, it is easy to see from the list above how dependent many major body systems are on adequate cholesterol.  Mother’s milk contains a lot of cholesterol because it is essential to neurological and physical growth. Even as adults, we still need cholesterol!

So what are the benefits of eggs specifically?  According to Marillyn Beard, author of Just Making: Ice Cream, these are the nutritive benefits of consuming egg yolks:

  • 100% RDV carotenoids,
  • 100% RDV fatty acids,
  • 100% RDV vitamins A, E, D, and K.
  • 90% RDV calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate,
    B12,
  • 89% RDV panthothenic acid,
  • 81% RDV folic acid,
  • 45% RDV protein,
  • 23% RDV potassium, choline, lecithin, phospholipids, arachidonic acid and DHA
  • 50% — 80% of the copper, manganese, and selenium

She suggests (and I also recommend) throwing out the multivitamins and eating FREE-RANGE ORGANIC EGGS.  How many egg yolks it takes depends on the egg: free-range organic eggs have a higher nutritive content so you can eat fewer of them.  To calculate your needs, you can use the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference(change the number of eggs in the “Large” column).

Inferiority Complex! Commercial Egg Yolk (left) inches away from the Mega-Yolk of the Free Range Egg. What this picture doesn’t show you is how TALL the free-range yolks are: they really “stand proud”!

We eat 4 Free-Range eggs a day for adults, 3/day for our teen and FXS child, and 2/day for our preschooler.  Right now we hard-boil them to pack with lunches, but I think it’s worth soft-boiling them to get the most nutrition.  Even with hard-boiled eggs, we are certainly not dragging our feet as we used to when we missed our daily vitamins.  It is important to keep in mind that the vitamins in eggs are in a bio-digestible (easily absorbed) form rather than the chemical approximations that are used in pills.

Here are my calculations as to which is cheaper: Commercial eggs or multivitamins? Turns out that EGGS are cheaper than those artificially sweetened, chewable pills. (Free-range eggs are nominally more expensive) Also notice my handy note-paper. Tea bag packets come in handy when you can’t find your posts-it-notes!

According to Dr. Mercola, the best way to eat an egg is to have cooked whites and raw yolks“Sunny side up” certainly is an appropriate description for a right way to cook your eggs for a bright future! (And you don’t have to worry about salmonella: free-range organic eggs are far less likely–down to five times less likely–to get the bacterial infection than commercial eggs.)  Raw yolks are the best; foods like homemade mayonnaise and homemade custard ice cream are nutritious and healthy ways to consume them.

Who would have guessed that yolk-rich homemade mayonnaise and homemade vanilla ice cream would be so NATURALLY “fortified”?!

Where can you get free-range organic eggs?  The best place is your local FARMER’S MARKET: do a Google search and make sure to find one closest to you.  If you live in a city, it would be worth the trip to a more rural area (it makes for a nice family outing too!) to get the eggs.  Some health food stores carry free-range eggs too.  Cost?  A dozen commercial eggs from the grocery store here costs $1.35.  Free range eggs cost anywhere from $2/dozen (I know a new egg-seller) to $3/dozen (health food store) with the average being $2.50 at the Farmer’s Market.  I buy 8 dozen eggs a week to cover our vitamin and baking needs.  That’s a lot of eggs and big business at the Farmer’s Market 🙂  I also buy Raw Honey and local veggies there, but that discussion is for another post!

I hope I’ve encouraged you to eat more eggs in your diet.  They are an inexpensive and effective way of instantly increasing the nutrition in your diet and helping you to function as God intended!

I hope you enjoyed this Transformation Tuesdays post.  Please share with a friend using one of the many options below.  Thanks!

Read Full Post »

For those who missed my writing a Faith Fridays post last week, I apologize!  I received a rare opportunity to go to a Detroit Lions preseason football game with my husband; since I blog in my “spare” time, my whole day was fully booked (it was a great game and going to Ford Field is certainly a noteworthy experience) 🙂

This weeks’ Faith Fridays post follows the “Bound in Hope” post three weeks ago.  I have already discussed that TIQVAH (Hope on a Rope) comes from QAVAH (to bind by twisting); today’s word likewise comes from the same verb root.  There is one special purpose this seldom-used word has: to name God Himself.

So what is this word?  MIQVEH.  It means to gather together into a collection or reservoir; figuratively, it means to hope.  There are three times that MIQVAH is used to name and describe God; for those with an eye for Biblical numbers, should stand right out as indicative of the Trinity!

This brings me to today’s point: Hope comes from the Trinity–One God in three distinct, symbiotic persons: Father (Will), Son (Embodiment), and Spirit (Power)–and He is the One Hope for all peoples!

So how does God reveal Himself through the word MIQVEH?  The three instances are found in the book of Jeremiah:

O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble,
    why are you like a stranger to us?
Why are you like a traveler passing through the land,
    stopping only for the night?

Jeremiah 14:8 New Living Translation (NLT) copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

O Lord, the hope of Israel,
    all who turn away from you will be disgraced.
They will be buried in the dust of the earth,
    for they have abandoned the Lord, the fountain of living water.

Jeremiah 17:13 New Living Translation (NLT) copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

All who found them devoured them.
    Their enemies said,
‘We did nothing wrong in attacking them,
    for they sinned against the Lord,
their true place of rest,
    and the hope of their ancestors.’

Jeremiah 50:7 New Living Translation (NLT) copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

All three of these verses could be attributed to comments Jesus said about Himself; He is our Savior (Luke 19:10), Giver of living water (John 4:10-11) and rest (Matthew 11:28).  I think one could also look at these verses in a Trinitarian way and see each Person clearly represented in the references; Jesus, God’s “Son”, is our Savior (1 John 4:14); The Holy Spirit is the fountain of Living Water, given by Jesus (John 7:37-39); The Father is our ultimate place of Rest, secured through Jesus (John 14:1-6; Hebrews 4:1-10).

The Triune God reveals Himself in the verses above as the Hope of Israel; He is the One Israel traditionally hoped to save and vindicate them.  That Hope was partially fulfilled by Jesus who came to secure the spiritual salvation of the world, through Israel (Romans 9:5), that will ultimately result in a physical salvation of the world, through Israel (Romans 11:11-12).

It is easy to get hung up on geopolitcal Israel and eschatology without remembering that Israel is also a reference to all those who follow God by faith in His word.  The Apostle Paul asserts that “true” (spiritual) Israel isn’t of those who are merely physical descendants of Abraham (Romans 9:6-8), but of those who are made righteous through faith in God as Abraham was (Galatians 3:6-9); Faithful Gentiles are grafted into “spiritual” Israel (Romans 11:17-21), whose namesake is the father of all those who wrestle with God in faith (Genesis 32:24-32) and receive a new identity (Galatians 6:15-16).  All of this means that if you have put your faith in Israel’s Messiah, the Hope of Israel (Jesus), then He is your Hope too!  You are included in the “people of God”, spiritual Israel.

Obviously, faith in Jesus is the key to securing this Hope, as we discussed in the last post on TIQVAH. Through Christ, God is the Hope of all believers, Jewish and Gentile.  Paul explains this further in his letter to the Ephesians:

Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

Ephesians 2:16-18 New Living Translation (NLT) copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Note the reference to each member of the Trinity in the last verse!  Each person of the Trinity worked together as One to give us the same Hope as one group. It is because of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus that Jews and Gentiles have access through the Holy Spirit to the Father.  God is One Hope, One MIQVEH, for all people.

Have you gathered together all your hopes into One Place, One God, through Christ?  Is He the limitless source or reservoir that you have fixed your hope on?  If not, please pray this prayer:

God: I believe you are Father, Son, and Spirit. 

Father, I have disobeyed Your will for me and put my hope in myself. Please forgive me and help me to do Your will as Jesus did.  Thank You for revealing Yourself to me through Him.  I believe you have a good plan for me.

Son–Jesus–my disobedience cost You Your life on the Cross.  Please be my Savior: I accept the sacrifice You made to pay for my Sin.  Since You have paid for my freedom with Your own blood, I acknowledge Your right to be Lord of my life.  I believe you rose from the dead; help me to live a new life in the hope that the same power that raised You will raise me one day too.

Spirit, I want to have a new identity, to be a part of the family of faith, and receive power to wrestle through this life in faith, hope, and love.  Help me to follow Jesus and teach others about Him.  Let Your rivers of living water flow through me to bless a thirsty world.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If you prayed that prayer in faith, I invite you to comment below!  When we confess Jesus as Lord, having believed that He rose from the dead (i.e. He really Is Who He said He Is), we are “saved”.  I sincerely hope you made that commitment today 🙂

If you enjoyed this Faith Fridays post, please share it using one of the many options below.  Thanks!

 

Read Full Post »

It’s been a while since I posted my first Transformation Tuesday’s post, so I wanted to get you caught up just in case you’ve missed the series so far (I’ve even gone back and added in “STEP [Number]” to each post which I apparently abandoned after step two!)

You can sprout grains and legumes for an increase in nutrition no pill can give you 🙂

Today we are going to add another transformational, hope-filled step to a brighter, more nutritious future: SPROUTING.

Helping of hope: you can maximize the nutrition of your legumes and grains with nothing more than water, drainage, and time!

Here are the nutritional benefits to sprouting according to Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon:

  • Reduced risk of allergic reaction, particularly to grains
  • In beans, a break down of complex sugars, easing digestion
  • In grains, conversion of starches to sugars (gives a sweeter taste)
  • Increased vitamin C
  • Increased B2, B5, and B6
  • Up to 8x increase in carotene
  • In grains, reduction of phytic acid which prevents the absorption of minerals
  • In grains, inactivated aflatoxins (carcinogens)
  • Up to 6x increase in enzymes (aids digestion)

To aid digestion, sprouted grains should be cooked lightly before consuming.  Sprouted beans should be cooked thoroughly.

CAUTION: Avoid sprouting alfalfa seeds and kidney beans; alfalfa sprouts are incredibly toxic and may damage the immune system; kidney bean sprouts can cause acute digestion pain even if consumed in small amounts (rigorous boiling for 15 minutes neutralizes this problem, but keep all raw kidney beans and sprouts out of the reach of children and pets to avoid an emergency trip to the hospital). 

Are you ready to maximize your nutrition so you stay fuller longer, need fewer (if any) supplements, and have fun in the process?  Check out my Sprouting Grains & Legumes page for detailed instructions and recipe links for sprouting your very first grains and beans!  So for I’ve sprouted wheat berries, rice, lentils, and pinto beans… next on my list: black beans!

If you enjoyed this Transformation Tuesdays post, please share it using one of the many options below!  Thanks!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: