Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wandering from Taberah

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom
that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful,
and so worship God acceptably
with reverence and awe,
for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12:28-29

It's an Idiom: From the frying pan into the fire. Been there; done that!
Not only is it an idiom, but it describes actual places (see photo) known as Taberah, and as Kibroth Hattaavah.
Oh you won't find them on any map, but as sure as the sun rises, they're places I've visited. They are always located in a wilderness.

We find both of them described in scripture, in the Book of Numbers, chapter 11 (parts):

Now the people complained about their hardships ...
Then fire from the LORD burned among them
and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.
So that place was called Taberah,
because fire from the LORD had
burned among them. (1-3)

The rabble with them began to crave other food,
and again the Israelites started wailing and said,
“If only we had meat to eat!"... (5)

(God told Moses to) ... “Tell the people:
‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow,
when you will eat meat.
The LORD heard you when you wailed ... (18)

All that day and night and all the next day
the people went out and gathered quail.
But while the meat was still between their teeth
and before it could be consumed,
the anger of the LORD burned against the people,
and He struck them with a severe plague.

Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah,
because there they buried the people
who had craved other food.

Taberah means: Burning
Kibroth Hattaavah means: Graves of craving

As I read the story about these particular instances of contemptuous whining, it reminded me of some things I've learned, and that I keep learning ...

  1. When looking BACK (to the land of Taberah) with longing- as if what I've given up of the world's ways was or is desirous today - how burnt & singed is my heart. Those days were not, and are not worth repeating.
  2. When looking AROUND (to the land of Kibroth Hattaavah) - as if searching out & craving the things of the world that might somehow make my present condition more satisfying (or pleasurable) - how miserable is my soul.
Best to plant one's tent securely in His kingdom, in Beulah. It's no wilderness, and the only fire there is one that will warm you.

Come to think of it, it's like going from the frying pan into God's own loving arms. No idiom, but definitely a desirable destination!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Baby Blue Eyes & the Braggin' Grandma

There's no mistaking it: This little guy - Kole -
is the family's blue-eyed wonder !

Nana Leslie thinks I'm pretty cool ...

Have you seen me crawl? I'm only 5 1/2 months old!!

Bundled for snow ...

They call me "Peanut", and I think they love me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Selah at Sunrise

Just try and get to the bottom of the word "Selah", and you'll be digging indefinitely!

Regardless of chosen resources - be they Jewish or contemporary Christian or secular Wikipedic - there are varying opinions about the word's source and uses. Associated with their explanations are words like "maybe", "sometimes", "probably", "likely", "possibly", "if", etc.

We can just picture our linquistic experts as they sit in amused silence, each one scratching their head.

None, however, disagree on the word's ultimate power. In every instance, "Selah" is the grandest of all thanks-givings, for the source of "Selah" resides in the headwaters of heaven itself!

From the Jewish Talmud we learn that "Selah" is treated as a synonym of neẓaḥ and wa'ed, signifying eternal continuance without interruption.

It is also seen as a verb that means "lift up", applying to the voice. Some regard it to be an equivalent, or an affirmative corroborative expletive (no worries, this expletive doesn't come with soap!). (1)

The Amplified Bible adds “pause and calmly think about that” to each verse where it appears.

When we encounter the "Selah" in scripture, it simply means that we are to pause, and to carefully weigh the meaning of what we have just read or heard, lifting up our hearts in praise to God for His great truths. (2)

On this day of Thanksgiving, it seems so very appropriate to Selah at sunrise. In my world, He has certainly done, and does all things well. Selah!

“All the earth bows down to You;
they sing praise to You,
they sing praise to Your name."
(Psalm 66:4)

Jewish Encyclopedia
Got Questions?
Photos Compliments of Google Images

Monday, November 22, 2010

Incurable Gratitude Attacks

In the run-up to Thanksgiving my heart patiently endures a flurry of gratitude attacks. They're hard to explain, though I have to believe you know exactly what they look like and how they feel.
The majority of mine come in the form of recent events - - all those things that have occurred in the past year that deliver me to present day. They're happenings ... and people ... and places ... and doings ... and beings ... and havings ... and losings ... and so much more.
I dare not begin to list them because I cannot afford to sit in this one place for six, or thirteen, or 24 days on end. My list is endless.
There are a few, though, that derive from days long passed; days of my childhood.
I spoke of a particularly tough one last year with the penning of It's Time. But most are light-hearted fare and center on home; the place of my childhood. That's where warmth and security reigned in the form of family - daddy, mommy and my sisters three. They always feature prominently in my every giving of thanks.
(Photo: the home of my childhood)

(Photo: Carol, Dad, Kathleen, Barb, Mom, Dolores)

(Photo: Barb, Mom, Carol, Kathleen, Dolores)


The run-up is fully underway now, so I'm keenly alert to the flurry that stirs me. I'm sure glad there's no cure for an attack of gratitude, but turkey does help.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lessons from My Maple

Summer's pride demonstrated in a full array of glorious, otherworldly garb. Standing tall - fully cloaked - the magnificant Maple gladly obeys the summons of it's Creator; a summons to share the beauty & bounty crafted by His own skilled hands.

As the weeks roll by, the Maple's lush hues are made more glorious - were that even possible! They are decorated in increasing measure with the scarlets that have been threaded by His tender hands. It obeys with joy His summons to present this dignified demonstration of heaven's unrivaled beauty.

Assaulted now by contrary winds and threats of death, the humbled Maple stands naked, finding it difficult to to hear a new summons. But it obeys, standing naked, and in hushed silence. Then the whisper ... "Spring's array is already crafted, and the newest hues are more wonderful than before. It's splendor will be worth the wait, even a wait in nakedness. "

Though a tree grows so high,
the falling leaves return to the root.
Malay proverb

I like trees because they seem more resigned
to the way they have to live than other things do.
- Willa Cather (1873-1947), O Pioneers 1913

The tree which moves some to tears of joy
is in the eyes of others only a
green thing that stands in the way.
Some see Nature all ridicule and
deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all.
But to the eyes of the
man of imagination,
Nature is Imagination itself.
- William Blake, 1799, The Letters

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One Too Many Taqiyya

Are you going to believe me,
or what you see with your own eyes?

~ Groucho Marx

At first glance it's a fun & funny little word: taqiyya. No, it's not a beverage akin to Tequila or a menu item at your favorite Mexican restaurant. It's not a Native American place name or a key character from the movie Avatar. I dare say it's far more sinister than any of these.

I stumbled across the word while reading an article, having never heard it before. At once I thought it belonged in my own personal word-arsenal. Then, like we are encouraged in Reader's Digest's Word Power, I've been attempting to use it in sentences, in context so as not to forget the power of it's meaning.

So what is it - taqiyya - exactly?

Believe it or not, it's a doctrine. It derives from the Islamic religion, but it's hardly the property of Muslims alone.

In essence, taqiyya permits strategic lying. In fact, it not only permits it, it holds such skill in utmost esteem. Seems there's nothing to equal a convincing liar.

It's literal meaning is "concealing, precaution, guarding"; and in practical terms it is manifested as dissimulation, lying, deceiving, vexing and confounding with the intention of deflecting attention, foiling or pre-emptive blocking. (1)

No doubt you know someone that speaks falsehood so convincingly that they actually believe it to be true; their taqiyya skills finely honed?

I confess: I was never very good at it, but it wasn't for lack of trying: "Oh mother ... don't be such a worry-wart. I never drive over the speed limit." Or, "Me ... heck no; I don't have a problem with alchohol; I can stop drinking anytime I want."

Denial. Self-deluded. Veiled. These are the adjectives associated with the snookered. You can often see the tell-tale traces of fish line at the corner of their mouths (I have a few scars of my own!). Believing the lie is so much easier (and often less painful) than ferreting out the truth.

The taqiyya-adept exist in our midst (with a poker face) among family & friends, or giving out the news, or running for/holding public office, or preaching from the pulpit, or selling snake oil. Golly! (to quote Gilligan), they're everywhere!

But I (Jeremiah) said, “Alas, Sovereign LORD!
The prophets keep telling them,
‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine.
Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’”

Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are
prophesying lies in my name.
I have not sent them or appointed them
or spoken to them.
They are prophesying to you false visions,
divinations, idolatries and
the delusions of their own minds."
Jeremiah 14:13-14

They perish because they refused
to love the truth and so be saved.
For this reason God sends them
a powerful delusion so that they
believe the lie
and so that all will
be condemned who have not believed
the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

While I find this subject matter amusing, it strikes a deeper chord too. Afterall, who among us hasn't encountered the above scriptures, or heard that there is coming a time when the practioners of taqiyya will be utterly believable? They'll be giving out regular, and free doses of their fabrications as if such fabrications are foundational truths.

I've concluded the antidote to the Doctrine of Taqiyya is to seek and to know the truth, The Truth.

Afterall, being a believer is not about being an Ostrich. That would be playing right into the hands of the Taqiyya-izers.

Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching,
you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

... and isn't it fascinating that the seeking/finding of Truth is ALWAYS associated with obedience? Taqiyya's standards require no such nobility, which means even one taqiyya, is one too many.

Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Confessions of a Consecrant

To consecrate means to hallow, or to dedicate to a special purpose.
Neither meaning is particularly helpful, other than to connote the spiritual nature of being consecrated. It's use, as well as it's definition will vary from one person to another; from group-to-group; or from one denomination to another.
Here's the confession part of my post: I've never liked the word "consecrate". It, like many others from our Christianese vernacular, is bothersome to me in that it comes off high-and-mighty, churchy; and it doesn't really get to the heart of the matter. In truth, the heart of the consecration-matter couldn't be more amazing, or more personal than what is commonly associated with it.
There are other, related dots we can connect to this subject; dots like living sacrifice, anointed, called/chosen, transformed. In the end, they all tell us:.

The Word of God, ministered in our hearts
by the Holy Spirit, is the only power on earth
that can transform us from worldliness
to true spirituality

(I also like what Watchman Nee (2) has to say about this subject.)

Through the Lord's constraining and based on His purchase, we separate
ourselves from every other thing. Henceforth, we live for and unto the Lord.
This is consecration.

... we see (in Exodus 28:1-2, 29:1, 4, 9-10) that man does not
consecrate himself because he has chosen God. Rather, God
is the One who chooses and calls, and then man consecrates
himself to Him.

Consecration does not depend upon our willingness. It is because of God's
abounding grace that we can consecrate

My friend Elaine at Peace for the Journey writes a poignant, related piece in In her recent post entitled "on Christian 'calling' ". Were I the swearing sort, I'd swear she wrote it just for me because it quieted my thoughts, and confirmed many of my own brooding musings over this consecration business. She reminded me again how complicated we I make the living for the Lord equation.
My take-away from brooding on this subject? All my formulas ... contrivances ... expectations ... love of the sensational ... mis-applied & mis-appropriated scriptures ... clamor ... (more confessions!), do little more than muddy the refreshing, icy, clear water given by God Himself to quench my thirst.
While some (though none of you, or me) seek high-and-mighty ministries, or are on a quest to tap into signs & wonders as an affirmation of spiritual maturity, the Lord Himself tells us of the great significance (and power) in The Ministry of Waiting. I could site scripture-after-scripture (and so can you) about the value of such a ministry, but suffice it to say: Until we've I've learned to be content there (in the waiting), I doubt any other self-consecrated ministry-effort or outcome will be quite what He had in mind for me.
There's a dramatic connection between God's work in sanctifying us, and our work (if you can call it that) in surrendering to it. We consecrate ourselves because we are called to it; and we are called to it because of His unfathomable love. It's mysterious, but no mystery. It's just that simple.
It is our reasonable service.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Review: America's Prophet

America’s Prophet
By Bruce Feiler
Published by Harper Perennial,
an imprint of Harper Collins
“… the founders of America introduced the themes
of oppression and redemption,
anticipation and disenchantment,
freedom and law,
that would carry through
four hundred years of American history.
Because of them, the story of Moses
became the story of America.”
Bruce Feiler
It’s not a project - a formal book review - that I’ve ever undertaken in any systematic way, yet here I am at the request of Trish Collins from TLC Book Tours, doing exactly that. So let me dispense with any suspense about this particular book: it’s two-thumbs up, and five stars!
America’s Prophet is an astutely woven work of non-fiction; well researched, and dotted with literary acumen as well as humor. Author Bruce Feiler (pronounced Filer) connects us ingeniously to Moses, transforming him from more than an ancient freedom fighter. With the author's skilled pen, Moses leads us through every age, and continues to lead us today.
From the Sumerian plains of antiquity to the Oval Office, with both secular and biblical history as a backdrop, the author demonstrates how the Moses narrative of the Exodus becomes the narrative of America's history; past, as well as present tense
Our storyteller derives a rich hue for this work from his own Jewish roots; roots that provide an artful backdrop, and an eloquence of pen. It's more than a mere connecting-of-the-dots because in every chapter, every scene we find Moses confronting the tyrants, dealing with his own personal insecurities, challenging the people, and exercising his powerful prophetic voice.
I began grabbing quotes early on; quotes that I found particularly powerful. But before long I had so many of them I decided to share but a few. For instance ...
“What happened first in churches happened next in government.”
or ...
“The persistence of Mosaic imagery at
nearly every major turning point in the country’s
formative century shows how clearly the
themes of chosenness, liberation from slavery,
freedom from authority, and collective moral responsibility
had become the tent pole of American public life.”
or ...
"For those in pain,
biblical time becomes any time."
or ...
"What starts in religions makes
it's way into politics.".
It’s not simply the body politic to which the author addresses himself, but the entirety of America's fabric: medicine, the arts, film, science, and more. He introduces Moses at every juncture, and in every introduction we recognize a prophet that lives on.
I believe it's safe to say that America's Prophet was a tough book to set down, and an even tougher book to forget. I also believe it's safe to say that we can put away any notion of faith - and even the Scriptures - having had nothing to do with America's humble beginnings. Here is a book that is bound to give the naysayers in our midst great pause.
With that, I'll end this review with my favorite of Bruce Feiler's quotes:
"... the ultimate lesson of Moses' life is that
the dream does not die with the dreamer,
the journey does not end on the mountaintop,
and the true destination in a narrative of hope
is not this year at all."
To get your own copy of America's Prophet, it's as easy as a trip to Amazon ...

For more about Bruce Feiler - his bio and many other books - check out his website.

My thanks to Trish Collins for the gift of the book, America's Prophet, and for the privilege of rendering an opinion. I've received no compensation for doing so.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Scenes from Arizona

I've decided to let the pictures speak for themselves. How else could I possibly capture all the elements of an amazing eight day trek among the richest of our treasures: Arizona family & friends!

“If you live to be 100,
I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day,
so I never have to live without you.”
~ Winnie the Pooh

It began with a visit at my sister Barbara's.

Then onto Tuscon to visit our cousin Mary Ann.

Breakfast with many from our church Home Team.

Meeting up with a very special family; one that is every bit our own - Pastor Greg, Lori, Jake, Zach, Josh & Brooke.

Wednesday mornings are best spent with the women's prayer group (and coffee, giggles & hugs) ...

My team from the office.

Such fun with Debbie (from Heart Choices), and the ducks.

What an amazing lady, hostess and friend is Kim (we stayed several days with she and hubby her hubby, Greg).

Visiting the Pierce Dairy ...

Dinner with great friends ...

Breakfast at Kim & Greg's resort-like home with the White Tank Mountains as a backdrop. So beautiful!

Catching Pastor Greg's flag-football team (and curly-headed Josh) winning the Championship before we leave town.

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Miss Molly's Designs

I don't often promote retail sites, but this one I simply cannot pass up. You see, I KNOW Molly Alexander, and the quality of her amazing creative talents.

Drop by Miss Molly's Designs (not my daughter Molly, but an equally lovely one) ... I know you'll find a wealth of information as well as offerings. Her hand-crafted jewelry is not only unique, but so reasonably priced you'll want one of everything (or two)!

Back to trekking Arizona now; see you later!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Eating My Way Through Phoenix

No ... I haven't fallen off the earth. Besides, my center of gravity wouldn't allow it anyway! :)

This week I'm roosted in Arizona at my sister's home. Thursday I'll move to the home of good friends for another several days before leaving to return to WA State this weekend.

What a wonderful time it's been (more about it, and pictures, another day) of galvanizing friendships, fellowship, food (and way too much of it), meandering, and the like. Even so, I'm missing all of you.

I'll e-see you soon. Until then, a huge hug to all.