Monday, February 28, 2011

Hebrew & Gentile Christians

Roughly ten years ago I found myself in a most baffling discussion with a young believer.  In rapid fire succession came questions about Jews & Judaism as compared to Christians & Christianity - questions about when & how the Church bid farewell to the Jewishness of Jesus; and how it developed so many doctrines & traditions that were, in many instances, diametrically opposed to what the ancient text has to tell us.  They were reasoned, respectful questions; and never in my life did I feel so impotent in answering them.

Mostly I sat somewhat dumbfounded; and I have never forgotten the feelings I had that day and those that followed it.  The good news (about The Good News), is that it sent me scurrying to the scriptures, to history books and commentaries, to Jewish believers in Christ, and to my knees.  Over the subsequent ten years I'd like to think I could answer some of those long ago questions in a reason-able way. 

I also realize I don't know what I don't know ...

I've mentioned him before, but Arnold Fruchtenbaum has bailed me out more than once on this subject, and many like it.  I just finished a work he did in 1983 entitled "Hebrew Christianity".  I'm still basking in the beauty of its contents; contents that would have helped me immeasurably during that long ago Q&A session.

Today I'm wondering what else I've overlooked, or erroneously absorbed where the Jewish flavor of God's word is concerned?

Footnote:  Let me say that I am delightfully blessed to be a Gentile believer in Jesus, and an equally blessed member of His Body, the Church.  This is not intended to market Judaism.  It's to emphasize how Jewish are Christian beliefs, and that rather than insist the Jewishness of the texts be Gentilized

Friday, February 25, 2011

Introducing Shayla

There's someone I want you to meet.  Her name is Shayla, and hers is a saga that will touch you deeply.  How do I know that?  Because each of you - of us - has experienced life's troublesome side.  You will relate to Shayla; and you will profit from that knowing.  I'm thinking she will too.   

When this picture was taken but a few short years ago Shayla and Arie, her husband, could not have known how rugged would be their journey.  

Shattered dreams?  Hurting?  Troubled by loss & grief?  Staring down giants & walking a winding road?  Baffled by roadblocks?  Then come alongside Shayla and gather hope, and momentum.  Trek on over to her blog, Wegen Tales, and sit awhile.  I promise you'll come away a different person. 

How do I know Shayla?  Well, funny you should ask ...

Shayla is the daughter-in-law of friends; the wife of one of their five sons.  Theirs is a family devoted to dairy farming but - more importantly - to the Lord.  They are a precious part of the Body at our Church and Home Team in Arizona.  They are among the many we miss since our return to Washington State.    

When Shayla and her husband were pregnant with their twins (see those sweet little feet ... ) Hadilyn & Arie Jr., we joined others in praying for them, for the babies.  They'd lost two babies already, and to say they were hopeful is to not do justice to the expectation that filled their hearts. 

Sadly, sorrows blanketed those hearts when the little ones were born too soon.  Since then, Shayla has lost yet another baby.  She tells us by way of her profile:  "I am the mommy to five beautiful children in heaven.". 

As heavy & burdensome as this is, know that Shayla has her eyes trained on the horizon of God's promises to her. 

Shayla's relatively new to the blogosphere, so pay her a visit & welcome her here.  Consider her post on February 23, "Nine Months of Grief", and be heartened.  And by all means leave her a comment.  We all know how encouraging even a few words can be.

Thank you, friends.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wishin' & Hopin' & Thinkin' & Prayin'

What a great song.  Back in 1964 (my mid-years in High School), Dusty Springfield came out with a huge hit that still sets a foot to tappin'.

I couldn't begin to tell you the song's lyrics, but the title & chorus speaks volumes about my present condition ...

... Wishin' ... Hopin' ... Thinkin' ... Prayin' ...

Not necessarily in that order.

It was nearly one year ago that I left my position in Church ministry in Arizona and began the lengthy process of re-locating to the Pacific Northwest.  We touched down here late July, and since that time it's been such great fun settling & reconnecting with all things familiar, mostly family & friends.

But stirring just beneath my heart's contentment is a rhythmic beat that has me longing for the next steps.  Often my prayers begin and end with "What now; what next, Lord?".  It's not an anxious or unwelcome rhythm; just persistent.

I may be retired, but I'm definitely not tired.  Both Terry and I long for more room (a home versus a condo); and my hands often itch for a greater grip on productivity. 

But I've learned something in my 63 years:  don't push

Waiting upon the Lord has advantages; the best being a lack of regret

And so it plays on, the wishin', and hopin', and thinkin', and prayin' AND waitin' ...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Great Endowment

Do you ever find yourselves reading along with the scripture and, suddenly, see/hear a phrase that makes of you a hostage?  It may be something you've read time-and-again, or something that crops up when you're reading a different version of the Bible.  Whatever it's cause: you're shackled.  Try as you might, that phrase and it's deeper meaning are tough to be free of.

That's exactly what happened when I stumbled across the word endow the other day. 

Immediately I thought of context:  The National Endowment for the Arts, or The Financial Endowment for Harvard came to mind.  Organizations such as these cannot exist without being endowed - - typically by someone or something other than themselves.

Merriam tells us that endow means to furnish with a dower (same as dowry); to provide with something freely or naturally.  Then, if we follow that trail, he tells us that a dowry means an estate that a woman brings to her husband in marriage, or a gift of money/property by a man to/for his bride.  Seems a dowry can go either direction.

And so it was that I was taken hostage by the subject of endowments.

It began here: 

... for God did not endow her (the ostrich) with wisdom
or give her a share of good sense.  
Job 39:17

Wow.  Don't we all get that!  (I'm wondering why He chose to the word "her" to describe this un-endowed creature?)

So, instead of harking "Dumber than a box of rocks!"; we can hark "Dumber than an Ostrich!".  (What a delight it is to use the term hark in context.)

It's not so much that ostriches bury their heads in sand as it is that they're totally oblivious to reason.  They do what they do BECAUSE they are NOT able to do anything other than that. 

So, my thoughts trailed along that course for awhile, leading me eventually to the subject of just how one does become endowed with wisdom or the understanding born of it?  Certainly knowledge helps; the gathering of information and input and experience.  But that's not all.

On I went:

And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me (Isaiah),
endowed with his Spirit.
Isaiah 48:16

Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
who made heaven and earth! He has given King David a wise son,
endowed with intelligence and discernment 
2 Chronicles 2:12

Arise, shine, for your (Israel's) light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.. the honor of the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.
Isaiah 1:1, 9

We've all heard it said:  "He/she is so smart - brilliant even; but they haven't a lick of common sense."  If it's true of ostriches, then it's certainly true of me - - or it COULD BE true of me.

If we take Merriam's definition of dowry, and we see that God Himself provided for both sides of the equation where marriage is concerned, we see more clearly that He alone endows wisdom AND understanding (not to mention His endowments of each & every other thing He requires).  
However, to the one who does not work but trusts God
Who justifies the ungodly (endowment),
 their faith is credited as righteousness. 
Romans 4:5

Now he who supplies (endows) seed to the sower and
bread for food will also supply (endows) and increase
your store of seed and will enlarge (endow) the
harvest of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 9:10

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who has become for us (endowment) wisdom from God—
that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption
(triple endowments). 
1 Corinthians 1:30

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become the righteousness
(endowment) of God. 
 2 Corinthians 5:21

In closing, let me just say how utterly blessed & baffled am I by so rich an estate.  Never in a million years could I provide so rich a dowry for myself; yet I am given such because of what He's done for me (and you).

What an endowment!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sassy Sagas, Sisters and a Sweet Boy

Recent days have been filled with all things delightful.   I've gathered several doses of grandmother's delight - a sure tonic for all that ails us.  While my hug larder is filled for the likes of the seven I treasure, it's this newest one that captivates us most of all.  All too soon he'll be in junior high, or driving like the rest of them :(

Too, I've relished nearly two weeks of all-things sister.  Barbara and Carol flew in from their far away homes to join Dolores and me.   A few scenes ...

Dolores, pictured here at the gravesite of her
beloved husband of 55 years, John.  He left us just one
month ago, on December 17.  

The youngun's whipped up a game of Bunco, rendering
Dolores' home a sea of giggles & shouting.

(Barbara, Carol, Me & Dolores)
Lunching, munching & musing together.
No, that's not a bar ...
just the foyer to the
restaurant :)

(Carol, Dolores, Me & Barbara)

In closing, let me leave you with a few sister-quotes or, rather, taglines that are forever etched beneath their place in my heart:

Dolores:     He gives us beauty for ashes.
Barbara:    There's nothing more precious than family.
Carol:       All He asks is that we follow Him.

Praying that each of you has such simple,
priceless treasures in your life!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Platitudinal Wisdom

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a platitudinal-slapdown?  I have.

Worse, are you guilty of bequeathing them to another?  I am.

As I was reading along in the Book of Job, I ran across one of his many heartfelt expressions of disbelief towards his helpful advisers:

Your platitudes
(or maxims/memorable sayings) 
are proverbs of ashes. 
Job 13:12

Ouch!  Doesn't that speak volumes? 

Merriam defines a platitude as: 
1: the quality or state of being dull or insipid
2: a banal, trite, or stale remark

Anything with "insipid", or "banal" at it's core gives me hives. 

Well, we eventually read about how off-the-mark were Job's buddies, even though what they had to say was often true ... even scriptural.  Platitudes just don't have lift.  Then again, they're not intended to be so noble.  They rarely do more than allow the platitudinist to have the floor and to sound quite wise, even high-and-mighty. 

I suppose the truth of the matter lies in motive, but even then a platitude can come off quite badly.  Job's BFFs learned that the hard way. 

Come to think of it, so have I.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Anybody have a Wii?  If so, then you'll know the fun & folly of that device, and perhaps relate when I mention how utterly ill-prepared was (am) I in the Wii Boxing Arena.  Ugh!

It's been my great pleasure (I think) to contend there with my granddaughter on several occasions, knowing full well she'll eventually win, even when she pulls punches and allows me to overtake her here-and-there.  But contend I do.  Who knows?  Someday I might actually win.

Contend.  It means: rivalry/competition; debate/argument; to strive or vie in contest.  It has both a positive and negative connotation; and which it is often depends on the motives of those in contention.

Apart from Wii, contending goes on every day and in every sphere of life.  Sometimes we're aware of it; and sometimes it's just part of the fabric that comprises the making of choices.  Sometimes it's difficult, engendering mean-spiritedness.  At other times it's less noticeable; less competitive.  It's simply the stuff of standing firm. 

Whichever and whatever ... contending is a part of our lives.  We reason together - the operative word being "reason".  The tricky part is learning how to contend or reason without going for the jugular, or dancing with glee when your opponent lies fallen on the Boxing Arena mat.  Afterall, the best part of contending is graciously finding and remaining on the high ground.

I wish someone would tell that to my granddaughter.  :)

... when Peter came up to Jerusalem,
those of the circumcision contended with him ...
Acts 11:2

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you
about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write
and urge you to contend for the faith that was
 once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 
Jude 1:3

 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil,
when he disputed about the body of Moses,
dared not bring against him a reviling accusation,
but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 
Jude 1:9

I want you to know how hard I am contending
 for you and for those at Laodicea,
and for all who have not met me personally. 
 Colossians 2:1

... help these women since they have contended
at my side in the cause of the gospel ...
Philippians 4:3

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching
everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone
fully mature in Christ.  To this end I strenuously contend
with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. 
Colossians 1:28-29

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Porches & Pillars

It is always a happy day when I drop by Judy's place. You can bet your bippy that she'll have a little something for you.  What a clever & creative lady is she; and her porch is among my favoritest places to hang out.  You never know when or how she'll bedazzle it, but you can plan for festive fare & ambiance.  It says "welcome, come on in". 

I love porches.   

While studying First Kings & Second Chronicles with my lady's Bible Study group (an indepth Kay Arthur study that is truly rugged, but oh-so amazing), two aspects of Solomon's Temple-building initiative stand out to me:
  • the positioning of porches
  • the positioning of two special pillars.

Once you get past what seems like who-gives-a-rip particulars & talk of cubits, there's something incredibly welcoming about these outer aspects of the Temple.  We are told there are two porches (or porticos); one called Solomon's Porch (on the east), and the other called the Royal Porch (on the south).

The front of the porch (Solomon's) was covered with gold; and it was most brilliant when the rays of the morning sun fell upon it. (1)

But the 'Royal Porch,' by which we are supposed to have entered the Temple, was the most splendid, consisting not as the others, of a double, but of a treble colonnade, formed of 162 pillars, ranged in four rows of 40 pillars each, the two odd pillars serving as a kind of screen, where the 'Porch' opened upon the bridge. (3)

The Ulam (is) the porch or entrance before the temple on the east (Solomon's Porch). In the porch stood the two pillars Jachin and Boaz ...(4) 

When it comes to the two pillars we learn they were roughly 30 feet high, and upon them was engraved biblical dynastic prophecies and royal hymns.  ... (They) play a double role: they emphasize, on the one hand, the personal relationship between the Temple and the royal family and, on the other, the presence of God within the Temple.

These two pillars were actually given names, that of Jachin (meaning He will establish), and Boaz (meaning strength).

There are a good many dots one can connect to the all the vast meaning associated with the Temple and it's corresponding uses & Feasts.  Some of them are finely researched, others are random speculation.  I'll not waste my time or yours trying to address them all.  I simply want to add my own - those associated with porches & pillars; not certain they fall into either camp.

If I'm the Temple of God's Holy Spirit (and I am), then it is God who has built that Temple and all the amazing furniture/utensils within it.  He's made provision for all that's conducted there, even opening wide the separating veil between the common areas and His Holy of Holies.  He's invited me in, and welcomed me, going so far as to post pillared-sentries at that portal to assure me that is it He (not my own efforts) that actually establishes and strengthens me once enclosed.   

Big dot.

Now I'm thinking I need to invite Judy over to bedazlle my porch and serve a little something for you there.  It's the least I can do to welcome you to a porch like no other.

FOOTNOTE:  I am challenged to dig deep into the Jewish bedrock that is our Christian worldview. As rich as the Church is all by itself, it is nothing if not connected to God's equally grand (greater?) design for His people Israel.  Afterall, our Savior is Jewish. 


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Travel Intinerary for Rabbit Trails

Poor rabbits.  They get stuck with all sorts of connotations that have absolutely nothing to do with rabbithood.  Even so, I'm jumping (or is that "hopping?") on the band wagon here to tackle the tricky trek associated with Rabbit Trails.  You know - - the sort that allow us to take the long way around, or up, or over, or backward, or down, or underground to get to our destination ... or not.  

Rabbit Trails are bothersome unless they're useful.

Rabbit Trails are the means by which we do NOT get to the point any time soon.

Rabbit Trails ensure what you mean to convey is taken hostage by what you actually say, which is then taken hostage by something else that seemed more important than what you meant to say to begin with.

NEVER stop talking in the middle of a Rabbit Trail, or both you and your audience (if they're still listening) will be totally befuddled.  You may not be in any real danger, but you'll think you are, and they'll know they are.

People typically have to be taken hostage in order to get them to tag along a Rabbit Trail with you.  Never a good thing.  Hostages rarely go willingly if given a choice.

Do you suppose there's an upside to Rabbit Trails?