racham

My brother-in-law bought me a Journaling Bible two years ago for Christmas, and I love it. I’m one of those people that has a Bible in a lot of different translations because it’s interesting to me to see how the word of God translates to different people groups. I know some are translations, some are paraphrases, some are loose, some are close, but my favorite might be The Amplified Bible.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I love words. I love the piecing together of phrases that tell someone just how you’re feeling or thinking. I especially love when words jump off the page and give you a brand new revelation of what they mean.

My first year as a counselor at Camp Robinson was the summer before my senior year of high school. I’d been asked to do the early morning devotion by the lake the next morning, and I was sitting on my porch reading and trying to see where the Lord was taking me. I ended up in the Psalms and kept coming back to Psalm 51.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David; when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.

1HAVE MERCY upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin!
3For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me.
4Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment.
5Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful].
6Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.
7Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean [ceremonially]; wash me, and I shall [in reality] be whiter than snow.
8Make me to hear joy and gladness and be satisfied; let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
9Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my guilt and iniquities.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You.
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness and death, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness (Your rightness and Your justice).
15O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16For You delight not in sacrifice, or else would I give it; You find no pleasure in burnt offering.
17My sacrifice [the sacrifice acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise.
18Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19Then will You delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, justice, and right, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then bullocks will be offered upon Your altar.

I was reading it over and over again and the words that kept coming to me were consequence and circumstance, but I could never quite get what I wanted to get out of the passage to fortify those two words. Tim Hodge walked up and asked me what I was reading, and I told him. I explained to him my predicament, and he said, (loosely paraphrased of course) “The word mercy in this passage is the Hebrew word racham. It means to have compassion and lovingly forgive and forget.” The rest, as they say, was history. It began rolling up in my spirit about the way God forgives us. He doesn’t look at us and say, “Oh, Me. She messed up again. Am I ever going to be able to stop forgiving her for the same thing?!” No! He looks at us with compassion, and He loves on us, and He tells us we’re forgiven even when what we did was really dumb.

I mean, this was what David wrote after sinning with Bathsheba! He had royally messed up! This is the heart’s cry of a man who knows how wrong he’s been. He knows just how bad he’s made things. He knows the enemy has just come in and run roughshod all over his life, but he also knows his God. He knows he’s forgiving to a fault, loves us more than life, and wants us to do better.

Ok, so you may ask how I tied consequence and circumstance in there, and this is where the beginning and end of this entry will all come together…hopefully. :)

I was an English major in college, and as such, had to do several literary analyses and word studies. If you take the two words and break them down by prefix, circum and con, you get two different, yet similar ideas. Circum- as a prefix means the perimeter of something as in the circumference of a circle or circumnavigation. Con- translates as “with”.

Circumstances are things that cause you to do something, whether what you do is good or bad. They are all the things going on around you at the time when you sin. Friends pressuring you to do something you know you shouldn’t; co-workers stressing you out to the point of pre-meditated murder; family making you so crazy you want to strangle them…all circumstances. They present you with the opportunity; you decide how to act on it.

Consequences are the results of how you react to your circumstances. You let your friends talk you into something wrong; you get in trouble with your parents. You kill your co-workers; you get incarcerated…and probably fired. You let your family drive you crazy, you just end up crazy, because they’re your family. What do you do, right? Regardless of what you did, there are ALWAYS consequences and repercussions.

But, God.

He has mercy. He forgives. He forgets. He loves us in spite of our stupidity. We’re sheep. Sheep are some of the least intelligent animals on the planet. But, we have a Shepherd. What a Shepherd. He leaves the 99 to find the one little lost lamb after he’s gone off and done something he shouldn’t have. We are all important. We are all worth saving. To Him, we were all worth dying for.

And, in the prayer I prayed after that devotion, I said, “Lord, let our circumstances be reasons for victory, not excuses for defeat.”

Advertisements

Harmony

Sitting in Sunday school a few weeks back, Dean was teaching on worship and why we worship and what we worship. At one point, the topic of conversation turned to harmony and how we achieve or obtain it with the Father. Dean asked for a few definitions of harmony from the class. A few people threw out their opinions and then one said, “Being one with the Father.”
 
As a musical person by nature and by calling, harmony is part of what I do. Harmony isn’t being one with the Father. It isn’t sounding just like the Father. It isn’t even sounding like the Father’s people.
 
Harmony is musically defined as “the simultaneous combination of tones especially when blended into chords pleasing to the ear”. Another definition states it as a “pleasing arrangement of parts”. But, the most outstanding word found in the definitions to me was congruity.
 
I’m not a math whiz, but if I remember correctly, congruent shapes in geometry were extremely similar, even appearing to be the same, but they weren’t. They were congruent. Alike, not identical.
 
Harmony isn’t being one with the Father. It’s being so like Him that what you do sounds perfect next to what He does.

Woman…thou art submissive…

I don’t normally use the Message paraphrase because that’s what it is: a paraphrase, but it seems to be the most current and relevant version of this passage.

A good woman is hard to find,
   and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
   and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
   all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
   and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
   and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
   for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
   then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
   rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
   is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
   diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
   reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
   their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
   and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
   when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
   brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
   and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
   and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
   and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
   her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
   but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
   The woman to be admired and praised
   is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
   Festoon her life with praises! 
Proverbs 31:10-31 [themessage]
 
Several times in Scripture, it speaks very clearly to the wife staying home to take care of the household and the children. It also talks about the woman being a provider simply in the house. But then in this passage alone it talks about her working diligently, and also spending money and buying property; money that she either had to make or ask her husband for and property that she works herself.  
 
The best way to relate this to a current school-of-thought is to put it like this: 

A woman’s job throughout all history and even to an extent today has consisted mostly of keeping the house and tending to the children. The man has always worked and provided for the family. Even today in post-feminist America, the man is more responsible for making the majority of the money in the household and tending to the outside work of the house while the woman is held accountable, quite frankly, for everything else. It even comes down sometimes to the education of the children for the woman to handle. Especially in Christian households, and that’s where the submissive nature (or lack thereof) comes in.
 
Ephesians 5:22 (ESV) says very plainly, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” [emphasis mine] That’s one of the biggest problems with the attitude towards submissive lifestyles. Women don’t submit to their husbands as they would to the Lord. The other problem with that comes from verse 25 (ESV), where it says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” [emphasis mine] Some husbands have this mindset that they are the husband, what they say goes, nobody else has an opinion, and that’s not the mindset Christ created for marriage. Christ created the mindset that the husband is the head of the house as he is the head of the church, and the wife is to love her husband and she loves the Lord. So, all else is irrelevant if you really think about it.
 
Whether a woman works, whether a woman stays at home with a slew of kids, whether a woman cooks every night or whether she simply makes sure her husband and family eats, it’s not an issue if the submission mentality is in line. If the vertical relationship between a man or woman and God is correctly aligned, the horizontal relationship between husband and wife will fall into place, as will every other relationship. This couple I know was talking about how many kids they wanted, and after going back and forth about two or three kids for a few minutes, he said to her, “The number of children really doesn’t matter all that much to me. The fact that I found you and that I know it’s a God-thing is enough of a foundation for me to begin on. The rest will simply fall into place.”
 
What he said sounds simple, almost too simple, and a little laissez-faire if you over analyze it, but if we really step back and think about how many things we allow to cause us grief just because we’re confused about what God is saying to us about it, it all boils down to one thing: letting God finally rule our hearts and minds with full and complete control. There is a very different result when that happens. The result is submitting yourself to the perfect will of God, regardless of how many paths it takes you to get there.

It was a field of rejects where I lay…

pottery2

[It was a field of rejects where I lay/In a pile the world had thrown away/Then the Master Potter found me/Said He’d make me whole again]

I started listening this morning to the Kenny Hinson tribute album that Mike Bowling did a couple of years ago, and I got to this song before I made it to work. This song, like so many other Hinson originals, has such simple lyrics with such a poignant message. Half the time, songs like this just go in one ear and out the other, but this morning, this song stuck out so clearly to me. Maybe it’s the course my life has taken in the last few months, but it meant something this morning that it’s never meant before.

It means that I’m free from the mindset of not being good enough to serve God. It means that there is no longer any condemnation through Christ Jesus and the blood He shed for my sin. It means that God loves me so unconditionally.

It means, essentially, God is good.

Hasta,
Em