Monthly Archives: August 2008

Salty Stuff

Standard

My Sister’s Coming to See Me!  And I am so excited.  Boy, will I have a lot to share THAT week. 

 

This week?  Notsomuch.

 

But I will tell you about the salty brownies. 

 

Way back in June/July 2008 when life in VA was fresh and new and I was not stagnantly waiting for school job something to happen, I was happily reading everything with Sweet Potato Queens in the title.  I knew Sis would appreciate the irreverant humor and the fat-laden recipes (’cause there’s no calories in reading, right?) so I got online www.amazon.com and found a cheap-o copy of the Sweet Potato Queens Big @$$ Cookbook and sent it to her for her birthday. 

Well, she left me a message on Sunday that she was going to make “Chocolate Stuff.”  I have made this about 12-45 times over the 11 weeks that we’ve been here.  In fact, I had made some just that night when I got her message!  I was so excited ’cause I knew it would be a hit for her and her company.  Finally we talked a few days later.

“No one liked it.  It was too salty.”

“What?  Salty?  I don’t even remember salt in the recipe.”

“Oh, yeah.  It said to put 1 tsp of salt.  I remember.  I knew you had said you liked salty & sweet.  I just thought that maybe you put ’em both together…”

So we both race to our respective Big @$$ Cookbooks and look it up.

“On page 155” we say in unison.

“Add 1 teaspoon of salt,” she reads.

“One QUARTER teaspoon,”  I read.

“Oh.”

“Oh.  Em.  Gee.  It must be a misprint.:

“No wonder it was on sale.”

No laughter.  Just crickets and deep, deep sorrow. 

Taps was playing somewhere in the distant background.

She was incredibly bummed, but not nearly as much as I, the giver of a tainted gift.  I hearby vow the following:

 

 

We will compare our Big @$$ recipes page by page while sipping frozen drinks and eating Intentional Salty Things on the beach.

 

 

We will make The REAL VERSION of Chocolate Stuff DAILY when she gets here.

 

 

We will take “before” and “after” pictures.  But maybe use photoshop.  Or other people’s faces/bodies.

I can’t wait!

 

 

PS  Here’s the recipe.  Couldn’t be easier.  From Jill Connor Browne

Beat 2 eggs, add 1 cup sugar.                              I know.  No one’s making YOU make it. 

Melt a stick of butter in the microwave with 2 heaping tsp. of Hershey’s powdered cocoa.  Dump the chocolate-butter into the sugar-eggs and mix very well.  Add 1+ tsp of vanilla and ONE QUARTER TEASPOON of salt.  That’s a tad more than a pinch and probably not enough to miss if you DON’T ADD IT AT ALL, which I don’t.  You can add 1/2 c. nuts if you want, but I don’t.  Then you just pour it into a greased loaf pan (or double it for a brownie pan).  Jill’s recipe says to put the greased loaf pan in a separate pan of water to make it gooey on the bottom, but I don’t.  And it still comes out gooey on the bottom and crunchy on the top.  Jill says to bake it, but I don’t (ha ha, just kidding…or am I?) at 300 for 40-50 minutes

Proceed to burn your tongue by eating it before it cools off completely. 

If you wait, it’ll still be THAT GOOD. 

 

But you won’t wait. 

 

 Just have the milk ready.

The Dreaded Tuesday People

Standard

I am a people person.  Really, I am.  My last Myers-Briggs said so.  And the people around me say so, be they friends, or aquaintances, or those lucky enough to be standing in front of me in line at The Walmart.

 

But I am having SUCH a problem with The Tuesday People.

 

I have been going to the friendly neighborhood Curves just down the street all summer long, several days a week.  It is a delightfuly whimsically decorated purplish workout room with adorable white lights in the windows and many inspiring colorful foam words hanging on curly ribbons from the ceiling.  The 90s techno beat pumps out whether the music is Fake Beatles 60s songs or Fakey Brakey Country.  There is even a sparkly ornament ball hanging from one of the many ceiling fans that I always playfully whack and spin around while I’m marching in place on the circuit, keeping that heartrate at 80%.

 

But I’m telling you…none of this makes up for the Tuesday People.

 

The Tuesday People chicken dance around happily to the peppy music.  They pretend to obliviously clappity clap their happy hands, while all the time they are really stalking me, planning their alternating attacks.  The Tuesday people have Eagle Eyes in the back of their happy heads.  Their outfits are cellulite-free lycratastic and usually they are putting on a jacket or sipping a rackafrackin’ iced mocha.  It’s not difficult to loathe them while sweating to the Jackson 5 under THESE circumstances…but wait.  There’s more.

While they zip their jackets and sip their 300 calorie heaven, as if they don’t have anything better to do on the clock, they subtly WATCH me, from the mirrors, reflections in the inspirational poster frames, or out of the corners of their sneaky little eyes just WAITING for me to screw up my stance, hold, head placement or toe point so they can casually come over and act like they’re helping/inspiring/improving my life.  It’s like they are CONSTANTLY TRYING to correct me.  All the time.  Which I just have too little tolerance for. 

 

I mean, it’s quite enough that the yellow “caution, low energy attempt at lifting” light is blinking so obnoxiously at me.  I KNOW it can’t see the sweat pouring down off my vein popping forehead.  But the Tuesday people are supposedly human.  They have the nerve to march right over to me, and head-tiltingly suggest, over the yellow “caution, not working hard enough” blinking light that I “may be standing too far back” or “might want to keep my head in the square” or “not quite gettting” the “full range of motion.”  Oh, you perfectionist Tuesday people.  I’d shake my fist at you, but it’s worn slap out.  An eye roll will have to do. 

 

I wonder how many calories THOSE burn?

Personality Profile Paranoia

Standard

…brought to you by the letter “P”

I had an interview last week for a position in Children’s Ministry at www.springbranchcc.com that I assume (yes, I know what “ass u me” stands for.  Still.)  went fairly well, since I remain “in process.”  After the interview, it was requested that I take a personality test.  I had taken a paper version of one of these for my former ministry position at www.northridgechurch.com but this time I was told to look for an email with a link to the online testing process. 

Now granted, I am a wee bit anxious to get the ball rolling, and the director says/acts like she is quite ready for me to start, so you can imagine that I may have been just a little tad small bit semi-obsessive about checking my email every 5 minutes over the next 12-26 hours.  I checked my email so often, that it was hard to believe once 24 hours went by that it had only been a day.  Have you ever had days like that? 

So after waiting until the appropriate time of day, I dashed off a reply so that my potential employer’s Powers That Be (you know…the human ones) ((LOL!  I just cracked myself up with that Powers That Be reference after the last 4 days wordy postings on HE IS!  siiiiiigh.  Anyhoo)) would know that I have not ONLY been lolling around eating Sweet & Salty Almond Bars and watching What Not To Wear marathons, but that I have, in fact, been constantly looking for the link and have not yet received it.  They promptly said they would look into it, and did I happen to check my Spam folder?  That’s when it hit me…

Maybe THIS is part of the personality test.  Organization?  Oh no. 

Truly, I have 2 “spam” folders because, though I am a tosser with real life stuff, as witnessed by our newly emptied garage, unfortunately I neglect that attribute when it comes to email.  I had 8743 emails in the junk mail while I had whittled down my real inbox to just under 200.

But lo & behold I did but find the link.  Hallel U Jah! 

Too bad it was only the teaser link to the website warning me to LOOK for ANOTHER email that would BE COMING from this source.  Which I still had not received.

NOW I am fully believing that if this is, indeed, part of the test, I am TOTALLY FLUNKING the patience section.

I made calls this time.  And kept my “no biggie” demeanor.  I hope that scores me some flippin’ extra credit.

A few hours later, I finally FINALLY got the link to the 88 question double true-or-false test.  These were thought provoking statements such as “Most people put forth the least amount of effort at their job to collect their paycheck.”  and “I am always honest in all situations.”  After each statement was 2 sets of  TRUE or FALSE answers: one answer indicated “the ideal candidate for the job you are applying for” and the other answer “for your true self.”   Alrighty then.

I stood up and effectively threatened all the neighborhood kids–who had wandered over during the day and were happily partying their young summer day away with all manner of music, TV, billiards, plastic bows and arrows, loud games of LIFE (talk about your irony) and sloshing through the kitchen fresh from the neighbor’s pool to cut up watermelon and spit the seeds–within an inch of their life if they didn’t KEEP IT DOWN while I took the rackafrackin’ TEST FOR MY JOB I had been waiting for.

Heavy Sigh…

I dashed off the answers in record time, even reveiwing them at the end and tweaking a few.  When I submitted the answers, all I got was a “Thank you.  Your results will be sent to the requesting party.”

Now I wait.  AGAIN.

I wonder if “How You Deal With Lack Of Feedback” is part of the test too?  

Oh botha.

He SERIOUSLY is. (wk 4)

Standard

Last one, I promise.  Then back to the foolish & mundane…

We may see “LORD” more often than “JAH” in the Bible, but we see “JAH” more than we think:

Hallelujah = Hallel (Praise)-u-Jah (LORD)

Let’s review: 

week 1 = Isaiah 26:4  Trust in the LORD forever, for Jah, the LORD, is the rock eternal.

week 2 = Psalm 118:5  I called upon JAH in distress:  Jah answered me, and set me in a large place.

week 3 = Psalm 68:4  Sing unto God, sing praises to his Name:  extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.

Another name with JAH in it is ELIJAH = “My God is LORD” or “God, I AM”

James 5:17  Elijah was a man just like us, but he craved the fame of God.

He got into a contest with idol worshippers where they both built an altar and whichever one fire came down on, everyone would know that was the real God. 

1 Kings 18:37  …Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.

Elijah believed so strongly, that he dumped 7 buckets of water 7 times on the wood, stones & soil, all over the altar, believing that it would still catch fire from heaven.  Seriously!

1 Kings 18:38  Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil and also licked up the water in the trench.  When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD-he is God!  The LORD–he is God!” 

EliJAH!  EliJAH!  Every time they said his name, they announced “My God is the LORD!  My God is I AM!” 

 We want to become people whose life testimony says continually “My God is I AM” so that it is obvious to everyone that God is alive and working in us today.

Am I calling on the God of Daniel?  Moses?  Apostle John?  He IS the same yesterday, today and forever.

And here’s a news flash about The Fastest Man:

1 Kings 18:45-46  Meanwhile the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on (anybody else humming “Out on Thunder Island?”) and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.  The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

He outran a chariot!!  What a rush! But wait…there’s more:

1 Kings 19:1-18  Elijah gets fame for God, and immediately after that, a death threat.  This new threat from an unexpected place after a huge victory over a long hard battle sent him into a tailspin.  “I have had enough, LORD,”  he said.  “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”  After being taken care of physically and mentally…the word of the LORD came to him;  “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

God knows the answer, but poses the questions to get us to dialogue and think things through.

Elijah whines a bit, feeling so very alone.  God asks again “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  Elijah answers in the same exact way.  God assures Elijah, by names, that he is not alone.

Satan wants us to think we are on a roll–whether we are “wallerin” in defeat or celebrating victory.

Nothing about our last victory guarantees our next, (waah waaahh waaaaahhhhh)

and nothing about our last defeat guarantees the next. (WOO HOO!)

The big problem is that Elijah had developed an addiction to the spectacular.  God is not just fire from heaven.  He is the still small voice.  THAT WE HEAR HIS WORD and understand it through the power of his Holy Spirit is the most “spectacular” thing!

Am I looking for the “god of the most high” or the MOST HIGH GOD?

Elijah had begun to think of himself as the “only one.”  (pride)

God, in his kindness & love whispers “You’re not the most important thing in the world”  (but you ARE important because you HEARD it!  That’s proof of your importance!)

We need not feel isolated in a time of tidal wave temptation.  Reach out, get good Godly counsel, talk to friends.  The enemy is hoping you will stay isolated in it. 

I Corinthians 10:13  No tempation has seized you except what is common to man.

1 Peter 5:9  …because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

The flesh doesn’t ever improve or get better.  The flesh will always be the flesh.  Without the Spirit’s control, we will still go back to old ways of defeat because the flesh doesn’t learn.

Do you ever feel like God is “just not that into you?”  God sent Jesus who died and sent His Spirit to dwell in us.  God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit IS SO INTO YOU it’s not even funny!

~to make Himself conspicuous to others

~to gain FAME through our life

“It is to your Father’s glory that you bear much fruit.” 

Make us faithful.

 

He SO Is. (Wk 3)

Standard

Buckle up your seatbelts, ’cause after a smooth start in Psalms, this one goes to an Ezekiel prophecy!  What a timely recap during the exhiliration of the Olympics.  Eat our bubbles, France & Brazil!

Jehovah = I am that I am                                Jah = I AM

Psalm 68:4  Sing unto God, sing praises to his name; extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.

God is on his blinged out sapphire throne, riding across the heavens, but he’s gettin’ ready to GET UP.

Ezekiel 1:26-27  Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man.  27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him.

KJV v 27  And I saw as the color of amber…

Amber was (muuuuuuch later) found to be the mineral conductor of electricity.  So before the Bible-writers knew what electricity was…they were struggling in their attempt to explain power with electric properties and attribute that to God’s very presence.  Seated.

Wowza.

So are you ready for this bit of earth shattering goodness?  In his power:

JAH tends to our soul’s need for exhiliration! 

We are legitimately wired with a soul-need for an occasional high, which…if it is not met in God, can get us into a whole lot of trouble.

Psalm 68:3  …let them be in high spirits and glory before God

Glad in Hebrew is samach (not to be confused with “sammich” which when made correctly quite possibly grilled, can also make one glad) It means to brighten up, cheer up.  Can I get a WOO HOO! 

The word for rejoice is alats which means to jump for joy, exalt, triumph (like the dancers on America’s Got Talanet or Michael Phelps looking at his times).

We are not intended, as culture suggests, for non-stop exhiliration.  The art of meditation is important as well.  We need a balance.  So think about how we can brighten up our lives…

Psalm 68:5  A father to the fatherless…

JAH also tends to our soul-need to be fathered.  We often need to engage I AM in this role.

I miss my dad terribly.  He was killed in April 2000 in a ridiculous low-speed car accident.  More than my provider and my family’s leader, he was the epitome of unconditional love to me and to others.  He was friendly, engaging, humble, intelligent and always complimentary and encouraging.  I miss him so much that most of the time it is easier not to think about all I am missing from him.  Even as I type this nutshell, though, I am seeing that all those attributes I love about my dad came from God in rich supply.  So HE IS my Abba Daddy Father. 

Galatians 4:6-7  Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Psalm 68:5  …a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

JAH tends to our soul-need for a champion.  Not just in an observational way, but like a warrior fighting for me.  An absolute defender.  Can I act like HE IS my champion?  How can I pray like HE IS my absolute defender?

There are many circumstances in which we need a champion, absolute defender.  We don’t have to be alone to feel alone.  There are many ways to be a “widow”. 

Are we (am I) emotionally disconnected from God?  Even if not spiritually?  Am I allowing God to minister to my emotions?  Lonely can be effective…Jesus went on purpose to lonely places to seek God. 

Luke 5:16  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

God doesn’t want us to be lonely people, but we all need lonely places…where He is the one we intensely cry out for.  Small talk with God is good too.  Is God so real that I chit-chat with Him?

We have a need for other people also, for fellowship AND refinement.  Bumping into each other often enough to smooth the rough edges off of ourselves.

If we control our environment enough to pull ourselves away from everyone we find aggravating, then THEIR PURPOSE in our life is not served.

We can let God do the “setting” of us in relationships.  Satan is also attempting to “set” but his “setting is invariably a SET UP!

There’s a difference between lonliness (for others) and longing (for God). 

May our eyes spring open to any relational SET UP that’s a toxic concoction, then fully invest where God sets.

He Sure Is! (wk 2)

Standard

OK, so now I know a few people, I learned some things last week and had no other Wednesday night commitments yet when week 2 rolled around.  We were still unpacking boxes and at the time it still felt like we’re on an extended vacation.  This is my frame of mind when I arrived at the week 2 “HE IS” study. 

Hebrews 11:6  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  NIV

KJV…for he that cometh to God must believe that HE IS, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

The name Jehovah means “I AM THAT I AM.”

The name Jah is the contracted form of that phrase meaning:  “I AM.”

All throughout the whole entire Bible, the all caps written name LORD sometimes means “Jah” but not every time.  There’s a distiction.   Psalm 118  uses LORD 19 times, but meaning “I AM” only 6 times.  ‘Why is this important?’  you may be asking yourself.  Well, Beth and I will tell you.  You like treasure, don’t you?

There’s a song we (BSF children’s leaders, not me & Beth, just so you know) teach to preschoolers.  It goes:

The Bible is a treasure book of stories that are true,

It tells of people long ago, of folks like me and you. 

 You need to know and/or believe that the Bible REALLY IS chock FULL of treasure personally for you.  And one of the treasures to be found in those pages is real meaning for today.  Beth is awesome to mine out and explain meanings for scriptures that are heavily memorized and favored in the already Bible reading community.  (Which is the toughest crowd out there!) 

So Psalm 118 is part of the Egyptian Hallel.  This prayer was recited by heart at every Passover meal with Psalm 113 and 114 recited before the meal (when you read Ps 114 & 115, can’t you just imagine little children listening and learning from those who recited with intention and expression?  The skipping!  The running!  The trembling!  The senses & the shouting!  I may have to reinstate this practice at my dinner table). 

Psalm 115-116 were recited during dinner, and Psalm 117-118 was always recited after the meal…

 

Did you get that??? 

 

…Jesus himself, along with the disciples, if they were experiencing that Last Supper Passover in the traditional way, would have been saying these chapters and verses together just hours before his trial and death on the cross. 

A. Mazing. 

Psalm 118:5
From my distress I called upon Jah, (I AM) and Jah answered by setting me free.

So the word for “setting me free” is Merhab  which means “spaciousness, wideness.”  Then she goes on to say,

“How many of us are still convinced, even if our mouth/life/thoughts/actions/doubts suggest different that God’s ways constrict us, but it is worth it because we want to go to heaven and have rewards.  But actually, for this time period, if we’re going to do the right thing, then we have to live pretty bound up, pretty constricted for all our earthly lives. 

That belief is a toxic lie from the enemy. 

WOAH!

Psalm 119:32  I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.

She then told a hilarious but poignant story about her daughter & some friends.  The friends came over for dinner quite often and decided that each time they left, they would sneak something away and take it home with them.  A picture, a knick knack, anything.  Eventually, since no one was noticing, they got sassy enough to take a dining room chair!  Finally, when they couldn’t stand it anymore, they invited the “victims” over and had all that stuff sitting around! 

The poignant part of that story is that THIS IS WHAT THE ENEMY IS DOING TO US ALL THE TIME.

It is Satan’s job to do everything he can to take every bit of spiritual ground and God-given property out from under our feet.  It is the enemy that is doing everything he can to constrict you. 

Whereas, the “YES” -es in life are all the promises of God.  (I will provide, I will protect, I will comfort, I will sustain, I will heal, I will carry, I will love you like a mother, I will save you from punishment, on & on)

Nothing testifies that “He Is” more effectively than a bound man set free.

(Unfortunately our free “talk” is drastically exceeding our free “walk.”)

We have to be willing to be seen as less in other people’s eyes, but at least it’s real.    God said NO sin shall have dominion over you.  (But our strongholds often are our comfort and/or motivation). 

Did God call us to “at least” living? 

“At least” I’m saved. 

Are we practicing “stronghold management?”

God is singing over us songs of deliverance.

Psalm 118:5  In my anguish…  KJV= distress 

Hebrew=”metser” meaning something tight, like trouble, distress, pain, dire straights.

This quest for freedom is not a one-time event, but a process for all our days.  Like with Jabez in the Old Testament:

1 Chronicles 4:9-10  Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.  His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.”  10  Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!  Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”  And God granted his request.

Jabez asked to be free from the pain of evil.  The enemy wants us crushed, speechless, where we can not proclaim the Word or the promises of God, or cry out to Jah, & ask for what we need.

When feeling crushed, SAY the Words of God…or even the NAME of God with CONFINDENCE.  Not just in your thoughts.  How had God seen you through before?  How has He been evident in the life of someone you know?  As it says in 118:5 CRY OUT TO JAH!  Not randomly, but be specific!  Who’s on you?  What is your problem about?  He already knows, but we need to make the connection between our own unsolvability and the knowledge that He can handle it.  Because He can. 

118:14  Jah is my strength and my song; Jah has become my salvation.

(Shannon’s turn)  In the months before my mom died, I was living 500 miles away from her, juggling a husband, 4 small children, and 2 homes–hers in TN and mine in MI.  When I look back, I have no idea how God put me where I needed to be in both of those places, over the time span of Aug 2002-Oct 2003 or how He provided in my absence in both places.  I just know He did.  I really didn’t cry out to him in a way that I remember today, but my soul was needy and He was there.  I did nothing but trust.  He did everything else.  I not only received strength for each day and for the long term, but He was also my song because He showed me He was doing it and I wasn’t.  This gave me a joy that doesn’t make sense in that kind of circumstance.  And as for the salvation, well, there’s the eternal kind of salvation, and there’s also the constant rescue, like when my husband moves the oven mitt off the burner I just turned on, or moves a glass away from the edge of the table.  The big kind of eternal salvation is essential, but there are thousands of ways I am ‘saved from making a mess’ physically and emotionally each day. 

118:18  Jah has chastened me sore…

God chastises the ones he loves.  Yasir (Hebrew):  To chastise, reprove, discipline, instruct, give a warning.

The purpose of God’s disciple is changed behavior.  Not just for the new believer, but all of us constantly need behavior modification (and sometimes behavior removal).

…but Jah has not given me over to death.

(Shannon’s turn)  When I think of death in this sense, it is not the physical “end of life” death, but the darkness inside that comes from those oh-so-many “uh oh” moments.  Some of them, in my case,  are big ones like rebellious attitudes and actions, and some are little and constant.  But when we call out to Jah, like a superhero, I AM rescues us from death of purpose, death of ministry, death of usefulness, death of priorities, death of partially-built dreams.

I will look in triumph over my enemies  (Micah something)

Instead of having stuff from your home taken away, piece by piece, God promises Psalm 23:5  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Psalm 118:24  This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

The Hebrew word for rejoice is “guwl” which means spin around with joy!  Now that takes some room, doesn’t it?  Spinning around with joy is the total opposite of constricted and bound up in sin.

We can never go too far or do so much that God will not welcome us home.  Which brings us full circle in this Psalm because it starts with…

Psalm 118:1  Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;  His lovingkindness is everlasting.

He loves you!  Right now!  Today!  Because He’s good like that.

Welcome Home!

He Really Is. (Wk 1)

Standard

Right after moving here, I received the most wonderful gift.  (Even better than the green sandals)!  It was the most perfectly timed, 4 week, no homework Beth Moore study.  For those of you who are not familiar with her, she is a spunky, loud, southern, borderline obnoxious, from a rough background, thoroughly studied, hilarious student and teacher of the Bible.  Now I consider myself to be somewhat spunky, but compared to Beth, I am downright Droopy.  Like the cartoon dog.  In a bad all-cotton wardrobe.

I fully intended back in June & July to process this teaching further by blogging out each week’s learning but neglected to do so, due to our family’s other adventures…so the time is now.  I will now attempt to amaze you by condensing my favorite parts into bite-sized, read-while-you-act-like-you’re-working posts.  I promise you will learn something cool, so read on.

Hebrews 11:6  And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 

So is it enough to believe that God “exists?”  That He Is and that’s all there is to it?  Well, uh, NO.  The name God gave to Moses referring to himself is the cryptic “I am that I am.”  Here’s where God says that to a trembling by the burning bush, uncertain, and hypothetically-questioning obedience Moses.

Exodus 3:13-14  Moses says to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ 

(Because they thought the name of God was so sacred, they wouldn’t even say it outloud or write it fully.  Now THAT’S respect!  Plus, also, Moses didn’t really want to go so he was stalling.)  Moses continues:

‘Then what shall I tell them?”  14  God said to Moses, “I am who I am.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites:  I AM  has sent me to you.’ 

Oh.  Okay.  That clears THAT up.  The definition of the phrasing God gave Moses and us means not just “to exist” but “to be, to become, to come to pass, to be done, to happen, to be finished.”  Beth said, “God does not wear out.  What an attribute!”  GOD IS whatever we need Him to be wherever we are.  God is everything for us right now, today that he ever showed himself to be.  Creator, Storm Stopper, Water Mover, Wilderness Provider, Too Bright to Look At, User of Normal People to do Awesome Things. Kinda reminds me of that red dot “I’m there” commercial for insurance.  We state where we are, call out to Him and He’s there, sufficient for what we need, ready to make us better–physically, spiritually, emotionally, whatever.  Especially if it’s a bad place red dot and we are humble enough to want/need/ask for help.

We need a first person revelation of God saying “I am…” to us.  (I am your provider.  I am your Maker and Tweaker.  I am protecting you.  I am forgiving you.  I am ready for you to do something for me.)

We need a second person unshakable knowledge (without sight) and sincere praise conversation with God where we say and KNOW “You are…” to Him.  (You are loving.  You are patient.  You are successful.  You are strong enough to help me through this.  You are aware of my limitations and have a plan better than mine.)

We need a third person witness to others where we say “He is…” to others.  (Dude!  Have you seen what I do well?  Where I live?  Where I work?  That last vacation?  How I got through that impossible challenge?  GOD DID THAT for me!  HE IS way better than I deserve!)

Isaiah 26:3  You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

We can have perfect peace in our present, no matter what is happening around us, when we sit with God, “prop, lean upon, rest” what is “formed in our mind” on the knees of the Maker of that precious little head.  **Here, Beth had someone sit in front of her, one step down (’cause you KNOW those Texas churches have the major honkin’ steps up to the platform)  and just put that girl’s head down on her knees while she kept on speaking.  Beth had her hands just sweetly on the sides of that volunteer’s head.  What a picture.  This picture has stayed with me OFTEN over the last weeks.**

God forms how we think about what we think. 

 Man am I relying on THAT new bit of information when temptation comes.  I can rest my brain, even in the middle of temptation, on the God who knows the thoughts HE thinks towards ME.  Even when I have no thoughts of him anywhere to be found.

KJV  Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

And what are we to do once we’re turned around and waiting and waiting and waiting for that expected end?

Isaiah 26:8  Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you;  your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

“Wait for” in Hebrew is “qawah” meaning to bind together by twisting  and “to expect.”  We are to keep walking while waiting, holding tight to God’s leg like a child sitting on Dad’s shoe, wrapped around his leg, holding on tight.

*whew*

And THAT was just week 1!  There’s three more weeks of this gold.  I will pray that we will all know and apply the knowledge that HE IS and find ways to realize that God knows our “now” situation and wants to do a “now” work.  All the live-long day.