Hand it over

When you forgive, you aren’t saying that what happened was okay. You aren’t saying that who did it to you was justified. However you are saying that it isn’t your place to exact judgment or revenge.

To continue to hold a grudge over something doesn’t punish the criminal, but yourself. You hold yourself hostage. It is better to give the situation over to God – the true judge – and let justice happen when and how it is best.

When you hand things that are too heavy over to God, you are not only lightening your load, you are also handing them over to the One who is the most able to handle them. Leave it with the expert – God. You don’t need to carry it anymore.

 

The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:19

19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord.

He is referring to the verses in Deuteronomy 32:35, where God says:

“Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay. In time their foot will slip, for their day of disaster is near, and their doom is coming quickly.”
Also, consider these words from Psalm 27:1-3

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—

whom should I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—

of whom should I be afraid?

2 When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,

my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.

3 Though an army deploys against me,

my heart is not afraid;

though a war breaks out against me,

still I am confident.

However, consider also the words of Jesus in Luke 23:34, when he was on the cross, being tormented and attacked –

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”

He didn’t call on God to avenge.  He called on God to forgive. Now we often aren’t that spiritually evolved, especially when we are in the middle of the situation.  However, we aren’t alone in our struggles.  We have Jesus to help us.

 

 

(All Bible translations are HCSB.)

A new definition of “liturgy”

The word “liturgy” means “work of the people”. It is a church term that refers to the actions that laypeople do to create the church service. Before the Protestant Reformation there was no liturgy. The church service was performed entirely by priests. After the Protestant Reformation the role of consecrating communion was performed by the priest but nearly everything else was often done by members of the congregation. The idea was to make space for people – to make them feel part of the ministry.

I propose that we change the idea of liturgy from meaning the things we do in church to the thing we do as the church. In liturgy we might wear special vestments or carry the Bible or a candle or a cross. How about we do the same things but in a different way – out in the real world? Otherwise, all we are doing in liturgy is play-acting, and that isn’t what God wants of us.

How about instead of wearing special robes we wear what we wear every day and see it as the uniform that we put on to do our work in the world?

How about instead of carrying a Bible in our hands we carry it in our hearts?  How about we live it out loud instead of just reading it out loud? Instead of just sharing the Gospel we live it by being the Good News to a hurting world?

How about instead of carrying a candle we carry the light of Christ in our hearts and share that light in a dark world?

How about instead of carrying a cross we help others by carrying theirs? Like how Jesus was aided by Simon of Cyrene to help bear his burden on the way to his crucifixion.

From the East

James Hilsden, the lead singer of the Israeli band Miqedem, explained the meaning of their name at a recent concert at Kol Dodi Messianic Congregation, in Nashville TN. He explained that “Miqedem” means “from the East” – but it also means from ancient times. The Hebrew word for the East refers to the rising sun.

He then reminded us of the story of the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve were sent out from there, they were sent to the East of it. In Genesis 3:24, we learn “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life”

The cherubim were large angelic-looking creatures with huge wings.

Now notice this –

behind the veil

This is a replica of the veil that separates the Holy of Holies – the innermost section of the Tabernacle (In Hebrew it is מִשְׁכַּן “mishkan”, meaning “dwelling place”).  God’s instructions for how to build the Tabernacle are in Exodus 25.  Instructions about the curtains begin at Exodus 26:1.

“Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker.”

This is for the inner part of the tabernacle, which is then covered with a tent made of the more durable fabric of goat hair.  The curtain for the Holy of Holies is described in Exodus 26:31-33

31 “Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. 32 Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.”

Notice that the curtains are to be embroidered with cherubim!

Note that the entrance to the Tabernacle is from the East.

tabernacle-17

The Holy Temple – the building in Jerusalem designed to be a permanent version of the traveling Tabernacle – was also oriented with its opening to the East.

her_tem_plan

When you enter it, you are essentially returning to the Garden of Eden.  The cherubim, who were guarding the entrance to the Garden, part to allow you to enter.  You are once again allowed to be face-to-face with God.

This is, of course, if you are of the Priestly line.

This was true until Jesus died on the cross.  Before then, only people who were blood-kin to Aaron (Moses’ brother) were allowed into that inner sanctum, when they were serving as the High Priest.  But when Jesus died, the curtain was supernaturally torn in half, from top to bottom.

Matthew 27:51-53

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

His death opened up direct access to God to all who follow him.  His death brought life to all the faithful.

Much thanks to James of Miqedem for providing the important pieces of this teaching. I had not noticed the connections before between Eden and the Tabernacle facing East.

(All Bible translations are NIV, all images are copyright their respective owners.)

Pay attention

I recently came across a book called “Spiritual Journaling: writing your way to independence”. It is by Julie Tallard Johnson, a licensed psychotherapist and the author of “Teen Psychic” and “I Ching for Teens”.

I came across a quote in it that amazed me.

“Walk in the light of your own fire, and in the flame which ye have kindled.”  (Isaiah 50:11)

I was amazed for two reasons – generally a “spiritual” book doesn’t have any Bible quotes in it.  Often they feel that it is more “spiritual” to quote Buddha, or Lao Tzu, or Rumi – anybody but Jesus or a Hebrew prophet.

But then I re-read the quote.  It didn’t feel right, especially from Isaiah.  This quote talks about relying upon yourself and your own powers.  I can see how a “spiritual” author would want to encourage that.

But if you want to know anything, you have to know it in context.  This one sentence is not a complete thought. This verse isn’t even all of verse 11.  It has been carefully edited to say what the author wants it to say, instead of the truth.

Here is Isaiah 50:10-11

10 Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.
11 But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.

So really, the message is to NOT walk in the light of your own fires, because you will get lost.  Being in darkness and trusting in the Lord is better.

This reminds me of the poem by Alexander Pope in “An Essay on Criticism”, which states-

“A little learning is a dangerous thing ;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.”

We would do well to think critically at all times, and to examine everything. Don’t be misled by someone else.

Likewise, some wisdom from Proverbs 3:5-8
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

I’m a little concerned that the author of the misleading book is a psychotherapist, and that she writes what appear to be witchcraft books for teenagers. What else is she telling them that will lead them away from the path of life?

We all must be sure to check everything we read, to make sure that it is true and healthy for us – in body, mind, and spirit.

 

 

In the last days

The last days are nothing to be afraid of. God will enter our hearts. Those who trust in God will all know God directly, and there will be peace.

Isaiah 2:1-4
The vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills. All nations will stream to it,
3 and many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us about His ways so that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction will go out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He will settle disputes among the nations and provide arbitration for many peoples. They will turn their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives. Nations will not take up the sword against other nations, and they will never again train for war.

Joel 2:28-32
28 After this I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions.
29 I will even pour out My Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days.
30 I will display wonders in the heavens and on the earth: blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and awe-inspiring Day of the Lord comes.
32 Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the Lord promised, among the survivors the Lord calls.

(All Bible translations are HCSB)

Eye contact

Their parents never knew. To them, their children were kind. Sure, they were quiet around strangers, but that was to be expected, even desired. It kept them safe to be wary. They were sure their children were polite to any and all. Little did they know that their children’s eyes lit up only for them. Otherwise they were as cold as the grave, as dangerous as ice on a March pond.

It was easy for Jenny’s mother Stephanie to brush off concerns from her Mother’s-day-out program. They told her how little Jenny was hostile to workers, that the other children stayed away from her. They were scared of her. Her eyes bored through, searching for hidden darkness. The children had never seen anything like this before. The adults had, those with sons who come back from the Army, scarred in body and soul. They made it back in body only. A part of them was still out there, searching for the enemy, always alert for danger.

Some went one way, and jumped at every car backfire or firecracker blast. Some went the other – went dark. Kill or be killed. Do unto others before they do unto you.

Jenny’s eyes were like those folks, but she was only five. She had no reason to look that way. Both of her parents were loving and kind. There was no abuse of any sort. She was well provided for, wanted for nothing. Maybe if she’d had a sibling they would have noticed, the signs would’ve been heeded. Probably not, though, siblings are always suspect. The petty rivalries and squabbles that naturally ensued guaranteed that unfavorable reports were always seasoned with a handful of salt.
The boy named Andrew was the same. He first spoke on his fifth birthday, his eyes still dead. He was intelligible only to his grandmother, who translated their birthday lunch plans that he muttered as “a visit to McDonald’s” and not to “Aunt Dee” as he’d said.  Even she didn’t understand why he said this, because the clerk’s name was Judy.

The problem was that he wasn’t here in this place. Neither child was. In bodies in this dimension, but otherwise elsewhere. Or else-when. Perhaps they weren’t defective, but inadvertent time travelers, unaware of their failure to truly be in one place at a time. How would their caregivers notice, after all, what with their own distractions? Perhaps these children were the newest iteration, designed by natural selection to never be truly anywhere. It was a good psychic defense against the insensitivity that was now endemic.

Corner

She sat there, alone, in the corner, until she cried it all out. Nobody had told her how to grieve. All she knew were two things – the rocking chair was where you sat to be soothed by your parents, and the corner was where you stood to reflect upon your sins. So she put the two ideas together. Her parents were no longer here to soothe her by rocking her back to sleep after a nightmare or to read her picture book filled with bunnies or bears.

The corner was where you stood facing inward, away from other people, a cheap form of solitary confinement. Bereft of company, you were stuck with your own thoughts. It was a foretaste of hell for those who feel guilty, felt wrong, felt broken. Never in her life had she voluntarily put herself there. This time was different. Everything was different now.

They died, both of them, not quite together, but a bit like dominoes anyway. People couldn’t quite grasp it, and assumed there’d been an accident. It wasn’t sudden. The signs were there all along. It was tragic only so much as it was preventable. It was sad that they’d squandered their lives, dissolved into nothingness, and for so long.

So now, not knowing what else to do, she sat, in the corner, in the chair. No need to face into the corner – nobody was there. Not just in the room, but the whole house. It was so quiet it was deafening. So here she sat, in the space of consoling isolation, to visit with the ghosts of her parents. They’d never left. Sure their bodies were gone, buried in the cemetery on the other side of the city. Cemeteries and city dumps were always near each other, always in the low-rent part of town. The industrial waste recycling center was in the same block along the section 8 houses. It wasn’t an accident.

She noted she was getting distracted. Grief was like this, too, this veering away, then closer, like a moth to the flame at times. Dangerous to get too close. So usually we stay away. It hurts too much to look at it directly.

But after a while the phantom pains don’t fade. The anxiety stays long enough to pay rent. They both don’t have nameable causes, so when she finally notices her spirit is off-balance, she knows it is time to stop and face it.

How did she learn this? They certainly didn’t teach her. Death wasn’t something you talked about, like politics or religion. It wasn’t nice to talk about in polite company. They acted like it was something that happened other people, less fortunate people, people who deserved it. They weren’t even in the same state when their own parents died. They skipped the funerals and cashed the inheritance checks. They wore black for about a month and told friends of their loss, but otherwise didn’t grieve. Maybe that is what killed them so young. If grief doesn’t get out by tears or wailing, it gets bottled up inside and starts eating you up from the inside out.

She was determined not to join them.