faith, Jesus

We All Need Jesus.

“Do something uplifting today,” the hub said, as he smooched me and left for work.

“I am.” I pointed to the sweet video I was watching, posted by BJ of The River Walk.

He popped his head back through the door and said, “You don’t deserve this.”

“Aww, thank you honey.”

Those were the exact words my dad said, over the phone from Florida, after my first husband left me. And the hub knew it.

Vegetal words – planted 25 years ago by my beloved dad – blooming afresh this morning thanks to my thoughtful hub.

God took a beating on Facebook yesterday.

The depth of hate revealed – for God and for me – was quite troubling.

Vegetal hate, lying deep and dormant, springing up with a vengeance.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who encountered it.

I took the beagle for an uplifting walk in the sunshine and shook it off.

It’s not like God didn’t give full disclosure when I signed on:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Now I understand why love had to be commanded in the verse just prior:

“This is my command: Love each other.”

It’s not easy to love those who have a deep-seated hate for you. It’s especially hard when they have a deep-seated hate for God.

Last night, while we were feeding the friends, the hub summed up the reason for all the ugliness on display yesterday:

“It’s all they have.”

“Father Ken is a genius!,” I replied, as it dawned on me.

“What do you mean?,” asked the hub.

I meant the genius foresight in the prayers we’ve been praying every Sunday:

“Help us renounce dependence on our culture’s false securities; let us see them as idols in which we place our highest trust when you, Christ, are our only salvation – guns, the dollar, political parties and their leaders, stock markets, human intelligence, insurance policies, the possessions and provisions we hoard, our strong bodies, our touchscreen technologies.”

“Well, yeah,” said the hub.

It just hadn’t occurred to me that a political party is all some people have. I guess because we’ve been praying this in church – where people have God, too.

I was thinking about “us” as in those of us who were praying, not “us” as in society at large.

I can be dense.

After I walked the beagle I came across a few videos of President-elect Trump being prayed over at various churches while still a candidate. Here is one of them:

I didn’t know he had been prayed over, anointed for the task. That is quite heartening.

Excellent, in fact.

I was buoyant as I headed back outside to give the hound dog his turn.

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As we walked through the woods, I looked up and was reminded that Love always breaks through.

Which had me thinking: When no one hates us it’s only because we are not currently shining the Light into any dark places.

You can quote me on that.

Or you can quote Jesus.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

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faith, life

Getting It Done

IMG_0817Have you ever taken a Nazirite Vow?  Do you know what it is?

According to Numbers 6, the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the Lord as a Nazirite, they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink;  they must let their hair grow long; and they must not go near a dead body.”

Nazirite vows were taken voluntarily in order to set oneself apart for the Lord – either temporarily for a specific task, or permanently as a way of dedicating one’s entire life to the Lord.

The Apostle Paul might have taken one.  Perhaps he took it just before setting out on his second missionary journey, or perhaps when he “devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah” (Acts 18:5).  I don’t know when he first took the vow, but it looks like it ended at Acts 18:18 NIV: “Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken.”

I took my own little version of a Nazirite vow a few years ago.  I don’t remember whether I set out to take it, or whether I realized I had done so after the fact.

I’ve never been much of a drinker – a glass of champagne at Thanksgiving and another at Christmas dinner, that’s about it.  So giving up the grape didn’t take any effort.  And since the point of letting one’s hair grow seems to have been an outward sign of an inward commitment, I didn’t worry so much about that one.  No one in today’s culture would have made the connection anyway, so I still got my hair trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks.  My vow had to do with staying away from dead bodies.  And television is full of them.  Literal dead bodies, violent crime show re-enactments of dead bodies, and the dead and decaying souls that populate reality tv.  James admonished, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?  Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he caused to dwell in us.”  (James 4:4-5 NIV)  I was definitely getting too friendly with the crap on tv.  So I decided to stay away from the death and decay.  I gave up television completely for 9 months.

Instead of unwinding in front of the tv in the evenings, I knelt on the floor of our spare room surrounded by Bibles, commentaries and an assortment of reference books.  I studied, prayed and took dictation – sometimes into the wee hours.  In the end, I gave birth to a Bible study.

Once the project was completed I went back to watching television, but now I watch mostly cooking shows and the history channel.  Even though there are no dead bodies involved these days, I’m about to give up television again for a while.  God has given me a new task and I’ll need those evening hours again.  I’ll also need the focus and power that comes with setting myself apart for His purposes.  It is going to be a tough, one-day-at-a-time thing but this project has been hanging over my head and I need to get it done.

How about you?  Have you ever taken a Nazirite vow?  When, why and what happened?

I began this post with the first few verses of Numbers 6, so I think I’ll end it by blessing you with the last few verses:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”

 

 

 

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