Month: December 2021

Advancing in Years

Sunday Sermon 12.31.21

As I share this blog post with you today, I feel compelled to remind you that you are not getting any younger. That’s profound, I know, (she said facetiously), but important for you and me to hear as we sit on the perch of another new year. No matter your age, you are not getting any younger and you are advancing in years.

This new years eve, as we turn another calendar month and introduce the new year of 2022, we see all too clearly it confirmed, that the years just keep on advancing. But as we keep step with our advancing calendar, are we truly making forward progress? Are we truly advancing, moving on, walking forward, and going on from where we were?

Because remember, we are not getting any younger.

Let me share with you why this is the absolutely, perfect time for you to truly advance from where you have been. First we will look at 2022 from a numerological perspective, then 5720 (2022’s Hebrew counter part) and close with a quick look at three people, who are perfect examples of advancing in years.

2022

As basic numerology teaches us, the calendar year dates have numerological signifigance. “The first two numbers set the stage for the year and the last two direct that influence in a particular direction. So, the 20 in 2022 will remain powerful through 2099. 20 carries an energy of opposition from two contending forces with the challenge to find common ground.” (1)

22 – “is the most powerful number of all, as it is a master builder. It is associated with building the base or structure.” It is a combination of 11 but aslo 4, which are both powerful building numbers. (1) And let’s point out, that the Hebrew alphabet itself, has 22 letters.

It is based on these premises that Josh Siegel, states, “The future will be challenging but better.” He beleives that the next year will be all about getting back to normalacy and rebuilding our lives, especially focusing on balance in work and relationships. 22 is about bringing balance to the opposing forces in our life and working together. (1)

So, in 2022, it is time to get off the easy chair of our life and begin to seriously advance through the opposition that may stand before us. We have a powerful future to build, and we are not getting any younger.

5782

On September 7, 2021 began the Hebrew new year of 5782, and it too contains insight for what the year ahead will hold. As you may or may not remember, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet each have 3 values. They have a phonic sound, a numerical value, and a prophetic picture or sign. This has been for me a fantastically, wonderful mystery to unfold and enjoy.

Each of the numbers (5782) has a pictoral and prophetic signifigance, but I will focus on just the 82.

We are living in the decade of the 80’s. (5780’s that is, not legwarmers, big hair, spandex or neon colors) The Hebrew letter “pey” has the numerical value of 80 and it’s picture symbolizes an open mouth. It has all to do about our mouth and language.

My friend, wasn’t that exactly what broke upon us in 5780/2020? It was all about the mouth. Cover your mouth, don’t share, speak, canceling mouths, etc. We seem to be living in a decade of this, as we can attest to what we have seen in these last two years. There may be slight changes, but it is still all about the mouth.

The Hebrew number 2, the second letter of the alphabet is “bet” and its name means “house”, or tent, and is saying very loudly that God is the strength of the house, and wise are those who build the house. Two also represents to divide, difference or oppose. We can understand that ideally there should be two that mirror one another, (as in the 2 shall be one flesh); thus making a true pair that works together like ears, eyes, nostrils, hands and feet. When 2 isn’t reflecting the positive side of one (unity), it denotes division rather than multiplication. (2)

Here are my takeaway from all these dates and numbers.

2022/5782 is a year for what comes from our mouth to be in alignment with God’s Word. The fullness of His word (22 letters) and what comes from our mouth should be building His house, and our family. Our words should be strengthening our family tent, members and thereby lending strength to the churches, synagogues or temples that we attend. What we say, reflects what is in our heart and this is the year for it to be dominated by faith. It is time to change the words we are speaking and build up our family, community, temple and nation.

This is why I was so moved to write about the tongue- eating louse a few days ago. We have allowed parasites to steal the power of our tongue and the freedoms that our speech has been granted. (See my previous blog, “An Awful Animal Allegory”)

During these days of division, and of opposing forces contending with each other, what we speak reveals what we are aligned with. Are we speaking Covid protocols, variants and mandates? Are we speaking faith, hope and God’s Word? Are we multiplying or dividing?

In the decade of the mouth and especially this new year of the family and house of God, where do our loyalities lie? Are we really advancing through the years or just surviving. Are we building up our homes, and their relationships or have we given up?

Lastly, I am reminded of three biblical characters who have modeled – advancing through the years.

Zechariah/Elizabeth

“… both were advanced in years.”

Luke 1:7,18 ESV

These two, although probably well past 60, were no candidates for retirement. (nor for having children.) And yet, they were hanging onto every promise they had about their family and weren’t about to cave in because of opposition, division or long waits! Their family was gonna advance, by golly!

Anna

” And there was a prophetess, Anna, … she was advanced in years…”

Luke 2:36 ESV

Anna was cut out of the same fabric of faith that Zack and Liz were. She knew she wasn’t getting any younger and she still chose to contend for every promise that God put in her heart. She was definately advancing and not retreating.

Caleb

At age 40, Caleb was recruited for a spy mission, with 11 others. He reported back after the mission that they were well able to take the land that they had spied out. He immediately faced opposition with a loud and convincing report to the contrary. After another 45 years of patiently waiting, look at his statement,

“… the Lord has kept me alive these 45 years… And now, I am 85 years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength then, for war and for going and coming.”

Joshua 14:10-11 ESV

Caleb knew he wasn’t getting any younger, and he also knew that he was advancing in years and in strength and had been for 45 years! I want some of that!

To wish you a happy new year would be cordial, (and that I do), but my wish for you dear one, is that through this new year of 2022, you will truly advance in faith, and not just in years, that you will use a bold, open, faith-speaking mouth, and that you will multiply blessings in your family and not division. I pray that regardless of opposition, you will advance, grow, move forward become better and stronger.

May 2022/5780 see you strongly advancing in years. (cuz you’re not getting any younger.)

Happy advancing!

Debbie

  1. Josh Siegel, numerologist
  2. K. Gallagher, Graceintorah.net

An Awful Animal Allegory

” Allegory = a story, picture, or poem that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning – typically a moral or political one.”

Oxford Dictionary

Beware, the material you are about to read is true and graphic and can be verified by any google search or research in science and nature, especially that of Parasitology – the study of parasites.

The poor snapper and carpenter fish are common hosts for this parasite, “cymothoa exigua” – or as it is affectionately called, the tongue – eating louse. It is a parasitic isopod (a crustacean with a body of seven segments each bearing a pair of legs). Growing a from 8 – 20 mm long, it is usually found in the ocean in the gulf of CA to Ecuador and parts of the Atlantic, in depts between 6-200 feet, but also identified in ground water, caves and even deserts.

tongue-eating louse
cymothoa exigua

That’s the animal part, now here comes the awful part.

This little louse lives in and around the gill of a fish. They are all males until maturity, at which time he may change to female. (protandrous hermaphrodites) This female then, enters through the gills into the fish’s mouth, and anchors herself to the tongue of the fish with her 7 pairs of scorpion like stinger legs.

With her 5 sets of jaws, each with long, lance-like teeth, she slowly drains the blood from the fish’s tongue until it antrophies from the tip to the back.

Having severed the fish’s blood supply, the tongue will eventually fall off leaving only a muscular stub. The parasite replaces the fish’s tongue by attaching to the muscles of the tongue. The louse has now effectively and functionally replaced the hosts organ.

As she eats the steady stream of nutrients from the fish, it too is still able to gain enough nutrition to survive with the parasite having replaced its tongue.

The slow and small blood loss doesn’t harm the fish, and the replaced tongue actually becomes sort of a prosthetic for the fish. The male parasites, still outside on the fish gills, will join her and reproduce, eventually having babies on the parasitic tongue of the fish.

After producing her babies, she will eventually release them to the sea for their survival. She will eventually release herself to the sea where, because she is now unable to swim, will herself die. A fish without a tongue has no chance of survival and too will soon die. Both the parasite and the fish won’t survive, this is a picture of true parasitism.

Tongue-eating louses are not harmful to humans (unless you see the movie, The Bay, 2012) but there once was a lawsuit against a large supermarket chain, in which a client ate a cooked snapper and claimed the tongue-eating louse (in the snapper) poisoned him. The suit was dismissed.

From this awful animal allegory of cymotha exigui, may we each gleen the hidden meaning intended for us to not become the clown that yields to a parasitic take over of our tongues and speech.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

The Right Time and Place #5

#5 in a series of 5 Sunday Sermons 12.24.21

In this series we have found reassurances (from the lives of Job, Eliju, Esther, and Daniel) that even though our circumstances may seem to the contrary, we can still find ourselves in the right place at the exact right time.

As we close this topic, we will add the young lives of Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus Christ, to those who have lessons to teach us.

#5 – Mary and Joseph – Carriers of Jesus

What were you like when you were in high school? How firm was your faith and trust in Jehovah God? Looking back, would you have considered yourself to be just, or righteous? How often did you attend synagogue, temple or church? Could it have been said of you that you “found favor with God”? Were you a servant of The Most High God? Did you obey God when He spoke to you? Did you do as He told you?

Most scholars believe that Mary was 15-16 years old when she gave birth to Jesus and that Joseph was 20 or so. In our culture, that would have put Mary smack dab in the middle of high school, and Joseph barely out and finding his carreer path. Yet these two, were the chosen carriers of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Could they possibly be in the right time and right place?

Mary and Joseph – Betrothed

” Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin bethothed to a man whose name was Joseph… And the virgin’s name was Mary.”

Luke 1:26-27 ESV

What appears to be an ordinary, lowly, and young Middle Eastern couple on the surface reveals something much deeper and extraordinary.

These two were betrothed to one another. They were promised to each other, perhaps even an arranged marriage. The cultural norms of the day made it illegal to be married before 12 years of age or to live with a husband before 12.5. What ages they were isn’t specified in scripture, other than the hint given when Joseph offered 2 pigeons as an offering at Jesus’ dedication. (that suggests that Joseph was 20, as required in the Law).

What we do know is these two were extraordinarily devoted to Jehovah God and therefore we surmise to the covenant of marriage. A few paragraphs ago, I asked you about your high school descriptors, those descriptions – firm in faith to Jehovah God, trust in God, just, righteous, regular temple attendance and celebrations, “found favor with God”, obedient to what God tells you; these are all ascribed to either Mary or Joseph in the Gospel of Luke. These “kids” were in right relationship with God. They knew Him and wanted to please Him and were planning on doing that together in the covenant of marriage.

They were young people of impeccable character and moral fiber. What would have been ok for others to cheat on or lie about was not okay for Mary and Joseph.They were doing things the right way, God’s way, and they were doing it in their youth.

Mary and Joseph – Believed

Mary was just hanging out in her room when this angel appears and says,

” Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.”

“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.””

Luke 1:28-38 ESV

Try as we may to understand and apply this to our lives, we will be forever baffled and amazed at this supernatural encounter. When God speaks the impossible to a lowly teenager and when she genuinely and humbly receives it and submits willfully to Holy Spirit’s overshadowing, our minds are blown!

Yet, not Mary’s. She asked how, God told her how, and she said, bring it on God, I am yours. Do what you have said, I trust you.

THIS IS WHAT FAITH IN GOD LOOKS LIKE.

Mary believed God. This high schooler was exactly where she was s’pose to be when Gabriel appeared, heard exactly what God was going to do and believed that God was able to do it in and through her. No doubt Mary was in the right place at the right time.

But how do you explain this pregnancy to your fiancee, family and friends?

Somehow, she found the words and told Joseph about the angelic encounter and the blessing of her womb with the Son of God. His response?

” And her husband, Joseph, being a just man, and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly . But as he considered these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ” Joseph, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you will call his name Jesus. Joseph woke from his sleep, and he did as the angel commanded him.”

Matthew 1:18-21, 24

No doubt overcome with questions himself, Joseph believed God. He beleived the word from the angel and he kept his commitment to Mary and their pending wedding. Joseph believed, too. Together, Mary and Joseph would become the carriers of Jesus Christ and together they believed.

When you each have an angelic visitation, you can pretty much bank on the fact that you are in the right place at the right time, can’t you?

It is interesting to note, that not only did this young couple choose to believe, but there is an elderly couple in this story too, that believed!

Luke 1:7 describes Elizabeth and Zechariah as “both were advanced in years.” That for sure means not young. Hidden away in Mary and Joseph’s young life of being in the right place at the right time, is an elderly couple, also being in the right place at the right time. This elderly couple also believed God’s voice and promise. (Well, Zechariah believed after he didn’t believe. ha!)

Young Mary and Joseph believed. The advanced in years Elizabeth and Zechariah also believed.

Mary and Joseph – Became

Because of their faith, trust, and obedience, Mary and Joseph became the guardians of God. They were to steward if you will, (cuz that’s what all parents are called to do) their child who was really God in the flesh. They became the parents of Jesus. They became the family for Jesus. They became the tutors of God, the man.

This extraordinary, young couple, of impeccable moral fiber and godly character, fervent for temple, Jewish tradition, and Jehovah God were called to become the carriers of Jesus. They have become the cornerstone of Jesus’ earthly family, because they were in the right place at the right time, doing the right things! Therefore, the favor of God rested on them.

I believe that Mary, Joseph and even Zechariah and Elizabeth speak to us clearly of what God is looking for in these days, our days.

  1. He is looking for those who will be carriers of Jesus to a lost and broken world
  2. He is looking for those who will believe what He says
  3. He is looking for young, old and everyone inbetween to believe his word and act on it
  4. He is looking for those who will become like Him and become the family replacement to the dysfunctional family template of this world
  5. He is looking for those who are committed to Him, as in betrothed to live and love only him

Now, and into 2022 is the right time to be carriers of Jesus. Now and through 2022, wherever you are is the right place.

Will you be a carrier of Jesus? Now is the time, where you are is the place.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Debbie

A Brief History of Christmas in America

The History Files

Today, as I write this, it is December 21, the day the Earth is most tilted away from the sun, limiting our sunlight to 9 hours and 5 minutes, the least of any day all year. It is the Winter Solstice.

For centuries, the winter solstice has been a time of celebration – celebrating the light and birth in the darkest days. The end of December feasting always featured slaughtered cattle along with enjoyment of the fermented wine and beer that was now ready for drinking.

It was during this time that pagan gods were celebrated and honored. For example, in Germany, the pagan god Oden was honored during the mid-winter holiday. The Germans believed he made night flights throught the sky to observe people and decide who would prosper or perish. (Sound like anyone you know… he see you when you’re sleeping.)

These ideas are the setting for the traditions of Christmas and its celebrations.

Early Christians didn’t celebrate the birth of the Christ child, mainly because the date is not stated in scripture and is uncertain. But during Christ’s time, the Romans celebrated feasts and festivals in the winter solstice. They too were honoring their gods, like the god of agriculture, Saturn in the festival of Saturnalia.

It was in the second century, that Sextus Julius Africanus, a Christian historian proclaimed December 25 as Christ’s birthday. Then during the fourth century, church officials instutituted an official holiday for the birth of Christ. Pope Julius I chose December 25 to dethrone the pagan gods and place the Christ child in the seat of worship. This was first called “The Feast of the Nativity” and spread to Egypt in 432, and reached England during the sixth century where it was renamed Christmas.

Unfortunately, these English Christmas celebrations involved church attendance that was followed by drunkenness, wanton sex, carnival atmosphere in the streets, and mobs terrified the people.

In the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans took over England with religious reformations. The Puritans not only cancelled Christmas celebrations but made it illegal to celebrate.

“Anyone who observed the sacreligious and satanical holiday by exchanging gifts, dressing in fine clothes or feasting would be fined 5 shillings.”

1645 AD

During the preRevolutionary War era in America, the early settlers brought the debate about Christmas with them. Many thought it should be celebrated minus the immoral activities. However, not all agreed. Therefore each state made it’s own laws and observing Christmas was taboo in some states and illegal in others until 1870.

Thanks in large part to the American novelist, Washington Irving, and the fictional characters and settings he created in his book, “The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent” in 1819, American’s views on Christmas began to change. Irving’s admirer, Charles Dickens followed with his own book, “A Christmas Carol”, in 1843, and now American’s were rethinking and reimagining Christmas as a family time of hope, of gift giving, benevolence and cheer.

It was in 1870 that President Grant, proclaimed Christmas as a national holiday. It seemed his main desire was to bring the nation together in the aftermath of the Civil War, and to remind American’s of their common faith in Christ – The Prince of Peace. By the late 1800’s Christmas was celebrated much like it is today. Trees lit in homes and parks, cards shared, stockings hung, gifts and meals shared, and Santa Clause visiting.

Our American Christmas traditions come from many parts of the world, just as our people do.

We can thank the Germans for the trees and wreaths. The yule log and 12 days of Christmas come to us from Norway. Queen Elizabeth I brought us gingerbread houses and cookies. And Saint Nicholas, the parton saint of children comes to us from Turkey. (In 1774, when the Dutch families in New York gathered to honor his death that Sinter Klaas -Dutch for St. Nick was born. By 1804, St. Nick with his familiar look became popular.) The Catholics brought us the tradition of keeping a small nativity scene in our home.

Christmas is both a secular and a sacred holiday in America, as well as a world wide phenomenon.

Christians world wide celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. The account of his birth is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. They tell of a miracle child, born of virgin birth, being promised and being born in a lowly stable in Bethlehem. This child was the Son of God, Emmanuel, Jesus, savior of the world. He came to bring life, light, hope and peace to all mankind.

This is the world wide phenomenon – Jesus.

As you join with family and friends to feast and share good cheer, or as you attend a church service, I pray your Christmas history also include the celebration of Jesus’ birth, as you celebrate Christmas in America.

Merry Christmas,

Debbie

The Right Time & Place #4

#4 of 5 in a series of Sunday Sermons 12.17.21

#4 – Daniel – a wiseman

At one time or another, we all wonder if we are in the right place at the right time. Because this is such a universal experience, this series seeks to illuminate for us, people who’s situations sure didn’t appear that they were in the right place, and yet, they were in the exact right place at the exact right time and were used in some pretty astounding ways.

In review, you will remember:

  • Job, a target, who in spite of his success, suffered greatly and was rewarded with great surprises.
  • Elihu, a spokesman, a tender young man, who waited patiently to speak and become a truth-teller.
  • Esther – a queen, and beautiful orphan, who lived as an exile but became queen with a brazen voice who blessed her people

Today, we will look at:

Daniel, a wise man. Purposed. Prophetic. Powerful.

As I write this, Christmas is next week, so it is not uncommon to consider wisemen this time of the year. I’m sure you remember those guys who came from the East, bringing gifts to baby Jesus. They were considered learned astronomers and wise in academia and spiritual understanding. The East at the time offered the best of learning of everykind, and these men came to Jesus, based on what they knew and understood about when the Messiah would be born. They had traveled a great distance, fueled by their learning, to present their gifts to this child wonder.

But long before these wise men sought to find Jesus there was another wise man. This wise man tho’, was different.

Daniel – a wise man

This wise man, Daniel, wasn’t even really a man yet. He is described (in the book that bears his name, Daniel 1) as a youth, or young man. Scholars believe he was actually an extrordinarily gifted prince in Israel. King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon had come to Jerusalem, overtaken it and taken captives back to Babylon, he took the cream of the crop.

Those that he deported were,

“… of the royal family and nobility… youths without blemish, of good appearance, skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding, learning, competent to stand before the king…”

Daniel 1:3-4 ESV

These adolescence were the AP (advance placement) kids at school, who were also eagle scouts or gold award recipients. They attended the finest of private schools, were involved in community service projects, were tutored in etiquette, manners and public speaking. Daniel and his three friends were the “Creme de la Creme”. They were going places! Watch out world.

And here they were being deported to Babylon! What??? This could not possibly be right. This is not who they were training to become, or where they were expecting to live. Talk about hopes dashed and expectations shattered! Their education was not intended to be used in Babylon. How could they be in the right place and this the right time?

It was precisely because Daniel was a wise man that he was taken captive. It was precicely because he was appealing to the enemy king that he was being deported. His training and qualifications were actually all leading him to this very moment. Crazy, right?

Daniel – Purposed

When Daniel arrived in Babylon, he and his three friends were placed in a three year study program. During that time they would be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Then they would be called before the king to see if he approved of them, their training and their expertise.

During this time, their food was to be the same food and drink that the king ate. They would be offered the best foods and wines, along with the best education, but, this is where the young and wise Daniel spoke up.

Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the kings food, but rather he would eat what foods were kosher to the Jews. After negotiating a plan with chief of staff, Daniel and his friends were proven to be better and fatter than all the others. In fact, we are told that there was none found like Daniel in all of the kings palace. God was with Daniel and gave him understanding, skill and wisdom, he also understood visions and dreams. His purpose had paid off and he was now beginning to realize that just maybe, he was in the right place.

Daniel – Prophetic

In the old teatament times there were men and women who were prophetic, meaning they heard from God and delivered God’s message to people for God. Prophets were recognized in every region and nation. Jehovah God had prophets and even the idols, like Baal had prophets.

A prophet seeks to do what God tells him to do, or say what God tells him to say, go where, etc., you get the point. This was the focus of Daniel’s heart. Here he was in Babylon, not his choice, but it seemed to be God’s. Daniel maintained his devotion to Jehovah God, his prayer, and his dependence upon God for insight, understanding, knowledge and wisdom.

Although the king’s servant had changed Daniel and his friends names to Chaldean names, thus attempting to contradict the truth of those names, none of them turned away from their prophetic destiny. Bred into their names was purpose, destiny, focus and strength and noting in the Babylonian reeducation system could break their resolve to serve Jehovah God.

Let’s peek at those names and their changes:

  • Daniel means God is judge. Changed to Belteshazzar – Bel will protect.
  • Hananiah means God is gracious. Changed to Shadrach – inspired of Aku
  • Azariah means God is my help. Changed to Abendnego – servant of Negro
  • Mishael means who is like God. Changed to belonging to Aku

Bel, Aku and Negro were all Chaldean gods. Herein lies the contradiction and opposition against them. Would they succomb to this change to their identity, values, practices and devotion?

Nebuchadnezzar and his systemic three year program to reeducate these wise men was all about tearing down their God given purpose, name, resolve and polluting it (reshaping it) for his kingdom.

Daniel cotinued to walk in the confidence of who he was before God. He continued to listen to God’s voice and he continued to speak what God showed him. Nothing was going to change his prophetic calling. No land, no king, no edict, no mandate and no name change.

For the next four chapters in Daniel, we find him interpreting the king’s dream. Being thrown into a firey furnace and surviving. Interpreting another dream. Translating a some grafitti written on a wall by a ghostly hand, during one of the kings banquets. Violating the kings mandate to not pray to god for 30 days. Being thrown into a hungry lions den, AND SURVIVING (again!).

This man was moving in the prophetic and God was all over him! Was he in the right place at the right time? (Duh!?)

Daniel – Powerful

Those experiences would have been more than enough for me to be satisfied that God was using me and I was in the right place and time. But Daniel continued to move in this purposed and prophetic lifestyle until he was 80 years old!

The furnace, lions den and handwriting on the wall were all just tastes of the power that Daniel was about to move into. Daniel’s true power came as he himself had visions and dreams.

His powerful prophetic messages are found in Daniel chapters 7-12, and they are not for the faint of heart. In these chapters he speaks of the end of times and the anti-christ. He sees beasts, The Ancient of Days, a ram and a goat, and he prays for his people. He talks in some veiled way about 70 weeks, a burning face that talked to him, falling down in fear, and kings of the north and south. He talks about the abomination that makes desolate, those who are against God, and the time of the end.

Daniel’s visions have been studied by all the great scholars through the years and many interpretations have been offered. Daniel’s descriptions are duplicated in the book of Revelation, by the Apostle John, who lived some 600 years after Daniel lived! That is powerfully prophetic!

So you tell me, my friend, was Daniel in the right time and place?

Job and Daniel share certain characteristics. They were both successful, educated, leaders, and they both had reason to question God’s timing. Yet, their preparation was exactly what put them when and where they needed to be.

Daniel and Esther start out pretty much as opposites. How could their lives have anything in common? Could they share the notion of being in the right place? Both Esther and Daniel ended up in the king’s palace by the mighty hand of God. Both exactly in the time they needed to be there.

Daniel and Elihu were opposites too, yet both were wise spokesmen at just the right time and the right place.

Dear one, it is my firm belief, that we need more Daniel’s. Those trained in wisdom, insight, and educated in the ways of God (and even academia). Those whose purpose is the prophetic and in the fulness of its intended power. Ones who hear what God is saying and share it. Ones who understand what’s happening, and can give strategic, prophetic direction. Ones who will not bow to the mandates of the king but purpose to obey God alone, no matter the lions den or firey furnace.

God is wanting to equip Daniel’s to speak His wisdom and interpret the signs. God is looking for wise men and women who are purposed, prophetic and powerful.

If that’s you, now is the right time and place.

Next week is our final lesson in this series and we will look at Mary and Joseph – carriers of Jesus. Betrothed. Believed. Became.

See you then

Go with God,

Debbie

How Do You Manage Stress?

This week I was told that an old friend of mine had just lost his twenty four year old son to suicide.

There are no words to express the range of emotions that accompany this unimaginable loss, either for me, but more importantly, for my friend and his family. There may be no loss greater than the suicide of your child. As a mother, I tried to understand the sheer volume of feelings, emotions, experiences and thoughts that would drive my child to such a permanent decision. There are no words. My heart aches.

It appears that the common thread that connects all suicides is the overwhelming feeling of dread, despair, lonliness and hopelessness among those who commit suicide. Additionally, depression, academic performance, workplace performance, economic standing along with other factors hold serious importance too. (1)

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. It is the 4th leading cause of death for adolescents, globally. In 2019 there were 47,511 lives lost due to suicide, while 1.4 million attempted suicide. (1)

Finding ways to cope with the hopelessness that surrounds us is a very important life skill. Being able to manage the stress and anxiety is vital for all of us. Withhout these coping skills the suicide statistics will continue to climb, and families will continue to be shattered by the unthinkable, unexpected loss of loved ones.

We all realize that during the holidays not every home is “merry and bright”, and although we sing of it being “the most wonderful time of the year”, for the “masked many”, it is not. The lights of the holiday season fail to bring the illumination needed to the dark lonliness of the “masked many”.

Let’s work together to help each other to better manage stress. K?

Here are some signs that you or a loved one may be needing stress relief: (2)

  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • indigestion
  • muscle tension
  • exhaustion
  • change in appetite
  • teeth grinding

If you notice these in you (or your friend) and you’ve not experienced them before, talk to a doctor, discuss the stresses in your life.

It’s important to learn to manage our stress, because stress is a part of all of our lives. We will always have to deal with it. It will look different in each life, but it always impacts our life in a negative way. Chronic stress can even lead to heart disease, memory impariment and depression.

Of course, we have seen the ways it can impact our relationships with other people, too. We have less patience with people and struggle to handle situations that we normally are able to manage.

So, here are some stress management tips: (3)

  1. Get to the root cause of the stress – look deep, beyond the obvious. Hone in. Evaluate what you like and don’t like about it.
  2. Meditate – collect your thoughts, bring them back. Center them in truth and focus them on the truth.
  3. Deep breathing – focus on taking deeper breaths, it slows your heart rate down and relaxes muscles. Consequently, your stress responses are slowed and your concentration improved.
  4. Manage your time – allow yourself breaks in the day to rest and recharge
  5. Consider journaling – this helps you to get your feelings out and identify things that are causing stress
  6. Make lists and prioritize – you may have alot to do, so write them down. But also order them, not everything is a priority. Be honest.
  7. Do one thing at a time – multitasking does not allow you to do your best work because you are doing too many things. Your brain does not like jumping back and forth. Allow it to focus and offer your best, then move on.

Learning to utilize these tips and tools will help, but should you find they are not helping enough, seek the assistance of a professional. They will be able to help you identify causes, and equip you with skills to manage your stress.

Take honest stock of your life or the life of your loved one. Learning how to manage stress and helping our loved ones manage stress will help to assure that no one you know has to deal with a loss due to suicide.

So, how do you manage stress? Are you managing it, or is it managing you?

Cheers to you,

Debbie

Works Cited:

  1. afsp.org (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
  2. http://www.betterhelp.com
  3. ibid

The Right Time and Place #3

#3 of 5, In a series of Sunday Sermons. 12.11.21

#3 Esther – a Queen

She lived as an outsider, outcast, and in exile. She lived as an orhpan, her parents having been killed in one of the many battles for Jerusalem. Here she was without family or freedoms. How could she be in the right place and how could this be the right time?

Esther beautiful, brazen abd blessed

Lovingly adopted by her cousin, he did his best to raise this beautiful, young lady as his very own daughter. But even then, she was taken captive by the kings servants who were seizing beautiful, young ladies for the king as he sought to find a new queen.

Esther -was beautiful

She, a young vigrin was seized, and taken along with hundreds of other young ladies, to the palace. Once again, she was alone, without family or freedom. Certainly there was nothing right about this time or place, she must have thought.

Without even her own approval, she was forced into a year long preparation period, so that she would be ready to be seen by the king. It was during this time that she found favor with her trainers. She found favor with her handlers. She found favor with the other ladies. Because she pleased them and won their favor, they advanced her and placed her in the “best place of the harem.”

Her beauty had made room for her and her graciousness had gained her favor. Could she be in the right palce at the right time?

Then her time came to come before the king and spend the night with him. Esther was fully aware what she was entering into, she had over a year to memtally, emotionally and spiritually prepare for her encounter with the king. But how could this sexual encounter be right? She was a young virgin, he an older man of means. Was she in the right place at the right time? How could anything about her rape be right?

We are told that the king “loved Esther more than all the other women.” Esther 2:17 So, did that now make it right? From that moment on, she won the grace and favor of the king, more than all the others, so he set the royal crown on her head and made her Queen.

There is much to question about the workings of God through unfortunate and abusive situations, and in many areas of Esther’s life, I find myself with such questions. But through it all, it remains abundantly clear that Esther always believed she was in the right place at the right time. As she wandered in exile, under the arm and care of her uncle, an orphan, captured by the kings men to be part of his harem. We never read of her fighting, kicking or rejecting what circumstances brought her way. And in fact, her uncle sought to teach her of Yahweh’s sovereignty, provision and blessing upon his people – the Jews.

She was goverened by a greater law than what was forced upon her. She was internally goverened by an absolute rest in God’s goodness and soverignity.

She knew she was in the palace, with the king right now, and right on time. Although, as of yet, she doesn’t know why.

Esther was brazen

As Queen, she now had the attention of everyone in the palace, most especially the King.

As events play out, an evil plan is hatched to have all the Jews in the empire killed, all the way from India to Ethiopia. As her uncle shares this with her, Esther is deeply distressed, for she is a Jew and no one in the palace knows it. How could this happen to her people? How could this be the right time?

At the bidding of her uncle she calls the Jews to a fast, to seek what ought to be done. The answer comes, and it involves her. Her uncle tells her,

” For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14

The risk before Esther was approaching the King without being invited. For this was against the law and a possible death sentence should she be rejected and the golden scepter not be extended toward her. Her response to this risk,

…if I perish, I perish.”

Esther 4:16

Esther was brazen. She was bold and without shame. She knew that she was in the right place at the right time. It was her time to speak up. Her time had come. THIS was the place.

Her faith and trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty paid off, for as she stood at the doorway of the court of the King, she won favor in his sight and he extended his scepter to allow her entrance.

As all wise women, she had a plan. She cunningly planned a series of banquets and invited the king and the one who plotted to kill the Jews to attend. Then at just the right time and in the right place, she reveals the plot to kill her people. She fell at the Kings feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan.

Esther was blessed

The King gave she and her uncle authority to write whatever legislation they needed and gave his signet ring to her uncle. It would then be published in all 127 provinces of the empire. She had his blessing in whatever they wrote and all that they needed.

It was then that the order was given that the Jews would be able to defend themselves when the death order was executed. Throughout the land, on the very day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to destroy them, the reverse occurred! The Jews gained mastery over those who hated them!

As they fought back a great victory and deliverance was won for the Jews.

To this day, the Jews celebrate the Feast of Purim, the feast that commemorates Esther’s request and the Jews mighty deliverance. It is a yearly celebration with much joy, eating, drinking and costumes.

Esther was blessed with courage, favor and a strategy to save her people, and she is blessed today by the Jews.

But who could have imagined an orphan, living in exile, being raised by her uncle, and then captured by the government for the kings harem would be in the right place at the right time? Who could have imagined that this young Esther would become Queen of a powerful nation? Who could have imagined that she would thwart the death penalty unleashed on her people?

The journey that has brought you to where you are today may or may not be a pretty one. You may have experienced loss of family and freedoms. There may be other facets that you share with Esther too. But know this my friend, you too can begin to see and recognize the favor and grace of God on your life. You too can experience trust and confidence in God’s soverignity and rest in his goodness.

No matter your past, God sees you as His chosen one, his beloved, his Queen (or King). He has a plan for you, a time and a place for you to speak up. Stand up. Risk it all. He has groomed you for such a time. He is preparing you for such a time. He is arranging for you to be in just the right place to speak what is needed at just the right time.

You are beautiful in God’s eyes, and He has made you too, to be brazen, because He wants to bless you and those around you.

It is your time and place.

Check back next week at we study Daniel- a wiseman, who was Purposed, Prophetic and Powerful.

Go with God.

Debbie

A Defining Moment

One of the most distinctive features on our face has been getting alot of attention recently from me. We are told that as a species we pay alot of attention to this facial feature. In fact, scientists tell us that we recognize a familiar face more easily when eyes are blacked out, than when these are. What are they, these things that have attracted my attention of late? Eyebrows!

Yes, eyebrows.

With age comes many things, and now I have discovered one more – the disappearance and greying of my eyebrows. Hang with me, because you, too, have eyebrows, and there are some interesting points to be made about them and lessons for us.

I don’t know when it happened, but not long ago I looked into the mirror and realized that there was no definition to my eyes, because I couldn’t see my eyebrows. Geesh! When did that happen? How long had I been eyebrowless? How did I loose that definition on my face? This was a defining moment for me.

So I began to research and experiment with cosmetic solutions to redefine my eyes. There were brushes, pencils, gels, powders and shadows. Also for consideration were cloning my eyebrows, (that’s ridiculous), the very popular tattooing (too expensive) of eyebrows, and let’s not forget microblading, (ouch).

I settled on a few new products, consulted with a couple of friends, and proceeded to do what I could to define my eyes and face again. With the little interest and experience that I have with make up, this was challenging, but I found my solution.

Eyebrows come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Believe me, I have been observing them very seriously and taken note of every kind. But what they all have in common, even yours, is their two-fold purpose:

  • Communication
  • Prevention of sweat, water & other debris from entering the eye

Communication – eyebrows provide cues for expressing moods. Facial expressions reveal genuine emotions and eyebrows exaggerate them.

In a 2003 study, people were shown pictures of famous people. The photos however, had been manipulated and they all either had no eyes or no eyebrows. When shown the pictures, the famous people with their eyes blacked out were recognized 60% of the time. However, the photos who’s eyebrows were balcked out where only recognized 46% of the time. It seems we recognize people more by their eyebrows than we do their eyes. Unbeleivable!

It is that one raised eyebrow that tells us interest or skepticism, or surprise with both eyebrows raised. It is the up and down movement of those eyebrows that tell us what people are thinking. They help us express recognition and sympathy. Those muscles in our face, moving our eyebrows are helping us to communicate with those in our world. Those eyebrows are defining us and our communication.

Prevention – the eyebrows prevent sweat from dripping into our eyes. The arch design diverts moisture to the side, thus protecting our eyes. Those eyebrow hairs, growing outward, and toward the sides of your face are designed to protect your vision.

We use our eyes more than any sense and blurred vision isn’t at all helpful. Our eyebrows keep rain and sweat out and give us clear vision.

Through the generations of man, clearly visible eyebrows have provided safety from predators. Whereas today, their primary function seems to be a means of communicating.

The shape, color and thickness of your eyebrows are genetic. It takes four different genes to affect your hair texture. One gene that affects their shape. Five genes work together to produce your eyebrow color, and one gene decides if you have a unibrow. (sorry… waxing???)

This pair of moisture wicking, signal senders/receptors define our faces and feelings to the world. Without them, our face lacks definition. There is no defining moment for our eyes or communication.

A defining moment” – a point when the essential character of a person is revealed or identified. A decision that fundamentally changes you and therefore transforms your perceptions and behaviors.

A defining moment” – a fork in the road.

I had a defining moment at the mirror confronting my eyebrows. But that is not the point here. It is however a visual for the point.

What defines you? What are your defining moments?

Is there a solid definition to the things that you do? Is there purpose, meaning, value? But more importantly, what are the things that define who you are and who you will allow yourself to become or be transformed into?

Has your definition, distinction disappeared? Has your personality/character color, texture, and shape faded, erroded, or waned? Do you live by clear distinctives, principles, and values? Do you allow environmental factors to permamently affect your shape; like waxing, and tweezing permanently affect your eyebrows?

Do you allow things or people to define you? What do you allow to define your communication or provide your protection? How does your personal definition prevent debris from flooding your life?

Defining moments affect our identity (just like eyebrows do), and I trust that today, as you look into the mirror, you will see not only your defining eyebrows, but look deeper and evaluate those things that define you. Are they greying? Do they need redefining?

May this be a defining moment for you.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

The Right Place and Time #2

#2 of 5- In a series of Sunday Sermons 12.4.21

#2 Elihu – a spokesman

Last week we introduced this series by exposing our driving desire to be in the right place at the right time. As an example, and for insight, we looked at Job, who was targeted by God for tremendous surprises in his life as he suffered through his many losses.

What surprises have you seen this week in your life? Your families life?

As you may remember, after Job lost his family, wealth, health and the support of his wife, he was visited by some friends, who came to show him sympathy and comfort. Job 2:11

Elihu and Job

These men were elders, men of high standing, just like Job. “These three were from the East, an area known for the wisdom of man. They relied solely on their reasoning and presuppositions to explain Job’s suffering” (1) Yet, for the next 30 chapters, what we observe is their endless reasoning and arguing with Job that he has sinned and must repent. while Job insists on his own righteousness.

Elihu – a spokesman

Elihu – the tender, truth-teller

Then, out of nowhere, appears a fourth voice. Elihu. It is thought that Eliju was an observer of these four men’s interactions and reasonings. For days he sat, observed, listened, mused, fumed and stewed as he listened to their empty arguements and baseless assertions. Until, he had had enough. They had finished their exchanges in a dead heat and now Elihu was heated enough to explode.

” So these men ceased to answer Job… Then Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job… he burned with anger also at Job’s three friends…. Now Elihu had waited to speak because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.”

Job 32:1-5 ESV

Was Elihu in the right place?

Geesh, here was an elder who had been beset with horrible boils running with pus, blood and infection. He was actually unidentifiable, his friends didn’t even recognize him. Job 2:12 He’d lost all he valued and was sitting in the junkyard. Surrounding him were his “friends” attempting to comfort and console him. Yet, nothing he’d heard from their “wise” mouths brought either. Elihu was aghast! These are wise men from the east? These men are renoun for their understanding and insight?

“It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.” Job 32:9 Elihu concluded.

He knew now, that he was in the right place at just the right time. He was full of words, had respectfully waited his turn, attentively listened to all points of view and was now ready to speak. NOW was the right time. Job 32:18

Four times this text states: “he burned with anger“.

This phrase when translated more fully from the Hebrew would really read, (2)

Elihu’s heart began to race and his breathing intensified. His face began to imitate the rage of his heart, because as a seer-prophet he saw and understood what God was saying and knew that he must speak on God’s behalf. He must open his lips and answer. Job 32:7-8, 18-22; 36:2

He was in the right place and the right time had finally come!

You see, Elihu, although younger than the other wise friends, was a prophetic voice. His name means, “He is my God”. He is a prophetic descendent of Abraham. The city he was from (Ram” short for Aram, Abraham) was known for its prophets. The other three friends came to Job from the East, with man’s wisdom, but Elihu came to Job with a prophetic voice, Godly insight and perspective.

Eliju had been groomed and prepped his whole life for this exact place and this exact time.

As a new wineskin bursting with fermented, new wine he exploded on the scene. Job 32:19

For the next six chapters of Job (32-37), Elihu speaks for God. He brings four charges from God to these men and this case:

  • Chapter 32 – Elihu rebukes the three friends
  • Chapter 33 – Elihu tells Job that he is not right, because God is always just
  • Chapter 34 – Elihu emphasizes that God is just
  • Chapter 35 – Elihu confronts Job’s misspeech. Saying that Job is not suffering becasue of sin, but is sinning in his suffering.
  • Chapter 36 & 37 – Elihu tells of God’s greatness, majesty, might and power

The Encyclopedia Britannica says this of Elihu,

” Elihu is a superhuman intermediary who will help restore Job to God.”

When a tender, truth-teller shows up on the scene, in the midst of hopelessness, pain and suffering, that one could surely be considered super human.

Elihu’s perspective was that God is always just. Powerful. Merciful. God is always seeking to teach us and uses every situation in our life to teach us. Elihu identified God a the teacher in Job’s sufferings and Job would do well to learn the lessons that God was teaching him, rather than accuse and misspeak. God is always good and will never do wickedly. Why contend with God?

Elihu, the son of “God has blessed”, the father of the “prophet”, of the family of “high or exalted ancestor of David”, was in the right place at the right time with his heart full of words, his belly like wine without a vent. There he was called to speak the word of the Lord that was burning within him, just like Jeremiah in Jeremiah 19: 9 The burning truth of the Lord was shut up in his bones and he could not hold it in any longer.

These are the days that we are living in, oh mighty ones. Days of being in the right place at the right time and speaking what God has burned into our heart. Days of Elihu’s arising. Watching for times to speak. Listen, observe, wait, respect, honor and then speak boldly the truth into the situation.

Understand the times and seasons, and be that one who, out of nowhere, speaks the powerful Word of God into a hopeless situation. Let his Word ferment within you and be released into your family, workplace, neighborhood, church, synagogue, temple, classroom, and your sphere of influence.

We need more tender, truth-tellers. We need more spokesmen like Elihu.

Next week, we will study Esther – a princess who was beautiful, brazen and blessed. Hope to see you back.

Go with God.

Debbie

1. Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., Keyword Study Bible

2. Hebrew lexicon H2374; H639;