Category: Blog

We Must Speak Up

From The Asaph Files

Sometime back, I created this category for my blogs (The Asaph Files) with the sole intention of using it to make known information that I have collected that I feel is important for you to know about. Whether or not you are in the loop on the issue or unaware of it, my intention is to shed as much light on it as I can. So that you too, can speak up.

HR 5 – The Equality Act

U.S. Representative, David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island of the 117th Congress has authored this bill that has already passed the House on February 25, 2021, and now is in committee in the Senate.

Here is the cover page of the Bill THAT I HAVE READ in entirety. Phew…

screen shot of the HR 5 bill cover page

After reading the whole, dang thing, it is clear beyond a doubt that what this bill is proposing to do is CHANGE THE LAWS of America. Many very specific laws are addressed and particular sections are highlighted for language change, with the specific language that must be amended in the previous law.

Here’s an example-

section of HR5, changing the language of previous laws

This happens dozens of times in HR5. Civil Rights Laws are being rewritten with the stroke of a pen with this bill.

Here is the stated purpose of HR5 –

  • to define sex, sexual orientation and gender identity
  • expand the definition of public accommodations to include places and establishments that provide exhibitions, exercise, amusement, gatherings of displays, goods, services or programs
  • allow the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in Federal Court
  • prohibits an individual from being denied access to shared facilities, including rest rooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms that is in accordance with their gender identity

All under the banner of nondiscrimination protections provided for all LGBTQ people.

According to Theo Santos from the American Center of American Progress –

“The Equality Act would meaningfully expand civil rights protections for many Americans and advance treatment for LGBTQ people, women, people of faith and people of color. It’s time to extend these benefits of equality to all.”

Center for American Progress

Now, I’m for freedom for all and as you know, I believe all men (and women) are created equal. I just happen to believe there is a better, more permanent way to achieve equal justice for all under the law, other than HR5.

Because here’s what HR 5 would really do

  1. redefine sex under civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity – overriding basic biology along with millennia of tradition
  2. make it illegal to distinguish identity from biology thereby prioritizing transgender people over women
  3. erases sex as a distinct legal category
  4. forbids policy makers from ever making a distinction between male and female ( which is necessary of course for providing safety and equality of the sexes)
  5. thrashes the Civil Rights Acts of 1964
  6. guts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
  7. threatens constitutional freedoms by eliminating conscience protections for employers, doctors, educators, & religious groups
  8. have the government dictate how Americans think about gender and sex
  9. use the Department of Justice to punish those who violate the government imposed beliefs
  10. violates constitutional freedoms and weaponizes civil rights laws
  11. expands the scope of accommodations to any establishment and opens them up to liabilities for discrimination claims
  12. biological males will be allowed to participate in female only activities
  13. all single sex spaces will be open to both sexes and adds sexual orientation and gender identity
  14. doctors and counselors could be punished for violating their conscience in gender identity treatments
  15. undermines parents rights

After researching from many different sources, I created this list with the data I gleaned from: The Wall Street Journal, The Heritage Foundation, Congress.gov, and AmericanProgress.org

new definitions of sex in HR5

OPINION

This bill would not only drastically change the country that I live in and love, but more importantly it would seek to reshape and redefine the very nature of mankind. It would discard our Judeo Christian foundation and belief in God creating male and female with the intent of them becoming one to reproduce and steward the Earth.

It would threaten faith based organizations and expose them to federal prosecution. It would stigmatize long held, virtuous and godly views about sex and marriage and the sanctity of life.

In fact, discrimination would be the law of the land.

I do not want to live in that America, that is why I am speaking up.

I cannot remain silent.

I urge you to do the same and join me in writing and calling your government representatives and speaking out against this bill and its passage.

Contact your Senator at:

https://www.senate.gov

Many times I have asked you to rise up, step up, branch out, take risks, or to do something different, here is another with easy steps you can take that WILL make a tremendous impact on our nation.

Please, please, we must speak up.

Cheers.

Clear and Present Danger

Sunday Sermon 4.10.21

Our title phrase came from the American Sedition Act of 1918 and not the 1994 movie with Harrison Ford that may have first came to your mind. However, it vividly describes our current situation in the world today.

When the phrase was first used, it ultimately was viewed as the government overstepping its bounds of First Amendment freedoms. Again I say, that vividly describes our current situation in the world today.

But this blog today, is our weekly Sunday sermon, why the “political” opening?

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the churches and believers in Rome wrote these concerning words –

” And now, dear brothers and sisters, I’d like to give you one final word of caution: Watch out for those who cause divisions and offenses among you. When they antagonize you by speaking of things that are contrary to the teachings that you’ve received, don’t be caught in their snare!”

Romans 16:17 – TPT

In the midst of the huge Roman Empire and its extensive influence and power, Paul was warning believers to WATCH OUT for the clear and very present danger of divisions, offenses, antagonizing words and tearing down of valued teachings. Again, I say, doesn’t this vividly describe our current situation?

It is vital for us to be on guard and watch out for those things that cause divisions. From every corner of our society, we see and hear the evidences of a divided nation. The Greek word used here for divisions means, “dissension, division and sedition”. It would not take long to list those things that are causing us dissension, division and sedition, would it?

But we are told to watch out for them. In other words, according to the Greek, “take aim at them”, to shoot them down! Don’t swallow them, accept them or promote them. Watch for them as a spy (the original meaning) and take them down!

In addition, we are to watch out for offenses (TPT) or obstacles (NIV) that are put in our way. The picture is clear, someone or some thing has put a K-rail, an obstacle in front of us to stop our forward motion. This not only serves as a divider, but also as a barrier to make us stop. Paul is emotionally urging believers to be on guard for such things!

What is the barrier trying to stop? What forward momentum is being pressed against?

Paul’s words, “obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching that you have learned.” NIV

Well, what have I learned? What values was I taught from childhood and onward as I grew? Here are 20 things that immediately came to mind:

  • God loves everyone the same
  • color of your skin doesn’t make anyone better than another
  • respect authority
  • hard work pays off
  • nations have laws to obey
  • obeying laws is right
  • all people are flawed
  • everyone’s voice matters
  • don’t quit
  • money isn’t everything
  • relationships matter
  • choices have consequences
  • be truthful
  • there is good and evil
  • character counts
  • I am responsible for my actions
  • don’t follow the crowd
  • America is a great nation
  • America was founded on noble values
  • in a republic, the voters make policy

What values have you been taught?

Is it possible that there are obstacles being put in place to stop the advancement of these?

Geesh! We could list all kinds of moral values, religious values, human values. What about American, constitutional republic values? There are all kinds of things and values that we have been taught.

Paul is urging believers to KEEP AWAY FROM THESE OBSTACLES! Don’t allow them to stop what you have been taught. Don’t allow the K-rails to derail truth.

Here are some Godly truths that we have been taught: (or I hope we have been taught)

  • In the beginning God created
  • God created male and female in His image
  • God is no respecter of persons
  • God is love
  • God gave His son for our redemption
  • God does not condemn
  • We are all sinners
  • We have eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ

These truths put us all on a level playing field. Therefore, it is altogether fitting for us to say “we are all created equal” because equality comes from God and not man. Wasn’t that the cry of Dr. King?

1 Corinthians 1:9-10 tells us to keep yourself steady and strong. Live in unity with one another and put to rest any division that attempts to tear you apart.

2 Samuel 23:10,12 reminds us of 2 different men who STOOD THEIR GROUND and to whom God brought a great victory.

The clear and present danger we are facing is one that is seeking to divide us and get us to abandon the things that we have been taught.

Humans are designed for change. America is equipped to change. But the kind of change we allow is up to us.

Are we willing to stand our ground and “fight” for the values that matter to us? Or are we too lazy to confront those enemies that are attacking the very values our life is built upon? This is an urgent cry! Not only from the elder statesman – Paul, but from the call of the Spirit.

This is a very clear and present danger to you, in your sphere of influence.

You have been taught about your rights as a citizen. You have been taught of your rights as a believer. What are you allowing to stand in the way of the forward advancement of those? What will you allow to divide you from another human?

One of the characters from 2 Samuel 23, Eleazar, fought so hard to defend his territory that his hand froze to his sword. He didn’t stop until the job was done, victory won and his hand had to be pried from his sword. Will we stand against the antagonization, against being silenced and cancelled until our Sword has to be pried from our hand? Will we allow the roadblocks to stop the advancement of what we have learned?

I believe we must stand our ground to see these values and truths not be lost, watered down, removed, or devalued. It is incumbent upon us to be on guard for divisions and obstacles and “fight” against them, just as unyielding as Eleazar.

In 1967, vandals broke into the Capitol building and slashed along the bottom canvas of the 20 x 30 foot oil painting called, “Signing of the Constitution”. It was subsequently removed and repaired in 1968 and eventually returned to the Capitol where it continues to hang.

In my humble opinion, I see what happened to that historical painting in 1967 as a foreshadowing of what is happening now to and in our nation and its constitution. Attempts are being made to slash away at it, damage it, and remove it.

The cornerstones of that document, free speech, free exercise of religion and freedom of the press are being slashed. K-rails are being installed to keep these things that we have learned from advancing. Obstacles have been placed in our way causing divisions and antagonizing speech has been leveled incessantly at those who hold to such values.

Scriptures calls to us to WATCH OUT. KEEP AWAY FROM THEM (such things), because there is a clear and present danger for all of us. BEWARE.

Scriptures calls for us to keep steady and strong against all forces that seek to bring division and tear us apart. Scripture empowers us to “fight the good fight of faith”. Scripture warns us of such a clear and present danger.

Will you heed the call? Will you “fight” for what you have learned?

I pray you will and are…

Go with God.

The World Turned Upside Down

If you are a musical theatre junkie, then that phrase will bring to life the lyrics from Hamilton’s – Yorktown-

“I’m not throwin’ away my shot! I’m not throwin’ away my shot! Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young scrappy and hungry, and I’m not throwin’ away my shot! Til the world turns upside down, ‘Til the world turns upside down.”

The World Turned Upside Down (Yorktown); Lin-manuel Miranda

Although that song wasn’t the first thing to pop into my head, I have been thinking alot about how the world has been turned upside down, particularly in this past year. I really love that phrase – the world turned upside down and want to spend some time with it, but not as you might expect. It can be a depressing topic, so let’s turn it upside down, and make it not depressing.

So, let me present you with some things you probably believed were true, but are in fact NOT TRUE – I’m gonna turn your world upside down. 🙂

  • Sloths are slow and lazy creatures. Although they are slow – walking 2 meters per minute on the ground, they are 5 times faster under water. Because their metabolic rate is so slow, they can hold their breath for 40 minutes underwater and swim 5 x faster than they walk!
  • You can see the Great Wall of China from space – (I have even taught this.) NASA confirmed that this in fact is false, but our textbooks have not yet caught up.
  • It takes 7 years for your body to digest bubble gum. According to Healthline, the ingredients in gum will pass through your body without digesting at all.
  • Carrots improve your vision. The beta-carotene in carrots converts to vitamin A which does improve your sight. However, once your beta-carotene limit is reached, it stops making that conversion.
  • Toads give you warts. Nope, warts are caused by HPV.
  • Coffee stunts your growth. Nope again. It is linked to calcium loss but even that isn’t enough to affect your bones.
  • Bats are blind. In fact, they can see 3 times better than humans, according to Rob Miles, at Bat Conservation.
  • Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis. I don’t like the sound of this, but what I am hearing is the nitrogen bubbles bursting in your synovial fluid. It does not lead to arthritis.
  • You swallow 8 spiders a year in your sleep. Gosh am I glad this is faaaaaaaarrrrr from truth! Scientific American deemed this as untrue because spiders view humans as rocks and if that rock is vibrating (snoring) it is warning them to stay away.
  • Einstein failed math. He did fail an entrance exam to a school in Zurich, but he nailed the math section of that test.
  • The toilet flushes in different directions in different hemispheres. (another one that I have taught) Live Science reports that the only thing that changes the direction is the shape of the toilet and the angle that the water enters.
  • Alcohol warms you up. You may think you’re warming up after a drink, but is slowing your circulation and making you colder. (my husband was right!)
  • Mount Everest is the tallest mountain. Yep, I taught this one too….It is the tallest mountain AT SEA LEVEL, but the tallest mountain from base to peak is Mount Kea in Hawaii. It winds up being a mile taller than Everest when you factor in 19,700 feet of it exists in the Pacific Ocean!
  • Dogs are color blind. In fact, a Russian scientist has proved that dogs see blue and yellow as good as we do.
  • An apple fell on Newton’s head (and thus prompted the theory of gravity). Much like Adam and Eve’s story, an apple wasn’t mentioned, only a fruit. In Sir Isaac’s case, a fruit fell and prompted his inquiries.

See, that wasn’t depressing or discouraging was it? Hopefully it was even a little insightful.

We need these little brain breaks from time to time, so that we will have the needed creativity, focus and prioritization to make the changes really needed to turn our world upside down.

Cheers to you.

Convincing Proofs

Easter Sunday Sermon 4.3.21

Happy Easter!

There are many instances when believers must trust and have faith- you know, that tangible substance of something unseen.

But the resurrection of Jesus is not one of those instances; for we have more details, and historical evidence regarding the few days before and after Jesus’ death and resurrection than any other figure in ancient history.

“On this, the greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith alone, for there exists overwhelming evidence, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring a verdict that the resurrection story is true.” Former Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling.

Jesus death and resurrection stands with historical factuality, not faith alone.

Luke, one of the disciples wrote of these facts and evidence –

” Dear friend, I am writing for you, … an orderly account of what Jesus, the Anointed One accomplished and fulfilled among us. Several eyewitness biographies have already been written, using as their source material the good news preached among us by his early disciples, who became loving servants of the Living Expression (Jesus).

But now I am passing on to you this accurate compilation of my own meticulous investigation based on numerous interviews and thorough research of the story of his life. It is appropriate for me to write this, for he also appeared to me so that I would assure you beyond any shadow of a doubt the reliability of all you have been taught of him.”

Luke, the Physician, disciple of Jesus, chapter 1, verses 1-4

The NIV translation puts that last phrase this way – “so that you may know the certainty of the things that you have been taught.”

Luke, the doctor in Jesus discipleship group, was a detailed historian who documented the events of Jesus’ life and left them for us in the gospel that bears his name.

Additionally, he documented the events of Jesus resurrection, ascension and the day of Pentecost when the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit and Jerusalem was rocked by that power. We find those complete details in The Acts of the Apostles, yet another book that he wrote.

As he states, his writing is based on his own first hand, eyewitness experiences, his interviews with other eyewitnesses, and his own thorough research and investigation of primary sources. The man was there and interviewed others who were also there. They are primary sources.

Luke is telling us that we can be absolutely certain, beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jesus’ death and resurrection really happened!

“After His suffering he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.”

Acts 1:3

It is important to note that in this text, Luke is using a legal term (in the Greek), that is the strongest type of legal evidence; he is making a legal declaration of convincing proofs for the resurrection of Jesus Christ; implying the weight of evidence in a trail to prove a case.

But we need not take only his word as convincing evidence, please consider these documented, primary sources, who were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection:

  • Mary Jn. 20:16, 18
  • other women Jn. 20:9-10
  • Disciples Jn. 20:19
  • Thomas Jn. 20:24
  • 2 men on the road Mk. 16:12-13
  • Peter Lk. 24:34
  • 7 fishermen Jn. 21:1-23
  • 500 eyewitnesses 1 Cor. 15:6
  • James 1 Cor. 15:7
  • Stephen Acts 7:55
  • Paul Acts 9:5
  • John Rev. 1:10

Again, not just the empty tomb, but the actual, physical body of Jesus was seen by hundreds of people in the days following his resurrection. Firsthand, eyewitness accounts, people who spoke with him, ate with him, and watched him ascend that invisible escalator into heaven. They were staring at him, wide mouthed and in awe when the angels said to them,

“Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way.”

Acts 1:11

On this Easter, 2021, know for certain that Jesus really, actually did die and come to life after three days – JUST AS HE SAID HE WOULD. You can be certain, beyond any doubt.

The importance of the physical resurrection of Jesus is paramount to Christianity. Jesus pointed in advance to his bodily resurrection, he foretold it would happen. John 2:19 – “Destroy this temple (his body) and in three days I will raise it up.”

Dr. Norman Geisler says, ” if Christ did not raise in the same physical body, then the resurrection loses its value as evidence of proof of his claim to be God.” Jn. 8:58; 10:30

If Jesus resurrection is not historic fact then the power over death remains unbroken, sin is not atoned for and we are without hope.

But because the resurrection is an event in history, we have new life and hope in this life and the one yet to come. Consider these factual and historic events:

  • Jesus was an actual man that lived with family and friends for over 30 years
  • Pontius Pilate literally sentenced Jesus to death
  • Jesus was killed by crucifixion
  • Jesus was placed in Joseph’s literal tomb and wrapped in grave clothes
  • his followers were dejected
  • a stone, large enough to be rolled by 20 men was placed in front of the entrance
  • the seal on the tomb was the imperial seal of the Roman government and was witnessed and affixed by the guards
  • the guards themselves (10-30 of them) were trained in military discipline and punishment for quitting a post was death
  • the disciples went their way
  • the tomb was found empty
  • the grave clothes were folded and left in the tomb
  • the seal had been broken
  • the guards were dishonored
  • the disciples were elated
  • post resurrection appearances to hundreds as listed above
  • transformed lives through over 2,000 years
  • establishment of the Christian church
  • establishment of Sunday services
  • establishments of sacraments like, Communion, and baptism
  • the martyrdom of most of the disciples (why if Jesus hadn’t been raised?)
  • the martyrdom of thousands of Christians through the ages

Each of these are actual, and real historical events. Each speaks to the tangible evidence of Jesus resurrection. Each provide for us convincing truths and undeniable evidence that what Jesus promised came to pass and if that be the case for his resurrection, He can and should be believed in all other matters.

Interestingly, Christianity as one of the four major religions based on personalities rather than philosophies, is the only one that claims an empty tomb for its founder.

Judiasm – Abraham has no resurrection claims

Buddhism – the Mahaparinibbana Sutta tells of Buddha’s death with utter finality

Mohammad – the Pali tells us that he died June 8, 632 AD at the age of 61 at Medina

Christianity – Jesus tomb is empty

It is safe to declare that without Jesus’ bodily resurrection there would be no Christianity. Christianity in fact hinges on the belief in Jesus resurrection. This fact, this hinge is solid and completely supported by evidence that would stand in a court of law. Your belief in Jesus’ resurrection need not be in faith and trust alone.

In fact, (without all the detail that excites me), we can say to those who doubt the historical accuracy and dependability of the New Testament as our source that they are totally misinformed! Here are the facts:

  • ancient literature’s authenticity is tested by 3 basic principles, 3 criteria
    • bibliographical test – how many and how reliable are the manuscript copies
    • internal evidence test – does the document support itself from within
    • external evidence test – does external evidence support the document
  • the bible when tested by these same criteria stands head and shoulders above every other ancient work, including Homer’s Iliad
  • Iliad has 643 manuscript copies with a 400 year gap between the original and the first copies
  • The New Testament has 5,366 copies with a 225 year time gap between the original and its first copies

Plato’s writings have only 7 copies over a 1,300 year gap, and Pliny the Younger 7 copies with over 750 years as the time gap.

What does this tell us?

Scholars accept the trustworthiness of these ancient classics that were copied long after the original, therefore it is clear that the New Testament’s reliability is overwhelmingly sufficient and can be rendered authentic. The sheer volume of manuscripts alone would be enough to provide convincing proof but that coupled with the short gap between author and copies is a total “drop the mic” statement.

You can stand confidently, without any doubt that your New Testament is reliable, historical and factually accurate. The evidence presented by the circumstances and the primary sources, the manuscripts, and the criteria for testing ancient documents all point to CONVINCING PROOFS of Jesus death, burial and resurrection.

You can be certain of the things that you have been taught.

We have presented you with many convincing proofs so you can celebrate His resurrection with renewed assurance, enthusiasm and conviction.

He is Risen indeed! Happy Easter.

Go with God.

New Endeavors

Just a quick moment of shameless self promotion in announcing the start of my new Podcast- The Joshua Files

Would love for you to follow and pass the word as I seek to equip and encourage these next generations to step up and lead.

Thank you for your overwhelming support.

Cheers to us!

“Cleanliness is next to godliness”

Is it? What is it’s real value?

Queen Elizabeth I of England bathed once a month, “whether I need it or not”, she said.

James I, her successor washed only his fingers.

Henry IV of France was prominently known for his body odor (from a distance even) and his son – Louis XIII boasted, “I take after my father, I smell of armpits.” (Yuck, why?)

During 17th century Europe washing the body was actually to be avoided, and let’s not forget those nasty medieval times when cleanliness was all but non existent.

It seems the importance of cleanliness changes with time and culture. Or does it?

Historically we would have to agree that to be true. Time and culture have impacted cleanliness. But has the value of cleanliness changed just because culture has changed? Is it beneficial or harmful regardless of the times and culture? Does cleanliness have value in and of itself? Could it ever be considered “next to godliness”?

In our world of covid, crazy-cleanliness this has taken on an entirely new meaning, hasn’t it? It was during the flu epidemic of 1918 that doctors in maternity wards realized that the washing of hands helped to stop the spread of contagious fever. Now look at us, how many times have you washed your hands today or disinfected them?

Today we hear alot about “Follow the science”.

So, I want to do just that, but not as it applies to covid. What does the science tells us in 2021 about cleanliness?

First off, this is not about how clean your house is or how often you bathe. There is no judgment here. But because it is “Spring cleaning time”, I wanna know if there is any real value in cleaning. Fair? What does the science say?

What are the benefits of cleanliness?

” the state of quality of being clean or being kept clean.”

Oxford dictionary

We clean our homes, cars, appliances, tools, clothes, bodies; we seek to put clean things into our body – foods, drinks, data, influences, words. Are there benefits to this cleanliness?

An Indiana study shows a strong connection between a clean home and one’s physical fitness. Their study shows in cleaner homes were people who exercise more. Why was their question. Do they possess more energy to clean or are they more disciplined? Here are some of their findings:

  • cleanliness lowers stress and fatigue – messy tells the brain there’s work to be done and creates stress
  • it reduces allergy and asthma reactions – dust mites… need we say more
  • cleanliness improves safety – falls and fires are the number 1 cause of injuries in the home
  • it reduces germ spread – and the kitchen is the no. 1 place for this, NOT the bathroom
  • cleanliness keeps pests away – I HATE ANTS AND COCKROACHES!
  • cleanliness improves diet and the waistline – seriously! Their study showed that women eat more sweets and high fat foods when faced with daily hassles. A clean house or at least uncluttered will cut down on stress and therefore cut down on sweets. (Of course removing the candy bowls around the house would help too)

Dawn Howard, in her studies of cleanliness says,

“Benefits of cleanliness are studied for treatment of people suffering from everything from anxiety to zygomycosis.” (a rare fungal infection caused by molds)

A recent UCONN study substantiates that decluttering and cleaning helps maintain well being, positive mental attitude and is energizing.

Depression, anxiety and PTSD have been proven to be reduced in homes that are monitored for cleanliness.

Our mental condition is affected by our cleanliness and our cleanliness affects our mental condition.

Controlling negative thoughts, cutting off negative forces, influences, music, hobbies and people are vital for our own mental health, our mental healthiness.

Here are 9 ideas to do just that: (as suggested by Emil Baltman, 12/18)

  1. deal with emotions
  2. stop trying to please others
  3. face & overcome your inner critic
  4. give up bad habits
  5. take positive action
  6. learn to say no
  7. don’t blame others
  8. recognize unhealthy thought patterns
  9. don’t fear pain

There are things we each can do to be as fit as possible. But as always, it is our choice and the first step is the toughest. Dealing with cleanliness in areas of our life is a simple way to take action towards that goal, towards wholeness, less anxiety, stress and peace.

Whether we believe the Talmud,

“cleanliness… for the sake of his Maker.”

The Talmud

Or we believe a 2002 study that expressly stated,

“the effects of spa therapy have been proven to reduce pain, global well being, and stiffness…”

We can say with confidence, that cleanliness does have benefits, mental, physical, and emotional.

As to whether or not it is next to godliness, we’ll let you ponder that.

For now, take a look around you, within you; where do you see a need for a clean up?

Cheers to you.

Palms, Cloaks and Artichokes

Sunday Sermon, Palm Sunday, 3.27.21

Nearly 2,000 years ago, as hundreds of thousands of travelers gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, Jesus Christ entered the city, riding on a donkey, as the victorious King of the Jews. The crowds shouted, “Hail to the King”, “Hosanna”, and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” as they waved palm branches they had cut down and carpeted the road with their cloaks.

This is recorded in all four of the Gospels in the New Testament. Without exception the crowds are characterized by waving palm branches and spreading their garments on the donkey and on the road along the procession. With passionate shouts they hailed Jesus the victorious one who they hoped would save them from Roman oppression.

In their celebration some preceded the Christ with palms and cloaks and shouts of praise while others followed in the same manner, with palms and cloaks and shouts of praise.

Here were men and women, removing not only branches from the palm trees but also their garments. Yes, their outer garments, but they willingly removed their cloak, or robe – perhaps the only clothing they owned, to pay honor and respect to Jesus Christ.

These crowds as participants in the processional, recognized who Jesus was. They acknowledged who he was with their ruckus praise and extravagant expressions. They realized this coming king was coming to bring God’s kingdom influence. They waved their palm branches in approval symbolizing His goodness, victory, joy and triumph.

The removal of their cloak too, was an expression of highest regard for Jesus Christ. This left them exposed and uncovered their lowly state. This removed their layered defenses and protections and left them with little to hide behind.

They had shed what people see in order to honor Jesus Christ and they chose to wave a palm branch as a sign of surrender to the victorious One.

This Holy Week, as we again reflect on Palm Sunday, (Good Friday and Easter,) what can be gleaned from it? We should ask ourselves these things, we should recount the events, and reconsider the fresh impact on our life. These stories are for us, for today. They have value for our everyday living, and are not just ancient history and outdated, irrelevant events.

So I offer you this, an artichoke.

Consider this thistle that we cultivate for a yummy food; it’s edible portion is the fleshy section at the base of the leaves and heart or choke at the center. Dip the leaves in butter, place in your mouth, scrape down with your teeth to remove the flesh, discard the empty leaf and start again.

Over and over and over again leaves are removed, layers peeled away, flesh is torn, and sustenance gained until the heart is revealed.

That artichoke is like those people on Palm Sunday. Like us today.

By removing their cloaks, they were peeling away at those layers that people see, their outer leaves if you will, and revealing their heart. What covers us, our cloaks must be removed, our fleshly ways must be shed to expose our heart.

Those things that we cover ourselves with and hide behind must be shed before we can join Jesus’ victorious parade. As we shed those “leaves”, a layer at a time, our heart too is laid bare and exposed, and there He finds joy in the true expressions of our heart and brings victory, joy, goodness and triumph to us.

We are living in a season of exposing the heart. He is wanting to reveal the heart of the issue, the heart of the problem, the heart of man. He is peeling away layer after layer, leaf after leaf, removing flesh and exposing the heart. Revealing what is hidden behind layers of defenses, cover ups and artificial protections.

He is revealing the heart of praise, the heart of abandon to Him, the heart of devoted passion and extravagant worship. The heart that doesn’t care what man sees, because that heart is all about reverence to the victorious king.

The heart that openly and publicly honors Him above all, lavishing praise, glory and respect to the King.

So you see, that first Palm Sunday crowd, you and artichokes share a thing or two.

I’ve heard said that God peels away at us a layer at a time, like an onion.

I submit a better analogy may be He peels away a layer at a time like an artichoke, because He wants to reveal our heart.

So, Happy Palm Sunday, and don’t forget the palms, cloaks and artichokes…

Go with God.

Chester Cheetah

You know him, don’t you, the fictional character and official mascot for Frito-Lay’s Cheetos snacks?

Anyone who knows me and our family knows how important these snacks are to my husband. He has a large cup that reads, “Den’s Cheetos” and he even has Cheetos socks. Friends and family see anything Cheeto and get it for Den or they pass on an image, or fact. So we know Chester well.

Chester is a cheetah and cheetahs are amazing animals.

Some facts about cheetahs I’m sure you know, are:

  • they are the largest cat on the planet and more social than other cats
  • they are the fastest land animal (recorded at 93-98 mph)
  • they have a light build, long, thin legs and long tail

Some additional cheetah factoids are:

  • females search for prey while males are more sedentary
  • they stalk within 200 ft., charge it, trip it during the chase and bite its throat to suffocate it to death
  • they are active during the day, especially at dusk and dawn

Why the Chester the cheetah talk, where are you going with this, Deb?

Glad you asked. I see a couple of fascinating similarities between you and me and cheetahs. Really!

According to Quora –

“…(cheetah’s) high speeds can only be maintained for 400-800 meters before exhaustion sets in and the body overheats.”

A cheetah’s entire body design is made to assist his speed:

  • he has a supersized set of lungs
  • he has a super sized heart
  • his nostrils are extremely large to take in Oxygen
  • his long tail acts as a rudder for sharp turns and in his pursuit assists with his balance
  • he has light bones
  • his reflexes are built to survive a tumble at 65 mph (wish I had that!)
  • his spine and back muscles are extremely flexible (not mine)
  • his claws are semi-retractable with tough pads for traction

Everything within the cheetah is fine tuned to allow for super speeds and yet, even with those design marvels, he still cannot maintain those speeds for very long with out facing exhaustion and overheating.

Additionally, in his sprinting, much of the time he is actually propelled through the air at long strides. One stride for him = 26 feet!

So when he sprints 300 yards, (3 football fields) his paws are actually on the ground for only 3-5 seconds! The rest of the time he is airborne. Plus, he is able to make 4 strides per second. Unreal! Cheetah’s really know how to fly.

Again though, he cannot sustain high speeds or prolonged runs very long. He must catch his prey in 30 seconds or less before he must rest. An example I read said that if a cheetah were to run 154 miles from Otjiwarongo to Windhoek (Namibia), it would need to stop and rest over 311 times. If it were able to run without stopping, it would take only 2 1/2 hours running at 68 mph. Incredible.

How are we like cheetah’s?

Our human design is masterful and yet without proper rest we, too will face exhaustion and heating up. We were made to take our strides here on earth, but our efficiency is when we are airborne, when our strides take us above ground and into the air. (Into the spiritual dimension)

Whether you find yourself in the desert, the grassy savannah (of the Serengeti), or the mountains (of the Sahara), like our cheetah friends, I trust that you will realize your absolute need for rest and your purposeful design to be airborne.

Now, let’s celebrate our cheetah likenesses by enjoying a bag of Cheetos. 🙂

Crunches to you.

What do you do when you’re displeased?

Sunday Sermon 3.20.21

First off, you probably don’t even use the word, “displeased”, right? For those of you that do, KUDOS! You get a gold star in Vocabulary for the day

Although not difficult to figure out, here is it’s meaning –

“feeling or showing annoyance and displeasure.”

Oxford disctionary

This is the biblical text that got me evaluating what I do when I am displeased –

But when they said, ” Give us a king to lead us, this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.”

1 Samuel 8:6

Other translations put it this way –

“Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance.”

NLT

” When Samuel heard their demand … he was crushed. How awful! Samuel prayed to God.”

The Message paraphrase

” And the thing was evil in the eyes of Samuel… and he prayed to the Lord.”

The Septuagint

When I read it again this past week, I seriously thought, “Wow! Without the slightest hesitation, when Samuel was displeased, He prayed.” And of course, I began evaluating myself and my first reactions and responses. If we’re keeping score here, Samuel wins this one over me! How ’bout you? What’s your first response when you are displeased?

The Hebrew meanings of these words about Samuel’s response actually mean that he was “broken up, with an expected violent reaction. Figuratively, fear.” In other words, Samuel was so upset with what was happening, it broke him up, He was truly ticked off and in fear.

For Samuel, he was dealing with a political situation. He was the leader of the nation of Israel, and the people were now asking to have a king, “like all the other nations”. Israel had never had a king because The Lord, Jehovah wanted to be their king. But here the people were asking to be like every other nation. They wanted a king.

This is what caused Samuel such displeasure. He couldn’t believe that the Israelites were turning their backs on Jehovah God and denying His authority over them. This tore him up, and in fact it caused him fear. He was afraid for the nation. He was afraid for what it would become apart from God. He was afraid of what would become of it. He feared for the nation.

What do YOU do when you are displeased?

Without missing a step, we see Samuel taking his whole load of displeasure in prayer to the Lord. It’s like it was his go to, basketball pivot – receive displeasure = pivot and go to prayer. As quick and smooth as a Kobe move, receive the hit pivot to prayer.

I am not quite that quick. Kobe’s pivot picture makes me a laughingstock.

The truth here is this. Our displeasure, whatever the cause, can and should be taken to the Lord in prayer.

Whether it’s a displeasure that crushes us or a displeasure that incites fear within us. Be it a displeasure that angers us or confounds us, pivot and take it to the Lord in prayer.

Other choices are to let that displeasure out on another person, or to allow the anger to simmer and boil over into other areas of our life. Or maybe do or buy something stupid, or simply throw up your hands and succomb.

We do have other options for how we handle our displeasure.

But today, this is a spiritual and biblical blog, therefore the option we advise is prayer.

Samuel, in his hurt, questioning, and fear, took it all and poured it out in prayer to the Lord.

What does that mean?

Prayer is simply talking to the Lord. There are alot of different kinds of prayers, but here’s what the Bible says:

” Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. “

Ephesians 6:18

” Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”

Colossians 4:2

So, we can pray for any reason, on any occasion. We can talk to God anytime, anywhere, for any reason.

But what Samuel did, his kind of prayer was a little different. His prayers actually intervened for Israel, By that, I mean, His prayers stood in the gap for Israel. Israel was on one side of the valley and God was on the other side of that valley. Samuel’s prayers made a bridge, across that valley, and connected Israel with God. He literally intervened to connect Israel with God again.

That is called intercession, when one intervenes in a relationship to bring two together.

Isn’t that what Jesus did?

He came to earth to bridge the gap between God and man. He interceded. That is why the scripture says,

“… Christ Jesus who died is at he right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

Romans 8:34

Jesus threw himself across that chasm between God and man at the cross. He intervened.

Samuel did similarly. Confounded at Israel’s choices and stubborn refusal to follow God’s ways, afraid for what lay ahead for them, he threw himself between God and Israel in prayer. In his displeasure he immediately pivoted to prayer. Intervening for them all. Standing in the gap for the nation. EVEN THO’ HE WAS DISPLEASED.

Are we any different from Samuel? 2,950 years have passed since he prayed in his displeasure for Israel.

Undoubtedly you have faced displeasure over something recently in your life. If not, Hallelujah. Be prepared tho’, it is coming, because that is the way of life. That displeasure is meant to draw you into a place of prayer with the Lord. A place of interceding for others, intervening on their behalf to the Lord.

You don’t have to be a great spiritual leader or pastor to intercede; all you have to do is lift up that one to God in prayer. Stand before God, in prayer, on their behalf. Stand in the gap for them. Create that bridge across that valley for them.

You can intercede for another. You can make a difference. Your prayers matter. The one you’re praying for needs your prayers and the Lord will hear your prayers. Whether it be for an individual, a family or a nation. Do not hesitate to pray, intervene and intercede. Do not hesitate to pivot and pray.

In your displeasure – pray.

Go with God.

Music’s Power

For over 20 years, I was a music teacher and so I never missed the Grammy Awards on TV. Times have changed for me, but the Grammy’s aired again Sunday night, for the 63rd time.

Music is the universal language. It is a powerful communication tool, memory provider, relaxation technique, mood creator and even medicine.

Scientists tell us that music is hardwired into our brain. It’s components like rhythm and melody echoes in our physiology, our functioning and our being. It has prominent effects on our body.

Before we go any further, because I hope you too are a music lover, let’s do an exercise. You can do it there where you are, but I would love to hear your responses, so please, please consider leaving a comment when you come to the end of this blog today, please?

THINK ABOUT THE YEAR 2020. WHAT SONG WOULD YOU PICK TO BEST REPRESENT IT?

THNIK ABOUT YOUR HIGH SCHOOL YEARS. WHAT SONG BEST DESCRIBES THOSE YEARS? (If you aren’t in HS yet, think about your middle school years and choose a song)

Lastly, THINK ABOUT YOUR FUTURE. WHAT SONG WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BEST REPRESENT YOUR HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?

Music is entertaining of course, but it is more than that. It is powerful and it’s ability to help in the healing processes are still being discovered and understood.

Because of the close association of music with memories, doctors are telling us that it could be helpful with Alzheimer’s patients. Other doctors have told us listening to hip hop music is of great benefit to those with mental disorders. Pediatricians have concluded that infants remain calmer with music rather than speech.

Chances are you may have music playing right now, somewhere around you. If not now, you probably have recently or will in the near future. Music has become the soundtrack of our life. Silence is uncomfortable for many and therefore gets filled with music and other noise.

The power of music is undeniable.

Music stimulates more parts of your brain than any other human function. “Melodic intonation Therapy” coaxes parts of the brain to take over damaged parts, and that may even help patients regain the ability to speak. For stroke patients who have lost speech, music may stimulate those functions.

Music has been proven to reduce pain and anxiety, according to Brunel University in UK. After testing over 7,000 patients who had undergone surgery, playing music during their recovery (music of their choosing is even more powerful) reduced pain.

“… if music was a drug, it would be marketable… music is a non evasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery.”

Medical News Today 2015; Brunel University, UK

A Denmark study in 2014 has found that music may be beneficial for fibromyalgia patients.

“calm, relaxing, self-chosen music reduced the pain and increased functional mobility.”

Denmark study 3/14

Listening to music triggers opiods in the brain; they are the bodies natural pain killers. Listening to music also increases dopamine in the brain.

So… the music you choose to fill your home, car and brain with has power. Power to relieve your stress, strengthen your body and brain and even heal your mind and body. Pump it up, play it on repeat, and allow music to bring to you the peace and strength that The Creator intended.

Sit back, pump it up, close your eyes, (pour a glass of wine), and soak in music’s power of healing and strength. ENJOY.

Cheers to you.

PLEASE LEAVE YOUR SONGS IN THE COMMENT SECTION.

My 2020 song – Avenue of Broken Dreams – Green Day

My high school song – I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone – Johnny Nash

My future song – Waymaker – Sinach