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EXTREME MAKEOVER – THE SPIRITUAL EDITION – PART ONE – TRUTH

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Did you ever watch Extreme Home Makeover? In this reality show starring Ty Pennington, a team would swoop down upon a house desperately in need of rehab, and transform it into a structure that was barely recognizable.  The renovation team’s first step was to determine the goal.  What were the needs of the family they were working with?  What was the desired end product? 

Next, they must evaluate.  Everything from the foundation up would be carefully assessed.   Without a good foundation, nothing above it would remain standing long-term either!  Then the walls, interior, plumbing, electrical, and all other components of the house would be scrutinized.  Once the team had determined what could be salvaged and what must go, a plan of action could be developed.

With the goal in mind and plan in hand,  the strenuous and dirty work of demolition could commence. Perhaps the most challenging part of the process, it was muscle straining, messy, and backbreaking labor.  A walkthrough at this stage might give the impression that no progress was a being made. In fact, things appeared worse rather than better!

Once demolition was complete and debris removed, construction could begin. By the end of the process, the structure had been completely re-invented!

Might this brief description of the process of  renovating a physical structure offer insight into the  Extreme Makeover of the spirit and mind? As it is in the physical, so in the spiritual.

  After all, the Bible does reveal that our minds must be renewed, or we could say “renovated.”.

Rom_12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 Having become a new creation in Him, a process of deconstruction and reconstruction commences. First, a goal must be established.  Is a right relationship with God on your shortlist?  Is your goal to become a godly person, friend, and parent?  Is your desire to walk in step with Him instead of against Him? Would you like Him to lead you each step of the way?

Whatever your goals, you will need to review them often. During Extreme Home Makeover, blueprints and schematics were posted prominently at the worksite. It was crucial for the plans to be readily available to ensure the project remained on course. Not everything would be happening at once.  The foundation must be laid and cured before walls could go up.  Walls must be up before electrical and plumbing could be run. Spiritual renovation happens in phases as well.   Although we have a Master Builder Who far outshines Ty Pennington, posting our spiritual renovation plan will be reassuring. Especially during the uncomfortable deconstruction phase,  we may need to be reminded that our Builder has a goal and a plan and is doing what is necessary to ensure the integrity of the finished product.

Along the way, there will be fatigue, sadness, discouragement, and even tears. Breaking away from your familiar past is never without discomfort;  much like birth is not without pain. But the result in both cases is  – LIFE!  Just as labor pains signal that birth is imminent, the pain and discomfort you will experience during this spiritual reset are not only okay but signal that you are moving away from the old and towards the new!  Being squeezed in the birth canal is not comfortable, but it is profitable! It’s all part of the demolition process before rebuilding can begin!

Then, step two – evaluate. What is salvageable, and what must go? Are the thoughts that regularly course through your mind pure? Are they tearing down or building up others? Could they be rightly considered righteous and yet not self righteous?  Are they  moving you closer to your goals?  What about what you view via videos or online? Are you being exposed to things of Light, or elements of Darkness? Have you reviewed the language you use and the friendships you maintain?  Remember your goals. Are you supporting and protecting those things that are compatible with your desired outcome? Are you tearing down unhealthy strongholds?

Some determinations will be easy to make.  Ty Pennington’s team could quickly establish that the broken down front door was built using inferior materials in the first place and should be discarded. Likewise, you have always known that some elements of your former lifestyle were not constructed with quality materials. They have no place in your renovated heart and mind.

In some cases, not much is found to be worth keeping. Even that which is determined to be salvageable will need to be carefully inspected and sanitized and/or repaired before it will be suitable for use in the renewed structure. Allowing unholy content to take up residence in our hearts and minds without challenge is no less deadly than turning a blind eye to aggressive cancer cells rapidly multiplying in our bodies. Years of spiritual junk food and ungodly living will eventually culminate in a diseased soul! And yet, do not despair!  God is an expert at redeeming that which seems hopelessly lost!  His specialty is transforming trash into treasure! 

 One of the most critical steps, as we move forward, is to inspect our foundation.  If our life is not built upon God’s Word, it rests upon a crumbling base and will not hold up under stress.  (Matthew 7:24-27) The old cracked and sinking foundation must be broken up and hauled away before a new one can be laid. This process of tearing down the former begins by listening to the Holy Spirit as He convicts us about building materials that must go! We begin to build a new structure by developing a habit of not only reading God’s word but meditating upon it.  “Meditating on the Word”  should  NOT conjure up an image of sitting cross-legged on the floor with eyes closed and fingertips touching, clearing your mind of all thoughts as you hum and invite a spirit guide in! Don’t ever forget that spirits of darkness exist also!  The only “spirit” you should invite into your heart and mind is God’s Holy Spirit! And “clearing your mind can be dangerous!

Luke 11:24-26 24″When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

Do not just remove the ungodly. REPLACE it with the GODLY!  Meditating on the Word means to read a passage slowly and consider what it means for you and how you are to incorporate its instructions into your life.  Turn it over and over in your mind. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. That is His job, after all.  (John 16:13)

To begin our Extreme Mind and Heart Makeover, we will use Philippians 4:8 as our foundation.

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report. If there be any virtue,  and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Starting with truth, we will proceed through the passage as we learn what the King of the Universe says we should concentrate upon. This will help us evaluate where we are and what renovation needs to take place.  The more we think upon a thing, the more it becomes part of who we are. And that results in the renewing of the mind!

This week, let’s begin by looking at a few verses about truth. You might even consider memorizing one or two and meditating upon them as you evaluate what is is in your heart and mind and coming out of your mouth.

Mat 15:18  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 

VERSES ABOUT TRUTH:

Psalms 25:5   Lead me in your truth and teach me: for You are the God of my salvation. On You do I wait all of the day.

Psalms 51:6   Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden parts You shall make me know wisdom.

Psalms 86:11 Teach me Your way, O Lord.  I will walk in Your truth.  Make my heart fear Your name.

Psalms 119:30   I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments have I laid before me. dlocked0 List T

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MYSTERY WOMAN Pt 1 – Whodunit

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EXTREME MAKEOVER 7 – Spiritual Edition – PURITY

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WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE PURE – The word translated as pure means clean, modest, perfect, chaste.   In the days in which we live, it is becoming more and more difficult to bring something to mind that could be considered PURE.  Even when considering children, it is now only the VERY young whose minds have not yet been polluted by the impurity that surrounds us. Our society is constantly inundated with the impure from every quarter!  It is next to impossible to keep decidedly RAUNCHY material from flowing into our homes, cars, workplaces, and even our WATCHES,  multiple times throughout the day via social media, television, and internet! 

Innocent children, with no intention of accessing explicit material are being subjected to it at every turn.  Parents have become so desensitized to sexually charged media that they think nothing of allowing their toddlers to be exposed along with them. Think it will not harm them?  Think it will not harm you?   Think again!

Take every thought captive and make all thoughts comply! Give your children the great gift of teaching them to do the same!  Do a spiritual cleanse, asking the Holy Spirit to remove anything from your mind, heart, and spirit that would not align with His Word. Into the construction dumpster they must go!!  Go through your social media, your movies and your games as well as those of  your children. As we continue our Extreme Makeover, these inferior materials will compromise our whole project if allowed to stay. They are riddled with spiritual termites bent on destruction!

You can do ALL things through the Messiah Who gives you strength!   

Today, take note of how many times you are exposed to things of an impure nature.  Make it your mission to protect your mind and spirit from the unclean. And, out of love for your children, make it a top priority to protect them as well! As always, the best way to teach our children is to lead by example!

Take on the challenge of searching out and writing down 5 pure things to meditate upon this week and force your mind to comply. The Scriptures below would be a good place to begin!

1 John 3:3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Psalms 12:6 And the words of the Lord are pure, like silver purified in a crucible,  like gold[a] refined seven times.

Pro 30:5  Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

Pro 15:26  The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words. 

Psa 119:140  Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.

Psa 19:8  The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.  Colo

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EXTREME MAKEOVER 6 – SPIRITUAL ADDITION – JUST

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Whatsoever things are JUST – innocent, holy –

Remember, we are in the midst of building a renewed structure.  We have begun with the building blocks of truth and honesty. We now will pick up whatsoever things are just and add it to the structure.

As you go through your workday or your playday, think about being innocent and holy (set apart for  God).   Is your speech true and honest? Can it be said of you that you are innocent, and holy in all of your ways?  What about  your thoughts?  

When evaluating to see what must be torn down and what can be salvaged, it will be necessary for you to examine not only where you go and the friends you hang out with, but what you watch, and what and who you listen to as well!  Sin is like a deadly germ.  When you come into contact with it, it begins rapidly multiplying even though you cannot see it.

Is there anything salvageable, or must everything go into the construction dumpster?   Remember, in this process of renovating your mind, heart, and spirit, we only want to build using the finest materials!

This week, as you meditate on truth, honesty, and being just, use the germicide of the Scripture to cleanse you of the old grime which desires to hang on and make you spiritually sick.

Luke 1:17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the just, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

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EXTREME MAKEOVER 5- SPIRITUAL EDITION – The Honest Truth

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Php 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,

Having covered  “truth” in the first part of this Makeover series, we are now ready to move on with our renovation project.  As we proceed, it is essential to note that we do not put down truth in order to pick up honesty.  Honesty is a continuation of what has already begun with truth.   

Honesty?   Aren’t honesty and truth synonymous? If so, why does the Holy Spirit list them both in Scripture?

TruthHonesty.  What distinguishes one from the other? Knowing that Scripture does not “stutter,” and every word is purposeful and meaningful should compel us to investigate. Checking any good  Bible dictionary will reveal that it is the Greek word semnos, which has been translated into English as honesty in the above verse. It is defined as grave, venerable (accorded a great deal of respect, especially because of age, wisdom, or character), honesty.  

A quick search for other occurrences of this Greek word in the Bible uncovers only three additional verses.  This would not be obvious if we were simply reading our English Bibles, because the translators have chosen to translate semnos using different English words or phrases.  Perhaps a look at these verses may help us understand what honesty is, as well as what it is not!

1 Timothy 3:8

In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect (semnos), sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.

We can see that the same word translated as honesty in Philippians 4:8 has been rendered as worthy of respect and sincere.  This verse also reveals what it is NOT  honesty. Indulging in much wine and pursuing dishonest gain are NOT honesty!

1 Timothy 3:11

In the same way, the women[c] are to be worthy of respect (semnos), not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

Now, we can add that an honest person does not talk maliciously and is trustworthy in everything.

We find our last verse in Titus 2:2

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect (semnos), self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Temperate (safe in mind), self-control, sound in faith, sound in love and endurance are characteristics of an honest person.

It is essential to investigate what the Scripture means by a word or concept rather than accept what the world says.  For instance, in days past, it would not have been necessary to define “worthy of respect.”  It almost always would have been understood to be connected to high moral character. Today, such is not the case.  “Respect” is often given to the person who makes the most money,  raps the best rap, plays the best game, has the most friends, likes, streams, etc. It is not at all based on a code of moral ethics, and certainly not on Scripture.

Interestingly, the way the Scriptures define honesty and the current legal definition differs significantly.  Are you aware that an attorney is required to be honest but has no such obligation to be truthful?  Now, if you find that difficult to reconcile in your mind, you are not alone!  Stated another, perhaps more alarming, way – an attorney is prohibited from telling a lie (he must be “honest”). However, he is NOT required to seek or bring out the truth.  

Let me offer this brief fictitious illustration of honesty vs. truth in our legal system, and I believe you will instantly understand why attorneys desire to limit witness responses to a simple yes or no.

ILLUSTRATION:

A year after an “alleged” victim reports having been brutally attacked in her home, the case has finally come to trial. The defendant’s attorney approaches the witness stand to question the victim. 

Isn’t it true, Ms. V,  that you did not initiate a police report on this alleged assault for over two months following the date you allege it to have occurred?  Answer yes or no, please.

Yes, but…

Now, Ms. V, I must remind you that these questions are yes and no ONLY  questions.

And isn’t it also true that you spoke to no one of the supposed assault during those two months?  In fact, you did not even call your mother or father for support during what would have been an extremely challenging time?  Answer yes or no.

(sigh) Yes.

And was that because my client made threats to you during that time? Yes or no, please.

No.

Okay, no further questions.

This does sound a bit suspicious, doesn’t it?   Is the supposed victim out for some sort of vengeance against a spurned lover? Why would she wait so long to report such a supposedly vicious crime?

   JUDGE – Your witness, Mr. Prosecutor

Okay, Mrs. V.  I know today has been very difficult for you. I do need to ask a few more questions, however.   

Now, the counsel for the defense has pointed out that you made no attempt to report this vicious assault for more than two months.  Would you please explain to the jury the reason for such a delay?

Yes, sir.  Following the attack, I was found by my daughter, who called 911. I don’t remember it, but I’m told I was lying in a pool of blood and was unconscious.  I remained in a coma for 63 days.  And even when I woke up, I had no recollection of what had happened.

No recollection at all?  Can you tell the jury if you were given a medical reason for this lapse of memory?

Yes.  The doctors say it was due to blunt force trauma to the head, causing excessive bleeding and  swelling of the brain.

When did your memory return?

A few days after regaining consciousness, I began having brief flashbacks. But it wasn’t until the detectives were cleared by my doctors to interview me, and they showed me pictures of someone they said was me lying on my bed that the flashbacks became more vivid and frequent.

What do you mean “they said” it was you?

The lady in the pictures didn’t look anything like me!  She was covered in blood and bruises. Her face was a mess, and her eyes were swollen completely shut.  She barely looked human! I simply could not believe that it was me!  I mean, I knew it was me. It was just bizarre to see how I looked!

Did you, at that time, provide the detectives with the name of the defendant?

No, I didn’t know his name. They returned a couple of days later with a photo lineup. As soon as I saw his face, I began to shudder and even threw up.  The nurses had to give me a sedative.

Okay, Ms. V. So, while the defense attorney was correct when he said you did not report this crime for more than two months and did not speak of it to family and friends,  the fact is that you were so severely injured that doing so would have been impossible. In fact, you were comatose!

Yes, sir.

Thank you for clearing that up, Ms. V.

Do you see how the defense attorney’s insistence on yes or no answers resulted in honest answers (not lies) but failed (by design)  to elicit the truth??  Note that the defense attorney did not lie.  Ms. V did NOT make a report for 60+ days. She did not call her parents or friends.  However, the defense attorney was NOT seeking truth and in fact, would not ALLOW the victim to disclose the truth.

Now we can understand that this modern version of “honesty” is NOT what the Scripture is instructing us to meditate upon.  We began with truth, and now we add to it honesty (worthy of respect).

This week continue meditating on truth and add to it honesty.  Check your behavior.  Does it demonstrate a desire for a character that is worthy of respect, not being malicious or greedy? Does it display Biblical honesty?  Are you growing in truth as well? Continue tearing down the old structure and building the new.  Remember, you are a new creation and renovation is underway! \lsdlock

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EXTREME MAKEOVER – part 4 – BLACK DOG/WHITE DOG

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BLACK DOG/WHITE DOG

Did you hear about the man who had  two identical dogs?  Well, they were identical except that one was black and the other white. One grew much larger and stronger than the other. Can you guess which one?

The one which was fed the most!

Determine what it is that you want to grow strong inside of you.  This is the “dog” you will want to feed!  If you desire righteousness to overtake evil, then nourish righteousness and starve evil!  Make a practice of reading His Word.  After all, it/He is the Bread of Life!

Psa_34:8  O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Psa_119:103  How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

 Surround yourself with people who will urge you to continue moving in God’s direction. Seek out friends who will not only encourage you along the way but will also tell you hard truths as well. Sever relationships and shun activities that belong to the other dog.

1 Corinthians 15:33 33Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Proverbs 27:6 (KJV) Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Someone who loves you and genuinely wants the best for you will sound a warning when you head in the wrong direction.  Their words may sting, but their desire is to keep you from future disasters. Someone who does NOT really care about you will not only fail to warn you of impending danger but will encourage you to continue on the wrong path DESPITE the peril that lies ahead!  While their words may feel good, they are not good!  Would you really want a “friend” who strokes your hair while a venomous serpent wraps around your neck? Learn to tell which is which.

In summary, don’t abandon your fight against Satan. Be on guard against his plan to manipulate you. Deny him the opportunity to replenish ammunition or regroup and attack you again. In other words, DON’T fall back into doing the things you used to do.  DON’T listen to others who would encourage you to rejoin the friends of darkness.  Resist!

James 4:7  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Ephesians 5:8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

Act 26:18  To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me

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EXTREME MAKEOVER – part 3 – NO MAN

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Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Did you catch that?   He is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.  No one comes to the Father except through the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE!

THE WAY – the means by which you arrive at your destination. The “Way” is what following Christ was called at the time of the writing of Scripture.  If you were “In The Way,” it meant that you were following the Messiah and His commandments, which would get you to the Father. (Acts 9:2; 19:9, et al)

THE TRUTH – The dictionary defines it as “that which is true or in accordance with the facts or reality.”   He is Truth.  No one who is walking contrary to the Truth can come to the Father.

On the other hand, Satan is the father of lies. The Scripture says that when the Devil speaks lies, he speaks his native tongue.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth (Jesus/Yeshua), because there is no truth (Jesus/Yeshua) in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Do you really want to align yourself with the devil? Satan is pleased with you so long as you are going opposite to the Truth. (Hint – you do NOT want Satan to be pleased with you! ) His fight is not really with man. His battle is with the Way, the Truth, and the Life. When you start moving away from the path of darkness, Satan will tell you that you are worthless, that you will never change, that you will never be a good person, etc., etc., etc. 

So, how do you counter Satan’s lying tongue?  By taking each thought captive and replacing it with Truth.  Counter with “I am a new creation.”  ( 2 Corinthians 5:17).  Or with “He that has begun a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.” (Philippians 1:6) Or “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Satan HATES it when you quote Scripture to him!  Make him hate being around you!

The LIFEKnowing the Truth and living the Truth are two distinctly different concepts.  No one comes to the Father unless he not only KNOWS the TRUTH but WALKS in TRUTH and  LIVES the TRUTH.

Today, work on living the truth every minute. Pull back when you catch yourself starting to participate in Satan’s work. Refuse to allow anything to take up residence in your mind, heart, and spirit that is not True. (Remember, what stays in your innermost being , whether good or bad, will eventually come out in  your actions.) Then you will begin to look more and more like a child of the Most High God.

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EXTREME MAKEOVER – part 2 – THE LITTLE WHITE LIE

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What about little white lies?  You know, lies that don’t really hurt anybody?

Ahhhh, truth. It is almost extinct today, or at least on the endangered list!   

  • Your BFF tells you they love you one moment and then in the next breath, turns and talks about you behind your back. 
  • The phone rings, and you instruct your children to answer and tell the person on the other end that you are not able to come to the phone/sick/in the shower… 
  • You receive $20 extra with your change at the supermarket but put it in your pocket anyway, smiling as you walk out the door. After all, it wasn’t your fault!   The cashier was the one not paying attention!

Truth

  • “What’s the harm in a little white lie? “
  •  “EVERYONE lies!”

Unfortunately, many people DO lie at least regularly, or even daily.  It has become their way of life.  They have practiced dishonesty for so long that they are no longer capable of recognizing truth!   They begin to believe the lie they told so firmly that they would fight to defend it as truth!   They would never consider that in doing so, they are aligning themselves with Satan! More on that later.

As for the claim that “everyone lies,” thankfully we are not responsible before God for “everyone.” However, we are responsible for our own choices and actions.

Sadly, one of the results of this lifestyle of deceit is an inability to trust.  Most humans believe others operate as they do.  If they are not truthful, they have no reason to expect that others are truthful in their dealings with them!  They will never really trust when someone says they love them and will stand by them.   If their friend or significant other fails to answer their calls, they will find it difficult to accept that they may have actually been sick/in the shower/away from their phone.   But the most grievous victim of the death of truth is – a healthy relationship with God.  For He Who IS Truth, cannot hang out in the darkness of deceit. 

Thankfully, the Scriptures instruct us about the proper handling of this disease of deceitfulness.

2 Cor 10:5

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

What does it mean to take every thought captive?  Perhaps it means that we should stop all thoughts at the security post.  If an inspection reveals the thought to be unholy, unhealthy,  or untrue, immediate expulsion is in order. Remember – every action once began as a thought that was allowed to roam free or loiter.  

Today, try to capture even “little white lies” before they leave your mouth or set up housekeeping in your mind, heart, and spirit.  Make all your thoughts and words conform to The Way, The Truth, and The Life!

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IN ALL THINGS

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It’s taken me a long time (like maybe 55-60ish years), but I finally understand what Paul meant about being content.  We humans like to be in control, mainly because we really don’t trust anyone  quite as much as we trust ourselves. After all, why would we allow anyone else the power to make decisions for us that could affect the rest of our lives? 

But … what if we could turn the control over to someone who would ALWAYS make BETTER choices for us than we would for ourselves?  EVERY time?  What if it was someone who arguably might love us more than we love ourselves?  Say…like…a Father? In fact, THE Father?

What if, instead of asking that my house sell, I ask for His favor, whatever that might be?  Even if  His favor means I am to stay put?  What if, instead of asking for that new job or a promotion in the current one, I ask for His favor (without defining for Him what “favor” would look like in my mind)?  Even if His favor does not include a new job or higher pay? What if, instead of pleading for the desires of my heart, I ask Him to change the desires of my heart to match what HE desires?  (a win-win situation for sure). Could that possibly be the true meaning of Ps 37:4  “Delight yourselves in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart?”  What if? ?? (Interestingly, the word translated as “delight” actually means to be soft, pliable. So, perhaps if I am soft and pliable to Him, he will implant within me (give me) the desires of my heart) . Just something to consider.

Well, I am definitely not perfect, as anyone who knows me well can confirm.  I admit I’m still learning. However, I can tell you this.  Turning ALL of my ways over to Him has resulted in incredible freedom and contentment.  I am learning that when I subdue my own thoughts and ways in favor of His (which are always higher), I WIN!   It results in freedom from worry. Freedom from stress.  Freedom from overworking my figure-er-out-er  ( smile).  I am learning that even closed doors can be favor!  It’s not rejection…it’s simply direction! As one of my old adult Sunday School teachers used to say “God’s will for your life is exactly what you would want if you had all of the information.”

I’m so grateful that the One Who sees around corners and through walls is willing and oh-so-able to take on the job of managing me!

Oh, Paul, I finally understand!

Php 4:11  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 

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WHAT’S YOUR BELLA COOLA?

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Friday evening (Erev Shabbat – evening of Sabbath), “Stella-the-racewalker” came to dinner.  You remember Stella. I introduced her earlier. She is my nearest fellow student/neighbor, and the fastest walker I have ever known.  Now, do you remember?  Well, Stella is here in Israel for the year without her family also, and so Friday evening I invited her for Sabbath dinner.  Spaghetti sauce had been simmering in the slow cooker most of the day, and Stella brought a lovely salad.  We had a nice dinner, good conversation, and dug into the Scriptures together.  It was the perfect Erev Shabbat.

Among other things,  Stella and I talked about our families and our homes.  With the exception of the two families from New Zealand, none of us knew each other before arriving on Israeli soil. Getting to know this special group of like-minded people from 8 nations, all of whom heard God’s whistle calling us to the Land, has been a most important and fascinating part of our education.

During the evening,  Stella seemed quite melancholy at times and later shared the reason. She said it would be so easy to grumble, and she does not want to disappoint her heavenly Father with grumbling.  You see, Stella feels that Yahweh/God may intend for her to stay here for an extended period of time.  She senses Him telling her to attach to this land.  She says she feels Him letting her know this in her spirit and there is a struggle taking place.  A struggle…because of Bella Coola.

Bella Coola is where Stella makes her home. Bella Coola, British Columbia, is a small community of 2000 residents nestled in a green, lush valley.  It is a valley blessed with beautiful waterfalls, majestic views, deep rich soil, cool pure water, blue skies, tall green trees, and wildlife wandering into your yard.

You can see the struggle, can’t you?  Compared to Bella Coola, the land of Israel is….well….less….desirable.  In Bella Coola, you do not have to conserve water by not flushing each and every time… or by wetting yourself down and turning off the water while you lather up or wash your hair before turning it back on to finish your shower.  In Bella Coola, a cool breeze invigorates you and green is not a color you have to struggle to find.  In Bella Coola, construction does not require weeks upon weeks of hard labor and the use of heavy equipment to dig down through unending rock.  In Bella  Coola, you do not need to shake the sand out of your shoes when you reach your destination and in Bella Coola, you do not feel you need a shower when you arrive at that destination.

I can grasp her struggle.  We each have our own Bella Coola, don’t we?  It has always been so.  Why, even when God’s chosen people had been redeemed, freed from the evil slavery of Egypt through great signs and miracles…even then, they found it difficult to stay away from the “cucumbers and leeks” of Egypt, their Bella Coola.  Even in the face of the miraculous grace extended to Lot and his family, with angels actually taking them by the hand and escorting them out of harm’s way before Sodom was leveled….even then, Lot’s wife turned back to her Bella Coola. Whether that was her children or her home would only be a guess.

Over the last six years, since Leo has been gone, Yahweh/God has gently had me deal with some of my Bella Coolas.  At first, I thought I couldn’t give up any of Leo’s belongings.  Over the years, he has gently taught me the difference between Leo’s “things” and his “legacy” and I’ve been able to begin releasing the “things.”  Then I thought I would never be able to part with the home we built together.  Again, He has removed my heart from the “cucumbers and leeks” and helped me focus on those things that will pass through eternity.  Though He has not required me to give up the home at this time, He has at least taught me that IT is not precious.  If He had not helped me deal with this Bella Coola, I could never have come here, leaving it for even a time.  Part of Yahweh’s reason for sending me here, I am convinced, was to help me deal with my most tenacious Bella Coola – my precious daughter, Jessica.

I could NEVER leave her.  She needs me. I need her.  We need each other.  What if…what if...what if???

So, He has required me to start my education on dismantling this Bella Coola also.  Not dismantling my love for her or my concern.  Just agreeing with Him that I must be willing to say…”Blessed be the Name of the Master/AdonaiThy will be done.”   He still has work to do on me, this I know.  Why just last night I had a strong case of Bella Coola-itis.  I missed my daughter so very much. I had not been able to talk to her in a couple of days and I really wanted to board a plane and fly home.  But alas, I really do want to learn the lesson of Lot’s wife.  Desiring to return to what we are supposed to release to Him, leads to our being totally paralyzed.  It results in forfeiting the opportunity to move forward, and alas, not even able to go back.  And if we did go back….we would share in disaster.

Which brings to mind another Scripture.  In Genesis 16, after Hagar has become pregnant by Abraham (you remember the story) she and Sarah are on the “outs”, and Hagar runs away.  When in the wilderness, she is visited by an angel of Yahweh/God who asks her a very interesting and important question “Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?”

Now, why would the angel ask this question?  Does the One and Only Almighty, omniscient God not know?  Or perhaps He did not communicate with His messenger.  No, of course not.   Perhaps this is the question He asks of each of us.  Perhaps He is teaching us what we need to evaluate. Where have we come from? Where are we headed?  In this case, Hagar had headed away from where she should be and towards….disaster.  Perhaps she had not thought it through.  She had just reacted based on emotion…hurt feelings…fear….pride. She was instructed to think it through and then make teshuvah (repent)..returning to where she had left. Sometimes, when things get tough….as with Stella and with me, longing for our Bella Coolas, our first response is to run away from where we have been placed and return to “it.”  This would be the time to do the evaluation test….what is our goal?  Where are we headed?

What is in our rear-view mirror?

In Lot’s wife’s case, she was instructed to leave evil Sodom behind and not return.  Perhaps, had she evaluated what she was leaving (evil and certain death) and where she was headed (to the place that angels were hand-delivering them) she would not have looked back, longing to return to her Bella Coola.  Perhaps if she had done the where have you come from and where are you going test, her legacy would not be….well, what it is; a woman given an amazing gift of grace…an opportunity to flee from disaster..an opportunity to live out a legacy of miraculous delivery…but who squandered it, trading it for being paralyzed in time, no longer able to positively affect her children…or anyone for the Kingdom.  Just perhaps.

Stella has a pure heart that is inspiring to me.  She misses her Bella Coola. She mourns at the thought that she may be required to leave it for good and relocate…to barren desert sand and rocks and water shortages, sporadic hot water, and the ever-present threat of war. Yet she has done the evaluation test and knows from whence she has come and to where she is headed.  She has found that her overriding desire is to be faithful to her Bridegroom and to do what He desires. She still fights her fleshly emotions, but her goal is clear.

I looked up Bella Coola on the net. You might want to take a look yourself.  You’ll easily see why Stella loves it. Surely it is a bit of the Garden of Eden. Perhaps Stella will not be required to give it up after all.  Perhaps, like Abraham’s “sacrifice” of Isaac…she must just be willing to go up the mountain and bind her Bella Coola so it may no longer grasp her, and there lay it on the altar.  Perhaps then He will tell her (as He did Abraham), to take it off the altar and return to her place. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I’m still working on my Bella Coola, and I suspect I may find I have even more to work on.  I need to remember to be mindful of where I have come from and where I am headed.

In the meantime, I’m interested.  Do you have a Bella Coola?

Until later, I am

Purposing not to look behind,

Jacquetta

Originally penned in 2010 while living in the “West Bank”

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SURVEY – PLEASE PARTICIPATE

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Please, PLEASE, PUHLEEEZE participate in this short survey.  It is not necessary for you to provide your name if you don’t wish to and, believe me, I cannot identify you through your IP address if that is a concern.  Your input will greatly help me with a project upon which I am currently working. Lord willing, it will be published on this site in the future.

In these first questions, please answer from the perspective of when you were a child.

1.       What kinds of things did you talk to your parents about?  Were there particular topics or situations about which you desired their input? List some examples.        

2.       What sorts of things did your parents REQUIRE you to ask their permission before proceeding?

3.       If you can remember, what did you think about  your parents’ requirement for you to ask for permission to do what you wanted? At the time, did you have an opinion about why they had these rules?

4.       If your parents are now deceased, what questions do you wish you could ask them now?

Next, if you are a parent, please answer these questions from your perspective as a parent.

1.       What kinds of questions do your children ask you?

2.       What sorts of things MUST they ask you about before proceeding?

3.       What is your purpose in requiring your children to come to you for your input? What advantage do you have over your children that would make your input important?

4.       If your children are now adults, what do you WISH they would ask for your input about?

5.       When your children were young, did you spend individual time with them?   If so, why did you believe this to be important?

Next, if you are, or have ever been, an employer or supervisor…

1.       Are your employees allowed to make unilateral decisions in all matters?  If not, what sorts of decisions require your approval?

2.       Why is your approval necessary? What advantage do you have over your employees?

3.       Do you have an open door policy?  If so, what is the goal of such a policy?

Lastly…

1.       Do you have a regular physician?  Why?

2.       Can you write your own prescriptions?  Why do you think it is necessary for prescriptions to come from a licensed physician? What advantage does he or she have over you?

Okay, that’s it.  I’m sorry I do not know how to make this a fillable form.  You might want to just write your answers using a word processor program and then copy/paste them into the comments section.  Or, you could just write them in the comments section. I can probably figure out what you are answering, or you can identify them by section one, #1, etc.  Your answers will really help me and will be greatly appreciated.

And, one more question, just for fun.  Can you guess the project I am working on?

 

 

 

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