Thursday, June 25, 2009


Instead of writing every day, I will be posting one or two times per week. My plan is to do this on Tuesdays and Fridays, but that will flex according to the family schedule.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


In case you can't tell from this perspective, the yellow flower in this photo is a tomato blossom. Tomato blossoms are not the most beautiful flower in the garden, but they hold some of the most wonderful promise... the promise of delicious, red, ripe, juicy tomatoes!

Blossoms signal beginnings. Actually, the bud is the beginning, and then the blossom, finally culminating in fruit.

Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

Before the beginning, there was nothing: no plants, no people, no life. In fact, I do not think there was even any space or any time. I think that God created time, and then space, kind of the way I mixed topsoil, peat moss and compost together in my raised garden bed this spring. I was preparing a place to grow tomatoes, and other vegetables and berries. God was creating a place to raise eternal souls.

Yesterday I was reading about Aaron's rod that budded.

Numbers 17:8, "The next day Moses entered the tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron's staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted, but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds."

The main point of this story is to confirm the spiritual authority of the tribe of Levi, and particularly the authority of Aaron and his sons within that tribe. God had charged the priests (Aaron and his sons) and Levites (the rest of the tribe of Levi) with the care of the Tabernacle and the overseeing of the sacrificial system.

Going back a chapter, we see that some Israelites had challenged Aaron's role and wanted to burn their own incense before the Lord.

Numbers 16:3, "They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, 'You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord's assembly?'"

God instructed the head of each tribe to bring a staff to the Tabernacle. They were to write their names on these staffs and leave them in the Tabernacle overnight. God's plan was to put an end to all this bickering by sending a sign of His favor to the staff of His chosen leader. God said that the staff of the man He chose would sprout.

In the morning, Aaron's staff not only sprouted, it also budded, blossomed and bore fruit. Or, nuts, as the case may be. This is interesting because if the staff had merely sprouted, observers could have accused Moses and Aaron of replacing Aaron's staff with a sprouting branch from an almond tree. But God did a huge miracle and made the staff sprout, bud, blossom and bear almonds all at the same time, something that never happens naturally in nature. There was no explaining away this sign.

This is also a beautiful picture of how God brings life from nothing. My grandfather had a cane. It was rather a distinguished cane, shaped and polished and given a rubber end to keep it from skidding. There is no way that cane would have started to grow, apart from a miracle of God. Aaron's staff, and the staffs of the other men, were just as lifeless as my grandfather's cane, yet God brought life from Aaron's.

Ephesians 2:1, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins."

Just as the cane of Aaron was "dead," totally devoid of life, so were we before the Spirit of God breathed into us faith and life and a hunger for Himself.

When we live through the Spirit, we bear fruit that is pleasing to God. Just as I await tomatoes at the sight of the first blossom on one of my plants, so God looks forward to the fruit He knows we will bear by His grace and through the power of His Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23a, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control..."

Did you ever think of how Spirit-fruit in our lives gratifies the Lord even more than a bountiful garden of vegetables gratifies us?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Still pondering the same questions...

If you have ever grown flowers, you know that they do quite an amazing thing. They turn their faces to the sun. Sunflowers are the funniest, because their huge blossoms twist slowly around to face the sun throughout the day.

I am still pondering on the thought of what it means to have the Lord turn His face toward us and make His face shine upon us. (See the previous post).

Today's scripture is from Numbers 8:1-4. It is about the lampstand that God had told Moses to direct Bezalel and Oholiab to craft for the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-40, 27:20-21, 37:17-24, 40:24-25). We know that the lampstand was a symbol for Jesus, the light of the world.

The Lord said to Moses, "Speak to Aaron and say to him, 'When you set up the seven lamps, they are to light up the area in front of the lampstand.'"
Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. This is how the lampstand was made: It was made of hammered gold--from its base to its blossoms. The lampstand was made exactly like the pattern the Lord had shown Moses.

Numbers 8:1-4

The lampstand was made of hammered gold from its base to its blossoms. Exodus 25:33-35 explains that the ends of the "branches" of the lampstand, where the oil was poured and lit, were to be cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. This must have been a beautiful piece of craftsmanship.

Aaron, according to God's directions, set up the lampstand with the lamps "so that they faced forward on the lampstand."

Somehow this reminds me of flowers turning to face the sun, which reminds me of God turning His face toward us and making it shine on us.

Which brings me back to the questions I asked in the last post...

What does it mean for the Lord to make His face shine on us?

What does it mean for the Lord to turn His face towards us?

Are these things the same or different?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Scripture for the day

The Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron and his sons, this is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
So they will put my name on the Israelites and I will bless them."
Numbers 6:22-27 (The Priestly Blessing)

What does it mean for the Lord to make His face shine on us?

What does it mean for the Lord to turn His face towards us?

Are these things the same or different?

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Psalm for the Day

After the rainstorm we had last night, my white peonies don't look like this anymore. The huge, lush blossoms take on water like sponges and fall to the ground with the extra weight, losing petals on the way. I guess it is a lesson in excess... if we live in luxury and surplus, when troubles come, will are more ill-equipped to deal with them than ever. But, just as I love my peonies, God loves us and comes out to clean us up after the storm. Of course, there will have to be some drastic pruning...

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us, Selah
that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. Selah
May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You.
Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear Him.
Psalm 67

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A verse about respect

This is also an angel face rose. It is similar to yesterday's rose, yet unique. I think it is amazing how God makes each plant grow, and each blossom on each plant. As every bud unfolds, it is like a song of praise to the Creator who formed it and filled it with color and fragrance.

I did not have any inspiration for what to post here today, until I read Chris's comment from yesterday. Now I know what to share.

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.
Leviticus 19:32

We often let this slide, and it is to the utter detriment of our culture. We see old people as a "nuisance." They don't know how to use computers, or cell phones. They don't know what Facebook is (and they might not even care!). Often they are hard-of-hearing and we have to repeat ourselves when we speak to them. They are weaker, slower, and more confused than they used to be (never mind that they were the ones who taught us the alphabet, bandaged our scraped knees and cleaned up our vomit in the middle of the night when we were little).

If you put yourself in their place, you will suddenly understand why they get a bit cranky and defensive sometimes. With the breakneck speed of technological progress these days, anyone over the age of 25 might start to feel threatened. When we feel threatened, we get defensive, and when we get defensive, we get cross. It's just the way it is.

Yet old people have beautiful memories to share of days gone by. Sometimes the old way really was the best way, but we never take time to slow down and hear about it. No wonder our elders get frustrated, trying to tell something important to young people who constantly accelerate off to grasp the urgent all around them. The urgent is not always the same as the important, and often precious treasures of timeless truth are dashed aside for the sake of urgency.

Not only do we lose a valuable perspective when we marginalize the aged, we set ourselves up for a bitter and unhappy old age.

I read a story that went something like this:

Once there was a family, a father, a mother, and a little daughter. They lived happily in their cozy home, until one day the father's father died, and his dear old mother came to live with them.

This grandma could not hear very well. She had a bad back, so it was difficult for her to help with chores. She tried to contribute to the family as best she could by sitting in the corner and sewing or knitting.

As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, the wife became bitter and resentful of the old woman. She gave her the worst chair in the house, a three legged stool that wobbled to one side, while she kept the best chair for herself. Then she shoved her mother-in-law into a corner of the room where there was very little light. "She's almost blind, anyway!" said the wife.

She shouted at the old woman to get out of her way when she was sweeping. She scolded her harshly when she spilled her tea, and gave her an old cracked mug, explaining, "She would only break one of my nice china tea cups!" She fed her only the crumbs and leftovers after the family had finished eating, "She can't taste anything anyway, and she certainly doesn't work hard enough to need much food!"

In the evening when the fire was burning, the wife sat close to her husband before the fire, in a comfortable rocking chair, while her mother-in-law sat in her cold, dark corner alone. The wife spoke softly to her husband about the day's events, and if the old woman asked a question about what was being said, she shouted, "Don't bother us! You can't hear anything anyway!"

The little girl played with her toys on the hearth, but her ears were open and there were eyes on the back of her head.

One day the wife noticed her daughter playing with her dolls. She paused from the bread she was kneading and listened as the little girl made a pretend conversation among them. "Over there, grandmother! Go over there and get out of my way!... Oh, please excuse me, could I have a drink of water, please?.... No! I'm too busy!"

The wife furrowed her brow and went on with her bread.

Later that same day, the little girl climbed up into her mother's beautiful rocking chair by the fire. She rocked back and forth and smiled brightly, humming a tune. "What are you doing there, my child?" her mother asked her.

"Oh, I'm just thinking about when I am the mother and I get to sit in this nice chair by the fire, and you are the old grandmother on the tipsy stool in the corner."

That evening the wife gave up her place in front of the fire to the grandmother, inviting her to sit in the rocking chair. She even gave her a pillow to sit on. And she let her have the first helping of each recipe she had made for supper, served on the very prettiest of her dishes.

This woman learned a lesson that was to her own advantage. If we would obey God's commands concerning the aged, we would not only guarantee better treatment for ourselves when we are old, we would have the opportunity to learn from the wisdom of the aged, a resource God has given us that we largely ignore.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Some scripture for the day

This is called an "angel face" rose. I like that name.

Today I am just going to publish a montage of Bible verses that comfort me when I get all worried about the state of the world.

The way of the Lord is a refuge for the righteous,
but it is the ruin of those who do evil.
Proverbs 10:29

Come and see what the Lord has done, how awesome His works in man's behalf!
Psalm 66:5

He rules forever by His power, His eyes watch the nations--let not the rebellious rise up against Him.
Psalm 66:7

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth-- He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.
Psalm 33:12-22

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Verse of the day--Leviticus 15:19

This is a picture of a peony. It is pink, pouffy, pretty, and incredibly girlie. I picked it because: (1) God made it grow in my yard, and (2) today's post is very girlie.

Just so you know, I am reading through the Bible, and I am in Leviticus right now (you may have noticed that a few entries back). Often I will choose a verse of the day from where I am reading, and today it comes from Leviticus:

When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.
Leviticus 15:19

If you go on to read the following verses, you find that anything this woman lies on or sits on or touches will be considered unclean, and anyone who touches her will be unclean. If a man approaches her for sex, he will be unclean for seven whole days.

Do you see what this means? Where has this law been all my life?

"Unclean" means that she has total reprieve from household duties for the seven days she is bleeding. As in, why would she clean if everything she touches becomes unclean? That means no cleaning and no laundry! Are you getting the idea? She can't cook for others, because everything her hands touch is unclean.

Do you see the beauty, the absolute wonderful marvel of God's Law? He says: leave the woman alone, for goodness sake, while she isn't feeling well. Stay away from her and give her a break from her daily routine.

If we followed God's Law in this, I'll bet there would be almost no PMS. I think PMS comes from trying to act normal when you don't feel normal, an unnatural strain that God never asked us to undergo.

Also, there is no condemnation for this uncleanness. The woman didn't have to offer any sin sacrifices at the end of her seven days or anything like that. All she had to do was rest a week, then wash and get back to business. I could be so happy to live under this system...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Verse of the day--Lamentations 3:24

Along with Bible verses, I am publishing some pictures of things that God is making grow in my yard! Every spring and summer, when things start to grow, the grace of God amazes me all over again. I am about the worst gardener in the world, and yet God brings me things like this columbine, right in my very own yard.

Our verse...

I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him."
Lamentations 3:24

The Lord is my portion. The LORD is my portion.

I think this means when everything is divided up in the end, and the final reckoning is passed out, and we all get what we have coming... I get THE LORD.

This is a most wonderful and encouraging thought. The treasure that surpasses all treasures is mine. Jesus is mine. MINE!

Have you ever sat at dinner with your family and passed around, say, a lovely casserole of macaroni and cheese, and there was one particularly beautiful, mouthwatering corner with perfectly golden browned cheese on the top, and you hoped and hoped for that portion? Or have you hoped for the middle piece of cake? The biggest strawberry? The pinkest, juiciest steak?

At a potluck dinner, you never know what your portion is going to be. But when you belong to Jesus, He is your portion.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

(OK, that was 2 for the price of 1--what a bargain!)

Saturday, June 6, 2009


This blog will be officially unattended on the weekends. I will not be posting or moderating the blog on Saturdays or Sundays. Feel free to peruse old entries you may have missed, and leave any comments you feel led to leave. I'll be back on Monday!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Scripture Passage of the Day

Oh God, You are my God,
earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You,
my body longs for You,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

I have seen You in the sanctuary
and beheld Your power and Your glory.
Because Your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify You.
I will praise You as long as I live,
and in Your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise You.

Psalm 63:1-5

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Verse of the day--Leviticus 3:17

I had trouble picking a verse of the day today.

My reading was Leviticus 3-6. I was hoping to find a verse of the day in my Proverbs or my Psalms, but nothing jumped out. So I guess this is it:

"This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: you must not eat any fat or any blood."
Leviticus 3:17

Admittedly, in reading about the sacrifices, I was not thinking deeply about the significance of each directive. I just read about them, and a couple of things jumped out at me.

(1) The parts of the animals that were set aside for God included the fat, the backbone, the tail portion, the kidneys along with the fat connected to them, and the liver and something called "its covering".

This does not appear to me to be the prime edible part of the animal. It reminds me of my grandma, my father's mother. During the Great Depression, she had her family convinced that her favorite part of the chicken was the wings, and she encouraged them always to set a wing aside for her. This, while making sure that her husband and children were fed the choice breast pieces and the meaty thighs and drumsticks.

I'm not completely sure, but it looks to me as though God commanded His people to give Him the portions that were not particularly good and healthy for humans, reserving the prime protein-packed servings for His people to eat. Something to think about...

(2) There was blood everywhere. After reading (in Exodus) about all the labor and attention to detail that went into making the Tabernacle and setting up God's dwelling, it seems odd to me the way they threw blood around everywhere while they sacrificed... God commanded them to sprinkle blood on all the sides of the altar, to pour blood out at the base of the altar, to take a finger and apply blood to the horns of the altar (and depending on the sacrifice, this could be the horns of the brass altar of sacrifice, or the horns of the golden altar of incense inside the Tabernacle).

Does this bother anyone besides me? There is a place where it gives instructions for cleaning blood that has been splattered on the priestly robes, but other than that, there are no cleaning instructions that I see. The Israelites donated their best gold, silver and brass and their purple, blue and scarlet thread, along with many other treasures. They spent time and care crafting the dwelling place of God exactly according to His instructions. And then they proceeded to muck it all up with blood.

Did all this blood dry into a sort of patina? Did it flake? Did it smell bad? Over days and weeks and months and years of sacrifice, there must have been tons of blood poured out at the base of the altar. Did it fertilize the ground? Did flowers grow?

I really cannot conceptualize this. We have our nice, tidy studies on the Tabernacle and we talk about the significance of the number of golden rings or the beauty of the weaving or the tinkling of the bells sewn along the hem of the high priest's gown. But if you were transported back in time to where you could walk into the courts of the Tabernacle, I think the thing that might overwhelm you most would be the shear volume of blood, and the cry of animals as they were slaughtered while sinners in need of forgiveness held their hands on the animals' heads.

It seems to me that God went to great lengths to demonstrate that blood must be shed in order for us to gain entrance into His presence. (Hebrews 9:22--without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins) How many nearly countless bulls, rams, sheep and goats were burned on the altar, their blood poured, sprinkled and smeared according to a myriad of instructions?

Hebrews 10:4 says, " is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." But what it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to do, the blood of Jesus did, perfectly and completely. No more sacrifices will ever be needed, now that the blood of the precious Lamb of God has taken away the sin of the world.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Verse of the day--Proverbs 10:18

"He who conceals his hatred has lying lips,
and whoever spreads slander is a fool."
Proverbs 10:18

This is an interesting proverb. It seems like a catch-22... if you conceal your hatred, you're a liar. But, on the other hand, if you go around talking about how much you hate someone, you are a fool. What should you do?

Well, obviously, you should not hate people (Matthew 5:21-23). It's a heart issue, and we need to have hearts of love. Where do you get a heart of love? How can you love difficult people who drive you crazy? Only by the grace of Jesus and the power of His Holy Spirit who lives in God's children (1 John 2:3-6).

This proverb presents an impossible situation. If we search for the answer, we find that we need a miracle, we need Jesus, the Maker of new hearts.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Verse of the Day--Psalm 57:1-2a

Have mercy on me, O God have mercy on me,
for in You my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings
until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills His purpose for me.
Psalm 57:1-2a

Last fall and into the Christmas season, we memorized Psalm 57:1 in Bible study. It speaks for itself with little need of any explanation. God is our protector and refuge in time of disaster. I am so thankful to have Him.

This morning I added Psalm 57:2a because I think it is significant to remember that God has a purpose for each of His children, and He will fulfill it. We never have to fear that God will fail, because God absolutely never will fail. His purposes will be accomplished. Knowing that this is truth, we can be sustained in even the most terrible times, the bitterest disappointments, the most painful illnesses, the most frightening circumstances.

God is in control. His purposes will be accomplished. We, His children, can huddle in the shelter of His wings and wait out the storm. The disaster will pass, and when it does, God will still be God, and those of us who are in Him will still be alive and well.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Verse of the Day--Exodus 33:14

The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14

Yesterday was Sunday, and a very busy Sunday it was. Actually, the busyness started on Saturday, with a Youth Choir "retreat" to a local amusement park for the day. On Sunday, the "retreat" turned into a "tour" and Jonathan needed to be at church extra early to travel to another church where he and his friends were to perform a concert.

I got Jon all delivered, and settled in to teach my Sunday school class of third and fourth grade students. After Sunday school the girls and I met up to attend the Cove service, a smaller, slightly quieter service that our church offers as an alternative to the main service. However, Shawn and David were on tap to play instruments in the main service, and Shawn was singing special music in the main service with his men's acapella group, "Theophonics."

Laura is in Youth Choir, too, but she was unable to go on the touring part of the tour. She and Shannon teach Sunday school to three-year-olds. Also, she and David had a school commitment after church to play in a concert at their high school. So they had to slip out of church as soon as the sermon was finished, skipping the closing song, and hurry over to school.

Laura and David also got an early release from the school concert, because they had a piano recital at 4:00 p.m. They detoured home to change their clothes, and the rest of us (minus Jon, who was on tour) actually arrived at the recital before they did.

After the piano recital, we all hurried back to our church where we met up with Jon, Laura changed her clothes one more time, and the Youth Choir finished their tour with a concert at home, this time with Laura in amongst the sopranos.

By the time I got home I was exhausted. I was so tired, I threw my back out sleeping last night.

This morning my Bible reading included Exodus 31-34. Exodus 31:12-17 is an exhortation to rest on the Sabbath. I was humbled and convicted at how busy I had allowed myself to become over the weekend, and particularly on Sunday. I know that this busyness is not good for my body or my spirit. God wants us to rest. He commands us to rest. Why can we (I) not remember that His commands come from a heart of love, and that they are good for us? (Deuteronomy 10:13)

Often our busyness becomes a point of pride in our lives. "How are you doing?" someone asks. And we respond with a self-satisfied sigh of pretend aggravation, "Oh, I'm so busy!" It is a quasi complaint; really, we feel validated that with such busyness in our lives, so much we are obliged to do, we must be very significant people indeed.

How beautiful that God's promise is, "My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest." He did not say that He would provide us with a long list of important jobs and social engagements; He said He would give us rest. And this original statement was made to the Israelites after they had sinned by making the golden calf, but now were coming back to the Lord, begging Him to be their leader and not to send them into the Promised Land without His presence. Grace all the way.

It is not only an Old Testament promise, either. Jesus said, "Come to Me , all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus is never in a hurry, never out of breath, never cross because He has overscheduled Himself, never stressed. As we seek to grow in His likeness, let us remember to try to humble ourselves to a simple life and learn to rest in Him. Let us honor the Sabbath. He is perfectly capable of holding our lives together when we do.