genesis 35: bethel

God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 

Bethel. “House of El” or “House of God”. It is the place where God revealed Himself to Jacob, the place where Jacob heard God’s voice.

Get up. Go to the house of God and live there. Stop coming and going. Stop visiting. Stop going around it. Make your dwelling in My presence. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” Remain in the place of revelation. Stay where you hear My voice.

“So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.'”

Put away your sin. Return to purity. Clothe yourself in Christ. “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires…”  …“put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Change your garments, beloved. You are coming to the place of God’s presence. He is holy and His presence is holy and you have been called to be holy with Him.

“…for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.”

“So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.”

He hid them rather than destroy them. We are not much different. It’s time to dig up what we’ve buried because hidden sin does not stay hidden. Eventually, it will surface and bring destruction with it. We are called to destroy our sin, not tuck it away somewhere, hoping no one finds it. “Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.”  

Jacob’s stay at the physical Bethel was temporary, but our call to the spiritual “El Bethel” is not. I believe we are at a crossroads at the moment, and many of God’s people will be faced with a decision. We cannot continue to keep one foot in two different kingdoms. A line will be drawn and we must choose which side of that line we will take our stand on.

The call is to rise up and return to the presence of God. Put away carnal, idolatrous living. Deal death blows to your sin, put on Christ, and come back to the revelation and the voice of God.

Get up. Return to Bethel.

John 15:4; Ephesians 4:22; 1 Peter 1:16; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:5

genesis 34: the lost victims – then and now

Dinah was a young girl that historians say was around 15. Her father was Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, father of the Israelites. Schechem was a prince, son of King Hamor. Gentiles.

Schechem raped Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, and in her culture, it meant she was ruined. King Hamor recognizes that he must act quickly, but it wasn’t with any sort of sorrow for his son’s sin. It was opportunity that he had in mind.

But Hamor said to them… Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves.  You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.

Dinah’s brothers wanted something else. They agreed to Hamor’s request, with one condition. Every one of their males had to get circumcised, in keeping with the Abrahamic covenant. No male can be part of that covenant without circumcision. And they know what adult circumcision will do to the men. It will incapacitate them, make them unable to fight when the brothers come for their revenge.

They shook hands or exchanged goats or whatever they did back then to seal a deal, and 3 days later the brothers attacked. All the men, including the king and his son, were killed, Dinah was rescued and brought back home. And then they faced Jacob.

Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.”

As I read this story, I sensed that Dinah got lost in the middle of two sides trying to get what they wanted. Lost in the deception, the violence, and greed. Lost between people who made her victimization about themselves.

And now I’m looking at us.

I’m looking at the burning cities, the utter destruction being rained down, and the sounds of voices that are screaming their hatred. I see the fury of a generation determined to eradicate the history of a nation they admittedly hate, burning the flag that covers the coffins of men and women who died defending that same nation, and their right to burn it down. There is no reasoning. No actual conversations taking place. Maybe talking was attempted in the beginning, but not now. Now, an angry Godzilla is seeking revenge for something. Anything. Everything. Violence, hatred, deception, mistrust, and confusion are the air we breathe now.

I wonder if Dinah felt seen. I wonder if she felt that her family cared more about what was done to her, than how it affected them.

I wonder the same thing about the many victims we have today. The black ones. The white ones. The brown ones and those of every other color. The ones in jogging shorts and the ones in uniform. The children. The grieving families.

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
{Mark 3:24}

genesis 33: restoration

Jacob was about to see his brother, Esau, for the first time since the “great deception” that cheated Esau out of his birthright and stole his blessing. Jacob was scared and divided up his wives and children to hopefully save some of them if Esau attacked. In Jacob’s mind, he was Esau’s enemy, and for good reason, so he was prepared for the worst.

“But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” (vs. 4)

Jacob came to his brother in humility. Esau came with mercy and forgiveness. Relationship was restored. And in that beautiful picture, I saw another…

And we, who had sinned against Him and became His enemy in our own mind, came with our humility. He came with His mercy and forgiveness. Relationship was restored.

Esau had clearly forgiven Jacob before they even met that day. But had Jacob refused to humble himself, he may never have experienced that forgiveness. A rebellious, arrogant posture toward Esau might have put Jacob at war with him and clearly, it would have been a war he would lose.

It is strange to me that I see myself in Jacob. Even stranger that I see God in Esau. But then again, it’s just like Him to show up in such an unusual place. He wants to be seen. He continually exposes His heart in His Word so that we can find it.

God does not want to be our enemy, He wants to be our Father. If we come with our humility, He will always meet us with His mercy. He will bring restoration.

the lie behind ‘you are enough’

I’ve written about this topic before, more than once. Just stating upfront that I am aware that this is not the first time I’ve brought it up in our conversations. I didn’t forget and you can stop trying to spell d-e-m-e-n-t-i-a in your head. I don’t have it. But I do have a passion for this particular subject and as long as it is poisoning the Church, I’ll keep talking about it.

For most of my life I believed I was not enough. And by most of my life I mean since I was a little girl lost in a family of dysfunction, feeling invisible and voiceless. Not enough to stop the chaos around me. I grew up and left that home, but ‘not enough’ left with me and it about did me in.

The fear/belief/suspicion that we are not enough is a weapon the enemy is using against the Church quite effectively. It breeds comparison in us. It brings depression and anxiety, striving, and self-hatred. But it is not being used in the way most of us would think.

It is truth he is using, not a lie.

I have yet to find one thing in the Word of God that tells me that I am enough. Instead, He paints picture after picture of just the opposite.

We’ll start with the loaves and the fish. The little boy with a small lunch, among 5,000 hungry people, offered what he had. It was clearly not enough.

The poor widow who put her two very small copper coins in the offering plate. Not enough to help anyone, but it was all she had.

The crippled man at the pool of Bethesda. He didn’t have enough strength to get himself into the pool and get his healing.

The disciples with not enough faith in the storm.

The countless times that the Israelites did not have enough of anything to win their battles.

And the most glaring not enough of them all – our severe lack of enough righteousness to save ourselves.

There’s more, but I think you get my point. We are not enough. It’s the truth, but it’s the lie the enemy puts behind it that makes it a weapon against us.

We should be enough.

Just a little twist of the truth and you have a sharp weapon to use against the psyche of God’s people. Something that will keep them focused on themselves for generations. A should that keeps them chasing what they will never catch.

Can we begin to see it from a different perspective, and turn that weapon around?

What if my enough would keep someone from seeing their need for Jesus? If I’m enough for my husband, why will he go to God to be filled? If I’m enough for my children, why would they learn to depend on God? What if I let go of the need to be enough, because I know the truth?

Has it occurred to us that the enemy’s scheme is to make everything about us? To keep us focused on our smallness, our failures, our weaknesses (or, our strengths, our victories and successes). Either way, it turns us inward. Really, that’s what this “not enough” thing is about, don’t you think? Us. But if we would pick up the Word of God and read it, we would find the truth and the truth would set us free.

We are not enough. God is. That’s the whole point. God is our deliverer, our healer, our all the things that we are not. That’s why we must set our eyes on Him. Set our hearts on Him. Set our faith on Him. And stop trying to be enough so that we are justified in setting all of that on ourselves.

Let’s spare ourselves the self-help books and the memes that show us whispering to ourselves “you are enough”. Let’s refuse to listen to those who, with the best of intentions, keep trying to convince us that we are enough.

Instead, let’s repent. Turn around. Go the other way. The way that glorifies God for being more than enough, for having strength that is perfected in our weaknesses, for being not just everything we need, but everything those around us need.

Let’s repent of giving God glory and then beating ourselves up. Of singing His praises and then silently screaming our self-loathing at ourselves. It’s a grievous thing we are doing when we say He is our all in all, but walk around feeling shame that we can’t be the all in all for others. It is making us sick – physically, emotionally and spiritually sick.

After many years in the Word of God, walking with Him, learning Him, I no longer feel the need to be enough. My God is enough and this is about Him. My family needs Him, not me, to be enough. My friends, my community, the lost around me – they all need Him to be enough.

Christianity is about Christ. We will not be healed until we stop making it about us.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

John 6; Mark 12; John 5; Mark 4;

this pandemic: finding what is true

Pandemic. Something (a disease) that is prevalent over a whole country, or the whole earth.

Maybe you’re thinking the title to this post says that I don’t believe there is a real pandemic going on. That would be untrue. I 100% believe that Covid-19 is real, it is deadly, and it is a threat to all of us. That part is very clear to me. After that, it gets a little murky.

I recently posted a video on my Facebook page called Plandemic, the interview of Dr. Judy Mikovits, a scientist. In the interview she basically asserts that corruption in high places muzzles the research of scientists who’s discoveries threaten agendas. She also dances around the assertion that Covid-19 was manufactured and released on purpose.

I received a lot of feedback from posting that video. I discovered that a LOT of people are thinking what I’m thinking and that is that something is afoot. Something doesn’t smell right to us, not just about this pandemic, but about the response to it. I also got other feedback using words like propaganda, and conspiracy theories. I received articles from a number of people that refute Dr. Mikovits, and I read them all. Somewhere in all of it, there is truth and I think only God knows what that truth is for sure. Maybe Dr. Mikovits’ story was missing some facts. That doesn’t mean that researchers are not being muzzled by corrupt people in high places. It also doesn’t mean that Covid-19 was intentionally released upon the world.

Maybe I’m just part of a generation that is naturally suspicious of big government, big medicine, big things that lean toward serving their bottom dollar or need for power more than they lean toward our best interests. Or, maybe I’m part of a generation that has seen its fill of corruption and greed and lies coming from people in positions of power, so we don’t fall for every sincere statement they make and when something stinks, we know something is rotten.

Somewhere in the middle of the ones who believe that things are what they appear and that fear is the appropriate response, and the ones who are refusing to be herded off the cliff they think is just up ahead, is the truth. But after having a few days to ponder all of this, I’ve decided it’s not that particular truth that I want.

The truths of man won’t bring peace to my soul. Only God’s truth will do that. So here is what I know:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” {2 Timothy 3:1-5}

This world is not going to become a better place. The darkness will grow darker – that is an absolute truth and I will not be moved to believe otherwise.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” {Ephesians 5:15-16}

I have come to the conclusion that the best use of my time is not trying to convince people that the world is evil, but rather in reminding people that God is good. No matter how much power men wield on this earth, it cannot compare to the power of God, and it is God’s power that gives me comfort and strength.

I do believe we are called to expose the deeds of darkness, but not necessarily by posting a video that I cannot know with absolute certainty is completely true. It was my natural suspicions being confirmed that prompted me to “expose” the darkness by way of posting that video. But my suspicions, even the valid ones, are not what God has told me to put on a lampstand. The mistrust so prevalent in my generation, even when valid, is not what God has given me for making sound judgments.

It is the Holy Spirit within me and the Word of God that will enable me to speak truth amidst the swirling myths, half-truths, uncertainties and suspicions that are thick in the air around us right now.

God is good and He is in control and He will use everything for His glory. I have nothing to fear and He will lead me and guide me through this or around it, whichever He chooses. He will be who He has always been, regardless of who men have become. If I have come to a place of trusting no man, I know I can trust my God. He does not lie, He does not deceive. I never have to wonder about His intentions or His motives. He remains faithful, merciful, and full of compassion. He is light and in Him there is no darkness.

The Word of God tells me that I live in a fallen world that will progressively become darker, but even so, I have a great hope in heaven, and a great purpose in this world. I need not try to make sense of what is going on in the dark, but I do need to be alert, fully awake, and praying.

It is not the schemes of men that God has admonished me to recognize.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” {Ephesians 6:11}

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” {1Peter 5:8}

So for all of those who raised fists in the air in agreement with my suspicions, thank you for your solidarity. And for those who pushed back, thank you for your willingness to do so. It is because of this push and pull that I sat down with God to seek what is true and received His staff and His rod repositioning my heart back where it belongs. In His word, in His truth. Fighting the right battle, and the right enemy.

Because we are growing ever nearer to the end. Will it be in my lifetime? Maybe, maybe not. The time is not for me to know. But I can know the signs. I can know that wading into the muck and mire of what is happening in the physical realm, will not equip me for what is needed in the spiritual realm.

Keep praying, always. Stay alert, keep watching, don’t get distracted. Stay thankful.

me and this pandemic

Just typing the title to this thing is surreal. Pandemic? Did not see that coming. But here it is and all of our normal just went away to we don’t know where. Everything is shaking and everything keeps changing, and this is all just so weird, right? It’s weird. Bizarre. But it’s our life right now so I’m trying to roll with it. Some days I roll better than others.

I’m fortunate to be able to work from home, but it has been an eye-opening experience, to say the least. Here are a few things I’ve noticed:

I should not be allowed to remain in my pajamas all day. It messes with my mental health. Causes me to shuffle my feet and not wash my hair. I’ve finally compromised with myself. Real clothes on top, pajamas on the bottom. Besides helping me feel more human, I can Zoom with confidence. Again, something I never imagined myself saying. Ever. But here we are. Zooming in my underwear and a blouse.

My friend told me she walked for 2 miles today. Yeah, well, I made 647 trips from my office (bedroom) to my refrigerator, so right back at ya, sister. You know how there are certain animals that you can’t give an unlimited supply of food to, because they’ll just eat themselves to death?

Seriously though, I’m in need of an electric fence around my kitchen, so any recommendations for whoever installs those would be much appreciated.

I need structure, apparently. Did not know that about myself. Before the whole world got sick, I would have described myself as a seat of my pants, roll with the changes, whatever, kinda girl. Like, hippie-ish, only fatter. And less smiley.

Turns out, I am nothing of the sort. I’m more like an accountant, without the math skills. I need the ship to be tight and I need sharpened pencils. I need to-do lists and color coded spreadsheets and timely responses to my emails so that I don’t become overwhelmed and spend an inordinate amount of time in therapy and by therapy I mean eating all the food.

I am an introvert. I didn’t just learn that, I’ve known it since someone posted the symptoms on Facebook one day and healed my world. My general dislike for being around people became a legitimate thing. So naturally, I thought to myself “social distancing? lots of alone time? people can’t touch me or stand too close to me? Step aside ma’am, and let the expert through. I can shelter in place all.day.long.”

And now I’m waving at the mailman like he’s my person. Him and the UPS guy. And random people walking by my house.

A pandemic changes you.

But it does not change God.

While something is literally changing the world, He remains the same. Still near. There remains a peace that cannot be explained. A knowing that things are being handled from the throne of heaven, a power far greater than this virus, a plan that has not been thwarted or defeated in any way. A purpose that is from the beginning and to the end.

This is hard, this thing we are all going through. We’re all experiencing some kind of loss and it can become the only thing we see. But this truth still remains:

In the middle of a pandemic, the people of God are still the people of abundant life. Don’t let the devil try to convince you otherwise.

this virus and what we know

(Disclaimer: that title is misleading and for that, I apologize. This post is not about what we know about Covid-19. It’s just that I wrote most of this post last night, had a fitful night sleep and have had nowhere near enough coffee this morning, so…it is what it is.)

I can’t pretend to understand this virus thing. How it started, or how it took over the world. It feels like we went from 0 to 100 in about 6 seconds, right? We heard about a flu virus in China and then toilet paper started flying off shelves like snicker bars at fat camp. I panicked, not because of the flu virus but because I was low on tp and there was none to buy and suddenly things got real.

Schools are closing and spring break could turn into spring-see-you-in-the-fall. I know. Far fetched. And yet, they bought.all.the.toilet.paper. Anything can happen. The gloves are off, apparently.

Large gatherings are now prohibited. Events are being canceled. Sports have been canceled. Sports. No spectators for March Madness. I don’t even like basketball but I felt that one. Both the church I attend, and the one I work for have suspended Sunday worship services. I have never seen these things happen before. It feels like we’re way off course and there are no familiar landmarks. No one seems to know how or why or what to do next, except buy toilet paper. All of it. Because we don’t know what’s happening, but having enough toilet paper makes us feel safer.

But, there are some things we do know.

We, the Church, are built for this very thing. We have been discipled by selfless love, a love that teaches us to go unafraid into uncharted places. A love that never leaves us stranded.

We know the Waymaker through this thing and we know that in any crisis, any storm, He is drawing people to Himself. And we can help them get there, because we know the way.

We know what it looks like to put someone else first, to lay down our rights and go low. We are disciples of the King who washed the feet of those who were with Him, so we know what it looks like to serve instead of needing to be served.

We know fear is a liar and Truth is a person and we know which one to follow. We know where our help comes from and that our Father is good and always gives us what we need, and we know that all things, all things, serve Him and every storm will obey Him. So we know not to be afraid.

We know the need for community and unity. He taught us that we are not loners, we are family and when we come together in love, bearing one another up, forgiving offenses and urging one another on toward greater faith, the world sees Jesus.

There’s a lot we don’t know, but we know enough.

The catch? People don’t need to know what we know. They need us to do what we know and to be what we know. To be people of peace in the chaos, people of sacrificial love in an every-man-for-himself season, people unafraid, filled with the Spirit of wisdom, with self-control, patience, and kindness. The people of God, lighting up the dark.

Right now, there is a shortage of more than just toilet paper. This is not the hour for the Church to hoard what the world needs.

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