Tag Archives: Joseph

Because of Christmas #7: Signs Instruct Direction

“Called by a sign. Instructed by scripture. And directed by God.”~Max Lucado (p78)
 
Signs are a big part of everyday life. Road signs. Door signs. Business signs. Bodily signs. Price signs. Emotional signs. We are programmed – culturally, physically, spiritually – to respond to signs. Come to think of it – animals, plants, oceans, even the dust of the earth respond to the stimulus of a “sign”.
 
“Called by a sign.” When Mary was visited by an angel, she had a sign. When Joseph had a dream…when the angels sang in the dark of night…when the wisemen saw the star in the East..when Herod was visited by the wisemen…when…
 
Signs are everywhere but sometimes we don’t know how to respond to them. A stop sign – run it or obey it? A wild fire – evacuate or hose down the house? Tummy hurt – stay home to rest or go to work and pass it around? Lie to our best friend – or tell the truth?
 
“Scripture instructs.” Usually, we rely on advice from those who have battled through similar things after they saw a sign. After many years of disastrous choices on my own, I finally figured out that is exactly why Scripture is so important to our lives. It is the touchstone to my spiritual ancestors who struggled the same way I struggle when I see a sign. It is a witness to their disastrous choices as well as their good choices.
 
Mary and Joseph each knew the scriptures – “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel….“Is 7:14 The wisemen, being strangers did not know the scriptures. They stopped to ask for directions and the Jewish rabbis sent them on to Bethlehem. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”~Micah 5:2
 
“God directs.” When I am wise enough to blend signs and scripture together, God’s direction is a whole lot clearer. Sometimes, I’m still making the choice in the dark of night, but it is that bright morning star that rises in the darkest part of the morning that helps direct my path until I can see clearly..
 
The holy-days are approaching quickly. Many in NC are still out of their homes from Hurricane Matthew, many more are out of their homes due to wildfires. It is a time to pray for others and offer thanks for signs that offer warnings – scripture that offers advice – and a loving Father that is always right beside us – in the easy times – in the struggling times – directing us to the path He carved out of a timeless wilderness just as He carved our names in the palm of His hand. [google images]

4 of 7: HOPE

idioms3 of 7: HOPE. Today I started my day with an idiom within a joke. “Have you heard about the cat who ate some cheese, breathed into a mouse hole, and waited with baited breath?” Don’t cha love idioms? They never mean what they say, but they express a sentiment so well. And….the our English language is full of them, No wonder immigrants pull their hair out trying to learn English.

Like usual, my mind took off on a tangent as I started thinking about all the idioms or axioms that surround the word HOPE. Needless to say, the first one that came to mind was a quote that I had used many times in the classroom: “HOPE for the best, prepare for the worst” Alexander Norton in the 1600’s. From there – it went downhill (see how often we use idioms???)…

axiomsThe Cleveland Browns are beyond HOPE….
If my paycheck doesn’t grow, we are out of HOPE
We are down to our last HOPE
Selling HOPE
Beyond HOPE….

Most of the time, ‘HOPE springs eternal’ in our country. People see the depressing news, eat their supper, take their kids to their sports practices or games, escape into TV land, lay their heads on a pillow and HOPE that tomorrow is better.than today. We get it naturally since our country was founded on Christian values (and yes, I know there are people who disagree with that statement, but I’ve done my own research and disagree with them).

“Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” Lk 1:30

An old Greek axiom states: “If it were not for HOPE, the heart would break.” HOPE is that light in the darkness. Mary heard the angel speak, felt the changes within her. I know she must have had some pretty dark days – especially when she told Joseph what was transpiring. HOPE was the light she clung to as she walked this path virtually alone. God was with her. Angels were with her. But physically, she was walking a faith path…scared and alone. Luke never mentions her parents, Anna and Joachim No close friends are mentioned. Only Elizabeth who was also walking a faith path of her own. No wonder Mary went on a journey to visit her for a few weeks. Her heart was probably close to breaking.

Advent has a way of bringing the spiritual realm a little closer to the physical. It is our touchstone to a time when God and His Son made this amazing plan to build a new road into our world – a road with a bridge between our two dimensions A road that eventually – if we choose to walk on it – will lead us to grace, salvation, and “,,,Thy kingdom come…”  A road of HOPE.light-hope_00332387

Attitude of Gratitude #30

16-shoot-of-jesse2Attitude of Gratitude #30. Advent. One of my friends reminded me today that thankfulness is a choice just like writing this series of gratitudes has been a choice. It is so easy to go through a day,snuggle into dreamland and never remember to be thankful. I know. I’ve done it. But as December 1 approaches, I find myself more and more thankful that it is here. The world is full of ugliness. The world seems topsy-turvy. So when Advent gets here, I am sooooo thankful. I take a deep breath and wait.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” – Is 11:1

Come Christmas “read-the-story” time, we recognize the name “Jesse”, but the picture of Jesse, the man, is a blur. Okay,he was some kind of kin to David. Even reading the Bible cover-to-cover every year, one would really have to be looking for the story of Jesse. Like the man, his story is a blur that flickers in and out of other stories. Grandson of Ruth and Boaz (you know – the “thy people will by my people” story). It seems that his real claim to fame is his youngest son who became King David (you know – the youngster who slew Goliath with a flat stone).

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.” Lk 2:4

Sometimes, I think God is like that. He likes to tuck little stories inside the big ones. Bibles scholars have figure out that Jesse was a fairly well-to-do farmer type guy in Bethleham. Yet, out of all the people alive at that time, why does God sends Samuel to Jesse? You have to wonder. What did Jehovah-Jireh know about Jesse and his family that made them “king” material?

“Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” 1 Sam 16:1b

This is merely supposition on my part, but I tend to think that these little stories tucked within the larger plot lines of our Biblical heroes are often the ordinary people. People who tried to live their lives to the best of their ability for HaShem. Righteous People They are often just men and women like you and me who worked hard, followed the rules (mostly), fell down and got back up, and raised their families to revere God above all things. Yet, even though they didn’t rank their own big portion of the Bible story, their faith life was so important that God made sure their name would be remembered forever. “…a shoot…from the stump of Jesse…”

There is something special about waiting and watching for that first ray of light to push through the outer rim of our darkness until it finally blazes into the Christ star on Christmas Eve. It is called hope. Advent is here. . Light the Hope candle in the wreath. 25 days and the Christ Star will blaze once more. I am thankful, waiting and hopeful once more.christmas star

Old Deuteronomy

Several years ago, when I was performing in CATS with a local theatre BookOfPracticalCatsgroup, Old Deuteronomy was the cat full of wisdom and grace.  Most musicals have a wise person passing out wonderfully timed wisdom to those seeking help.  Wisely, Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber had the sense not to change much of T.S. Eliot’s original poem, “Old Deuteronomy:

“Old Deuteronomy lived a long time;He’s a Cat who has lived many lives in succession, He was famous in Proverb and famous in rhyme, A long time before Queen Victoria’s accession…” 

Deuteronomy has never been one of those books that I spent much time studying in the past.  In fact, I spent very little time in the OT.  I just didn’t think it was necessary.  After all, I was a child of the New Covenant.   Jesus was where it was at…the narrow gate…the Way…       The sad part of this history lesson is that I don’t believe that my thinking is unusual.  Most of the churches I attended in my formative years (and I attended a bunch of different ones since I was usually getting paid to sing in their choirs) gave only a passing nod to the OT.  Besides, they only had so many Sundays to get across all those wonderful stories that happened between Matthew and Revelations. 

“Be silent, O Israel, and listen!  You have now become the people of the LORD your God…”  Deut 27:9b

Maybe it is because I always have so many questions.  Or maybe it is because I tend to rebel much more than most people would ever guess.  But the last couple of years, God has set my feet on this path of understanding the Jewish portion of Jesus, and why the Old Covenant is an integral portion of our redemption.  It has not been an easy journey (after all I do tend to be a little  – ok – more than a little – stubborn).  Reading the OT can be tedious at times and boring at best.  Timelines are confusing.  Names just don’t tumble off your lips.  And really?  All the violence and patriarchal society thing drives me nuts most of the time.  Just how does God’s people do all this nastiness, and He still loves them?  And then I look at me…and sigh.  If my life was miraculously dropped into the Bible, I would definitely fit right in with all of God’s nasty acting people.

“Old Deuteronomy sits in the street,  He sits in the High Street on Market Day.  The bullocks may bellow, the sheep they may bleat, But the dogs and the herdsmen will turn them away…”

Unlike the dogs and the herdsmen, Our Father doesn’t EVER turn us away when we seek Him out.  Our nastiness continues.  Violence — Wars — Terror —   yet — when God’s people continue to trust and put their faith in I AM, the miracles follow.  GRACE.  My Bible’s study guide says that the theme of Deuteronomy is “Devote yourself wholeheartedly to God”.  I keep trying to remember that as I am reading it.  It is a book full of Moses’ final words to God’s people. It was the end of the 40 year journey.  It was the start of a new life in a new country.  Finally, it is the land of “Milk and Honey”, and it was in front of them.

“Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants…’” Deut 34:4b

It is just something to think about as we watch the world unravel.