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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wise and Diligent or a Lazy Man of Folly?



Have you ever just stopped in your studies of the word and reflected on a word or two? Have you ever done a word study?  It can be very powerful and enlightening to do so.  Word studies allow us to carefully uncover the meaning of a word but not just for its overall meaning but its specific meaning in the context we find it.  This allows us to find parallels, words with equivalent meanings that open the scripture up to us. 



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Teachings of Hebrew Wisdom On Diligence and Laziness

The dictionary defines diligence as “steady application in business of any kind; constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; exertion of body or mind without unnecessary delay or sloth; due attention; industry; assiduity.”[1]  It also defines laziness as “the state or quality of being lazy; indisposition to action or exertion; indolence; sluggishness; heaviness in motion; habitual sloth.”[2] Laziness is different from idleness in that idleness is “a mere defect or cessation of action, but laziness is sloth, with natural or habitual disinclination to action.”[3]  Hebrew literature is therefore filled with praise for the diligent and warnings for the lazy and slothful.  The Bible states “The diligent will take control, but the lazy will be put to forced labor.”[4]  In this passage it tells us that those who are hard-working will gain control but the lazy will end up as slaves.  Proverbs also tells us that “Lazy hands bring poverty, but hard-working hands lead to wealth.”[5]  In essence, the hands of the diligent are blessed with the fruit of that diligence and the hands of the lazy are cursed by their laziness.  “The lazy person craves, yet receives nothing, but the desires of the diligent are satisfied.”[6]  Hebrew literature teaches us that the lazy and slothful person may want but can’t get anything because he won’t work for it but what the diligent desires he can have.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

I Called Her Mom




copyright Voice From The End of Town
My mother holding our first child.
On November 17, 2003, my mother went home to be with the Lord.  This November it will be 15 years since she died.  I started this post two years ago but could never find the right words until today.
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In the church building where her funeral was held I was asked if she had been an important woman in the community or the city because her funeral was attended by ~300 people.  My mother wasn't a councilwoman or mayor or anything that society would have thought important.  She was just….my mother.  

She began to take me to church when I was three months old because she made a promise to God although she did not become a Christian until 5 years later.  She eventually did just about every job you could do in the church.  The only thing she didn't do was pastor the church, but I suspect she could have done that too.

            Everyone else that knew her knew her as a soft-spoken sweet woman but that’s not the woman I knew.  Her standards for me were high, too high as far as I was concerned.  The list of things that I could not do were higher, and the correction never seemed to end.  


Sit up.  Put your knees together. Stop slouching. Don’t rock! Don’t bite your nails!


These were just the normal kids stuff.  But the correction went beyond that.  Bad grades were unacceptable, and F’s were terminal, so I got the belt.  Back talking was not even remotely going to be allowed but it seemed that anything beyond ‘yes ma’am’, ‘no ma’am’ would get me popped too.  I’d be lying to say that I didn’t know the back of my mother’s hand VERY well.  I can still hear her voice saying sternly, “don’t look at me in that tone of voice!”  I truly believed that I was adopted.  I could see that my parents loved my brothers but while my father lived in the home, he was non-existent, and my mother was a tyrant!  As far as I was concerned, I had to be adopted, they wouldn't treat their own child this way. My school years were littered with more evidence as my brothers learned to drive, and get jobs while mine consisted of school work and housework.

             When I started dating my husband to be in my senior year, it wasn’t but two weeks later that he ask me to marry him.  I knew he was the one and said YES! (how I knew is a story for another time.)  A few weeks later when my parents met him they fell in love and my mother told me later that night..."if he asks you to marry him, say yes."  He was eleven years my senior so I knew better than to tell either one of them he had already asked and I had already said yes.  

            When they did find out I heard the exact opposite of everything they had said especially from my mother.  We married two weeks shy of a year from when we met and all the way up to the moment I left my room for the last time headed to the church, my mother tried to talk me out of getting married.  She gave me one last chance to back out with the threat that if I did go through with getting married, she would throw my bed out.  I could not come home.  

Well…..my bed went out the next day.

            It was hard for her and my father to make the transition from parent of a child to parent of a married adult and I think it was harder for them because I was the only girl.  Things finally came to a head one night when my husband had to inform my parents that while I “had been their child” I was now “his wife” and they needed to treat me appropriately.  While this may ruffle some feathers, I think it was necessary and forced my parents to adjust.  

            My mother made the adjustment and she became a friend.  I grew up both loving and hating her and as an adult, for the first fifteen years of my marriage, I carried that over.  She drove me nuts when she wasn’t being the only person who I could really talk to about anything.  It took us moving away for the second time out of state before our relationship solidified into a better one.

            I didn’t feel loved growing up.  I felt like I could never be or do enough.  She made some bad mistakes with me and said some hurtful things.  She made mistakes that she would not apologize for. But as an adult I had to realize she was answering my calls.  She was listening to me and talking to me not at me.  She prayed for me.  She believed in me and what God was doing in me.  
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She wasn’t perfect, she made mistakes that hurt....But in spite of everything 

and more than anything... I know she tried her very best to keep a promise to God 

concerning me and my future while she was here even when it hurt.


Looking back, I think I can now see why I was asked if she was important.   

The things she taught me are still in me today.  If it’s worth doing, do it right the first time.  Have faith and confidence in yourself.  Carry yourself as a woman of God.  Make sure of your convictions, they lead to decisions that can change the trajectory of your future.  Know your own self-worth and abilities.  Stick to your principles and be ready to defend them.  And when you make promises, keep them no matter what.

            Did she plan on teaching me those specific things?  No.  I don’t think so.  I think my mother was winging it the best she could, but she gave me a foundation in Christ that I would not have had without her.  With this foundation God could reveal to me how my mother, even in all her mistakes and imperfections, molded me into the woman I am today.

            I suspect that mild-mannered soft-spoken woman that everyone else knew taught them the same things.  Those that came to her funeral spoke of her in glowing terms.  She was their light, their laughter, the bright spot in their day.  She encouraged them, always made them smile.  She helped them so much before the cancer forced her to stop working.  It didn't matter whether it was a boss from a job she hadn't had for twenty years, a child she taught at church, a niece or nephew she told about Jesus or a fellow employee she just met.  They all came because she had touched their life far beyond what she would have believed.

They called her friend.....I called her mom.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

What Does the Time of Samuel Teach Us?

            During my Old Testament studies, I was required to write several essays for an Old Testament Survey course.  As part of the overall dynamic of this course, we were always to look for and consider the value of the Old Testament for our lives.  This essay was confined to four specific questions that must be answered:

 During the time of Samuel, why did the people of Israel desire a king? Why was Saul chosen, and, ultimately, why was he rejected? What attribute did David display that made him a better king than Saul? What sin did Solomon commit that ultimately led to the division of Israel after his death?




Israel desired a King

During the time of the Judges the Bible states that “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.”[1]  As you read further in the book of Judges you see that the people of Israel had truly turned away from God and “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”[2]  By the time that Samuel was old enough to step into the station and position of Judge, Priest and Prophet the people of Israel had already gone through multiple repeated cycles of “apostasy, distress and deliverance.”[3]  Israel’s heart was no longer after God.  The elders of Israel told Samuel that he was getting old and the sons he had appointed as leaders were not following his ways.  This was therefore a good reason for him to give them a king when in truth all they wanted was to be like all the other nations.[4]  In this statement they rejected the Lord God of Israel who had brought them out of Egypt, who had parted the Red Sea, the one who had made them a nation.  Even after being warned what this king would do, what he would take and how he would oppress, they still desired a king.  Israel wanted someone to lead them and fight their battles.  They turned their backs on the covenant and on God.  Samuel prayed and was instructed by God to give his people what they wanted.    

Saul: Chosen and Rejected
Samuel was directed to the right place to meet and anoint Saul the one the Lord spoke of who would lead and govern his people as their king.  Saul was handsome and stood taller than everyone.  On the outside he looked impressive and when introduced to the people they agreed with the choice.  However, he was not God’s true choice

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Genesis 1-11 Worldview

     Have you ever looked at Genesis and considered what it says about the natural world, human identity, human relationships or civilization?  Have you contemplated the worldview it represents or how that does or should affect your worldview?  

     Genesis chapters 1-11 take us from the Creation event through the death of Abel, at the hands of Cain, to the tower of Babel.  In those eleven chapters a strong biblical worldview is laid out if we are willing to examine it. 

     
     While working towards my AA in Religion back in 2013 during a survey course of the Old Testament, I was required to really examine the book.  Once examined I had to write an essay regarding Genesis chapters 1-11.  I was required to identify what Genesis 1-11 taught regarding the natural world, human identity, human relationships, and civilization and then to address how this teaching affects or has affected my worldview.  I had to attempt to be concise and yet careful to address each topic within certain time and word count restraints. Below I share with you the product of my examination with no edit of content and only the addition of sectional headings.

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Introduction
Genesis chapter 1 begins with the creation of all things including the creation of man in the image of God.  It is the “beginning of the human race and the beginning of the Hebrew race.” (Hindson & Yates, 2012, p 51).  Through the intervening chapters we are immersed in the revelation of God's great power and humanities depravity.  God shows us how willing he is to bring mankind back into a right relationship with himself.  By the end of chapter 11 we come to the account of Terah who became the father of Abram.  In these chapters, if we will look closely we will see and understand what God would have us know about our natural world, human identity as well as human relationships and civilization as a whole. 

Natural World
            Through these chapters God shows us that our world was truly created for us and for our use.  This natural world around us shows us that there is a creator and he has a plan for everyone and everything.  Genesis 1:11 explains to us how God called forth the seed bearing herbs, grasses and fruit trees to yield after their own kind.  In Genesis 1:21, 24 & 25  God created water, air and land animals all to produce after their own kind.   He placed a light in the sky for daytime and a minor light for night.  Our natural world displays order at all times whereas mankind following evolutionary
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