Oh metabolism… come out come out wherever you are…

Ahh, Jazzercise.

I shouldn’t complain because I have always loved Jazzercise. It is a fun aerobic workout that combines the latest music and dance moves. It burns a lot of calories and it’s nice to take one hour and do something healthy for myself. What I wish is that getting un-fat was as fun and easy as getting fat was. I have noticed that I don’t eat as much, and I am getting leaner. I’m not losing weight quickly, but I am toning up and becoming less of a shell of my former athletic, muscular, toned self. I know I have to patient, but I would have no problem if I woke up tomorrow and didn’t have this pouch I got after carrying my babies. Just call me Kanga-Mom. Ugh.

I took a sleep aid so before I drift off, let me post a bit quickly…

Deuteronomy chapter twelve involves a discussion about the laws that guide proper worship. Not trying to beat a dead horse, but just recall that Deuteronomy is basically a recitation of previous material, if you will. The Israelites are being given a “refresher course” of sorts before they prepare to enter Canaan, the Promised Land. Despite the fact that the Israelites have seen wonders that people in modern times can only imagine, they are still, overall, spiritual babes, having emerged from hundreds of years of Egyptian bondage in an environment engulfed in pagan worship. It has been a very trying time getting the people to be faithful to the Lord their God. They need constant reminders of who God is.

But aren’t people these days the same way? I try to remember as I read the Word, and particularly these first five books of the Bible, that my life journey in the Lord has mirrored that of Israel. As I have mentioned before, my belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior was accomplished at a very young age, but I did some serious backsliding in my late teens and early twenties. At that time, I was a slave to sin. The Israelites were slaves living among a sinful nation–sinful in that they practiced rampant idolatry. Like Israel, God delivered me from a sinful life, and sought to build me into what He would have me to be. I have not always done what I know He would want me to do; I have not always been what I know He wants me to be. I have never committed the sin of idolatry in terms of worshiping any other gods, but I have idolized other things and allowed them to replace God in terms of importance.

Look at people as a whole. Just like the Israelites, people tend to forget about God when things are going well. As soon as calamity comes, they cry out to God for rescue, when the entire time before they weren’t thinking about God. So as I have seen before, as appalling as Israel’s behavior is, we aren’t that different.

So the people are reminded that once they reach the land they are to destroy everything related to idol worship–their altars, sacred stones and Asherah poles. The people are reminded that they must not worship the Lord their God in the same manner that the inhabitants worship their gods. But God will pick an area that will be the central location of their worship, the capitol city if you will, and in that place the people will go to “bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and clocks” (v. 6).

One might not see the big deal, why it was imperative that Israel totally destroyed the idols. I like to think of the Bible in contemporary contexts. I also like to apply it to my own life and personal experiences. As I have mentioned plenty of times, I used to drink–heavily. Every now and then, particularly when I was heading out for a night on the town, I liked to have a good buzz. When I first committed myself to being alcohol-free, it wasn’t easy right away. The best thing for me to do was stay away from situations where I might be tempted to drink. That was right around the same time I finally figured out that the nightclub scene was no longer for me, after I actually found myself being more and more disinterested and altogether disgusted with clubbing. It took awhile before I was as confident as I am now, that I can cut through the alcohol aisles in the grocery stores to get to the frozen food without thinking twice, or go into a corner store to get a Peppermint Patty fix and go on about my business.

As good as I am doing, I of course cannot say with one hundred percent certainty that I will never slip up. I know that some habits die harder than others. The curse words are probably the hardest–it was easier to stop drinking than it has been to stop cussing. Admittedly, I do it a WHOLE lot less than I used to, and I don’t aim my cuss words at people anymore–I am more likely to slip when I am driving, because for some reason when I get behind the wheel my Jekyll/Hyde really comes forth–but it still comes more often and easier than I’d like for it to. I said all that to say this–it was absolutely necessary for the Israelites to remove any possible temptation from their lives, just as we ought to do as Christians today. No one is safe from occasional backsliding. As we mature spiritually we do it less, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.


God reminds the people that they will live in safety… of course we know that is contingent upon whether or not Israel keeps up their portion of the agreement. Of the central place of worship, God tells the people to bring their entire family to rejoice in the Lord: “…you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns who have no allotment or inheritance of their own” (v. 12). We know that our God is a God of order, and everything is to be done properly. Sacrifices are not to be done just anywhere in any old form or fashion. (It doesn’t say that worship has to be confined to the worship center, though…) The people are reminded not to eat the blood of any animal or their tithes (whether in the form of grains, wine, olive oil or animals), firstborn of their herds and flocks, anything they have vowed to give, and any freewill offerings or special gifts. Basically, once someone had vowed to give something to God, they could not take it back. (How in the world could one rationalize that anyway??)

The main point of this chapter is that Israelite worship is not to mirror pagan worship. They cannot offer sacrifices just any and everywhere. Their God of order has set decrees to guide them in proper worship. They are to be set apart from the pagan nations in all other ways. God reminds them that they must be careful not to even inquire about pagan worship, and he informs the people of some of the detestable practices the native Canaanites perform: “They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods” (v. 31).

What kind of god is that??? I’ll pass!!! Whenever I read this, I think of what possible benefit would I have to be promised before I could sacrifice my own son or daughter. Ahh…nothing came to mind. SMH. I wouldn’t be interested in worshiping a god that tells me to kill my children. I mean, seriously? And not just my own children, I wouldn’t be interested in worshiping a god that told me to kill ANYONE. Why would any true god need a mere mortal to kill someone? A true powerful god could just…do it himself..?

In chapter thirteen we continue discussing worshiping other gods. When I read Deuteronomy I think of how I learned best in school and all throughout life, as a matter of fact. Think of it this way–imagine that you are trying to learn a new language. You take a one-day class on the language. Have you mastered it in just that one class, or do you need some repetition, some practice? Maybe some flashcards, etc.? There are common tools that people use to teach others. Repetition is one of them. God really wants Israel to understand that this whole idol worship concept is a no-no.

God says he might send a false prophet to the people as a test: “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) ‘and let us worship them’, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul” (vv. 1-3). False prophets and false teachers are very much alive and thriving even today. We all know of people who use Christianity as a scam. Easiest way to tell if a person is false is if what they say does not align with the Word.

The prophet or dreamer who has brought the message to disobey God is to be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord.

I think we all know family members can be a thorn in one’s side sometimes. In Moody class, we often talk about how family members are the most difficult ones in terms of accepting your newly saved status. Family members know your dirty secrets from your illicit past and some have no problem bringing them up when they find out you are saved. Some of that may be due to disbelief, some of it may be jealousy, and some of it may be out of anger for losing their former drinking buddy, former chasing buddy, former whatever. Either way, the people we loved can pull us away from God if we allow them. God says this is not okay. He tells the Israelites that if they have a family member–sibling, child, or even wife, or a close friend, tries to entice them to worship another god, they are to be put to death too. Not only that, but “Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you ought of Egypt, among the land of slavery” (vv .9-10).

Wow. That would suck. But obviously God took that seriously and expected for the Israelites to do the same. Imagine if that command had been adhered to completely–each time someone tried to lead someone else astray, they were stoned immediately. I’d be willing to be less people would do it. Can you imagine Christian society, and society in general, if, as soon as other practices began to fully infiltrate our society, we completely squashed them? Would there be as much sin and confusion as there is today? When Madalyn Murray O’Hair first contested her son having to read the Bible, imagine if she had been rebuked right away…

The following passage of Scripture leads me to believe that indeed, in this situation that stoning the offender is supposed to serve as an example to the rest of the community: “Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again” (v. 11).

The Israelites are supposed to keep each other in check. If members of the Israelite community hear that their brethren in another town are engaging in idol worship, they are expected to investigate the claim thoroughly. If the rumor is found to be true, every person and the livestock of that town are to be put to the sword. None of the consecrated things from that town are acceptable for use. The town itself must be obliterated, never to be rebuilt. That tells me that as Christians we should say something when we see our brothers and sisters falling into sinful, ungodly practices. We all have to keep each other in check even today. People always say “don’t judge”, but as I have mentioned before, I think the understanding of what judging truly is is being misrepresented. We cannot judge whether or not one is truly saved, but it is our responsibility to tell other Christians AND the world when they are doing something that is unacceptable in God’s eyes. Why would God give us the gift of His Word and tell us to make disciples out of people if we weren’t supposed to tell them how to live correctly? It doesn’t make sense. Of course we cannot put ourselves on a pedestal because we are still sinners–sinners saved by grace. But if we see a Christian brother or sister living wrong and we tell them, that is not “judging”. That called correction.

I will say, that in the case that you confront a brother or sister about ungodly behavior, be armed with appropriate Scriptures and the right attitude, because people these days do not like to hear that they are doing anything wrong. People today are living much like the Canaanites–doing whatever they see fit to do, whatever brings them instant gratification and pleasure. You have to be backed by the Word because most people aren’t going to listen to you otherwise.

I’ll be brief about chapter fourteen, because again, many of these concepts have been discussed fully. The chapter begins with a discussion of clean and unclean food before moving into tithes–a tenth of all that their fields produce each year. Here, we see God providing an alternative for people who lived far away from the central place where the sacrifices were to be performed: “But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away) then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place where the Lord your God will choose. Use the silvert o buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice” (vv. 24-26). Instead of hauling a bunch of cattle meat several miles, for example, Israelites had the option to go to a Cattle Coin-Star and get money instead. They could then take the money and buy whatever they wanted to present to the Lord once they reached their destination.

At the end of every three years the people are instructed to bring that year’s tithes and store it for the Levites, foreigners, fatherless and widows so that they may have adequate provision. Imagine that. The poor and vulnerable were not looked down upon. They were to be taken care of, not ridiculed.

Chapter fifteen begins with an expansion on how people of lesser means are to be treated. As was discussed before, all debts are to be cancelled in seven years. And that means cancelled completely. Loans were forgiven, slaves were given the option of going free. No, creditors could not sell a person’s debt to another collection agency and buy another seven years worth of collection efforts. At the end of seven years, the debt is forgiven.

It is amazing to me that people who claim to be Christians can have a bad attitude toward poor people. There are far too many examples and Scriptures in the Word that teach us we are to have compassion toward poor people for me to make sense of that. God tells Israel that no one among them needs to be poor–if they would just obey him when they have established themselves in Canaan, he will bless them richly. They would lend to many nations and borrow from none; to rule over many nations but be ruled over by none. IF ONLY they could obey and keep the commandments.

God admonishes the people to refrain from becoming tighfisted or hardhearted toward the poor; instead they are to lend freely. They ought to refrain from the possible practice of refusing to give to a fellow Israelite as the seventh year of debt cancellation approaches. As an example: Israelite A approaches Israelite B and asks for two hundred bucks. Israelite B knows that the seventh year is coming up in two months, and since it’s November (I’m thinking in terms of our calendar. Of course theirs was different. Go with me here) that would only give Israelite B one year to try to collect on the debt. If Israelite B had the money to give and refused to do it because his chances of collecting the money in full decreased, it was considered sinful. God wants his people to give generously and without a grudging heart. In verse 11, God says “There will always be poor people in your land”. No, this does not contradict the above passages of Scripture where God says if the people of Israel obey they will not be poor. Why? Because that section seems to address the nation as a whole. Remember, the Israelite was supposed to be a tight-knit community in that they took care of each other. If the people were truly doing what God told them to do, technically there might be poor people there, but God would bless obedient Israel so much that there would be enough resources that everyone would still be provided for, rich or not.

Hebrew servants are to be freed in seven years, and once their period of service is over, the master should give them a number of parting gifts. The servant has the option to stay, and if he chooses to do so his ear will be pierced with an awl (same for a female servant). Masters should not be bitter when their servant is freed the seventh year–as a matter of fact, they should be pleased. If they have taken care of the slave and done everything God has told them to do, God will bless them: “Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because their service to you those six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do” (v. 18).

This chapter concludes with God telling the people to set apart all of the nation’s firstborn male animals for him.

Whoa. I can feel the sleep aid kicking in.

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I’m exhausted but proud.

On this very day, nine years ago, I received one of the best blessings a person could ever receive.

I went to Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital’s Birthing Center at 7:40 in the morning. I was over forty weeks pregnant. My firstborn did not want to come out. Who could blame him? I am sure it was warm and cozy in there, and he was eating REALLY good. (Too good, as a matter of fact. I have no one to blame for myself for all of the weight I put on during both of my pregnancies. I took that whole “eating for two” entirely too far. I was eating Burger King Whoppers with extra tomatoes almost daily. That was my thing. And Slurpees–incidentally, my boy was 7-11 when he was born–7 pounds, 11 ounces, LOL).

They put me in one room, then moved me to another. I got IVs and they started the Pitocin. For awhile I was okay, even okay enough to take a short nap, but then it wore off and those contractions kicked in STRONG. But I had an epidural, and although it wore off at the very end, my labor with my boy was easy-peasy.

At the end of it, I looked in wonderment at what God had done for me. I could not believe something so beautiful had come from me. Seven pounds, eleven ounces, 19 and 3/4 inches long, he was rushed away before I even got to hold him. They thought something was wrong with his little heart. He ended up being in the NICU for a couple days, but, to God be the glory–the problem they had thought would require surgery went away on its own.

We named him Jayden Matthew, but a better name for him is Sunshine. He is pure sunshine. Every single day he wakes up with a brand new sunny resolve and disposition. It does not matter what happened the day before–he wakes up sunny. Even moving from one daily occurrence to the next, he has this super metabolized resilience and if he gets sad, he does not stay sad. He finds joy in the smallest things and does not ask for much. He is a kind, smart, sensitive, thoughtful, caring, encouraging little boy. He has always been easy-going and just happy to be alive. I am happy that he has made it to nine years today, although I miss my sweet, chubby little curly-headed baby. It hurt that his best friend, his hero, his Granddad, wasn’t here to see him, but he held up remarkably well. I think his little birthday party at the bowling alley with about twelve of his little classmates helped :-)

I am glad he had a good time, but boy am I tired, and my head is trying to hurt. It was quite the task to supervise fourteen kids on three lanes. When it came time to eat, we had to pour drinks, and everyone wanted something different, of course :-) Then the woman who cooks the food for the grill was late, and when she got there, we found out they do not make large pizzas as they used to–only small individual pizzas. So we ordered a ton of chicken wings and fries, and they were a big hit with the kids. We weren’t allowed to take the cake inside, but the kids bowled, ate, sang happy birthday, and left. Next year, MAYBE Jayden can have a party where my husband and I don’t have to do so much :-)

Everything that happened today made my admiration for my husband just quadruple. He pretty much decided what kind of man and what kind of father he wanted to be on his own. He didn’t have much growing up, and instead of being bitter about it, he has made it his point to give his kids everything he did not have when he was growing up, often at his own expense. I am sure he was exhausted as he drove into work this evening. Yet, he went back and forth to the front desk to get bumpers for the lanes, check on the food, pay for shoes, etc.., picked up cupcakes for Jayden’s classmates this morning before he even had any sleep, and drove us all the way out to United Memorial so Jayden could pay Granddad a birthday visit as his resting place.

June through July 098

Dad with newborn Jayden

Going to Kalahari surprise

Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank you that you blessed me with my children. I thank you that you have allowed my son to overcome his initial obstacles and make it to nine years old today. I thank you for the person he is. I thank you that your love shines through him. I thank you that he is a saved person and I pray that you will continue to protect him and guide him. Protect and guide his little friends that came to support him this evening, and their parents and guardians. Help all of us adults so that we can do better at making this world a better place for our sweet children to grow up in. They are not failing us; we are failing them. I thank you for giving my husband the means to make the party and the trip to Kalahari happen for our son. I thank you for making my husband into the wonderful father that he is. I pray that you will continue to lead us as we try to raise our children according to your principles. We all need your strength still as we grieve my Dad–so many unanswered questions. Please be with us. Please be with my brothers and sisters in Christ, strengthen them as they do your work. Please use us to reach the unsaved. We will give your name only all the honor and glory. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Monday madness, my style

A number of stories have garnered my attention this week.

Just like millions of other Americans, I have been paying close attention to Oregon and South Carolina, praying for the people at Umpqua Community College, especially the victims, their families, and the survivors. I read that the people of that area are not trying to give the shooter the infamy he hoped to gain by committing the crime. I’m going to respect their wishes. His name will never appear on my blog again. I agree with them. These are the people who ought to be talked about, from here on out, not only to honor their memories, but also to show any other LOSER who might be thinking of doing something similar that their name will be blotted out of society:

Victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting

Their families have to be absolutely heartbroken. Perhaps because my pain is still fresh from my Dad, who at least died a natural death, I really feel for those surviving people. I can’t imagine what they are going through right now. My Dad went peacefully, and I am still consumed with thoughts about wondering if he was afraid or at peace, or lonely or anything like that when he died. I can only imagine the questions those family members are asking themselves right now.

I have to wonder why the mother of the shooter has not said anything. Is she responsible? Uh, yeah. From everything I have read, it sounds as though she knew something was wrong with her 26-year-old “baby”. Yet he still had guns, as did she. Of course, the blame goes on the one who committed the crime first and foremost, but any time someone knows a family member is a possible danger and doesn’t take steps to prevent a tragedy, in my very humble opinion, some of the blood is on their hands.

It is said that the gunman was targeting the Christians. Those who boldly stood and proclaimed their faith made the ultimate sacrifice. I know Jesus welcomed them with open arms. I hope they received their crowns and put on their white robes PROUDLY. Some people said that they should have just lied, because they would have been forgiven. Technically, they could have. The shooter shot those who didn’t respond or responded with some other faith in the leg. Theoretically a survivor who had lied could have confessed his sin to Jesus, repented and been forgiven. And we know that once we are saved, we are always saved. Salvation is not given and then taken away. However, there are a few Scriptures that lead me to believe that denying our faith does have consequences:

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33).

“…If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38).

“Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26).

I’ll take my chances if I am in a similar situation. I fear God, not man. Apparently, those brave Christian warriors felt the same as they looked certain death in the face. SMH.

South Carolina flooding

South Carolina is going through it, and it may not be over.

So far the death toll is at 11, and I am pretty sure that number will climb. Entire neighborhoods have been devastated. Can you imagine having to rebuild your entire life?? The house you grew up in, destroyed? Your family pictures, important papers, heirlooms…gone? For me, that would be the most devastating thing… to lose those things that cannot be replaced. A home can be rebuilt, and it can be rebuilt to be even better and stronger than before, but will it still be the same? Probably not. And as for those who died–mostly by drowning–my heart goes out for them and their families. Of course I won’t have a choice but if I do, there are two ways I would never want to die–caught in a fire or drowning.

May the victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting and those of the South Carolina floods rest in peace.

Those were the heaviest stories that caught my eye, but there were some that were a tad fluffier, if you will:

McGraw-Hill to rewrite textbook after mom’s complaint

I know it wasn’t technically funny, but when I first heard that McGraw-Hill, the textbook publishing monster company, had the absolute gall to imply that slaves were paid “workers”, I laughed, a good, robust laugh. Only because it was so unbelievable. In ALL of my years of schooling, NEVER have I seen a single textbook call slavery anything other than what it was–SLAVERY. Should we also start saying that the Native Americans vacated their land voluntarily??

Jim Carrey’s girlfriend was married


I guess it is considered salacious because this young woman was married and dating Jim Carrey. But I wondered why this was even news. This young lady was no celebrity, and even if she were, she is now deceased (apparently by suicide, as it seems thus far). I am just wondering why the media has no decency to at least let the family bury her, for Pete’s sake, before they start going in on her life.

Speaking of the media and their lack of decency…

Cosmo rag labels Kardashian-Jenner clan “America’s First Family

Not sure who, but someone at Cosmopolitan magazine decided to do a cover (and story, and photo spread) of the Kardashian-Jenner ladies, and label them “America’s First Family”.

If ever such a group of people achieved anything more than the fame and wealth they have already amassed by doing absolutely nothing, if they ever truly became “America’s First Family”, that would be the day I moved to our friendly neighbor, Canada. I cannot, for the life of me, understand the fascination with this group of people. I do not think any adult should let their teen or pre-teen daughter watch their show. Out of curiosity, I watched a few clips, and they way they spoke to each other AND their mother was absolutely appalling. Just as a reminder, Cosmopolitan (and who still reads that magazine anyway??) America’s First Family is that group of four Black people that live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. ‘Member them?

The constant disrespect leveled against these people is absolutely amazing. Disagree with Barack Obama’s politics all you will. I have not liked everything he has done. But the office of president still ought to command more respect than it has been given in recent times.

Fire your entire staff, Cosmo. And how about having the decency to keep curse words off your cover? Last I checked magazine stands were right at the front of the store, at the check-out lane, right where kids try to pick up candy, chips and pop, and your magazine talks about how to get an “Epic A–” on the front.

And AAAAAARGH my daughter is awake. I’m not sure what is going on with her sleep schedule, what has been throwing it off, but I can promise you I am going to figure it out! This is the perfect time for me to write, to write here on this blog, study my Bible and my Sunday school lesson, and to work on my manuscript. I cannot do those things with thirty pounds hanging all over me. Kids, I tell ya.

My mind is madness right now…

Where are you?

Are you looking down on me?

Does it trouble you up there

When my hurting face you see?

I know you are in a better place

And yes you deserve your rest.

As much as I loved the very sight of you

God has always loved you best.

I long to hear your voice again,

to hear that laugh that came from deep within.

To see your face light up when I walked through the door

and hear you say “Cakes, how you been?”

I know that I must go on

but right now that seems impossible to fathom.

Still I tell myself everyday I was lucky to ever have had him.

I don’t think my heart will ever heal

it’s like a wound that is perpetually open.

But I know what I have working for me–

Jesus, whom I have hope in.

I won’t degrade your positive memory

by falling into a pit of constant despair.

Because through those you left behind

a part of you will always be there.

I am having a hard time focusing again. My mind is going all over the place, trying to process my grief and all of the news I have seen or read today. All I can do is pray right now and ask God for strength and comfort. Not only for myself, but for the entirety of my family and friends.

I would be remiss of me not to mention a story that I am sure is all over the news. Prayers also have to go up for those affected by the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Last I checked there were a few discrepancies in the reporting–some sources said thirteen people were dead and twenty were injured; another said there were nine dead; yet a third said ten dead. Sometimes I think the media ought not to try so hard to be the first to report that they end up distorting the facts, but that is not as important as the fact that no matter what the number, innocent people who were just going about their daily business of trying to better themselves by furthering their education were killed. The name of the shooter was released. Supposedly he was not a student there. He was killed by the police. I’m sure when this is all said and done we will find out some things about this guy that may point to some type of motive, but I don’t think a motive would make any difference in the lives of the surviving victims or the people who lost loved ones.

Of course the gun issue has been brought up. WHEN is America going to admit she has a problem with violence??? WHY is it so hard for people to admit that possibly we could stand to take some cues from other countries? There is truly no place at all in America where people are safe. Our society is just going down. The further we get from God, the worse off we all are for it.

Sometimes I wonder if I was born in the wrong decade. I think it was ideal when my parents were being raised. Families were together, and not only that, the entire community participated in raising children. My aunts and uncles often tell stories of being caught in the act of wrongdoing and being disciplined by a neighbor, or, at the very least, getting home after committing the wrongdoing only to find out that someone had already alerted my grandmother that her kids had been seen acting up. Teachers weren’t afraid to discipline students–my Dad was the recipient of a few paddlings, I believe–because they knew the parents would back them up. Not saying that I think paddling should be reinstated, just making a point.

Not to mention the good music and style of the seventies–people think it’s cheesy but I love everything seventies… the bell-bottoms, the Afros, the music…

Sighing… I love that song, and the video, even the choreography. Didn’t they look like they were having fun AND burning a ton of calories? Music was universal. People of all colors could get together and just dance and have a good time.

But I digress.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that America ain’t what she used to be and I don’t mean that in a good way. Things like this should be the norm, not the exception:

Staples will close stores on Thanksgiving

I will not shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. I remember working retail and absolutely dreading the holidays. That whole Black Friday is a super clever concept right out of Satan’s playbook. The holiday season becomes cheapened by consumerism and ultimately people forget what December 25th is all about, because by that day people are already worn out and tired of the holiday season because of all the shopping they’ve done and all the money they’ve spent. I refuse to participate. I know that most of those employees would rather be with their families on those days–AS THEY SHOULD. I urge people to stop frequenting these stores that apparently don’t give two hoots about their employees. I never made enough money at those stores, and could never make enough, to make up for the valuable time I missed with my family.

Money is god here in America.

Since my mind is troubled, I should get to the Word. We are in Deuteronomy chapter nine. God does not want the people of Israel to get puffed up with pride about what they are about to do–“Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. The people are strong and tall–Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: ‘Who can stand up against the Anakites?” (vv. 1-2). The people need to remember that they will be accomplishing this victory for the same reason as the victories of their past–because God is with them. However, it is not because of their righteousness or integrity–it is because of the covenant that God made with their ancestors that we know he is going to keep. Israel will be used to punish those nations, but in time, other nations that are worse than Israel in terms of their idolatry will be used to punish them. God tells the people “It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people” (vv. 5-6).

Now we get to a re-telling of the golden calf fiasco and how the people should never forget how they aroused the anger of the Lord in the wilderness.The Bible says “…From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord” (v. 7). In addition to the golden calf incident, the people angered the Lord at Taberah (that incident can be found in chapter three of Numbers. The people complained about how hard their lives were, angering the Lord enough to where he set the outskirts of the camp ablaze); Massah (the Massah and Meribah situation in the book of Exodus chapter seventeen, when the people had no water to drink, complained, and Moses struck the rock); and Kibroth Hattaavah (where the people complained about the food, and God sent the overabundance of quail). Kadesh Barnea is the location where the Israelites were when the spies returned with the negative report of the Promised Land. In this speech, Moses reminds the people that he prayed on their behalf that God would not destroy them, and in each instance God relented, always being mindful of the promise he had made to Abraham.

In chapter ten Moses recounts receiving the second set of stone tablets after he broke the first two in his anger. He again exhorts the people to fear the Lord, to be obedient to him, and to serve the Lord their God with all their heart and soul; to obey his commands and decrees. God’s Law, Moses says, is for the people’s own good. I would think that goes without saying. God loves us and wants the best for us. True happiness cannot exist outside of God. At least, it can’t in my life. When I was out there in the world, even at the moments where I was happy and having a good time, something was missing. And when that fun was over, I usually felt terrible–either I went back home and was lonely because I had no companion and no relationship with God; or I felt strange because of all the alcohol consumed. And although I didn’t realize it now, the Holy Spirit that had come into my life as a child when I first innocently accepted Jesus was still speaking to me, albeit softly, letting me know that I needed to do better.

Of course I don’t do everything right now, but I definitely don’t do as much wrong as I used to :-) And that is true happiness, knowing that every day I get better at living a life that is pleasing to God and serving him.

The next Scripture is interesting: “To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it” (v. 14). For the longest time I thought heaven was just one wide expanse. I didn’t think there were multiple heavens, but thanks to Moody Bible Institute and all of the good learning I have received there, and after fully reading the Word, I found this and other Scriptures that confirmed the existence of more than one heaven. The first heaven is the sky, the clouds, the earth’s atmosphere. The second is what we call outer space, with the sun, moon and stars, and the third heaven is above outer space, naturally. The third heaven is where God, angels, and the spirits of saved saints reside. It is so far away that it cannot be seen with the most sophisticated telescope.

The people need to circumcise their hearts. Circumcision, as we all know, is the act of removing the foreskin from a male’s penis. It was the signature on the dotted line, so to speak, in terms of the covenant between Abraham and God. All boys were to be circumcised eight days after their birth (Gen. 17:11). So what does circumcision of the heart include? From what I understand, that foreskin is unnecessary, and may even be unsanitary. I think the only difference is that covenant circumcision was an external act that symbolized one’s adherence to the Law, while circumcision of one’s heart was internal and manifested as a true love for the Lord.

Then Israel is reminded of why they should fear the Lord. I love this passage: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing” (vv. 17-18).


Ahem. Where was I?

The people are charged with remembering to only praise God, the one who performed great and awesome wonders before their very eyes. They are reminded of how they went from being a nation of only seventy (way back when the brothers came to Egypt for Joseph’s help during the famine in Genesis) and now are as numerous as the stars.

Not sure why, but my daughter is awake. Earlier she came into my room and complained that her behind was hurting. Then she narrowed it down and said it was itching, and first asked my mom, then me, to put lotion on her butt. Of course I did it. I guess her little skin was dry. She was okay after that, but now she is awake and demanding my attention. The things we do for our kids. Fun times!


Watch your tongue!

Not too long ago, it was brought to my attention that a young lady who is kind of a friend of mine (friend in the sense that we grew up together, now have kids that are the same age, and often have conversations that go beyond regular small talk, which makes us more than mere acquaintances, I suppose) has been dogging me behind my back. From what I was told, and I was not surprised as this young lady talks about everybody, her negative comments had to do with my appearance, particularly my hair before I got it relaxed.

What did I do when I found this out?

I laughed merrily.

Even in my awkward years–during my early teens to around my junior year in high school–my self-confidence was pretty doggone steady. I surrounded myself with good friends who were able to look past the huge glasses, acne and terrible braces, and see someone who is LOYAL, someone that if treated well, will be their friend for LIFE. I played sports, and of course if you’re a part of a team your teammates don’t care about your appearance as long as you are supporting them and doing your part.

Then there is something wonderful about getting older. As I’ve matured I’ve become even more self-confident. I can readily admit and accept that there are tons of beautiful women in the world. God knows how to create beauty, does he not? It doesn’t bother me that there are other women in the world prettier than me. Number one, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. God made me how he wanted me to be, and perhaps he allowed me to have the glasses, braces and acne and get dogged by some people in order that I might appreciate the ones who loved me in spite of. Perhaps my experience gave me special insight. Or hey, perhaps dragging me gave the person doing the talking a momentary boost in their obviously low self-esteem. If so, have at it (shrugs). If their name is not Jesus the Christ or Matt G. (my husband), I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of my appearance, 100% of the time. I’ve learned that people with positive self-esteem don’t talk about people a lot, especially their appearance.

This young lady claims to believe in Jesus and I have to accept her statement. She has also made other statements about God, so I can only take her at her word. Part of me believes that Christians have to be careful what we say, because we know the Word. Some of my favorite Scriptures about the tongue come from the book of James, particularly chapter three:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.  If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water” (3:1-12).

As small as the tongue is, it is an extremely powerful weapon. On one hand, it can be used positively to speak good words and preach the Gospel. On the other hand, it can tear someone down. Wars have been started based on something that has been said. And not only that, words can be misconstrued or misunderstood, and a battle can begin. The same tongue that blesses God should never bee used in cursing another person.

Another of my favorite verses on the tongue also comes from James:

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (1:26).

Part of me wants to say that of course believers should be careful what they say, but then I think about something else–if you are the type of Christian who easily tears down the brethren with your tongue, there is something wrong with your mind, but not as much as there is a problem with your HEART. Christians are to be filled with the love of God. The love of God will cleanse you of negative thinking if you so allow it to be done. The love of God will keep you from dogging out your brother or sister if they appear unkempt, or if their hair is not as laid as YOU think it ought to be. When a negative thought about another person enters your mind, the Holy Spirit will remind you of a few things: Maybe that person is happy with the way they look. Maybe they are having a financial problem right now, and that’s why their clothes are outdated. Maybe they were running late this morning and it was more important for them to be on time than to look perfect.

Or my personal favorite: It’s not your business.

Eighth grade

This was me in eighth grade. It is one of my least favorite school pictures, but underneath the acne, glasses and braces, I was the same person (in terms of personality) that I am now. Those who were able to look beyond the exterior found a beautiful interior. And for those who couldn’t… ah well. My life goes on :-)

Correct the saints or focus on the unsaved?

This is a bit extra…

It has recently come to my attention that some of my family members have some Biblical confusion about the spiritual gifts of tongues and laying of hands. Through the instruction I have received from my pastor and other reputable teachers; commentaries from highly educated theologians and from my own praying, I firmly believe that speaking in tongues never equated to a bunch of gibberish. Why in the world would God expect for us to talk to him in code? How does speaking in tongues glorify God?

I look no further than the book of Acts when the apostles first spoke in tongues. In Acts chapter 2, the newly minted apostles are before a large congregation of people on the day of Pentecost. They were able to speak the gospel in a manner that everyone could understand, meaning that they were able to relay the Gospel in languages…tongues… they had never uttered before. One rule of thumb for tongues–there must be a translator. A person with a gift of interpreting tongues was able to understand the speaker when that person was speaking in a language unknown to them. The purpose of tongues was to further increase the kingdom of God, not to call attention to any one individual who either a) is misguided or b) is trying to seem holier or more connected to God than others. The Bible seems to insinuate that the gift of tongues is no longer, and perhaps that is because the Gospel is as far-reaching as it is–the complete Bible is available in over five hundred different languages. Now that we have reached the Church Age and are under God’s grace, the gift of tongues has fulfilled its purpose. The Gospel has reached all corners of the earth and all who want to come to Jesus have that option.

Certain powers were bestowed upon the apostles to provide authenticity to their message and boost their credentials, if you will, or that new believers might receive the Holy Spirit that had not yet come to them. In other Biblical instances, laying on hands occurred when people were blessed, or when they were put into positions of authority. The apostles needed all the spiritual gifts they were given. After all, we’re talking about Jewish people who knew nothing other than Jewish law. They needed visual signs as proof of the ministry of Jesus and now, His apostles. Speaking in tongues was one, laying on hands was another. There were numerous instances in the Gospels where we see Jesus’s healing ministry. The apostles had this ability, which was evidenced by the story of Simon the sorcerer. He was able to see the Peter and John lay hands on new believers in Samaria and receive the Holy Spirit. Simon thought he could buy some of this Holy Ghost power.

When my Dad first passed, I had a relative who came and put her hands on me and starting speaking incoherently. I was a wreck and had no idea what she was doing, nor did I pay any attention. She thought that having her hands on me and speaking gibberish was helping. As much as I love her, it did nothing for me. A simple hug and a prayer with me in the name of Jesus would have done a lot more.

However, we cannot judge another’s salvation. If one says they are saved, that is between them and the Lord. I can see how there are so many denominations in the church–one group thinks speaking in tongues is essential to salvation; another believes we should still observe the Sabbath; another does laying on of hands, etc. But if a person is saved, I wonder if Christians still ought to correct each other in Biblical matters or focus our energy on getting the unsaved’s feet in the doors of the church? I tend to think we ought to do both, but our sense of urgency ought to be more with the unsaved person. A saved person can be led to the Bible in search of a Scripture that either confirms or rejects what they have been taught, and they can adjust their thinking accordingly. But the unsaved person is out there in perpetual wilderness and darkness with no obvious way out.

I have seen people speak in tongues before and I must admit–I thought it was the craziest thing I’d ever seen. I cannot imagine that gibberish elevates God in any way. If anything, all it did was distract me from God, because I was too busy watching the people and snickering (I was a lot younger).

Anything we do inside the church and outside HAS to uplift God and be for HIS GLORY and the advancement of HIS kingdom. If we do something that causes attention to ourselves, we have become a potential stumbling block for a babe in Christ or unsaved person. Laying on hands is unnecessary because once we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. And we don’t need laying on of hands for healing either–a prayer asking for the afflicted person will suffice.

She is stronger than she thought she was.

I’m talking about my mom, of course.

Yes, I lost my earthly father, but she lost her best friend, her companion of over forty years. Just like me, she assumed that Dad was going to be here for her to grow old with. I cannot imagine how this feels for her, to have the other part of her (because a husband and wife are one, correct) gone from her presence, and so abruptly.

I think of how hard she tried to take care of Dad–trying to make modifications around the house so he could function (such as sitting a folding chair in the bathtub so he could get a good shower); buying a wedge pillow that would elevate him when he slept (he never got a chance to use it); being fully committed to preparing food that would adhere to his diet (low sodium and low fluid intake). She said, “he wouldn’t have been a burden”. No, he wouldn’t have. We all would have gladly taken care of him. But God saw fit to just remove Dad from his pain.

I’ve watched Mom deal with all of the visitors with grace; I’ve watched her carefully and lovingly make Dad’s arrangements; I’ve watched her deal with the frustrations of “finalizing” (if you will) his estate. There are a lot of hoops she has to go through just to get what is already rightfully hers. I tell you, I assumed all a person had to do was have a will and that was it. So did she. None of us could have known how complicated the process is.

On top of that, things in the house have all of a sudden been falling apart. First the faucet in the kitchen sink. Then it was discovered that the bush (I forget what kind of bush it is, flowers bloomed on it every spring) that has been in front of their house for about a decade died and needed to be pulled up. One of the shelves in the closet in the back bedroom collapsed, as did a shelf in Dad’s closet. The carpet in the basement continued to show signs of damage from when their basement flooded on June 29th (the day we left for the Poconos, also when Dad went to the hospital for the first time he passed out). Something is wrong with the dishwasher.

In the midst of it all, Mom has been trying to pick up the pieces of her life. “Moving on” isn’t a good way to describe what we are doing… “continuing to exist” is more like it. At this point we are still emotionally stagnant. We both know that one day it might get easier, but that time won’t be soon, and things will never be the same again. Yet, she has gone back to Jazzercise, spent several hours visiting with a beloved high school classmate and childhood friend on Saturday, and plans on taking a train trip to Chicago with my sister and her family next month. She returned to church, although she had vowed not to go back until Dad could go with her–now she carries him in her heart. She even returned to her position as an usher. She made Dad’s famous salmon salad for men’s day on Sunday, and her special banana pudding. She does the same things she used to do for her grandkids now that they are back in school–she braids hair, irons clothes, fixes breakfasts in the morning as needed, and does drop-offs and pick-ups. She has done quite a bit on her own and is able to see that she has tons of people just ready to help her. Her older brother and my husband put in a brand-new faucet. A neighbor who owns a landscaping business pulled up the bush. She hired a company to come in and remove the old carpeting from downstairs and plans to replace it with vinyl flooring. She has been busy taking care of the house–the beloved house that she and had built for them to grow old in. I doubt she will ever leave, and I am glad she is staying. This house is important. It is the culmination of a lifetime of the hard work done by a poor country boy from Alabama.

She is truly a little soldier.

I think of her pain more than my own and some times it brings tears to my eyes. It bothers me to look at pictures of the two of them together, their prom, their wedding, their vacations–and think that now all she has left is those memories. I’d be dying inside if I were her.

Mom and Dad Vacationing Mom and Dad Pfizer Ball Dad and Mom at Niagara Falls Mom and Dad Lounging Mom's Graduation from Cleary

Mom and Dad 70s fabHe would want her to be happy. I am doing my best to help her figure out what her new happy is going to look like.

I’ve encouraged her to attend Bible study or Sunday school, because I know for me, whenever I am down, there is nothing like a good Word.

So that leads me back to Deuteronomy. We were in chapter four, beginning at the 44th verse. However, chapter four actually ends with an introduction, if that makes any sense–this begins the portion of the book where Moses recites the laws the people were given. Let’s move on to chapter five.

It begins with a rendering of when the people received the Ten Commandments. Since we have already discussed these Commandments, I won’t repeat them. However, I do like the warning given in the last couple of verses in this chapter, because they can so easily apply to our lives as believers today: “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess” (vv. 32-33).

That brings us to chapter six. In this chapter, Moses encourages the people to love God, and allow those Commandments to be imprinted in their hearts. We can also take heed of that today. Think about that in terms of how you worship. If we truly love the Lord, it reflects in our lifestyle. We don’t just attend Sunday services and act holier than thou there–we live our lives in a manner that reflects the God that we serve. Why? Because if we are truly walking with the Lord, His Word becomes imprinted in our hearts. When we read the Bible, we don’t just read to be able to say that we have read it, or to be able to point out other people’s faults–we read so that we can be closer to Him and further establish a relationship with Him. For those of us who really love Jesus, the Word becomes internal. Moses further encourages the people to make sure that their children know the Commandments. I’ve gone into several tangents about how people these days don’t take their children to church or properly teach them about God, so I guess I won’t do it again today. Moses warns the people not to get complacent int he Lord once they have reached their destination. You know how it is–you pray for something that is really important to you–say, a new job–and when you get it, you forget about the Lord. You don’t even bother to say thank-you. What happens? Over time you forget the job is a blessing from the Lord and look for every reason there is to complain about it. Now, if you are truly being mistreated at your job, what I just said does not apply to you. But for those people who think they are going to go to work and set their own rules within their first few days or months, if the shoe fits…

On a side note–I think work would be a lot easier for a lot more people if 1) employers/companies stopped treating their employees like expendable garbage and 2) people did their work and stopped acting like they were still in high school. I’m sure I’ve also done plenty of ranting on this blog about how terrible employers are in America–not wanting to pay a livable wage or providing as few benefits as they can, or piling on unrealistic demands, trying to stretch employees to work more than they ought to–so I’ll keep that rant brief as well. All I know is, from personal experience, that if companies treated their employees better, their bottom line would reflect it. Happy employees will stay with the company, reducing turnover, and bring the company in more business. And I’m sure everyone knows an office gossip or an office crier. I always tried to stay away from those types. Unfortunately, I’ve more often had to deal with bad management than problems with any of my other co-workers, and that has been a nightmare in and of itself.


Moses implores the people to fear God only and refrain from following any other gods. In verse 16, Moses warns the people not to tempt the Lord, as they did at Massah. Massah is Meribah, where the people cried out for water and questioned whether the Lord was among them or not. (The same time when Moses struck the rock).

The people are always to be mindful of from whence they have come. The Bible says In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the Lord sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors” (vv. 20-23).

Not only should they be mindful of where they have come from, they have to be mindful that their victories have been fully secured by God and God only. It was the LORD who brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand. As good a job as he has done, the credit does not go to Moses. Sure, he gets credit for dealing with the Israelites, who were definitely something else, but ultimately Moses had nothing to do with the plagues, the implementation of the Passover, the giving of the Law, the manna, the parting of the Red Sea, nada.

The Israelites are to teach their children about everything God has done and to obey all of his decrees so that they will always prosper and be kept alive. I like the last verse (25) of the chapter, which says “And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness”. But of COURSE the Word of God keeps us righteous, because God is the very definition of righteousness! God is the author of perfect moral conduct. If we are following Jesus, we become righteous.

In chapter seven the people are reminded that they must drive the pagan nations out of Canaan. The instructions are, in my opinion, super-simple. They are not ambiguous–God told the people exactly what they were supposed to do: “…you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire” (vv. 2-5).

For the Israelites to fail to do this was flat-out willful disobedience. It was laid out for them, plain and simple, what they were to do, and not to do. Why do people do the same today? We have plenty of carnal Christians who know exactly what the Word says. Or maybe they don’t… I’ve heard of preachers who haven’t themselves read the complete Record from cover to cover, taken any kind of classes to further their knowledge, etc. That makes me question their motives and their commitment. It seems as though a preacher who has truly been called by the Lord would take their calling extremely seriously, by reading their Instruction Manual (the Bible) and getting the appropriate credentials and education. How can one claim to preach the Word if they haven’t read and fully digested ALL of it? Or, we have Christians, not just preachers, that pick and choose the Scriptures they like and ignore the ones that convict them. I cannot, for example, understand something like this right here…


Don’t rub your eyes, because what you are seeing is real. This is an openly gay pastor and his “first gentleman”. So apparently they have decided to ignore any passages in the Scriptures that prohibit homosexuality. And for those who claim there are no Scriptures in the New Testament that discuss homosexuality, look no further than Romans 1:26-28 or 1st Corinthians 6:9-10. For some reason, people think they only need to pay attention to what is said in the Gospels. “Jesus never said homosexuality was wrong”, they argue. But ummm—the entire Bible is the God-inspired Word, so what makes people think they only have to abide by what is written in red??

Moving on…

The Israelites are reminded that they are to be a holy people; God’s treasured possession (for my saved brethren, this is us–we are to be a holy people, the light of this dying world, God’s treasured possessions) and that the love God has bestowed upon them is not due to anything they have done. It wasn’t because they were large in number–at the beginning of it all, they were the fewest. God built them up because of his love AND because he had a promise to keep. As I told the kids in Sunday school, when God makes a covenant with man, it is up to man to keep his end of the bargain. It goes without saying that God is going to hold up his end. God will keep his promises throughout thousands of generations to those who love him, but those who hate him will surely face destruction. If the people are only careful to follow the laws they will be blessed in every way–they will be numerous, their crops will be plentiful, they will be disease-free. But they HAVE to destroy all the people in Canaan. If not, those people will be a snare to them.

I couldn’t help but think about the use of the word “snare”. I remember seeing snare traps quite a bit as a child watching Looney Tunes (LOL) and also on hunting shows. Snare traps are sneaky–they are not something out in plain sight. They have to be kind of hidden, or people wouldn’t fall for them. The same can happen in terms of sin. Something may appear in our life that doesn’t seem to be too harmful, yet when we get involved in it we see that there is no easy way out. I think of extramarital affairs or drug use, for example. A little flirting here or there leads to an exchange of phone numbers or emails, which leads to illicit contact and eventually a sexual relationship. Or how harmless does it seem to just try one hit of a drug? You’ve seen other people do it casually and they end up fine. However, you take one or two hits and end up hooked. People were most likely to walk into a snare trap when they weren’t being careful or watching where they were going. The same is the case for us today. If we are not careful to heed the words of the Lord, and if we don’t follow the direction given us by the Holy Spirit, we can easily end up ensnared in sin. God is the only way to live a free life, free of any bounds or chains.

The people are told not to worry about the enemy nations that may seem bigger or more powerful.They must remember what God did with Pharaoh. After all, as I’ve reiterated numerous times, they’ve seen with their own eyes God’s magnificent power. God will drive those nations out before them, little by little.

I often wondered why God didn’t just send a big flood or a big fire to clear the people out? He says that if he rid the land of the people too quickly, the wild animals would multiply. But we all know God has the power to keep that from happening too.  God could have snuffed out every last inhabitant of Canaan with a word if he wanted to and kept the Israelites from having to physically fight and remove them. But he decided not to. There had to be a reason behind this. I think it was to test the nation’s obedience and faith. Would they go forward and fight boldly, knowing God had their front, back and sides? Would they ignore the temptation of the beautiful pagan women or the potential bribes from the men and completely remove all the people from the land? It remained to be seen, and I think God is testing them. Will they completely rid the land of all of the silver and gold gods, or will they destroy them as required? They aren’t even to use the gold and silver from gods in their homes–it is detestable. God is not playing, but unfortunately, we find out later that the Israelites are not taking him as seriously as they ought.

In chapter eight, God comes at the Israelites with a directive that he shouldn’t even have to say: He tells the people not to forget him. After all they have seen, after all that has been done for them, it is preposterous to think that they would ever forget about it, right? I mean, who would forget seeing a sea part into two walls? (Hint–the Israelites). In this little (and I mean little because what God has done for Israel is waaaaay more than what is included here) God reminds the people that it was HIM who led the people in the wilderness for forty years as he humbled them and tested their hearts; provided manna for them, a food they had never seen before; enabled them to wander in comfort–their clothes never worn out and their feet never swelled. EVEN THOUGH God had to punish his people, that did not mean he removed his love from them. Can you imagine if God stopped loving us each time we sinned? He’d probably have his back to us for the vast majority of our lives, don’t you think? (Remember–thoughts can be sinful too. That’s what screws me up. I’m a lot better at keeping my mouth shut, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking expletives in my head sometimes. SMH at myself).

I like in verse 5 where God draws a parallel between himself and an earthly father, because I often make comparisons and say that our relationship with God is similar to a relationship between a parent and a child, in that when a child acts up, a parent disciplines them–out of love–and when the child does wrong, the parent does not leave him: “Know then in your heart that just as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you”.

Discipline is never intended (or it shouldn’t be intended) to tear a kid down. It is intended to correct. When your child does something wrong, you discipline him to correct the behavior. Our model of discipline comes right from God. He “spanks” those whom he loves, always hoping to restore us to correct behavior and to build us up. If you have gotten to the point where God has stopped trying to correct you, perhaps you have quenched the Holy Spirit one time too many and need to do some serious repenting.

Here is where God tells the people exactly what kind of land they are getting, one that will make their forty years of wandering worthwhile, so long as they do what they are supposed to: The water is plentiful, and there is wheat, barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; there will be plenty of bread and the people will lack for nothing. It sounds as close to Eden as people can get on earth.

The people have to be careful not to eat and get satisfied and forget what the Lord has done for them. If so, that opens them up to the possibility of becoming prideful. We’ve all seen it happen. The Lord blesses someone, but they begin to think that whatever they’ve gotten, they got on their own, and they get a big head. Having a big head makes it easier to look down on other people. Unfortunately when that happens, the Lord will bring them crashing down.

Chapter eight ends with a warning: “If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God” (vv. 19-20).

As I read these chapters of Deuteronomy, a few observations popped into my mind. I have many accomplishments for which I am very proud–my work in the church, my family, my degrees, being a student of the Bible, etc. But although I am proud I am not prideful or boastful. I give credit to God for all things in my life. And out of respect for God and what he has done for me, I like to help other people to bring out their best. I enjoy lifting people up and helping build them up. Unfortunately, success perverts some people. It is always a matter of spiritual maturity and ongoing spiritual maintenance, if I may. Being a Christian requires spiritual maintenance, spiritual upkeep. The world is going down and we see worldly practices being brought even into the church. Why? Because people think going to Sunday services and hearing the reverend preach from a small section of the Bible is enough. We don’t even pick up the Bible throughout the week. We’ve never read it or gone to Sunday school or Bible class. Reading the Word, praying about it for enlightenment, is spiritual maintenance. We have to connect with God through prayer and the Word EVERY DAY. That is the only way to stay truly humble.

We as Christians also have to be careful not to be complacent. How have worldly practices managed to creep into our churches? Because we have grown complacent. A lot of us are ambivalent that our churches are not growing. We won’t go out into the community and witness. We don’t even talk to our families about Jesus. We’re far too busy throughout the week at our jobs and going about our various to-dos to work toward the advancement of God’s kingdom. It doesn’t make any difference to us whether or not other people are getting the Gospel message–we know that WE are saved, and don’t care whether anyone else is or not. But if we really love the Lord we will have a sense of urgency about our work. We ought to be quick to correct our brothers and sisters in Christ if something is out of order at our church. I cannot tell you how many videos I have seen of pastors or churches doing things that in no way, shape or form bring glory to God or have anything to do with spreading the Gospel message.

Praise and worship is to lift up the Lord, not ourselves. It is easy to let the ways of the world interfere in our relationship with God. The world will puff us up and have us thinking that we’re really doing something when we come up with those entertaining charades such as what is above. Key word there is “entertaining”. Christians are not in the business of entertaining people. Our lives have to be about more than that. People need us to do what we are supposed to do–lift up the Lord, so that men can be drawn to Him. There is no room for self-aggrandizement in this Christian life. Look at the people cheering in the first video. Were they cheering for God, or for the pastor on the Hoverboard??

(videos are from kevonstage–he has a youtube channel bearing that title, and he has some good videos–he is a young married father who was raised in church, and does not use explicit language or have vulgar subject matter in his videos. Give him a look :-)


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