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).

YES, HE IS LORD OF ALL! HALLELUJAH! (Praise break)

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!

ME AND LAYLABOO

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