How to Get a Job Done

You have an idea. You feel called to your  purpose. You start out with excitement and imagine great things to come.  Then you hit a roadblock. Many decisions have to be made. Which way do you go when no way is exactly right? What if you make the wrong choice? Your progress is threatened. What will you do? God must be against your project! You are tempted to quit. Maybe you should quit.

Roadblocks

Roadblocks cause stress that can distract you from your goal. For every good plan there is wisdom to navigate each roadblock. Accept the good plan to which you are called, and pray in faith for the wisdom that God will give in answer to each roadblock. 

You don’t know the future.

The end product of your plan may hardly resemble the image in your mind at the beginning or even along the way, but your good plan will have a good product if you proceed in wisdom and faith. The end product may turn out to be greater than you could have imagined.

I didn’t make this up. King Solomon wrote it in the 10th Century BCE for me to read in the 21st Century CE . Take a tip from Solomon.

“A wise man’s heart perceives both occasion and procedure because to every purpose there is occasion and procedure; therefore the distress of man is great upon him because he does not know the future.” Ecclesiastes 8:5-7

Okay, I know that’s not exactly the King James Version. I don’t even know if any version translates it quite like I have.  You decide whether or not I have translated accurately. Here you go; below is the KJV with portions of Strong’s definitions inserted in brackets.

“…a wise man’s heart discerneth [perceives] both time [occurrence; occasion; season]
and judgment [process; procedure] because to every purpose [desire, plan was my word]
there is time [occasion; season] and judgment [process; procedure];
therefore the misery [distress] of man is great upon him.
For he knoweth not that which shall be, for who can tell him when it shall be?”
Ecclesiastes 8:5-7

STRESS!!! I can’t take it!

Solomon understood the stress of a big project. He was responsible for building the Temple with its massive columns, the huge brass pool held up by twelve gigantic brass oxen, and the two cherubim overlaid in gold stretching from wall to wall (I Kings chapter 6). He also built cities, fortifications, and towers throughout his kingdom, including the surrounding nations of his dominion.

Okay, Solomon knew stress. How did he deal with it?

Solomon said a man gets distressed because he doesn’t know the future.
-What if this? or What if that?- So what did Solomon do to relieve his stress?

Solomon prayed for wisdom. We know his prayer, recorded in I Kings 3:5-15. As the crown of his father King David was placed on his head, the responsibility of leadership weighed heavily upon him. Did God hear and answer young Solomon’s prayer?

“And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.  And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt … and his fame was in all nations round about.
[He wrote books of philosophy, music, and science]… And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.”
1 Kings 4:29-34  

Are you under stress? Do you fret over the “what-if’s”? The opportunity for wisdom is yours too.

Wisdom?  Me???

“If any of you lack wisdom,
let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 
But let him ask in faith”
James 1:5-6  

Has God called you to a task?  Take the bull by the horns.

Jesus said it this way.

“So then, do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:34, New English Translation  

Do you get it? Every day has its own roadblocks. You will get stressed out trying to figure out tomorrow’s difficulties today, before you really know exactly what they will be. Remember, nobody knows the future.  

It is good to have a plan, a project, a purpose. Even God has plans. “I have formulated a plan, yes, I will carry it out.” Isaiah 46:11, NET   Planning is not evil. Planning is not “taking thought for tomorrow”  that Jesus warned about.

So what do we do?

The Plan + Wisdom and Faith = Great End Product 

  • Hear a call, get an idea.
  • Each day pray for wisdom to accomplish the work of that day.
  • Each day accomplish something toward your
  • Tackle roadblocks one at a time as they come.

A day will dawn when you realize the job is done. You may be amazed at the end product.

 “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.
This too, I see, is from the hand of God”  
Ecclesiastes 2:24, NIV

Solomon knew what he was talking about!

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Language is Not Mathematics

123 or ABC

2+2=4 in every language, in every culture. Even among people with no written language, a girl having two sheep who gets two more sheep always ends up having four sheep. There is no room for ambiguity or nuance. The numbers don’t lie; they don’t hide the truth.

Language, however, cannot claim to be so straightforward. There are always two participants in language, the speaker/writer and the hearer/reader. Language always has nuance.

One could say, “He went to the store.” -Seems simple and straightforward, but the understanding is affected by the emphasis of the speaker. HE went to the store. He WENT to the store. He went TO the store. He went to the STORE. These all have different nuance of meaning.

More than speaking, writing adds another level of complexity. While the hearer has audio emphasis as well as possible facial expression and body gestures to aid understanding, the reader must gather by context which emphasis the writer means.

Language is always a conversation. Even a soliloquy must have a hearer. The hearer must always intuit the speakers meaning to some degree.

We come to the problem with translations.

The translator studies the context, and deciphers as mathematically as possible, but he can never translate without the bias of his own understanding, his own intuition.

I am not a language expert, but in my limited experience it seems that some languages are more mathematical than others. For instance, Latin is very mathematical in form and order while English leaves much freedom of order and even of form to the speaker/writer. Still, Latin is not as clearly unambiguous as mathematics.

A few years ago a series of tornadoes blew destruction across the southeastern US. Some of my neighbors discovered windblown mail from other states dropped by the swirling clouds into their backyards. Some letters were actually returned. Had I discovered a letter out of the blue and had read it, no doubt I would have found nuances that I could not intuit because I do not know the writer.

Here is my point. In order to fully understand a speaker, a hearer must know the speaker. Also, understanding is more apt to be accurate when the hearer is actually in the presence of the speaker, face to face, so to speak. Again, this is a problem for translators.

I can fully affirm my belief that the Bible is the “only infallible rule of faith and of practice.” Yet, I do not find a translation that I can fully trust to be infallible due to nuances intuited or not intuited by the translators. I study the text using several translations, paraphrases and lexicons, but none of them will ever yield a mathematically accurate understanding. I have resigned myself that I must know the speaker.

My father was a gentle, empathetic and kind man. If someone brought me a letter written in my father’s handwriting that could be interpreted as harsh, vindictive or unkind, I would reject that interpretation. Those characteristics were not in his nature. I would look into the context and the history to find clues about his meaning.

We have such clues to be used in Bible interpretation. The greatest clue as to the character of God is Jesus himself. In his own words, “If you have seen me, you have seen my Father also.” God is a spirit. It is hard for us to see Him. Jesus was “the image of the invisible God”. The best interpretation of any passage will be found by seeing God through the character of Jesus Christ. It reminds me of  the old saying, “What would Jesus do?”

 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
John 1:18

Building New Earth Now

New Earth Comes Forth

Wood, Hay, Stubble, Gold, Silver, Precious Stones
The material of our building will be tried as by fire.

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it,
because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon,
he shall receive a reward.
1 Corinthians 3:10-14

What sort of materials will endure? Endure as what? Where will they endure?

Paul gives an imaginative picture of wise master builders and workmen building a physical structure. This passage reminds me of another imaginative story.

Tolkien’s Imaginative Creation of Middle Earth

J.R.R. Tolkien‘s epic The Silmarillion begins with Ainulindale the story of the Ainur. The name means The Music of the Ainur. It is the creation story of Tolkien’s mythology of Middle Earth. Blind musical creatures  called Ainur spring from the thought of Iluvatar the Creator. Iluvatar conducts as the Ainur create music which culminates in a great symphony. They sing and make harmonious music until one of them becomes purposely dissonant and draws others after himself. Yet the music continues. After all the music has come to completion, Iluvatar opens the musicians’ eyes to see for the first time. When given sight, the Ainur view the imaginative world their music created. Their music had initiated and developed the whole world of Middle Earth, including its characters and its histories.

What if our experiences in this world are building a new world?  The Kingdom of God – New Earth and New Heaven!

We are laborers together with God:
… I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.
But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon…
If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  
If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss:
but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God
1 Corinthians 3:9-16

Anybody who builds with unworthy materials, Paul continues, “shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”  Paul said that some of what we build will not endure. “The fire shall try every man’s work.” What we do matters. Paul is admonishing us to build our lives with lasting and beautiful materials that will be like gold, silver and precious stones.  God will have His Temple.

Like Tolkien’s musical Ainur, one day we will see what we are building, and it will be glorious!

 

A  Second Thought:
Should Children Be Taught Fairy Tales?

I confess; I love fairy tales. (Hey, I even love fairies.)
Mythologies and fairy tales are imaginative attempts to describe earthly truth.

Earthly depictions of truth are like a shadow cast by Heavenly reality. The writer of Hebrews says it this way:

They [Levitical priests] serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.
This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle,
“See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

Hebrews 8:5  

We, like children and like Tolkien’s Ainur, see shadows and patterns until He opens our eyes.

 

Your Equation of 12

Imagine that the number 12 represents you as a fully mature son of God, as in Ephesians 4:13.

Equation of 12Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

 

Equations of 12

In our analogy the number 12 represents you, fully formed into the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

1 John 3:2-3  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 

6+6=12                 5+8-1=12        

2+10=12                2 x 6=12      

4+4+4=12             24/2=12

3+3+3+3=12        100-88=12          950.4/79.2=12

There are an infinite number of ways to get to 12, but they all equal 12.

Cattle Chute

Cattle Chute

What if the choices we make every day are creating the equation of our lives?
What if God is NOT guiding us down a cattle chute toward our 12?

Maybe, as our poor choices send our equation off the mark, God brings situations that offer opportunities to correct our equation.

My equation interacts with your equation and many other equations.  We add to and subtract from one another’s equations.

All the time there is a Guiding Hand, not manipulating, but offering a path that leads to 12.

Jesus the Sin Offering and the Priest

Part of this post is an excerpt from my book He Who Bleeds available on amazon.com

Is God angry, raging and vengeful? Animal sacrifice? What a barbaric custom!  Gruesome, even cruel.  No wonder many Christian theologians separate the angry God of the Old Testament from the loving God of the New Testament.   

Who is Who?

There is a gospel in the Old Testament.  Jesus opened the Old Testament scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection.

Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  Luke 24:27

What is animal sacrifice?  I mean, what is it all about?   I know it is representative, but who is who?  I mean, who is the animal representing?  Maybe he is representing me, and I should die for my sin, but the innocent animal dies in my place so God can forgive me.  Is this really what is going on?

What if, in the gospel according to the First Covenant, the sacrificial animal takes the representative role of the victim of that sin?  To find the answer we must look into the ceremony of Atonement.

Atonement is a Legal Term

The Hebrew word in the Strong’s concordance is #3722 kaphar[1].  An example of kaphar as a legal term is in Isaiah 28:18 “your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand;” A covenant is a legally binding agreement, like a contract.  Disannulment  brings the contract to a legal end.  Disannulment frees the signers from further contract liability.  Disannulment is atonement, kaphar.

Atonement as referred to in Mosaic Law is the waiving of the required legal punishment.  Sins for which atonement is made are covered.  They are covered from the punishment of the law.  The process of atonement does not negate the need for repentance and restitution.  On the contrary, confession, repentance and making restitution are necessary steps to atonement[2].  According to Leviticus, after these first steps had been accomplished, then the priest shall make an atonement for him.

The Priest is the Acting Intercessor

How did the priest make an atonement for the sinner?  What did the priest do?  

In a case where the sinner confesses and repents to the victim, as long as the victim is satisfied with the repentance, they may declare peace with one another, and the incident is over. Like Jesus said in Matthew 5:25,  Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him.  There is no need for the law to step in and provide an intercessor.   But what if the sinner repents, and still the victim refuses to make peace?  Then there is need for the law to provide an intercessor.  The intercessor acts in the place of the defrauded victim and makes an atonement for the repentant sinner.   

The earthly pattern that God gave Moses for atonement had two parts.  These were two actors, so to speak, in this earthly pre-enactment of the necessary action in the heavens.  The sacrificial animal and the priest both represent the victim of the sin.  The animal loses his life as the victim who has been defrauded of a portion of his life.  The priest, in the place of the victim, makes atonement, in other words, waives the charges against the sinner. 

            Ceremonially, two actors were needed because the animal could lay down his life, but could not intelligently waive the charges.  The priest could waive the charges, but could not die or suffer equal defraudment for every sin he atoned.  So, the priest was required to eat the sin offering[3] to make himself one with the animal who was taking on the position of the victim.  It was imperative upon the priest that he eat the sin offering, and only the priest who offered the sacrifice was allowed to eat it. 

Because the priest representatively becomes the victim of my sin, he has the right to press charges against me or to waive the charges.  

What did he do?  The priest waived the charges in the stead of the victim and atonement was made.

            Jesus was able to be both sin offering and priest.  Jesus was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities[4].  He accepted the weight of pain and grief caused by every sin ever committed bearing it in his own body on the cross.  He is the Victim of all our sin, and He could choose to press charges or to waive the charges against us.  Thank God, he chose to intercede in the proceedings that were against us making atonement for our sins, not pressing the charges.  Only the victim or one who legally stands in the victim’s stead can do that.  Jesus is the True Victim who holds the right to forgive every sin; and he is our High Priest who “ever liveth to make intercession for us”.[5] 

Let’s go back to where we started.  Is this a barbaric picture of animal sacrifice?  Gruesome, even cruel?  Maybe; but who is cruel, God? or the sinner? 

Sin is cruel, and Jesus came to take away sin.

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29  

[1] 3722  kaphar {kaw-far’} From Strong’s Concordance
Meaning:  1) to cover, purge, make an atonement, make reconciliation, cover over with pitch 1a) to coat or cover with pitch  1b1) to cover over, pacify, propitiate 1b2) to cover over, atone for sin, make atonement for 1b3) to cover over, atone for sin and persons by legal rites 1c1) to be covered over 1c2) to make atonement for 1d) to be covered
Origin:  a primitive root
Usage:  AV – atonement 71, purge 7, reconciliation 4, reconcile 3, forgive 3, purge away 2, pacify 2, atonement…made 2, merciful 2, cleansed 1, disannulled 1, appease 1, put off 1, pardon 1, pitch 1; 102

[2] Leviticus 6:4-7  Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found,  5 Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.  6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest:  7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.

[3] Leviticus 6:26  The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation.

[4] Hebrews 4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

[5] Hebrews 7:25  Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

The Last Amen – Christian Death

Christian Death

The words don’t go together, Christian death.  It’s an oxymoron, maybe it’s a diptych.  

The following is a guest post by Rae Shrock.  Rae is the editor and creator of the beautiful, slick, full color Daughters of Promise Magazine, available online and in hard copy.

 “The magazine has expanded to include many gifted writers, photographers, and fellow visionaries who share a common passion to encourage women in their faith. DOP is unique in that it is primarily written by women of the Anabaptist denomination. We are a diverse mix, but we share a common love for set-apartness, experiential Christianity, and Jesus.”

Christian Death

In Memory of
Elizabeth Brewer Ward
1981-2013

Rae was inspired to write this article, which is almost a poem, by the Christian deaths of friends and neighbors near her.  She is young, but death experiences reach us all on a deep and common level.  Rae’s gift with words will bring her experience close to your heart and gently warm you with her hope and ours.  The young mother, Elizabeth, whom she mentions toward the end is my precious daughter-in law.  My son is the husband who awoke that morning a widower.  Her three young children are my full-of-life grandchildren.  

Thank you, Rae, for bringing us all the Light of Hope in this article.

 

 

The Last Amen

By Rae Schrock

We live to die.

From the first filling of virgin lungs, the process begins.

Life. It is framed by the handles of time: when we begin, and when we end.

Grasped by the Giver and handed to us, a gift of grace.

Life is a gift.

And to most radiantly honor the Giver, the gift of life lived must glorify Him. Must be full to the brim of worship, one breath after another,

Inhaling Christ. Exhaling praise.

So, as we live to worship, we die to say ‘Amen’.

Could this be the point of it all? To have lived so well that the last breath I draw simply echoes the brevity of all my time here, an exclamation point to the life He gave? God, glorified. Christ, adored. Worship pulsing, filling, spanning the whole of my one solitary life. Death, pronouncing the awe-choked, hands-raised ‘Amen’, to a life fully lived. A glorious ‘Let it be’ to the worship of a life fully laid down to Christ.

If I live to worship,

If I live to die,

Then let death be my final declaration of love. Let it be shouted from my slow- beating heart and emptying lungs that HE was why I lived. That every moment; every bead of choking grief, exhausting labor, tempestuous trial, was encapsulated in the radiant joy of being His. Pearls strung along the strand of time, my every moment was meaningful because it was for Him.

I see the Garden. And beyond, the cross. I glimpse the Son of Man, torn with grief, writhing against the weight of humanity’s sins & the crushing blows of death itself, laying open tattered ribbons across His back. And as blood-caked, sun-scorched lips part to breathe last words, the words that split sky, shook earth, slashed listening ears of demons, & leaped in the hearts of every man who has caught their reverberations throughout the ages; as Jesus embraced what all humanity must, He embraced us more.

It is finished.

Not life, but death!

The words thunder in my heart. They shatter fear, split doubt … Continue reading

Three Days and Three Nights, The Biblical Sequence

In order to prove that Jesus was in the tomb, that is, the heart of the earth, for three days and three nights, we must see the parallel of the Gospels to get the time sequence.

The Biblical Sequence, Three Days and Three Nights:shining-cross-5_1039316910
The days of the week apply to the particular year of Jesus’ crucifixion since the Passover may land on any day of the week depending on the sighting of the first new moon each year.

1. The Evening Prior to the Daytime of the Preparation for the Passover [Tuesday night]:
The Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the arrest, the trial before the Sanhedrin

2. The Day of Preparation for the Passover [Wednesday]:
Taken before Pilate, taken to Herod, the beating, the crucifixion and His death, the burial
Night One

3. The 1st day of Unleavened Bread, a high day Sabbath [Thursday]:
Pharisees demand a seal of the tomb and a watch of soldiers.
Day One
Night Two

4. The 2nd Day of Unleavened Bread [Friday]:
The women buy and prepare spices.
Day Two
Night Three

5. The 3rd Day of Unleavened Bread, a weekly Sabbath day [Saturday]:
The women rested according to the commandment.
Day Three

6. The 4th Day of Unleavened Bread, the 1st day of the week [Sunday]:
The women bring the prepared spices to the tomb early in the morning while it is yet dark and find He is already risen.

So Jesus must have returned to his fleshly body late Saturday afternoon.  By 3 pm, the full three days and three nights prophecy would have been fulfilled.

Discrepancy? Do the Gospel writers disagree?

I would like to clear up an apparent discrepancy in Mark 14:12.
And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the Passover?

1. We know that the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread is NOT the day on which the Passover lamb was killed. Continue reading