Happy Birthday Jesse!

Happy Birthday my love!  You got up this morning and told me you are 58.  So, let me start by saying you look REALLY good for your age!  (He is actually 42) A few years ago when we were in Re-Engage (marriage workshop) the workbook taught us to “study” our partner.  This is the art of paying attention and learning what makes the other person tick.  I don’t mean to brag but at this point I have a Masters in Observing Jesse Griffith.  For Jesse’s World Famous The Sarah Griffith Blog Birthday Post I am going to give y’all a list of things that make Jesse who is but might go unnoticed by the public.  So here we go!

  1. Jesse cannot form sentences in the morning if he has not had at least one cup of coffee.  Pre-coffee times are not a good time to address anything, at all, ever. 
  2. Jesse cannot eat a meal without a drink.  He will flat sit there with a delicious meal in front of him and wait for his glass to be refilled.  I have spent much time trying to understand this behavior.  After much probing I found out that in elementary school they had to finish their meal before they got a drink.  I have decided this is Jesse’s quiet rebellion against “The Man.”  In my life now, I actually check the fullness of his cup to make sure it is in fact full before the waitress sets our food down.  If we are eating at home, I give him a 5-minute warning to get his appropriate drink. 
  3. He carries a backpack that contains things that would allow him to live for a week off grid and still have enough left-over stuff to build a solar powered computer.  He will be very handy in the Zombie Apocalypse.  If said backpack is missing, the world stops until we find it.
  4. Jesse’s favorite thing in life is to attach stuff to his belt.  If a gadget comes with a belt clip Jesse is ALL IN.
  5. He has a lot of knives.  If you find me chopped up in my freezer, don’t believe the suicide note.  (that is not mine, that is from the show “Everybody Loves Raymond.”)
  6. He will flat fold himself inside out before he disappoints me.  He is always striving to be my hero and I love him for that. 
  7. When I cry, he is not afraid, he goes in for the hug every time. 
  8. When someone is mean to me, he is ready to fight them, but also knows I hate fighting so won’t actually start a fight.
  9. He needs a plan but does not want to make the plan.  Having Family Same Page Meeting to make a plan for the week makes him less stressed. 
  10. I found out this week that he is actually an artist.  I am excited to see what comes out of this new found love of creating art.   
  11. He will never spend money on himself.  Ever, like its super annoying because he will wear clothes that homeless people would turn down. 
  12. Me, Sydney, Brock, Laycie and Kohen are foremost in his mind All.  The.  Time.  Everything he does is driven by his love of us.  (And the Lord of course)
  13. He is the clam to any storm.  He has this ability to just be calm.  In fact, nothing makes me angrier then when he says to me, “You need to calm down.”  He has the gift of calm and I think God knew that I needed calm in my life. 
  14. He is the guy.  When you think, “I need help doing________.”  He is the guy. 
  15. He spends hours upon hours making sure that church runs smoothly on Sunday’s. 
  16. He loves Texas Tech.  His love of Tech made me love it even more and now even if we are in the biggest fight, we can come together over a Tech sporting event. 
  17. His office is a mess.  He likes it that way, so I don’t worry about it anymore.  (Well, I TRY not to worry about it anymore.)
  18. If he had his way, we would burn all our trash.  This is an area that will lead us to needing more marriage counseling.  (Trash goes in a trash can, not in your office in a pile labeled “will be burned someday.”)
  19. I have to make him go golfing.  He loves to be home so much I have to make him go to the golf course.  I have come to find that this is a special thing because there are a lot of husbands that don’t like being home. 
  20. His truck is spotless and organized.  If it’s not that way he hates it.  Yes, that’s right, office is a mess, truck is spotless.  And he gives me such grief over my car smelling like gym shoe. 
  21. He cannot remember names but loves people so much that he tries so very hard. Jesse: Hey you know Joe Stewart? Me: You mean Jeff Stewart?  And this happens 27,000 times a week.  (Except he does actually remember his best friends name)
  22. If he is your friend, he is your friend forever.  He will love you and your family forever. 
  23. He is the most patient teacher ever.  He does 6th grade Think Through Math, he does a 14-year-old learning to drive in a parking lot.  I don’t do either of those without considerable drugs on board, and that is frowned upon.
  24. He was the first one who took me seriously when I said I wanted to be a writer.  I love him for that. 
  25. He can literally watch a You Tube video on something and then be proficient at whatever it is.  Sharpening knives is one of his new gifts thanks to You Tube.  (Please see #5)
  26. He is so generous he literally asked me if we could give up my farmhouse and move into Sojourn House for some missionaries that are moving here and want some acreage.  Unfortunately for him, I am not that generous. 
  27. If you need something and he finds out about it, he will do everything he can do to get it for you.  (Sometimes his wife inhibits his generosity.)
  28. He is in love with the idea that as believers we leave our kids with a “Legacy” that is not just money.  He wants our kids to see that he lived a life of faith and wisdom.  That is what he wants to pass down to them.  He has literally read books about it. 
  29. He comes from a banking background, but money is not his lord, Jesus is. 
  30. He has studied me and has learned about me too.  When I seem unstable his first question is, “Have you been in God’s Word today?”  When I seem sad, he says, “You should go get your paws and claws done.”  I love him dearly for that. 
  31. He could sleep in until noon every day.  But has also grown up enough to know this does not support good will on my side.  I have grown up enough to watch for the signs that point to him needing a sleep-in day. 
  32. Some guys have drug or alcohol problems, Jesse has a black-market tool dealer.  I am shocked every time I walk into the shop and see new tools.  That is the one thing he will spend money on but justifies it by saying, “It is so I can fix stuff for the church!”  To be fair I have a black-market book dealer. 
  33. If there is a gadget that performs a function to make his life easier Jesse will give it a try.  If it clips to his belt, he is ALL IN! 
  34. He is so much smarter than me.  He thinks on a plane that is so far above all of us.  He really sees things from a 30,000’ view. 
  35. He can get along with anyone in the world at any time.  It is amazing to watch. 
  36. He can also get people to do stuff without them even knowing he asked them to do it.  It is a gift of leadership.
  37. He is the most humble person I know.  (I know I always say I am the most humble person I know, but it’s really him.)
  38. He has poured himself out to make sure the church building is everything we all want it to be.  I have literally seen God use Jesse to get someone to do something on the build site that seems impossible, but, boom! it gets done. 
  39. He sat in our room the other day and said, “I don’t think I am the guy for this job, there are so many people who are better at it than me.”  And in that moment, I knew without a doubt that he was EXACTLY the right guy for that job. 
  40. He loves our church so dearly.  Not the building, the people.  He will serve them until he is so old he can’t put his gadget laden belt on anymore. 
  41. He has tackled sin in his life that held him in absolute bondage.  This is a gift to our marriage because he has faith when God says, “You are no longer a slave to sin,” and he was brave enough to walk that truth out. 
  42. The more I study him the more I find he is my favorite part of the day. (Sorry kids, he is beating you in that category.)

I love you babe.  You make me better.  You keep me from getting ahead of myself and sinking my ship.  You are my kite string anchoring me to the ground.  I used to hate you for that, but know I see the wisdom in how you roll.  We are so much better together.  I am so thankful God restored our marriage.  YOU ARE THE GUY. 

Love,

Your Wife.

6/18/19 One Year Bible Recap

1 Kings 19: 1-21

I am so encouraged by Elijah today.  Not because of his faithfulness but because, Elijah—prophet of mount Carmel, responsible for killing 450 prophets of Baal, witness to God setting a wet altar on fire, still struggles with sin like the rest of us.  He lets fear guide him and runs away from the Lord.  But look at how God deals with it.  He pursues him as Elijah is running into a man-made desert.  He provides for him and sustains him.  Then ultimately, He reveals Himself to Elijah in a new way.  It is hard for us to understand but Elijah has become numb to the display of God’s power.  He just witnessed it on Carmel and now here on the mountain.  What causes him to be in awe of God, (cover his face) is the gentle whisper.  That whisper pulled Elijah out of the cave and with that simple act of presenting himself to the Lord in repentance, he was able to get out of the sin cycle.  The sin cycle keeps you hiding, justifying and doing the same things.  Faith moves you down your timeline with God.  And that is exactly what we see happen.  He is honest with God again and says, “Look, I don’t want to do this anymore.  No one in Israel follows you anymore.”  God is like, “Listen dude, you worry about you and what I am going to tell you what to do.  I know everyone in Israel is running after Baal.  But I also know that I will keep a remnant of faithful Israelites as I work out my timeline of redemption for the world.”  I don’t know if at that point they hugged it out or what.  I do know right now I have tears streaming down my cheeks because I am so thankful God is not afraid of our sin.  He loves us so much that he will run us down so we can be restored to obedience and free of the sin cycle.  That is a Good, Good Father.  Amen.

Acts 12: 1-23

I was LOL-ing at this story today.  I don’t mean at the martyrdom of James (author of the book of James) but at sweet young Rhoda.  I’ll-cut-your-ear-off-Peter is left standing at that gate until these faithful believers realize the miracle they are praying for has been answered already!  Also, can I say, EWWW!  Herod dies of worms!!!  YUK!  But Herod was popular enough and in enough proximity to God’s message of Jesus that it was confusing people.  So, because God’s one purpose is to get the real Gospel message out there, Herod has to go.  So, worms it is.  We should tell kids this story in Sunday school.  That would scare them into obedience.  J/K don’t really do that. 

Psalms 136: 1-26

Proverbs 17: 14-15

6/17/19 One Year Bible Recap

1 Kings 18: 1-46

Yesterday we read about how Israel was fully stuck in the sin cycle.  Today we get to see how the cycle crumbles when God intervenes.  We read that God is faithful to his word because Israel is experiencing a famine.  Remember, you reap what you sow.  In God’s economy if you worship idols, He sends curses to, hopefully, get you to change your ways.  FYI, this is still true today.  You reap what you sow. 

I think Elijah’s challenge to the Baal worshippers illustrates reaping and sowing.  The Baal worshippers sowed for all they were worth into their rituals to get Baal to do what they wanted.  They spilled their own blood even!  But they were sowing into nothing but hard ground and fake worship.  However, Elijah sowed into God’s truth.  He sowed into obedience of God’s commands, and when the time came for God to show the Baal worshippers who was really God, Elijah only had to sow into praying for God to answer.  You have to sow into the right thing.  I find myself all the time toiling and trying and essentially spilling my blood to get something to happen, only to find sowing into myself results in disappointment.  However, when we sow into God’s word, and faith, we are sowing into the power of God, which never disappoints.  EVER!

Also, I was convicted when reading this today that prayer is a last resort for me.  I noticed that the Baal Worshippers tried all these different things, abused themselves, strived to get the outcome they wanted and finally gave up.  Then Elijah steps up, wets the altar making it more difficult to be set on fire and then prays.  He did not try a bunch of stuff, and then finally prayed.  He started with prayer because he knew that is where the power came from.  Later in the story we see that he prayed 7 times for the boy to be brought back to life.  I think I would have used a defibrillator, done an amateur tracheotomy, gave him 5cc of Epi STAT, and done mouth to mouth before it occurred to me to ask God to do it.  I think, that when prayer is not our first thought, it betrays our trust in ourselves. 

Acts 11: 1-30

We get to see God’s brilliance displayed today.  He knew that the Law was so entrenched in the Jewish mindset that he had to do something big, like get Peter, the Pillar of the new Church thing, to go to the Gentiles himself and give them the full message.  As he revealed what they had missed since John the Baptist, the Spirit came on them, thereby giving them God’s stamp of approval.  As soon as the Jews back in Jerusalem heard this they were like, “You ate with the Gentiles?!?! Oh, for same, Oh, for same!!!”  Peter is like, “hold up guys, it’s all good.  We are unified!” They believed him.  In fact, they said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”  And all the Gentiles (you and me) raise our hands and say THANK YOU LORD!!! 

We get another “progress report.”  Luke tells us that at this point the message has gone as far as Antioch of Syria.  And we meet Barnabas, aka: The Encourager, who goes and grabs Saul (Paul) and they get busy preaching. 

Psalm 135: 1-21

Proverbs 17: 12-13

6/15/19 One Year Bible Recap

1 Kings 14: 1—15: 24

Sin=Death.  We as descendants of Adam are so afraid of death, when God actually exacts payment for sin, we are shocked.  That is why people look at the OT and say, “I want nothing to do with a God that condones Genocide.”  I think we should say, “I want nothing to do with paying the price for my sin, what is plan B?” (Jesus, except he is actually plan A, God knew we could not pay our sin debt)  Anyway, our lives up to the point of our physical death is meant to be the time when we get to know God and make the decision of if we are going to follow our creator or if we are going to follow Satan.  We have the free will to choose because God does not want robotic worship from us.  I have just solved the mystery of life.  You are welcome.  God can see in Jeroboam that he will never turn from his evil ways and is bent on leading the nation into that same rebellion.  In God’s mercy, Jeroboam the bad influence is going to be locked into that decision of rebellion because he and his whole family will die.  The boy is the only good thing in this family.  God in his mercy does not make this boy live through watching his family die.  God brings him home to safety. 

But Rehoboams’ like, “Hold my beer and watch this!”  He goes the full length of rebellion and even sets up shrine prostitutes.  These ladies were enslaved to serve as the men’s partners when they wanted to go worship Asherah.  That’s right, the only way to worship Asherah was to have sex in front of one of these poles.  And friends we have now entered another sin cycle just like in Judges.  Kings like Asa will come along and try to clean everything up, only to have it return to idol worship.  The deaths that God told them were a result of their sin, did not stop them.  And let us remember this all goes back to Israel not following through with being God’s judgment tool for the Canaanites.  That culture was supposed to be wiped out so they would not lead Israel into Idol worship.  Israel did not exercise faith in God.  Israel wanted to do it their own way.  Sin keeps you in a cycle, faith moves you along God’s Glorious Timeline. 

Acts 10: 1-23

This is so great!  Do you remember in yesterday’s OT reading that the “man of God” died because he did not follow God’s instructions to not eat or drink anything until he returned home.  We decided that if God gives you a command, if he wants you to do something contrary to that command He would tell you Himself.  Well Peter has the Word of God that tells him what he can and can’t eat.  He is following that because that is what God told him to do.  But now Jesus is doing something different, so He comes down and tells Peter, “Hey man all the food is cool now.  I made it all.  I had a plan for Israel to be set apart and only eat certain things but they have rejected me, so those rules don’t apply to you anymore.  Be free!  Hit Whataburger on the way home!”  (I made up that last part.) 

What this release from clean eating does is allow Peter to be free to eat in the house of a Gentile like Cornelius.  Peter has to go to Cornelius, so He has the full message from Jesus but also so the surrounding Jews (Israelites) know that those Old Laws are now obsolete.  Jesus fulfilled the Law.  They are free to eat with Gentiles.

Now, here is where Peter and the Pharisee’s differ.  Peter says, “Ok Lord, you say these rules don’t apply, I will live that out to the best of my abilities.”  The Pharisee’s told Jesus to his face, “No way dude, these rules are our claim to fame.  We won’t give them up.”  In case you were wonder, follow Peter’s example.  What is super interesting is we see Peter struggle with these rules as we go forward.  He will struggle with being a certain way when certain Jews are around.  But ultimately, he submits to the Lord.  That is what Jesus asks of us.  You can struggle, you can fail, and you can repent, but you cannot throw Jesus out and choose to worship the sin.  Jesus is not after perfection he is after people who will struggle well.  And I say PTL and AMEN!

Psalm 133: 1-3

Proverb 17: 7-8

This proverb is not condoning bribery.  It is simply stating that in our world bribery works like a lucky charm.  And as we have learned anything, we put our faith in over Jesus will disappoint us eventually.    

A Humbling #1 (why am I even telling you this?)

A humbling.  That is the best way to describe it.  As you are aware, my OG’s, I am preparing a book proposal for the She Speaks conference.  I hired a writing/clarity coach to help me polish it up.  I approached our meeting rehearsing all of my responses to his congratulations of me being one of the most brilliant writers he had ever worked with.  I decided on “one of the most,” because I am super humble. 

Pride goes before the fall……

It did not go as planned.  He told me that I had a good idea and a nice story, but that is as far as it went.  There was no deeper message about God, and that is what draws people in to read, not me.  (Charming as I am) So being that he is a brilliant coach he started asking me what it was that I was trying to communicate to people with this book that shows how I lived out the book of Romans.  My gut said, “I want women to know that their lives matter in the context of God’s timeline, that he works out a timeline in each of us, mine just happens to look like the book of Romans.”  (I know! My gut is super thoughtful.)  And he said, “Then that is what you have to build this platform on.  The platform is not built on your back, it is built on God’s Word and how you see a timeline in it.  God does it because he has the power to save, not you.” (#Humbled) He told me to put the book proposal on pause and do some interviews (like 20-30) to refine the message and see if it even resonates with people. 

He told me, “Seriously when we hang up from this call, I want you to go onto Hope Writers Facebook Page and ask to interview people.”  In my head I said, “I am totally not doing that you crazy dude.”  Out loud I said, “Oh, I will just invite people from my church to have coffee.”  He said “Sarah, She Speaks is in a month, in the time it would take you to sit down and have coffee with 1 person you could do 5 interviews.  You want to talk to a lot of people so that you can refine the message.” And I thought, I signed up for this?  Does he not know the level of fear of rejection I deal with, and now I have to tell perfect strangers my message??? Instead of my lovely friend’s who’ll love me and never say anything harsh to me?  You see his point, don’t you?  Even I saw it.  And I did what he said.  I hung up the Zoom call and put a post on Hope Writers. 

I wrote this before I decided on Timeline. That is how quickly I had to just post it or I would have never done it.

I got more responses than I had time to interview.  I am truly blown away by this writing community I am a part of.  I mean if you think about it in a worldly sense, we are all competitors.  But because we all love the Lord, we just want the Lord’s words to get out into the world in an impactful way.  So, I set to work scheduling Zoom meetings with these willing participants.  Then a thought hit me, “What in the world am I going to say to these writers.”  I will admit to you that I panicked.  The hurt pride and the fear of facing these interviews made me drop on my knees in front of the one who is actually in control and actually has the power to guide me….

You guessed it, Jesus.  As I prayed, I was remined of all the times Jesus “showed up” to get me through something I thought would be the end of me.  So, in waiting for the interviews I was able to practice a new skill I have learned.  I call it, well actually Dana my counselor calls it, “sitting” in the tension, or just “being” in it.  You don’t try to fix it or solve it, you just let Jesus do what he does best, change the way you think from the inside out.  Time + Jesus = Growth. 

I will only admit to y’all that as I learn to sit in the tension and not fix it, I can appear to be, shall we say, “broody?”  So, you can understand why Friday night my family sort of, kind of, had to um, shall we say, steer clear of me?  Listen, I am super charming to live with.  Anyway, the cool thing is, as I sat with it and presented ideas to Jesus, I started to latch on to the deeper message about God I wanted to tell people about.  And I want to tell you, the OG’s, what I think that deeper message.  

The reason I saw my life line up with the timeline of Romans is because God’s Glorious Timeline jumps out of the Bible at me.  I believe the reason my life matters is because of my unique spot on God’s Glorious Timeline.  Charming as I am, He gives my life meaning.  I see how throughout the Bible He works in one overarching timeline but also the smaller personal timelines that are unfolded for us through the narratives.  I think as we study those personal timelines, we see how everyone fits into this Glorious Timeline.  We also see how God works through specific struggles and sin to move people along the timeline.  As I see it, sin gets us stuck in a cycle, but faith moves us along a timeline with God.  I think when we start to see our place in the Glorious Timeline that is when God’s Glory touches our Middlemarch.  (We coined “Middlemarch” last summer to describe daily life, if you would like to read that post click here.

I want you to know that your life matters too, because of your unique spot on that Glorious Timeline. 

The exciting thing about this is your enneagram number, your suffering, your joy, your pain, your tears, your hustle, your laziness, your age, your job and your laughter really do matter.  *BUT* they only matter in the context of how you fit in on that Glorious Timeline.  He is the reason you matter.  Even if you don’t believe in God you are still on that Timeline because like it or not, He created you!  He will use every part of your story to bring Glory to Himself.  And friends, we can all take a deep breath together and praise the Lord because we can stop wondering if we matter. 

You do matter because of your unique spot on God’s Glorious Timeline.

In that broody-crabby-hurt pride-embarrassed, oh wait I mean, as I sat with the Lord in the tension for 24 hours, I realized my original message for the book was self-centered.  Now, being self-centered is my spiritual gift, but God challenged me to think of you instead of me.  I wanted to tell you all about my life and how it lined up with God’s Timeline.  And Brian was right, that would have been a good story.  BUT my heart burns to have YOU know that your life lines up with God’s Glorious timeline too.  I believe when you see and understand God’s Glorious Timeline, well, watch out because your Middlemarch is going to LIGHT UP!!

I have already done a few interviews.  In Part 2 of this post I will share with you what I learned from all the interviews.  Just so you know, Jesus did what he always does.  Showed up right there in that moment when I had no idea what to say to my first interviewee.  And now I am on fire!  I am back to stopping people in the grocery store to tell them about Jesus just like I did when I was a new believer. 

If you are interested to know how your life lines up with God’s Glorious Timeline could we set up a Zoom call?  I would love to meet everyone in person, but we are in crunch time and I want to be ready for the opportunity I have been given of presenting this idea at She Speaks. 

I’ll leave you with this.  I am becoming aware of another timeline—the one for this book.  It will look like this…..

Prideful–Humbled–Refined–Embarrassments–Prideful–Humbled–Book?  

Thank you for being on this journey with me, at least we will get a lot of blog posts out of all this! 

6/14/19 One Year Bible Recap

1 Kings 12: 20—13: 34

We have a split kingdom and golden calves again.  We all read Leviticus and Deuteronomy, right?  Anyone surprised that God was angry about not just one calf but two?  They don’t do anything by halves do they?  Setting up this second places of worship was a power grab by Jeroboam.  He did not want them falling into the hands of Rehoboam.  And the birth of denominations is in verse 12: 28: It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem (the way God asked you too).  In the next verse it says they had no trouble traveling as far as Dan to worship their Idols.  So this was about worshipping God their way, not God’s way.  We who are reading this are not the same as Israel, God has a different plan for us, but we have to see that we have the same tendency.  I want to worship God this way: Bam! Denomination.  I want to worship God this way: Bam! Denomination.  And so on and so on until there is so much false worship and paganism that no one really knows what the real worship of God looks like.  That is why God was smart enough to give us the bible.  We can always go back to that and see what kind of worship actually pleases him.  After they deviated from what God commanded the rest of their actions are just imitations of the real thing. 

God in his kindness sent a man of God to correct them.  This man of God is not just armed with a message he will also end up as an illustration.  The illustration is “Follow God’s commands and do not deviate no matter what so called prophets tell you.  If not, you are sinned and Sin=Death.”  If God wanted this man of God to deviate from the original orders, He would have told him so Himself.  The thing is the old prophet meant well, but God’s Word must trump everything.  Thank God we have the Word of God.  I don’t know about you but there are lots of thoughts in my head that I think are God, but find out as I study the word, um, nope!  Most of them are was just my sin nature wanting my way. 

Acts 9: 26-43

Spoiler Alert!  Yesterday I called the “Saul” who got knocked off the donkey “Paul.”  Saul is Paul, but a transition is happening for him.  (No, not that kind of transition!)  He is being conformed into the image of Christ and eventually we will know Saul as Paul.  Sorry for jumping ahead.  Nobody believed Saul had been converted so the disciples thought it best to send him home so he does not get murdered.  This is where that transition will happen.  He will get the training he needs to be the missionary to the Gentiles.  Shoot!  I am jumping ahead again!

Jesus in his kindness, uses Peter to authenticate the Apostles message.  Remember the Messiah would be able to raise people from the dead.  The fact that Peter raised Dorcas (unfortunate name) from the dead gives all the Apostles the Jesus stamp of approval.  Remember also that if someone is giving you a message from the Lord, Jesus will ALWAYS authenticate it with near and far predictions.  If the near one comes true, the far one will too. 

Guys I have so much writing to do this summer that I am not going to recap the Psalm and the Proverb every day.  If something jumps out, I will for sure!  Otherwise just read it and let beautiful poetry and wise counsel sink into your soul. 

Psalm 132: 1-18

Proverb 17: 6

6/13/19 One Year Bible Recap

1 Kings 11: 1—12: 19

Oh man there are so many inappropriate jokes about Solomon’s love of foreign women going through my head.  But in hopes of upholding the regal standard of this bible recap, I will refrain.  (Did you laugh when I said “regal standard”) God told him what would happen if he did not follow his decree’s.  He also gave them a reason to not marry or sleep with, foreign women—they would lead him astray.  So much so that he put a Chemosh shrine and worship center on the Mount of Olives!  The Mount of Olives!  And all the New Testament Christians clutched their pearls because this is where Jesus stood to give one of the most beautiful sermons of his ministry.  But maybe that is the most perfect poetic justice.  God is not surprised by this sin like we are.  He told us this would happen.  He told us we would be judged for it.  And he also told us He loved us.  So, He took the punishment for sin on him and exacted payment from Jesus so that we could have a relationship with our loving father.  Thank you, Lord.

We also are witnessing the down fall of the kingdom.  Just like God said they wanted a king, and they would get everything that comes with it.  That would include the lovely Rehoboam who does not listen to his elders but instead listens to his buddies and tells the people he will tax them harder than his father and beat them with scorpions.  No wonder they stoned his messenger.  When it is all said and done, we know have a kingdom that has split. 

Acts 9: 1-25

I so identify with this conversion story.  I was God’s enemy and was blind to what He was doing, until he stepped in my way.  I often think of how cool it was for God to save Paul.  Did God look down on him and say, “Geez, this dude has so much zeal!  If I could just get him zealous for the right thing I could us him as a powerhouse instrument to get my message out there.”  I am going to share with you a very deep thought that I have only ever shared with God.    I have asked God if he thought the same thing about me.  I am like, “Did you look down at me and say, “This girl has the drive and ambition to do great things.  If I could get her to see that I am the way, the truth, and life, and no one is ever perfect enough to get to me, maybe she would start telling people about me, instead of how good she is doing.”  Some part of this has to be true because in my walk he has had to teach me over and over how to submit my ambition and power to him.  I am sharing this with you because I talked to a sweet woman yesterday who struggles with the same thing I do.  Just like I, was she was confused as to why she had all these desires and ambitions if God was not going to use her to achieve great things.  This is a hard lesson to learn.  But I think the actual “great thing” is that we learn to submit our desires and ambitions to him.  I think that is a #middlemarchmiracle. And only when I started to learn that were the scales removed from my eyes and I could see that my ambition and power are not actually mine, but something He put in me, so the safest place for those gifts are in His hands not mine.  This is what we learn from Paul’s story.  He had the drive, ambition and zeal for the wrong things. I have had the drive, ambition and zeal for the wrong things.  God is teaching Paul in this story how to be meek.  I hope and pray that I am learning meekness.  (Meekness biblically—a lion that is under God’s control.)

Psalm 131: 1-3

Proverb 17: 4-5

6/12/19 One Year Bible Recap

1 Kings 9:1—10:29

We are looking at one of God’s Merciful Rests here.  The centralized worship has been reinstated along with a recommitment to worshiping God the way he asks them to.  God reiterated to Solomon that if you sow into Me than you will have blessings but if you sow into idol worship you will receive curses.  God would use them as a good example or a bad example but either way he would use them to teach the watching world who He is and that idol worship was a sin.  Wonder why He takes so many pages of the OT to teach us about idol worship?  Maybe perhaps because we are all prone to idol worship?  That is, worshipping things that are not God.  Just a thought!

We then get to see that, for the time being, what God is doing in Israel is catching the watching worlds attention.  God is growing the little slave nation into a powerful example of God’s goodness. 

Acts 8: 14-40

So, do we have to have the apostles lay hands on us to receive the Holy Spirit?  Do we have to go to some sort of gathering to get it?  Come closer, listen to me, NO!!!!  At this spot on the timeline God is doing something new with the Holy Spirit.  Christ has just ascended, and He is using the Apostles to teach us what this new Church thing will be about.  And if we remember from what Christ has already told us, the watching world will learn about God through the Church because they will know us for our love.  We have to be unified. 

Remember the women at the well?  Remember how we discovered it was so shocking for Jesus to talk to her because she was a Samaritan?  Well the gospel has reached Samaria and these guys were baptized to identify themselves with Jesus before He ascended.  When the Spirit came at Pentecost, God withheld it from these Samaritans for a purpose.  He wanted His Apostles to go to them, lay hands on them to receive the Spirit, to prove to the watching world that God is not prejudice with His message.  The act of these Jewish Apostles laying hands on these Samaritan believers is HUGE!  It would have shown everyone that God approved of these believes because they received the Spirit.  The Gospel is for everyone and the Church has to get over their prejudices and be unified so we can be known for our love.  Can I get an Amen?

I am going to offend some people here and I am sorry if I hurt your feelings.  But I would rather hurt your feelings and have you be free of sin, than never hurt your feelings.  What Simon is interested in, “buying the power of the Spirit” is very much a part of our world today.  Getting the power of the Spirit to give us a quick fix is not the Gospel.  On our spot on the timeline, God works mostly in processes.  We have to train our minds to see the everyday miracles going on.  We cannot fall into the trap of wanting the power of the Spirit for ourselves.  That is not how He works.  Can God do quick fixes?  FOR SURE!  He made the universe; He can do anything.  Simon missed that point and what was really going on in this “laying on of hands.”   It was to show that the message is for everyone not instruction on how to “receive the Spirit”  If you believe in Christ, you already received it.  Now whether you listen to him or not is another story.   

Already at my word limit but wanted you to know what Psalm and Proverb to read today! 

Psalm 130: 1-8

Proverbs 17: 2-3

6/11/19 One Year Bible Recap

1 Kings 8:1-66

I just kept thinking of my sweet husband today when I read this.  He is supervising the building of our church’s building.  He very well might celebrate and sacrifice 22,000 cattle when the project is finished.  He also might have a festival for 14 days, or maybe I will?  The point is it’s such an exciting time to know that there will be a central place to congregate and encouraged each other.  This is the same excitement Israel has for the Temple completion in our story today.  It was refreshing to read that a highlight today.  This is a highlight for them.  We are reminded again what the whole point of this elaborate visual aid is, “…all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do.” 

Acts 7: 51—8:13

Well, “His own people” are given a choice today.  They can admit their guilt for the persecution of the prophets, and betrayal of the Righteous One OR they can kill the messenger.  The choose plan B.  The climax of Stephens amazing sermon made them legit lose their minds and they drag him out and stone him.  But Jesus is right there with Stephen, probably because he legit just went through the same thing and because that is just the kind of Savior Jesus is.  The persecution of the church is actually what sends it out to Samaria.  Remember the theme of the book, “from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, to the ends of the earth.”  The Religious leaders are trying to stamp this out, but it is actually fanning the message to greater distances. 

Luke likes to nonchalantly drop names in so we are introduced to them, and then he brings them back later in the story as key players.  Saul and Simon are two such players.  We will watch Saul, the murder, coat watching persecutor have a powerful conversion.  And Simon with his love of sorcery will teach us what the job of the Holy Spirit is and how we are indwelt.  But these are stories to come, let’s not get a head.  

Psalms 129: 1-8

Persecution taught this pilgrim something.  God will set you free of your enemies and their chains of bondage.  Enemies were a very real threat to Israel, and they could be taken into captivity by war.  For us the bondage is the form of our sinful nature being attracted to things that enslave us.  He sets us free from both, and the persecution teaches us we need to be set free. 

Proverbs 17: 1

The more I walk with the Lord the more I detest conflict and chaos.  I used to thrive on it.  But God has transformed me because now I am like, “Give me the crust in peace!” 

6/10/19 One Year Bible Recap

1 Kings 7: 1—51

Look, my brain does not compute all these descriptions of the temple.  So I went to the very holy of holies, “youtube” and found this video.  It is narrated with some sort of Old English translation, but you can really see what these verses would look like in real life. 

Acts 7: 30-50

Stephen’s sermon is the longest recorded in the New Testament.  This makes me feel like Stephen and I would have been friends since as my husband put it yesterday, “You could not write a thought out in 120 words if someone paid you.”  Thanks?  Stephen gets it.  But what has me excited today is that this glorious timeline that Stephen is talking about is a synopsis of God’s Glorious Timeline of Redemption.  It is a great summary of all the goings on of the OT that have led up to this point.  This timeline thing is kind of what I geek out about and you are going to hear me talk a lot more about in the future.  The message I want to get out into the world is that your ordinary life, your day to day, your middlemarch matters so much because it fits into God’s Glorious Timeline of Redemption. 

Psalm 128: 1-6

I wonder if Jesse thinks I am a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within his home?  Or does he see me more as a mad hornet ready to sting him when he gets home?  How about you?  Are you a grapevine or a hornet?

Proverbs 16: 31-33

This warmed my heart today.  In a world that tells us that getting old is a sign of weakness, God tells us that a long life and grey hair is the result of godly living.  I have a dear friend who let her hair go grey after a lifetime of coloring it.  This made me think of how she can be so proud of it because the fact that she has lived long enough to have grey hair is a sign of godliness. 

6/8/19 One Year Bible Recap

1 Kings 3: 3—4: 34

Solomon is mostly following all the Lords decrees.  And friends that is the most anyone can hope for.  God knows this about us.  He fully knew when He set up the decrees that no one would be able to follow them.  He doesn’t forget sin, or sweep it under the rug, it will have to be dealt with.  The world is racking up a sin debt that we can never hope to pay.  That is why we need a savior.  At this point in the story though, we are training ourselves to see the disregard for God’s ways and how God responds to it.  The purpose of the story about Solomon asking for wisdom is to show us what we need to have in order for God to work in us.  “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around……For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours.”  This is all God needs from Solomon to set his life on fire with great blessings.  This is all God needs from any of us.  The acknowledgement of “God you put me here, God you are asking me to do this job, God I can’t do it without you guiding and blessing me.”  I have myself just had a reminder of this yesterday.  It is humbling and my pride is hurt, but I have been returned to that sweet spot of, “God I am like a child who doesn’t know her way around, show me the way.”

The rest of the section is to show that God did what he promised Solomon.  He gave him wisdom to handle the baby mama’s who are fighting over the child.  He gave him wisdom to delegate to leaders so that the country runs smoothly.  And He blessed the kingdom to the point that Solomon had 12,000 horses!  Solomon also wrote 3000 proverbs and leaders from all over the world were intrigued enough by his wisdom to come see it for themselves. 

Acts 6: 1-15

I chuckled when I read “there were rumblings of discontent.”  I thought oh here we go again, with the grumbling and complaining of the Israelites in the desert.  But we see how this rumbling spurred them on to set up “elder-like” people to deal with the problem.  This allows the Apostles to stay in their lane. 

We also have a progress report from Luke.  The message continued to spread.  The number of believers greatly increased.  And when you see a progress report in this book you can bet that you are about to read about some persecution.  Poor Stephen is arrested because the leaders just can’t get these guys to stop setting people free of their Pharisaical class system.  The Holy Spirit does what God promised he would do and gives Stephen the words to defend the Jesus’ message. 

Psalms 126: 1-6

This is a Psalm of rejoicing.  They are rejoicing because they have been restored to the Land, but they are also looking forward to when they will be completely restored. 

Proverbs 16: 26-27

I am telling you what,  the problem with the world today is no one is hungry anymore.  We spend every dime we have and then we can use credit cards to buy anything we dream of.  There is no, “Gosh, I want that______I will work really hard to save money so I can get it.  You work harder if there is a hunger in your belly. 

6/7/19 One Year Bible Recap

1 Kings 2:1—3:2

David’s final act is to teach Solomon.  He teaches him that Sin = Death.  Just because David showed mercy to these men does not mean that they will escape judgement.  Mercy sometimes looks like giving you more time between when you committed the sin to when you are called to accounts.  This gives you a chance to repent and change your ways or show that you really are unrepentant.  Adonijah? Man, you had a chance.  But here he comes saying, “As you know, the kingdom was rightfully mine.”  Hey dude, your rebellious nature is showing, might want to tuck that back in!  Bathsheba does not think much of it, but Solomon sees right through it.  In the eyes of the Israelite people Abishag is part of David’s harem.  In the Canaanite culture (you remember the culture that was supposed to be wiped out?) when a king died you took over his harem to show everyone that you were the boss.  So, giving Abishag to Adonijah would essentially start another rebellion, Solomon is interested not trying to start a war. 

He carries out his fathers’ requests.  And it looks like he is in control and the people are doing what they should be doing to honor the Lord.  However, there are a few clues in 3: 1-2 that trouble me.  1)  I get that Solomon wanted to keep the peace, but it is against Mosaic Law to marry outside of the Israelite community.  2) The people are sacrificing at “local places of worship.”  In the Canaanite culture (you remember the culture that was supposed to be wiped out?) they set up worship on hills because they thought the closer you were to the “gods” the more clearly, they could hear your requests.  This seems to be what the Israelites have fallen into.  (and all the people from the Tower of Babel collectively say, “NO! Don’t do it!)  Maybe Solomon should focus on building that central temple vs. marrying Egyptians. 

Acts 5: 1-42

God is throwing 150 mph pitches today.  Ananias and Sapphira were not killed because they did not give all their money to the church.  Get out of here with that thinking.  They were killed because this is another burning bush teaching of God moment.  They were being like the Pharisees!  They were doing something duplicitous to look good in front of the church but also satisfying their greed.  God strikes them down to make a VERY clear point that hypocrisy is not tolerated.  It is the way of the Satan.  No one was even forcing them to sell their land or give the money to the church.  He could have strolled in and said, “Look I sold my land and I am only cool with giving you half, k?”  And everyone would have been like, “Cool, cool, thanks for the money.”  THE END.  But no, you have to try to look more generous than you really are, that is hypocrisy and God shuts that down real quick. 

With God, the burning bushes look like miraculous healings, miraculous number growth, miraculous jail escapes and miraculous survival despite opposition.  But burning bushes also look like miraculous death of two seemingly healthy people to get our attention that God is doing something new here and the days of hypocrisy are over.  FYI: if you are constantly asking God for a burning bush miraculous sign you get the good signs with the terrifying signs.  You have been warned. 

Psalms 125: 1-5

A song they would sing on their journey to Jerusalem.  This one focus on how you are secure when you are trusting the Lord.  This made me chuckle because in my human way of thinking I have never felt more insecure than when I took those first few shaky steps of faith.  But now I totally get that I am more secure than I have ever been. 

Proverbs 16: 25

Confession time, (and my friends are SMH at me because they know what I am about to say because I talk about this All.  The.  Time.), this Proverb scares me to death.  Not only that but this proverb is repeated verbatim in Proverbs 14:12. Anytime something is repeated you know it is important.  “Lord, what you are telling me is that I can be on a path that seems right, but it leads to death?  How do I know if I am on that path Lord?  What if I am earnestly seeking to do what I think you want and then it leads to some sort of death?  Lord, I have been walking with you long enough to know that “death” is not just my human body dying, I can experience the death of a relationship, the death of dreams and the death of plans.  So, am I headed to death right now?  Am I going down the right path?  Sin=death!!! Am I walking a sinful path right now? I don’t want anything to do with death!  Lord, what do I do?”  And because He loves me, He grabs my hand and says, “Daughter you have to chill out.  You are wound up so tight.  This proverb is true, and this is why I had to come and die on the cross.  We needed to have a relationship so that when you are standing before paths, we can walk them together.  Sometimes it will lead to death because I have to teach you something.  Sometimes it will lead to something you really want because I love to give you the desires I have placed in your heart.  But all the time, no matter what, I am here right by side.  This proverb is to warn people that their thinking is fallible.  I already know this about my creation, that is why I need to transform you by changing the way you think.”(Romans 12: 1-2)  And I say, “Thank you Lord!”