Verily, Verily

verily

Definition of verily:
1 : in truth : certainly

We trust Merriam-Webster to give us true definitions of unfamiliar words.  Here is some background info on Mr’s Merriam and Mr Webster.

Merriam–Webster, Incorporated, is an American company that publishes reference books, especially known for its dictionaries. In 1828, George and Charles Merriam founded the company as G & C Merriam Co. in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1843, after Noah Webster died, the company bought the rights to An American Dictionary of the English Language from Webster’s estate. All Merriam–Webster dictionaries trace their lineage to this source.

What else do we know about both the Mr Merriams and Mr Webster without further research on any of them?  They were born and died, had a beginning and an end.  Since they were human, they were imperfect.

God has neither beginning nor end. He is the alpha and omega. He is completely perfect and perfectly complete. We can be certain (verily, verily?) that, unlike every book ever written by man—which, of course, would be every book—that written by God, the Bible, is truth. So, for the Great Author of Life to precede a statement, already the utmost truth, with even one “verily” must mean we should pay extra attention to what follows. But what about when He precedes it with two?

Since I generally stick with the NIV, NLT, or CSB, I don’t encounter “verily, verily” often when studying. The verse in the picture above in CSB reads “43 And he said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be thiefoncrosswith me in paradise.” Another translation I discovered recently on my phone, The Passion Translation, says “Jesus responded, “I promise you—this very day you will enter paradise with me.”  Jesus didn’t just tell the thief this—that would have been enough—this time he promised.

 

rhema_sm

So when God speaks the same thing to me through more than one source, I tend to treat that as a verily, verily. Or, as was the case with the thief on the cross, a Rhema word from God.

 

All that to preface this occurrence which happened a few days ago

Verify #1:  I’d completed the online homework assignment for my Bible study and gone on to Bible reading.  Today, I read out of the NLT, and I was in Matthew.

My homework assignment was to journal about how comparing myself to others hindered my relationship with God and His purpose for my life.  Although this Bible study focuses on weight and body image issues, I was easily able to come up with several other areas where this could apply and jotted them down as well.  These included:

  1. Method and character of prayer.
  2. Method and character of worship.
  3. Career.
  4. Shyness (method and character of fellowship).
  5. Lack of pride in appearance.
  6. Ability or even desire to have an immaculate house.
  7. Poverty mentality (compared to peers).

Some of these are absolutely unbelievable, right? Take a look at the first two!

Yet I have allowed the enemy, oftentimes through well-meaning Christians, yes, even leaders in the church, to put these on me. The fact that I even put my mind to any of these indicates a lack of understanding of the truth of God’s love and my willingness to embrace the lies of the enemy.

What about you? Have you believed and internalized into your very being words that do not line up with The Word and, as a result, done yourself harm? Take a look at this:

Verily #2:  Matthew chapter 15, verses 8-11 (underlining done by me):

“8 ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

10 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.””

 

These verses offer a succinct contrast of lips/mouth and heart. Unless we have some kind of gastric illness, what comes out of our mouths does not come from our stomachs; it comes from our hearts.heart

What goes into our stomachs–“bad” and “good” foods by man’s definitions–does not make us “bad” or “good” in God’s eyes. In fact, we are neither “bad” nor “good” in His eyes. It is impossible to be “good enough”. 

We are either covered by the blood or Jesus or we are not.

Thank you, Abba, for your verily, verily unto me.

Book Review – The Pirate Bride

the pirate bridethe pirate bridethe pirate bride

It’s been many years (decades) since I’ve read a pirate book, and in those days it would not have been faith based.

the pirate bride

I wondered as I started reading this how the world of piracy could jive with a Christian worldview.  Ms Y’Barbo did so by explaining the world of privateers and how they differed from pirates.  The hero, Jean-Luc, is a privateer.

Maribel is the last in a long matriarchal line of Mary’s.  We first encounter her as an 11-year-old girl who, along with her father, is a passenger on a “pirate” vessel in April of 1724.  She is a free spirit and loves the experience so much that the captain, Jean-Luc, grants her an honorary position on the ship as the lookout.  This requires her to climb the ship’s mast where she can spend her days lost in her favorite past-time, reading anything she can get her hands on, particularly books about pirates.

She is only on the ship a short time before it encounters enemies and is destroyed.  Everyone except Maribel and a couple of the ship’s hands are assumed lost as sea.  Maribel is deposited on an island in Caribbean inhabited by nuns and orphans.  She is raised by the nuns and upon reaching adulthood becomes a fellow teacher to the orphans.  She spends her spare time high up in trees enjoying her favorite past-time while trying to evade the all-seeing eye of the Mother Superior.

Eventually it comes to light that she is not at all an orphan as her mother and paternal grandfather, who have been searching for her for years, find her.  To be nearer the search, they had moved from Spain to New Orleans where Maribel is eventually reunited with them.  She is also reunited with Jean-Luc who is now a respectable man of 35.

Maribel’s mother and grandfather are having financial difficulties, and Jean-Luc’s family is able to help them.  In this process, more individuals from Maribel’s past step forward.

All loose ends, including the love affair between Jean-Luc and Maribel come to a satisfying conclusion by the end of the book.

This was a quick read, and I would have liked to see more historical detail and more interaction between the hero and heroine, but overall the story was entertaining enough that I will look for other books by this author and other books of this subgenre.

Book Review Innkeeper’s Daughter

 

I receInkeeper's Daughterived a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. 

Wow!

This is the first novel I’ve read by this author.  Now I’m going to have to look for her earlier work.  It has been many decades since I’ve read a Regency Romance (think Barbara Cartland).  What a pleasure it was to return to this sub-genre.

Ms. Griep has created a world of contrasts—good/evil, light/dark, despair/hope, unbelief/faith, and bad guys/those who seek to bring them to justice.  The book was so well written, it was many times difficult to tell into which category the secondary characters fell, and I found myself flip-flopping on cheering them on versus hoping they would hurry up and get caught. 

As for the principal characters, Johanna and Alex are an intriguing pair of individuals; after they meet captivating.  The romantic element is strong and believable, and the many action sequences are paced well enough to allow the reader a chance to catch her breath in between. 

There is one secondary character (or perhaps pair of characters is a better description!) who is utterly fascinating and one of those of whom it was difficult to decide whether he was a good guy or a bad guy.  There is another I hope to see in a future novel, and I’ll keep my eyes out for this.

The Christian themes of trusting God in trying circumstances and looking for the best in people despite what our senses tell us are threaded throughout the book, but this in no way diminishes from the plotline, and anyone will enjoy this book regardless of their faith status.

I am adding Michelle Griep to my list of must-read authors.

Leaning Into Jesus

walking-in-the-spirit
Today I was about to step on the scale when I heard God tell me “Don’t do it.”  I was obedient.  Since the first thing I usually write in my journal is my weight, today I wrote “No weight today”.  Then God started talking to me some more.

Those words “NO WEIGHT TODAY” primarily were written due to the fact that I didn’t step on the scale.  But what jumped out at me was the other type of weight.

  1. a : burden, pressure
  • the weight of their responsibilities

from Merriam-Webster

leaningNO BURDEN TODAY.  Jeannette (my coach at Finding Balance) has told me more than once to “lean into God”, and my best friend and spiritual mentor has told me over the past 2 days more than once that God has told her I’m under tremendous stress and to simply relax in Him.  They kinda’ mean the same thing, and it sounds like God really wants me to get this.  I will not bear any of that heavy weight of stress today.

But He wasn’t done yet.  A Bible study I’m doing referred to Romans 8:6, and I happened to read the Amplified which said:  “Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever];”  Notice God says the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.  Sounds like relaxing in God to me.

water rockNext, the same study instructed me to read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 which read “and all [of them] ate the same spiritual food; and all [of them] drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not well-pleased with most of them, for they were scattered along the ground in the wilderness [because their lack of self-control led to disobedience which led to death].”  In the wilderness the supernatural food (manna) and supernatural water (from the Rock) came day by day, and what came on one day was not good for the next day.  Application:  God was feeding and watering me today, but that won’t be good enough for tomorrow.

And finally, I realized the above verse wasn’t actually 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 at all; it was 1 Corinthians 10:3-5.  So I looked up the verses in 2 Corinthians, and they said “For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,”  Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ for me at this point in my life means especially all those thoughts that bring about stress.  Right now, those are most of my waking thoughts.  The only thoughts I can think that are beneficial are those from God, to be found in His Word and through other ways He communicates with me.

Can I do it?  Most assuredly not!  But when I lean into God and relax in His arms, He is more than capable of doing what I cannot.

Death & Life. . . No, Just Life

life is short, I wanna live it well

Today was Lois Byrne’s funeral.

Her daughter asked me to play the piano and accompany the soloist.  Because my mother had the flu and couldn’t, I also gave a eulogy for her.  It was all an honor and a privilege.

Lois has been in my life my entire life.  I was born on a Sunday.  My parents took me to church the next Sunday.  Lois was there.  From my childhood, I most remember her as a Sunday school teacher and Bible School (that’s what we called VBS back then) teacher.  Back in the 1960s there were quite a few of us children learning the stories from her.  When, at the age of nearly 17 I came to know Jesus personally, those early lessons were undoubtedly a part of the experience.

In recent years, I knew her as an encourager.  She often complimented my piano playing.  She would sometimes cry when I preached, and I allowed myself to believe it was because she knew she had a role in the faith I now have.  Today we said good-bye to her in the same church where she taught children Bible stories about Paul, David, Joshua, and Jesus among others.  Hers was a life well lived.  It is a life she now enjoys in perfect health in Heaven; of that I have no doubt.  When I think about Lois now I can’t help but think of the Ray Boltz song “Thank You” when I think about her walking the streets of Heaven.  When I gave the eulogy my mom would have given, I added some of my memories to Mom’s.

It was difficult being a part of the service because the last one I attended was my husband’s.  At the graveside on February 12, 2016, it was bitterly cold, windy, and snowing.  Today it was cold and windy.  I am thankful to God I didn’t have to go to the graveside; instead I went to the village hall to help set out the funeral dinner.

The church was packed out for her funeral.  The pastor is a good friend, a confidante, and I could just hear her thinking—where are all these people on Sunday morning?  100+ people come to mourn, but those same people can’t come to receive life.

Of course, many of those people do attend other houses of worship.  But our town has somewhere between 200 and 300 residents.  Between the Methodist church and the Lutheran church across the street, both would be full to capacity if everyone in town attended one or the other.

This past Sunday, 4 days ago, I attended the visitation of a young man with whom my husband and I were acquainted.  Rod was good friends with his parents.  The man’s brother attends Rod and my church in Lincoln.  Afterward, I went to visit Lois and her daughter and pray with them.  An hour later, Lois was gone.

It seemed like a week of death because right in the middle of those, yesterday, February 7, was the 2nd anniversary of the date Rod went to be with Jesus.  Next Wednesday, Valentine’s Day and this year Ash Wednesday, would have been his 58th birthday.  When I checked Facebook last night, there wasn’t a single mention of him.  Not even by me.  Life goes on, but he is not forgotten; I know he is not.

To say I miss him still is an understatement.

Like Lois, he poured so much into my life, albeit at the other end.  And like Lois, he probably didn’t even realize it.

Before I met him, the life I lived was that of one who was just going through the motions.  I was attempting to live for God, had been doing so for years, but there was no overcoming.  I was looking forward to heaven, but there was no enjoying life in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).  My children were nearly grown, and I was scared to death that God was going to leave me a broken person, useless, no longer relevant in any way, unable to find victory in any area of my life.

He did not.

He loaned me Rod for a few precious years.

Rod loved me, a person utterly unlovable, unworthy, insignificant, at least by any person who was not related to me and was not God.

Rod loved me; even while God was using him to bring healing and rejuvenation to my soul, He also used him to help restore my body after a serious battle with cancer a year and a half into our marriage.

Rod loved me.  Even after 6 years of marriage when he was finally beginning to see I wasn’t always the “blessing” he had proclaimed me to be in the first year of our marriage, but I was a real person with some serious flaws, one being an extreme distrust of just about everyone.  My favorite nonbiblical quote is one by Shakespeare, “Love everyone, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

I had good reason to be distrustful.  Rod had more reason than I; yet he continued to love.  Me and everyone else he met.

My negativity never rubbed off on him.  Laughter was his primary expression.

More than one person has suggested to me that God placed this angel in my life for 6 years to help me become me, the me God created me to be.  It sounds right, but how can it be?  Rod was a wonderful person in his own right; his ministry had to be more than that.

When we married at the ages of 48 and 49, I believed we would live out the rest of our lives together; and I intended to make sure those years were the best ones of Rod’s life.  I hope they were.  Aside from the years my kids were born, they were certainly mine.

Now that he’s been gone from me for 2 years, I find myself fearful (fearful? she who wrote a book entitled Fearless in Euroclydon? she who knows there is a verse in the Bible regarding fear for every single day of the year?) at times of reverting into the person I was before Rod came into it.

In addition to the fear, there’s the apathy.  I recently read a blog post by a writer who believes apathy is the greatest hindrance to walking out the Christian life.  Another teacher shared the same thoughts.  And, with the prayers of my dear husband on my behalf no longer wafting up to God daily, I feel that very thing attempting to make its insidious way in.  Apathy seems akin to stagnation.  Both are death.

Yet, in the funeral of a dear saint of God, there are many reminders of the life of God in the midst of death.  Apathy can’t withstand a life lived in faith because faith is the opposite of death; faith is life.  Today more than one person testified they’d never heard Lois complain, not about anything, ever.  Rod lived life with such joy, as he lay in his casket I observed that the funeral director couldn’t completely get the smile off his face.

Lois and Rod both exemplified the faith life; if either of them ever experienced apathy, I never saw it.  They lived their lives well to the very end.  They lived life which death cannot defeat.

O death, where is thy sting?  Some believe Shakespeare said that, too, though others say not.  Not having read him, I cannot say for certain one way or the other.

I have, however, read the written Word of God, and He said it first through the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church chapter 15 verse 55.

Death has no sting.  It is the beginning of life for those who know Jesus.  For those of us who remain, it brings the good memories and encouragement of a life well lived.  “Life is short, I wanna’ live it well.”  Line from Live It Wall by Switchfoot 2016

Perfect Isn’t a Thing

In my quest to memorize the chapter of Romans 8, I last memorized verse 5:  For those who are dominated by their sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.

romansTime for verse 6:  So letting your sinful nature control your thoughts leads to death, but letting the Spirit control your thoughts leads to life and peace.

The meaning behind this verse permeates the online Bible study I’m currently doing.  Every participant in the study is trying to reach the place where the Spirit is in control (perfection).
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Today in the online webinar I learned perfect isn’t possible.  It isn’t even a thing.  Uggh!  Even for this overthinker, because my overthinking is overlaid with a tendancy to put everything in black and white, this is very hard to procsess, but . . . I will attempt to do so.

I would assume the teaching refers to our bodies (sinful natures) and souls; i.e., our humanness.  Because our spirit, the main part of us, was already complete (perfect) when it came to life at our salvation.  If our spirits were in control, we would not have to achieve perfection; it would already be present.

Unfortunately most of us live with our humanness in control, rather than our spirit.  We are not predominately led by the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, it’s not possible to be perfect in this life, it is not possible to be 100% Spirit led 100% of the time.  The goal is to each day give up a larger percentage of our self (body & soul) to the control of the spirit alive within us who are born again.

There is a song currently popular in CCM called “Hard Love” by the group Need to Breathe.  One of the lines goes like this:  “It’s not enough to just feel the flame.  You’ve gotta burn your old self away”.  This is so radical.  I don’t even like feeling the flame!  Burning my old self away?  But consider:  When we let God “burn away” our old self (humanness/sinful nature) we will be free to experience life, real life, and peace of the supernatural variety rather than sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24 & 25), the only human being who ever was or will be perfect.

Note to me:  Quit trying to be perfect, let the Perfect One lead you.