Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Priority #1 - My God - Celebrating at the Seder Table

Last night my husband and I attended our second Seder, this time with our 2 youngest children. Last year's Seder had only 1 child present, the rabbi's 12-year-old son. We learned much of the symbolism behind the Seder table but I was so nervous! You know I was raised Church of God in Christ. Stepping into the Hebrew roots of our faith felt like forbidden waters, almost as if you had invited me to attend a coven!

This year, we were supposed to go out of town for Passover, but decided at the last minute that it was not financially the best thing for us to do just now. So in my email, I found an invitation from a family to other homeschoolers in the city to attend a Seder at their home. We had never met them before. They were gentile messianic believers. Their other guests included Jewish-by-birth believers and some non-denominational Christians.

They're Seder was much more kid-friendly (seeing that there were so many children present. For the plagues, they had:

Blood: Poured water into a translucent pitcher with red Kool-Aid at the bottom to illustrate water being turned to blood.

Other plagues: At the table, at every adult place, there was a plastic baggie with plastic animals to represent the plagues. At this point in the story, we opened them and threw plastic frogs, gnats, flies, and locusts at the children.

Lice and boils: There were small black circle stickers and larger red circle stickers that we stuck on each other to represent the lice and boils.

Hail: We had baggies with ping-pong balls, but as a surprise, our hosts released some packing popcorn from the ceiling.

Cattle died: There were little plastic animals all over the table. We had to knock them over.

For darkness, we all had to be blindfolded. I got a great picture of my son with a fuzzy scarf tied over his eyes.

The table was also set in an "L" shape to represent "Egypt" and "Goshen." Of course Goshen was exempt from most plagues. LOL.

There were other kid-friendly portions of the Seder, including the 4 questions, and a cute-as-a-button little boy named Gabriel carrying a bag with matzoh on his back while another cute-as-a-button little girl named Chaya asked him where he was from "Egypt!" and where he was going, "Jerusalem!".

We didn't get home until 3 a.m. Leave it to our family to stretch totally out of our culture to try new things! My children told me today that they were afraid where were were going was going to be boring, but that they'd had a great time! Friend Hubby and I were able to add to our knowledge of Hebreic roots. I got to see a volume of Talmud for the first time with the mishnah, Gemara, and commentaries by famous rabbis such as Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, otherwise known as Rashi. I have been reading Rashi's Daughters, and although it is historical fiction, I have learned a lot about Jewish culture and discerning between their interpretation of the Scriptures we call the Old Testament, and Jewish superstitions and mysticism such as the "Evil Eye", the demon Lillith, and other things.

I love learning new things. I pray that as long as I have a reasonable portion of health and strength and am enclothed in my right mind (there goes that COGIC coming out in me), that I may be ever learning about my Father's world.

"THE EARTH is the Lord's, and the fullness of it, the world and they who dwell in it." Psalm 24:1 AMP

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Priority #6, My Ministry - What I've Learned

One of the most difficult things I have learned about ministry is how to let go when you've done all you can to help someone and you realize that other than pray (which is powerful in itself), there are some situations and even some people that you have to let go of and turn over to God. Sometimes the hardest walk is walking away, or at least moving yourself to a safe location so that the Lord can do what He does best, and so that the wounds that you incurred while trying to help them heal.

Wikipedia says that the "first step in rescuing a drowning victim is to ensure your own safety...Conscious victims may panic and thus hinder rescue efforts. Often, a victim will cling to the rescuer and try to pull himself out of the water, submerging the rescuer in the process...If the victim pushes the rescuer under water, the rescuer should dive downwards to escape the victim."

There are people that I love that I am not able to help because every attempt to reach out to them ends up with them pulling me under. When I first realized that I was not able to help them, I went through a period of brokeness and mourning for ME. How could they not accept help from ME??? Don't they know who I am??? Haven't they seen my business card??? I'm joking, I don't have a business card. But I learned to identify with Christ in that "He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him." (John 1:11). Matthew 13:58 says that in His own hometown, "He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." They just couldn't get past who they knew Him to be in the past. "Isn't that Mary and Joseph's boy?"

Friend Hubby and I were laughing one day about the fact that sometimes we seem to hear God better when we leave our hometown. We get in the car on a road trip and about an hour or 2 away, the words of prophecy just begin to flow. The saying is true that familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus' miracles were proliferate AWAY from those who knew His humanity best.

If you have ever been the victim of a control freak and then delivered, if you are wise, you will not put someone else in that same position and try to manipulate them into doing what you want, staying where you want them, remaining with whom you think they ought to remain with, or even the opposite trying to get the other person to leave where you want them or who you don't want them to be with. Think about that when people you love and want to minister to chose to go their own way. Remember that they can't get so far out there that God is not able to reach them. He's got some innkeepers along the way. We've just got to learn to trust that He loves those whom we love far greater than we do and He is a God who does exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or think.

Though it sounds cliche, sometimes you really do have to "let go and let God."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Priority #5 Myself - Modesty

I always feel the need to apologize when I haven't blogged in a while. I'm sorry. Life got in the way of my blogging. LOL!

Today, the topic most on my heart is modesty. I want to see how the definition of modesty has changed over time.

According to Webster's 1828 Dictionary, specifically feminine modesty is defined as
"In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor."

In Webster's 1913 Dictionary, the definition has been shortened to,
"Natural delicacy or shame regarding personal charms and the sexual relation; purity of thought and manners; due regard for propriety in speech or action."

Shorter still is the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,
"Reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior."

Is it just me, or have the standards of modesty decreased along with the words used to define it? LOL

I wonder if some dictionary would accept my modern interpretation of modesty. It is simply: If you are single, what is yours belongs to you alone. If you are married, you are your beloved's and your beloved is yours alone.

Some Scriptures pertaining to modesty:

Song of Solomon 6:3a (CJB), "I belong to the man I love, and he belongs to me"

Genesis 2:25 (NIV), "The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."

Exodus 20:26 (AMP), "Neither shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness be not exposed upon it." (This verse is speaking of nakedness in the house of worship).

Proverbs 11:22 (NIV), "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion."

I Peter 3:3,4 (AMP), "Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes; but let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God."

Each of us has to find our own balance in the area of modesty. There will always be two ends of the spectrum, those who feel that modesty is an outdated chauvinistic ideal and those who believe that modesty entails homeliness.

I believe the more time you spend in the Word, the more you will find the balance that is fitting for your unique calling. Your standard for modest does, and should change over the decades and seasons of your life. There were, in my past, red spiked heeled pumps with a fan on the side that I would have worn to catch my husband's eye when we were courting. The same shoes a few years after marriage would have been impractical and unwise when I had a baby on my hip and a toddler by the hand. Later when my vanity took a hit because I was now the mother of a teenager whose modern version of my red pumps seemed silly to me, until I remembered my own. Then there was the vanity of having a child ready to leave the nest and wondering if there is still time to were the red pumps for a little longer until age catches up to me and I have to trade cute for comfort.

Where does your heart lie on the spectrum of modesty? Do you feel it is outdated -- the bustier the better? Do you feel that the only real modesty there is would be to wear a burqa? Search the Scriptures and search your hearts. Allow the Lord to give you His standard for your modesty according to His calling on your life (you ARE walking in your calling, are you not?), "I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." Jeremiah 17:10 (AMP)