Can You See Your Reflection?

Years ago, when my kids were young, I used to keep a prayer journal of anything and anyone I was praying for. I had it organized by month and day and then when a prayer was answered I would write in the date below it and how God had answered it. I used to like to go back and read my prayers and answers because it kept me thinking that nothing was impossible for God, and it showed that He was always there for me. I kept writing in it for a few years but kids and life got in the way, and I stopped writing. I could kick myself for that decision!

You see, the journal was a reflection for me in two distinct ways. The obvious way is that it reflected what I was concerned about and praying about. It showed what was important enough for me to write down and then it showed, sometimes many years later, when God answered that prayer. In this way, the journal’s reflection showed me God’s faithfulness. But it was the other reflection that was of concern to me.

The journal was also a reflection of my heart. At one time in my life, I cared deeply about people and their situations. I cared about my family and their needs. I cared about me and my walk with God. To put it plainly, I cared deeply enough to write about something and to pray about it. Sadly, life has a way of hardening and changing us. We become immune to other people’s needs and their pain. We become callous and self-centered. We give lip service more than knee service. You know what I am talking about, don’t you? Have you ever heard about an issue and said to someone, “I’m praying for you,” but you really aren’t? We use that term pretty flippantly. I am guilty of it, and I am ashamed to admit it. But I would bet if you were honest with yourself, you have done it, too.

Now that isn’t to say that I don’t care or I don’t pray anymore. I certainly do. But I can honestly tell you that my needs and situations in life are more on my mind than the needs of others. And again, if you are really honest with yourself, you are the same way. We all are. We are self-centered, self-indulgent, narcissistic beings.

Recently, I was cleaning out a dresser and came across that old journal. I spent a few moments reading through what I had written and the prayers for people that I am not even acquainted with today. It saddened me when I reached the end of the entries that stopped abruptly in the middle of that journal, and I looked at all the blank pages that followed. It was as if God had spoken out loud to me at that very moment. It was as if He said, “Where you stopped, I kept going. What if I simply stopped caring about you and stopped thinking about your needs?” The empty journal pages were a sad reflection of myself, which I didn’t want to see, and so, I put the journal away.

But just putting the journal away didn’t stop the nagging at my heart that was happening. God wanted me to face something, and He has a way of pointing you right to it. That is exactly what He did today when I opened my Bible app to read this morning. Here is what smacked me in the face: Proverbs 27:19 “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Think about that for a moment. Really let that sink in. Think about your current life. Think about your thoughts and your actions. Think about your hobbies and your friends. Think about what you read and what you watch. Think about your prayer life and the time that you spend with God. I mean really think about it. What is your life reflecting?

Personlly, I go thru ups and downs. I can be on fire for God and want to read my Bible, pray, and follow HIm, or I can be in the doldrums and half-heartedly read my Bible and kind-of pray. But there is no getting around that verse. God sees what is in the heart and others around us see what our heart is reflecting. So for me the message was loud and clear. And I ask you today to take a look at your reflection. Are you living for the moment, for yourself, and for your own glory or are you living for God, for your eternal future, and His glory? If you glance in the water will you see your reflection or will you see His? And most importantly, what is the reflection that others will see from you? Will they see you or will they see Christ?

When Someone Strikes You

Have you ever had anyone say something to you in such a vile manner that it left you wondering what you did to provoke such hatred and such wickedness? If so, you are not alone.

Recently, I had someone leave a review of something I had written. It was, to say the least, seething with anger. Each line of her criticism, was meant to tear down something that I had worked on for years. Her statements were exaggerated and inaccurate, but it didn’t matter because she was able to do so with nothing more than a few keystrokes, typed behind the cover of her computer for everyone to read. Her unjust rant would do what it was meant to do, namely put doubt in other people’s minds about what I had written. It left me wondering and thinking about it for days.

The more I thought about how easy it is for people to sit behind a keyboard and type out hateful spews and go on rants, the more I thought about Jesus Christ. He was not immune to hateful outbursts, nor was He immune to others saying things that were inaccurate about Him. He was the King of receiving insults and attacks and, in the end, He died because of the hatred leveled against Him. But little did all the haters know that His death was actually part of God’s plan to bring about Salvation- even to them!

Yes, Christ was the ultimate receiver of hate! He was the one that I had to turn to for an example of how to deal with people who behave in such a manner. One of the passages that I found where Christ teaches about this is found in Luke 6:28-29. It states: Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.

Blessing those who curse us and praying for those who mistreat us is very difficult. He didn’t say it would be easy. He just said to do it. And honesly, I did. I prayed for this person. Not a spiteful prayer like that her computer would break or anything like that – though I was tempted! But I prayed for her salvation. Surely someone who spews hatred so easily is a very unhappy person and probably doesn’t know Christ, and if she does, well…she has some cleaning to do in her spiritual house.

The other thing that I did was absolutely nothing. I turned the other cheek. I didn’t respond to her, even though I wanted to! Everything in me wanted to reach out, but I didn’t. I remained silent. After all, that is what Christ tells us to do. This is another hard thing to do because you don’t get the opportunity to clear up any inaccuracies, lies, or anything else that is being said. You simply say nothing.

My mother used to love the saying, “The cream rises to the top.” Many of you might not know where that originated from, but many years ago, (No, I am not that old!), milk was delivered in glass bottles to your home. The “watery” part of the milk would settle while the good, thick, yummy stuff – the cream- would rise to the top. That became an analogy over time to mean that the best or the truth of a situation will eventually come to light. I cannot tell you how many times that this has proven to be the case.

Didn’t that happen with Christ? He prayed for God to forgive the very people who insulted Him, beat Him, mocked Him, and killed Him. He didn’t argue even when standing in front of Pilate. He turned the other cheek. He took the beatings, the earthly humiliation, and then died a brutal death on a cross. But in the end, He arose from the grave and is currently sitting at the right hand of God the Father. His silence while He was walking on earth speaks heavenly volumes today, doesn’t it? Would it have mattered if He tried to debate those who hated Him and spoke lies about him?

And so I want to encourage you today that if someone is speaking lies about you or criticizing you for something that is unfounded, take a step back. Instead of inflaming a situation, do your best to follow the example of Christ. Remember, you are the cream! You can and will rise above the situation!

Proverbs and the Wise Old Owl

Remember when you were a child and you would watch cartoons on a Saturday morning? (That was the life wasn’t it? ) Thinking back on some of those cartoons, I am reminded of some of the stupid antics that the characters would do – like blow themselves up and only walk away with a black mark on their stomach or some such nonsense. And in other cartoons, there was the wise old owl who would sit on his perch pompously watching the antics of the others. He was always the one that everyone went to for advice. What’s odd is that we always associate wisdom with age. After all, we do call him the wise old owl. But did you know that owls only live about twenty years? Not so old, is he? And what about in the old westerns where there was always that one man, whom everyone knew about, that lived up in the mountains? He was the one who was considered wise – like the patriarch of a family.

So what does an owl who lives approximately twenty years and a patriarch have in common, and is it only owls and old men that are wise? That’s such a silly question, isn’t it? Of course it is. But do you know the difference between wisdom and knowledge and does knowledge give you wisdom? I actually started thinking about this after reading some of the Proverbs.

Knowledge is something that is learned. I can learn the law, medicine, or finance, and be very skilled in those or any other subject. I can have a Doctorate in Law, but that doesn’t mean that I am wise. Book knowledge does not equate to wisdom. Take for example an attorney that commits a crime. You cannot tell me that they didn’t have the knowledge of the law to know and understand that they were breaking it. They certainly did. What they lacked was wisdom to understand that they were not above the law, that their actions would hurt those around them who loved them, and that they would go to jail, just like any common criminal. They did not consider wisdom as something to be gained.

A very true story about someone who discarded wisdom was King David. He had everything a man could want. He had money and women, fame, and power. But he wanted more. He was not content with what God had given him, and he wanted what wasn’t his to take – namely another man’s wife. Just like the attorney in the previous paragraph, David knew exactly what he was doing. He simply didn’t care. He threw away his relationship with God, didn’t care about the long term results, and went after momentary pleasure, which then culminated with deception and murder. Unfortunately, as he found out, you can’t just push God to the side, and so, it all caught up with him, and David was punished. Sadly for the child, its life was lost in the process, too

Wisdom is something that was so important, that Solomon wrote a great deal about it in the book of Proverbs. In Proverbs chapter 7, he tells his son to write what he was telling him on the “tablet of his heart.” In otherwords, ingrain it into your very being so that you never forget what I am telling you. That’s how important that it was to Solomon. Wisdom is considering the outcomes and denying yourself momentary pleasures for long term treasures. Wisdom looks at all situations and seeks God’s input. Wisdom is, in fact, given by God. Wisdom is not something that you get only in your old age. Wisdom can be something that even a child can have.

I find it interesting that King Solomon spent so much time teaching his son about adultery. Could it be that after his father, King David, was restored and began to walk again with God, that he taught Solomon about adultery and told Solomon what had happened to his older sibling? Could David have wanted to spare Solomon the grief and heartache that he and Bathsheba had when their child, that was conceived in adultery, died? I would almost bet that was the case. After all, Solomon would have no reason to commit adultery. He had so many wives and concubines that he could probably see a different one each night for two years! My guess is that David suffered such a pain from the loss of his child and his fractured relationship with God, that he taught Solomon, who in turn, wanted to teach his own child. And this is how we should model our lives. We should grow wise from our mistakes and impart that wisdom to our children or family and friends.

Wisdom is choosing to follow the laws of God rather than the foolishness of man. Wisdom cries out for you to follow after her so you will have a long life and finish it well. Wisdom says for you to choose her rather than riches and glory. Who among us will take riches with them to heaven? Or glory? But wisdom to find the Lord and serve Him takes all you will have, but will give you so much more!

As I thought about wisdom in today’s world, and the lack of it, I thought about so many of our younger generation who have no clue as to what wisdom is, and who believe that a college education will make you wise. My heartbeat and prayer, and I hope that yours is too, will be for those of this upcoming generation to gain wisdom – to seek wisdom and to apply wisdom. Just as it was so important for Solomon to write those Proverbs to impart his wisdom to his son, so it is extremely important for us as parents, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers to impart wisdom to the younger generation. After all, their very soul is at stake.

And lest any of us forget, the Bible tells us that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. So, if he took his God-given wisdom and told his own son to write it on his heart, why should we be any different?

The Footsteps of Hagar

Have you ever given any real thought to Hagar, the Egyptian maid servant to Sarai? Until recently, I had not. But in recently reading over Genesis Chapter 16, it caught my eye that Hagar was Egyptian. I mean, I knew it before, so why was it such a curiosity to me this time? At what time did the Egyptian maid servant come to be in the household of Abraham? Why was she a servant to his household? And furthermore, and most importantly, why was she so important? So, I went back in Genesis to find the answer.

So here is this young, beautiful Egyptian lady, sent away from her homeland, and her family, into a strange culture. Sent away with a strange group of people who worshiped only one God and not the many God’s of the Egyptians. Sent to live with a family who did not love her, but wanted to use her to conceive a child for Sarai because Sarai was barren. This young Egyptian lady forced to marry and have sex with a man she knew not nor loved not. And after she is sent to do the bidding of Sarai, namely sleeping with Abram, she conceives a child, Abram’s child.

Back in Genesis Chapter 12 verse 10 we read that there was a famine in the land and so Abram (not yet changed to Abraham) went to Egypt to live there for a while. And as the story goes, he tried to pass off his wife, Sarai, as his sister, because he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him and take Sarai, because she was so beautiful. And so, because Pharaoh wanted her, he gave to Abram sheep, cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and then he took Sarai. God didn’t like that situation much, and so God inflicted illness on the Pharaoh to hasten the return of Sarai to Abram, and then Pharaoh kicked Abram and everyone in his household, along with all he had, out of Egypt – including Hagar the Egyptian.

And here is where the story takes an unusual turn regarding Hagar. The Bible tells us that when she realized she was pregnant, she began to despise Sarai. Have you ever thought about that? I really hadn’t until now. The very word despise means to detest, loathe, hate or abhor. Hagar didn’t just dislike Sarai, she hated her. She loathed her. She detested her. She abhorred her. I think there could be many reasons or motives for her to despise Sarai.

Start with the forced marriage. I wouldn’t want to be told I have to have marry and have sex with someone against my own will. What could that scene have been like? Was it a “you will go into his tent and become his wife and have sex with him” type of scenario or you will pay the penalty? What would have happened to Hagar had she disobeyed? Not only was she having relations with a Jewish man, a man with different beliefs and culture than her, but now she was going to have to bear a child, a child who would still be nothing more than a slave, just as she was. This child who was not going to be Egyptian, but half Egyptian and half Jewish, would be born and given to Sarai, just to please Sarai’s selfishness and stroke her ego because she wanted to be a mother. How would it make you feel to have to bear a child and give it to someone knowing the child will never really be more than a slave? I would have despised Sarah, too. I have heard preachers say that Hagar taunted Sarah. Kind of like a “Ha, ha I am pregnant and you are not”, but that is not what the Bible says. It says, Hagar despised or hated Sarah. It doesn’t say she teased her.

Hatred takes on many forms. The Bible does not give specifics as to how Sarai knew Hagar hated her. All it tells us is that Sarai blames Abram, and he could care less about Hagar, the woman he has had intimate relations with and who is now carrying his child. He says to Sarai do what you think is best. Really? Do what you think is best? Wow! And so what does Sarai think is best? Apparently, she thinks mistreatment of Hagar, a pregnant young woman, is best. It doesn’t say what this mistreatment was, but apparently it was so bad that Hagar ran away.

But God was not done with Hagar. He had allowed her to come into the household of Abram, and He had allowed her to become pregnant, and now He was going to show this woman, this idolatrous Egyptian woman, about His love and His mercy and His provision. So, He finds her in the desert and He encourages her. Basically, he says, “Go back, and I will bless your descendants. I have seen you and your suffering and I will take care of you.” It must have been very difficult for her to return, but she obeys and God blesses her – this non-Jewish Egyptian. I think she must have been a very strong woman to return to someone like Sarai and to return to the household of Abram, the man who said, in effect “I don’t care anything about you – Sarai do what you want with her. It was only about sex for me.”

If you find yourself in a situation where you are running away from something, stop at the spring in the desert. Pray to God and tell him why you are running away. Listen to his voice and then obey, even if that obedience is difficult for you. Sometimes obedience is the most difficult thing you will have to do. But remember that God always has a plan. He blessed Hagar’s obedience by making her descendants too numerous to count. He will bless your obedience also. Remember this, you are always exactly where God wants you to be. Just like Hagar the Egyptian. Her place in history was carved out from the beginning, even though she knew it not. Yours is too.


Doubting God

I’ve been there, have you? Praying about a problem in my life or someone else’s life yet doubting that God will actually answer the prayer? Or do you, like me, find yourself making subtle excuses for if God does not answer it – like, well, maybe His answer was no, or maybe this isn’t His will or something like that? Why do we do that? Is our faith in His deliverance really that small, or is it that we don’t really understand what an answer to prayer is?

I have recently been looking at the life of Abraham. What a doubter he was – even amidst God’s promises to him. Take a look at a few of them:

  • I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.
  • To your offspring, I will give this land.
  • Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.
  • Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield and your very great reward.

But we see that in Chapter 15 of Genesis, Abram says, “What can you give me since I remain childless. (Didn’t God say – I will make you into a great nation and to your offspring, I will give this land).

When God says, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. Abraham laughs and says, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” (Didn’t God say – I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you? …..all the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.)

Then Abraham stayed in Gerar and passed his wife off as his sister to protect himself. (Didn’t God say, I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.)

So, if God spoke directly to Abraham and gave him these promises, why was he so wavering in his belief of those promises? I like to think if God said out loud, “Tammy, I will bless you and protect you. I am your shield and your very great reward,” that I would have responded better than Abraham, but the truth is I wouldn’t and I haven’t. And if you are honest, neither have you. But the question is why? Why can we not believe God with all of our heart?

I think it can be summed up in one word – humanism. We are a finite bunch. We can see and understand only what our little human minds can comprehend. So while we believe God will hear our prayers and maybe He will answer our prayers, we think that the answer to our prayer should be how we think it should be, but we fail to see and understand that God’s ways are so much larger than us – infinitely larger. Let me give an example:

A friend of mine had been praying earnestly for a wayward son. Myself and others joined her in petitioning God for her son. The despair and anger grew within her as she waited for God to miraculously change her son and she watched as nothing changed, or so she thought, and there were even times when she said, “Where is God?” But then, oddly, she received a card from her father, someone she had not spoken to in many years. In a move that she will admit was odd, she texted him and had a brief conversation with him, thanking him for the card. He responded back that “her response was the best Christmas gift he could have asked for.” Ironically, she was the wayward daughter praying for her wayward son. God was answering prayer, but the prayer was not in the way she wanted, which was for her son to change his life around. The prayer was answered in that God wanted her to see that she was a wayward daughter and a relationship needed to be healed with her and her father, before God could work on the other area in her life.

Just as Abraham doubted, and took things into his own hands at times, God was working on Abraham’s faith. An immediate answer to Abraham’s desire to have a child was not first and foremost in God’s plan, just as deliverance for my friend’s child was not first and foremost in God’s plan. The truth is that God is actively answering prayers. And the bigger truth is that God is faithful to us more than we are faithful to him.

Thanks for reading, and if you are interested in a good mystery book, please go to my website http://Marysfingerprint.com , and check out my new book: The Vanderhoof Conspiracy : Based on a True Event. It is about a woman, her husband, their hired hand, and some arsenic. It is available on Amazon also as a paperback or Kindle.

Happy new year, Everyone!


The Lord is My Shepherd

Fear is an interesting thing, isn’t it?  For some people it is a non-sensible irrational type of emotion, while for others it is a real and paralyzing prison.  I never completely understood the full aspects of fear until July 2017.  It is interesting to me how the mind can take an event and pile it onto another event and then another until one day an event becomes the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

As a child growing up in a home with a less than functional normalcy, there were many many things that I encountered that no child should have to endur, yet I seemed to grow up and get passed them, or so my conscious mind wanted me to think.  But in the background, my unconscious mind was keeping track.  And then in 2017, things were going to change for me, and the emotion of fear would become a dark presence that would grip me in a way I hadn’t ever thought.  And even though I am a Christian and knew all the “proper” verses to quote during my troubled times, my mind, body, and soul seemed to have a disconnect to which I still have not fully recovered.

In early 2017 I had a pretty serious surgery and within days of being released from the hospital found myself in the emergency room with complications.  Before I knew it, a nurse was injecting several things into my IV, one of which made me feel as if I couldn’t breathe.  When I began telling her this, she seemed to almost discredit my concern and my chest continued to tighten and my legs started to jerk, among other things, and at one point I thought I was going to die on the table there in the emergency room.  I found myself unable to say anything audibly but repeated over and over in my head, “The Lord is My Shepherd, The Lord is My Shepherd, The Lord is My Shepherd.”  This was all I could think of for the period of time in which I thought I was going to meet my Maker.  I said it over and over for 30 minutes.  But believe it or not this situation was not my proverbial straw, but it was close and it was soon to follow.

The final straw came just a few months later as I watched my mother die, one fateful July day, in the Intensive Care.  It had been a horrible illness for her that had lasted years.  And while I knew she was going to die, I never expected what I witnessed.  As the breathing machine was taken off of her, prior to her death, she suddenly sat up and grasped my sister in desperation because she couldn’t breathe.  It was her final voiceless plea for help and comfort.  Then followed her collapsing backward and turning blue.  I did not know it at the time, but fear entered me.  Paralyzing fear.  A fear of death.  A fear of death that is irrational, especially for a Christian who believes that she will be immediately transported to Heaven upon death.

So I had sought counseling and still the fear is gripping.  It has my mind in shackles.  I cannot even take an ibuprofen without a fear that I will have a bad reaction (courtesy of the emergency room nurse!).  If I take that pill, I will begin to sweat and feel like I can’t breathe.  I have to mentally talk myself out of the physical situation I find myself in.  I have anxiety over the smallest things.  Irrational anxiety.  It doesn’t help that I work in a nursing home and am around death all day long reminding me of and feeding that fear.

So why is it I can not simply join the throngs of Christians who are “looking forward” to death because they will be with Christ?  Why do I not have joy over that comfort? I continue to ask myself this question.  Am I weak minded?  Am I really a non-believer in Christ’s promises?  Well this morning, I felt an overwhelming burden to pray and simply ask God for help.  And as always, God is faithful.  My mind went to Christ when he knew he was about to be arrested and face the ultimate – death.  He didn’t walk up to the soldiers haughtily and say, “Go ahead, do what you will.  I will be with God soon….you can kill the body but not the soul….yadda yadda yadda….”. He didn’t smile as he walked past the people in the streets watching him carry his cross.  He didn’t shout for glee when they nailed his hands and feet to the cross.  And if anyone knew about eternity it was him for goodness sake!!!!  He was God in human flesh, and that there is the key….he was in human flesh.  Flesh that feels pain.  Flesh that has emotion.

Jesus was in the garden praying prior to his death.  What was he saying?  “God if it 5AD4CA31-FD90-46FA-85B9-49EB7DAA167Dbe your will, take this cup from me! But not my will, but your will be done.”  Christ knowing the suffering he was about to endure asked God to take it from him, YET, stated at the end, but even though I am asking in my humanness, I want your will, your desire, your purpose to be accomplished.  So if Christ was praying and dreading what he was about to go thru, why would I be any different?  My soul knows the God of the Universe, but it does not know what it is like to be in eternity with God – Christ did.  So fear grips me, yes….I still have not completely overcome the mental trauma I went thru, but I know one thing……I am following in Christ’s footsteps…..my humanness does not want to suffer and die and that creates a fear in me….but my spirit says it is God’s will to take my life whenever he desires and I know He will be there on the other side.

I find the Bible and the words written therein can give us direction and comfort in any issue we are having in life.  I think this is why I recited, The Lord is My Shepherd so many times…He really is the Good Shepherd watching over his sheep and caring for them even in the darkest of times.

Nothing Stops the Plan of God

In thinking about Abram and Sarai during their stay in Egypt, I began to wonder how it came that Sarai was eventually brought to the palace of the Pharoah.  The Bible only tells us that the Egyptian men noticed how beautiful she was and mentioned it to the Pharoah.  So I imagine one of two things happened.

7F55667B-D0D8-4F43-A45C-886441F4762FMaybe a detachment of soldiers and a representative for the Pharaoh went to the location where Abram and Sarai were staying in the land of Egypt, and the representative knocked on the door and had a sit down with Abram to ask about the beautiful woman who was with him.  Maybe the representative made an offer of gold, cattle, men servants and maid servants.  Maybe all this was done with Sarai in the next room listening and becoming frightened, not knowing what was going to happen to her as her husband bartered for her like a piece of land.

Or maybe the Pharoah himself came to the place where they were staying.  Maybe he was the one who came to offer items for Sarai.  However it happened, Abram gave away his wife to the strangers in the land of Egypt in order to protect his own life.  This very life that God had already begun working in to bring him to his final destination in the land of Israel.  And while Abram was becoming wealthy in the land of Egypt for trading away his wife, Sarai was basically a prisoner of the king of Egypt.

I wonder how many nights Abram thought about how he was going to get his wife back.  I wonder if he really did think about that or if she, in his mind, was just a casualty in his plan to save himself from the famine that brought him to Egypt in the first place.    After all, it wasn’t like he could just storm the palace and expect to get her back.  And with all the new riches and maid servants that were now in his possession, I doubt that Abram lay awake at night thinking about Sarai.

But God thought about Sarai.  She was part of His plan even if Abram had not known that and shielded himself with her.  God would intervene and get her back, AND he would do it in such a way that Abram’s life would still be spared.  The Bible tells us that he caused disease to come upon Pharoah to such an extent that he realized what was happening and gave Sarai back without taking Abram’s life for the deceipt. It is a foreshadowing of the great Exodus that would take place in the future with Moses and the Israelites.  Nothing was going to stop God’s plan for Abram, even though Abram had complicated things.

Ironically, this dealing with the Pharaoh’s belief in God  is a bit different than what would take place during the Exodus.  Here we see the Pharoah coming down with disease and realizing it was because he had Sarai in his household.  So one of three things had occurred.  1) He had a wise man among him who knew of God and advised him that the disease was because he had Sarai in his household, 2) He knew of God himself and immediately realized what was happening, or 3) Sarai said something to him about her being the wife of another man and how God had told Abram to leave his previous land etc.  Whichever way this went, the Pharoah revered the power of God to such an extent that he released her without incident.  In the future however, the Pharoah during the times of Moses would not be so easy to convince.  In fact, it would take 10 plagues to change his mind!

What strikes me with this story is that nothing stops the plan of God.  Even when Abram took a detour to Egypt and gave away his wife instead of calling upon the Lord to protect him in the land of Egypt and provide for him during the famine, God was faithful.

We never hear about this Pharoah again, but I wonder if this incident left an impression in him so deeply that he began a pursuit of the true God or did he just go back to his many other gods that he and the other Egyptians worshipped?  I am sure he didn’t just send Sarai away in secret.  There were others who knew.  But did ANY of them stop and really consider the true power and greatness of the God of Israel or not?  We will never know.  And so it is the same with people today.

 

 

Did God Really Say Woman Is Inferior to Man?

I was following the geneology of Noah and came to the account of Terah.  The Bible doesn’t say much about Terah, but what it does say speaks volumes.  One of the only things that seemed to be of any importance about Terah was that he had three sons, or so I thought.  He had Abram, who eventually became Abraham, Nahor, and Haran.  And as I read about these three sons, I thought about how thru the nine generations or so after Noah, man once again had strayed from the direction of God’s will and imposed his own interpretation of the way things should be.

Take for example the three sons of Terah. All three of them had a very low opinion of   God’s role for the female creation.  I can only speculate that this thinking had been passed down for quite a while because certainly these three sons didn’t just wake up and decide it on their own one morning.

One of his son’s, Haran, was also the father of three children.  He had a daughter named Milcah, a second child named Iscah, who sex is not mentioned,  and Lot- yes, the same Lot from the Biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah.

E9969430-9881-4617-BA54-70C87C5CD212Milcah, Haran’s daughter, was given to his brother, Nahor, in marriage.  Hence, he was Milcah’s uncle.  So this marriage was incestuous.  I have heard many people say that inter family marriage happened all the time back in those days.  Maybe so. But it was not necessary to marry that close in the blood line any longer.  There had been at least nine generations since Noah.  There was quite a group on the earth again, and these people were still living longer than you or I, meaning they each had lots of children, and those children had children and so on.   So,  I find it disturbing that Milcah, had to marry the man who had watched her grow up, whom she called Uncle.  It is perverted, regardless of whether or not families inter married.  Not only is it perverted on her Uncle Nahor’s side, but it is also disturbing that Haran gave his daughter to his brother.  I wonder what Haran got in return for her?  You know he would have received something.  Men traded women as they did cattle – for financial gain.  I wonder what the conversation was between Nahor and Haran.  Who initiated it?  Was it Nahor who just had to have Milcah as his wife, or was it Haran who wanted something that Nahor owned and so he traded his daughter for it?  Did it not bother him that his brother, who was many years older than his daughter,  was going to be having sex with his daughter?    Where is the value of her as a human being with feelings?   And Haran passed on this lack of care for a human woman to his own son, Lot.

If you recall that story, there was a group of men surrounding Lot’s home because Lot had two male visitors inside his home.  What did Lot do?  He told this group of men, a group so large that they surrounded his home, that he would give them his daughters, who were virgins, and they could do anything they wanted with his daughters.  In otherwords, he cared less if his two innocent daughters were gang raped by a group of filthy men.  I can only imagine the fear those girls must have had listening to their father says such a thing – knowing he didn’t care about their safety or value them as human beings.  They were pawns to be used as a man so intentioned.

And then there is Abram.  We want to believe he was a righteous man because God used him, but the fact is, he was no better than his brothers and his nephew, Lot when it came to valuing a woman.  Abram was married to Sarai, his half-sister,  and they were in the land of Egypt and to protect himself,  he has his wife Sarai lie and tell the Egyptians that she is his sister and not his wife so they will treat HIM well.  And all the while he is being treated well and having cattle and animals lavished on him, she is taken to the palace and made to be the wife of the Pharoah.  She was in a position of having to have sex with a man, other than her husband, risk having a child and did Abram care?  No.  He was taught, like his brothers, that woman are to be used for sex, bearing children, and bargaining them like property to better oneself or, as in this case, protect oneself.   This thinking was not of God.  Nowhere did God ever say for them to treat women in such a manner.  God’s directive was that a woman was to be a helper, not a slave, not a tool for barter, not a lower human creation.  After all, she too was made in the image of God.

Just thinking about this downfall of man shows how corrupt and perverted the human mind can become when left to its own.  I find it very interesting that before God used Abram, he told him to “leave your country, your people, and your father’s household.”  That shows me that God needed him away from the influence of the corrupt way of living and thinking and needed him to go elsewhere.  And God did use Abram, then.  He then became the Abraham that went on to become a faithful follower of God.

So for all the Bible doesn’t say about Terah in the geneology, it speaks volumes because it shows how the knowledge he imparted to his sons, was not from God.  And it shows how it filtered down thru his sons, and his son’s son, and actually continued for many generations.  But make no mistake, it was never a command from God.

 

What were they really trying to accomplish?

I was reading the story of Noah and wondering why the Bible makes a point to say, in Genesis Chapter 11, “now the whole world had one language and a common speech.”  I kept thinking to myself, isn’t that the same thing – language and speech?  And since Google and I are really good friends, I looked it up, and to my surprise, they are not the same thing.  If you are smarter than me, you already knew that.  But if you, like me, don’t know the difference, speech is the production of sounds that make up words and sentences, and language is how we use words and sentences to communicate ideas.  But knowing this still didn’t answer the question as to why both those terms were listed in the beginning of Chapter 11.  So I read on.

The Bible continues here to talk about how all the descendants of Noah had moved eastward and wanted to build a great tower of brick, instead of stone (keep that in BC14205C-27C7-4D51-B4AB-625C1660FBFDmind), and they wanted to also use tar for mortar.  They had a grand plan to build this tower that they thought could reach to the heavens.  And their reason for this?  “so they would make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”  But, the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.  And He put an end to their plans by confusing their language so they could not communicate with one another, and they would be forced to abandon the plan, divide off into groups, and go their own way.  As I thought about all of this,  I realized that God had to not only change the language – or the way they used the words and sentences to communicate ideas, but he had to change the speech so that the sounds they were making would also be foreign to one another.  Had He just changed the language, they might still have been able to piece together the ideas that each other had and continue on their project.  But changing the way they even formed words, made it that much more difficult to understand.  I equate this to, for example, the Mandarin language.  Not only is the speech extremely different from mine, but the way that they form their sentences is also very different.  This drastic change to these men had to signal to them that God was punishing them and scattering them.  Yes, I did say punishing them.  No, the Bible does not specifically state that.

Go back to the beginning of Genesis.  What was the original sin?  Eve wanting to “be like God”, thus eating the fruit.  What was the result? Punishment and being driven to another part of the earth.  What were these men, in Noah’s day, really trying to accomplish here?  They “wanted to make a tower that reaches to the heavens”. They wanted to “make a name for themselves.”  They, in essence wanted to be like gods (little g).  So the very act of relying on themselves and even how great their ideas were, like using brick instead of stone and tar for mortar, was placing their focus on themselves and not the God who had delivered their ancestors from a Great Flood.

Some people today are the same way.  They elevate and build themselves up, wanting everyone to focus on them and how great they and their accomplishments are.  We only need to watch a few of the award shows on TV to witness this “human worship”.  God was reminding the people in Noah’s day,  that His purpose for them is not to “make a name for themselves” and  not to have others worship  them and stand in awe of their accomplishments.  The focus needed to be then, just as it is today, only on God and to stand in awe of Him and what He has accomplished for us.

 

Water cannot make all things clean

I sometimes imagine what it must have been like to be aboard the ark. To see and to hear the raging waters all around me, and to know that the only thing separating me from being consumed by the water was the boat I was on. I would have been thinking about every board that was put together to make the boat. And I would be reviewing, in my mind, if I had put enough pitch on it to keep the water out!

But, if I were Noah, I would have been thinking that when it was all said and done, my family and I would have been the only survivors of the human race. I would have been thinking that we would be the ones that future generations would look to for guidance and wisdom, that we would not be like the others – the ones that had perished in this terrible flood that God had to bring about because of their wickedness.

Soon after Noah and his family left the ark, and they were given the blessing by God to “be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth”, it became apparent that sin was still present. Sin would always be present. A flood could not wipe that away.

13BAA876-32A0-44A2-9DE3-842552CB8270Because, there came a time after Noah had planted a vineyard that he made himself some wine. Now if you have ever planted a grape vine, you know they don’t produce in abundance right away. So the fact that he made wine and made enough wine to become drunk indicates that several seasons had come and gone, probably about three to four years or so. And while Noah was drunk one day, his son, Canaan, walked into the tent and saw his father passed out and naked. I always stop here and think about this tent. Was it Noah’s personal residence, or was it a community type tent? I think if it were his personal residence then it is like someone walking into your home and finding you laying on your couch drunk and naked. What would give them the right to just waltz into your home? Again, if it was his personal tent, wouldn’t his wife had covered him if she were there? In fact, the Bible never mentions his wife again. Maybe she died? Maybe that is why he was drunk? Also, the Bible tells us that the other two brothers were outside. So were they all looking for their father and then Canaan decided to go in to the tent and see if Noah was “home”? Regardless, Noah was drunk, and Noah was naked.

When Canaan found his father in that condition he had no manners or respect for his father and left him in that state of condition and walked outside to tell his brothers. In other words, to make fun of him. But we see the brothers are so bothered when they hear of their father’s nakedness, that they take a garment, lay it across both of their shoulders and walk in backwards, so as not to look upon their father’s nakedness. They had respect for their father. And when Noah awoke from his drunken stupor, he “found out what his youngest son had done to him…” he was very angry, and he cursed Canaan’s future existence.

The hopes that Noah had for a better population of people, than those that were destroyed by the flood, was not to be. The flood couldn’t do the job that needed to be done. There was a way, though, to accomplish what needed to be done. They just didn’t know it yet. And this story is another foreshadowing, to me, of the need for God’s solution to the problem of sin.