Thursday, April 1, 2021

Temptation proves Sonship



What if we looked at temptation as the proof of who we are rather than of who we are not? This week in Walking in Discipleship we will discover that Jesus' temptations were just as much proof of His Sonship as His baptism. Hard to imagine when the baptism was so glorious and in community while His temptations happened in the desolate wilderness in isolation. Go listen to the story and see what it reveals to you about temptation.


Jesus' Temptations (Matthew 4:1-11)

"After all I am the Basic Person!"

When I was a little girl , my brother and sister went to my dad to tattle on me because I wouldn't let them win at our pretend game. My dad called me to come and talk with him. He asked, "Tara, why do you think you should always be the winner?" I apparently put my hands on my hips and said quite confidently, "After all, I am the basic person!" This story brings out a laugh every time it is told in family gatherings. Greg and I joke about it when I get self-centered. Sometimes, that little me still erupts and I want to be the one served and for everyone to die to me. Ugh! Just when I think I have respectfully put away this childish behavior she shows up when I least expect it. Serving others only comes from an intentional practice of choosing them over me. Truly, selfishness is a basic person attitude! We all suffer from it. Just some of us are more readily to admit it.

The basic person mentality is universal and a long standing attitude that has historically risen its ugly head even in the most devout. I must be a great descendant of the early disciples. Thursday of Easter week is known as the Day of Preparation. Jesus had modeled over and over the importance of dying to self as He discipled His followers, yet as Jesus sat at the table eating what He knew would be His last meal with them the disciples argued over who would be the greatest. Jesus graciously reminds them once again that a true follower of Jesus is called to serve not be served.  I tell myself, "Let that sink in the next time the basic me attitude wants to rear her little head."

Listen to the story in this link:
Easter week Thursday: The Day of Preparation

Jesus knew the Last Supper was where He needed to give His final words of encouragement and preparation for what was coming. And the importance of being a servant was a part of His discourse. I hate that I can forget this in the moment. I grieve that we disrespect it as a culture. I watched a teen disrespect an eighty year old man yesterday and not offer him the proper service because she thought her rule was greater than the value of the man. My heart grieved at her basic person attitude. It made me realize how ugly it can make one appear. Oh God forgive us! Do you find yourself in shock at the disciples for wanting to be the greatest? I know I am, but when I examine my own heart I find the basic person in me trying to fight for her best instead others. So, I pray and moment by moment ask God to help me serve well. I mess up. I get up and start over. So, I am asking myself this Easter, how can I serve others and not make it all about me. Father, please help me to learn this lesson! Shalom y'all!  

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Silence reveals crazy


How do you handle silence? When I first became a stay at home mom, I used to cry because I missed people. I am a people person. I need people, but over time I learned the value of my quiet time. I would define quiet time as I am alone, but I am at quiet rest before God. I am in communication with Him. I discovered that my quiet time makes me healthy and ready8th to love others well. So now, I actually crave quiet time, but silence is different. Silence holds no input. No communication. True silence is devastating. 

Have you ever dealt with someone giving you the silence treatment? It hurts because healthy input or communication has ceased. We all need healthy input. Did you know there is a silence lab called Orfield Laboratory and it is said that the longest a person has stayed in the room and come out sane is only 45 minutes? I always wonder, who would be willing to test their sanity? Who wants to do that? It is said that silence doesn't make us crazy, it only reveals our crazy. It actually allows us time to process our stuff because we no longer have other input to process. The absence of input or communication causes madness to be revealed. Maybe, this is why I talk to myself all the time! 

I have pondered the isolation of COVID and the devastating affects it has had on people. For many, it is a disease that threw them into silence. This led to devastation. They had to confront their stuff and discovered they had not built into their lives healthy quiet time to strengthen them for their times of silence. 
As I ponder Wednesday of Easter week some 2,000 years ago and that it is known as the day of silence, I wonder if God allowed this holy heavenly pause because it would reveal the crazy within a select few. No stories are recorded on this day from Jesus' journey to the cross. Historically, it has been chosen to be the day we remember Judas' betrayal. I find it ironic that we choose to remember this sad story on the day of silence. It is so somber because Judas was a faithful follower of Jesus, but his actions revealed that he was not a follower of Jesus spiritually. Judas agreed to betray Jesus for just thirty shekels. It is estimated to be about $600 today. Talk about crazy. An innocent man's life was sold for $600 by a follower to a religious leader. This made me wonder if Judas allowed silence to be in his relationship instead of building quiet connection. Remember, silence has no input while quiet allows for the give and take of communication. I realize if not Judas then it would have been someone else in order to fulfill God's will for the cross, but I still wonder. This then causes me to wonder at all the ways that I can bring quiet instead of silence in my relationships. I know this is not the crux of this story, but this is one way it causes me to want to be transformed and that ultimately is the crux of why Jesus died on the cross. It was so we can be in relationship with Him and thereby live transformed lives. As I get my relationship right with Him in my quiet times, I am better at relationship with others. Wholeness can be revealed in me in the moments of silence instead of crazy. 

As you listen to today's Easter story, consider whether you have a quiet time with the LORD or do you allow silence to separate you? Start a simple conversation like, "Hey, LORD, can you help me with this? I don't want there to be silence between us. I would like to communicate. I don't know how, but I am open." God will begin communicating with you. Tell Him about your crazy and ask Him to help you. He promises if we seek Him, we will find Him. Shalom y'all! 

It is a sad, somber story. Click on the link below.
Easter Wednesday: The Day of Silence

Father, I lift up all the people who feel alone, isolated, and in a place of silence. Please, Oh God, meet them in a quiet place that reveals the glorious healing and rest you give. In Jesus name amen! 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Common Enemy Bonding

(Picture taken from https://charletonmills.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/jewish-religious-leaders-and-roman-political-leaders/amp/)

What is it about a common enemy that can make two groups who are normally hateful to each other and intolerant of even their presence come together in unity? I was curious so I Googled "Common Enemy Theory." I just wrote out what I thought a psychologist would call it. Did you know that it is a real thing and that research has been done examining the bond that occurs between people bonding over a mutual dislike. Maybe this is why people like to gather and gossip rather than sit and talk about the good in others? According to Psychology Today (Dec. 17, 2018) people will bond more over a common dislike than a common like. This type of group think makes us feel better about ourselves. It gives us a mental boost about our own poor motives in the moment. Oh boy. Think on that the next time you bond over a common enemy. Is that the type of unity I want to build a relationship upon? 

This type of behavior has been around for a long time. Some 2,000 years ago, the religious leaders who normally would not get along worked together to entrap Jesus. They allowed their mutual bond of viewing Jesus as a threat to their religious order to cause them to plot to kill an innocent man. They made their common enemy the One that was known as the Messiah. The one their very own prophets taught about. Blinded by their personal wants and desires, they behaved contrary to their calling and plotted against the One that came to save them. They settled for the glory of human power, authority, and institution rather than GOD'S glory, power, and authority. Their enemy bond caused them to miss out on the immeasurably more of Jesus.


Easter is a time when we gather together to remember the sacrifice that was given so that we might have eternal life. As our world becomes more and more polarized, how can we find ways to build common bonds that are healthy and not destructive of each other? I know I struggle to fight enemy bonding. The one thing that seems to put reason back into my sensibilities is to remember that each person is created in the image of God. They may not act like it, but I can try to honor that they are an image bearer. I confess, I fail often in my lack of remembrance, but when I get it right I know I am better for it and so is the one I am remembering. And if I am in a conversation with another, they are better for it, too. What might you do this week to guard against enemy bonding? How can you seek to bond over healthier things? 

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Shift of One Day

(Taken from https://yesterdaysprophecy.com/religious-leaders-plot-kill-jesus/) 

One day can cause so many shifts in people and circumstances. Have you noticed that? On Sunday, the people were shouting, “Hosanna!” but come Monday the religious leaders questioned Jesus' authority and Jesus prophesied the coming judgment. They recognized Jesus' power and how He was impacting the people. Lives were being transformed and they didn’t like it because people were not turning to them for their power and authority. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus thought as He rode on that donkey into Jerusalem, Come tomorrow the religious leaders will be plotting to kill me. You cry “Hosanna” which means “save us!” That is what I am doing! I am here for you! Will you listen? Will you see? Will you believe? 

Go listen to what happened on Monday of the first Easter week. Easter Monday Video

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Why do we have to have Easter stories?

(Taken from learningreligions.com. What is Palm Sunday?)

My friend said to me, "I really like the Christmas story of God loving us and sending His Son, but why do we have to go through that awful story of Easter?" My heart clenched because I get it. The Easter story if you take time to know it, it is excruciatingly painful. An innocent man willingly gives His life to die on a cross. But, here is the deal. Jesus was still the Son of God sent by the Father as He allowed the days to unfold. He chose to do the Father's will that we might live. He gave us the greatest gift we will ever know. He gave His life as a sacrifice to pay our debt of sin. So, as painful as it is to listen to or watch the Easter story unfold. It is our hope.  It is where new life begins. This is why people use little Easter eggs and put things in them. They symbolize Jesus dying, being buried and then rising again. Last year to give hope I recorded the Easter week stories and posted them. Please take time to listen and receive the gift so freely given.

Listen to the first story of Easter week here.


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Confessions of Anger

Have you ever had one of those moments when as soon as it was rolling out of you, you knew you had walked out of love? Now, I am not talking about being loving. I am talking about the kind of moment when you know you are losing a grip on what you know to be good, holy, right, true, and quite simply kind! Suddenly, without warning you find yourself knee deep in offense and whether you say anything or not your heart is no longer walking in love. And if you do say something you realize that if there was a video of you as a human it would depict a not so loving human. I had one of those ugly moments recently. I just snapped. Call it hormones, menopause, frustration, impatience or whatever you want, but it came out of me like a coke bottle that was about to explode. Just typing this embarrasses me. UGH! But, I would be a liar if I didn’t say I acted like this on occasion. I am so glad it doesn’t happen very often, but it happens. It is real in me. I am human. UGH! No, double ugh! I hate evil and I hate it most when it is in me. I found myself leaking tears for several days as I tried to process what in the mess was going on inside me. 

I have been praying for the LORD to give me much fruit in this season of my life. I do not want to waste time and I long to be fruitful. This moment of ugh did not match my prayer life. But, as I prayed and pondered my momentary madness, I realized I had stuffed A LOT! A LOT! And I needed to let some things go. Have you ever done that? I realized that in the attempt to act godly and not be offensive myself, I had allowed some occasions to be pushed down instead of grieving the pain that was caused me. I would tell myself, “Oh, I must forgive!” “Let it go!” “Move on and forget it!” But, the reality is my heart had been wounded and no attempt to reconcile had been made on my part or if it had it was handled in a cavalier, dismissal, or unkind way. It actually took someone being kind in the middle of a confusing moment for me to realize how much my heart had been wounded. How do I as a loving woman of God release it? How do I find healing when one of those that caused the pain died last year and one refuses to even dialogue and honestly if this person did the patterns have revealed that it best that we not engage. I know that I cannot change anyone. But, I have learned that the good LORD can change me. I soon realized that part of my prayer for bearing much fruit just happens to be that He wants to prune some pain in my heart. So, what is a girl to do? I knew I needed a day with GOD alone. I wanted to take the time to just list it all out and then just burn it. 

I love how GOD pours truth into us or even at us when we are in need of it. Our staff at ASM are working through the book, “Celebrations of Discipline” by Richard Foster as a team building activity for our staff meetings. I chose months ago to do submission and confession because I knew they were the ones I would like to grow in. LOL! Well, I discovered as I studied submission that if I am truly submitting then I am helping myself and those around me to be surrendered to the will of God. Well, guess what! In confession, Foster challenges the reader to take the time to write it all out on paper and take it to someone and confess it. I love it when God affirms something through another that you have planned to do. Foster reminds the reader that the gift of confession releases a dear friend because we become a reminder of God’s forgiveness. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23). My girlfriend, Sabrina, used to call this being Jesus with skin on. There truly is something amazing that happens when we confess something and get it off our chest. Suddenly, we are not alone in our darkness. And when you add in someone that is holy and a good listener that wraps you in the cords of compassion and reminds you of the Father’s forgiveness, well, it is quite beautiful! 

 I told Greg, “I am going to list out all the things that are stuffed inside me as anger and then burn it.” I am blessed because Greg listens even when he was the very one I dumped on! He did two things for me that were so good. Neither of us can handle us being in a fight for long. We will make up because we are a mess otherwise. After we both sat and stewed for quite I bit I said, “I am so sorry I just let you have it.” I will be honest I was sitting there thinking, “I don’t want to apologize! I still want to be mad because I am mad!” But, I also know that will not bring healing and movement so out of obedience to what I know is right and good I said it. Then Greg said, “I forgive you!” There it was so simple. He forgave me. I felt it, too, the minute he said it. I confess I sat there for a moment and thought I don’t want to say, “I forgive you!” But, I made myself do it! “I forgive you!” He nodded and we still sat in silence. Sometimes, you just gotta sit in your mess and wait for the emotions to catch up with your obedience. And it did. 
I hate being ugly! I hate unkindness! I hate evil! And I will say this a thousand times over, I hate them most in me! So, I set a date on the calendar and I set the day aside to be holy. It was to be my day to sit and process it all with God. I had to release it more to Him than to a human. I needed a holy work done in me and I most definitely was not the person to make that happen. I just needed to fall flat on my face before GOD and just unleash. I had A LOT OF ANGER in me! You need to know it was not at one person, one event, or one thing. It was A LOT of people, places, and circumstances. I put on quiet jazz got out my spiral notebook. I did not want this in my beautiful journal. This was ugly and it was going to be BURNED! Did you know that in Hebrew the first person that the word repent was used to first describe as an action was GOD? Go look it up (Genesis 6:6). I once learned that the repent in this verse means leave the house, burn it up, and to never return. That is a little terrifying when you consider it was God who first repented! God regretted creating humans when He saw their wickedness. If that does not do something to your heart, then we need to have a serious conversation! I looked up on Youtube the Hebrew word for “repent” and a video came up titled “Five words you should pray in Hebrew.” So, I paused to watch the video. Here are the five words the video provided: 

Hallelujah means “Praise the LORD!” It honors His beauty, power, faithfulness. 

Teshuvah means “repent and return to God.” It surrenders to His forgiveness.  

Tsedek means upright behavior and wise actions. It reveals His righteousness.

Chesed means “loving kindness or mercy.” It reveals His beauty, grace, kindness, and generosity. 
 
Shalom means “peace.” It is meant to be a prayer and blessing. In our heart, life, and world. 

I immediately knew this was of God and that I must use these five words as the prayer pattern for my prayer time. So, I began to praise God for His beauty, power, and faithfulness. I kept this portion short. I wanted to honor Him, but for today I knew my longer portion was going to be in the Teshuvah. I began to write. I can write pretty tiny, and I kept writing and kept writing. I knew many of the things I was putting down I had already walked the path of repentance and forgiveness, but in case there was any lingering anger I wanted to give it over to God. I wrote until I could not write any more. Immediately, I felt my heart feel the tension unleash. I then began to write over and over all of it the five words. Then it was on my heart to write “You are forgiven. You are free!” This was a reminder that it is just as true for each person as it is for me. Then I wrote Jesus over and over. Honestly, there is nothing spiritual about what I was doing in writing the repetitive words. It was more for me to rewrite on my heart the truths that each one embodies, and it felt good to me. It isn’t something that should be considered a model, but more as a confession of what God walked me through on this precious journey of confessing anger. 

When I was all done, I sat and looked at my scribbled mess, and I wanted to create! I wanted to be able to paint a masterpiece for each of those five words. They are mine now. They are deeply embedded in my heart, mind, soul, and spirit as part of my prayer journey with the LORD. I feel as if they are His grand gift to me because I sought Him. He allowed me to find Him in words that brought me healing, power, and yes authority to release and unleash my pain and move more towards joy. I love that He immediately gave me visions for creativity. How like God to provide a creative vision after a time of holy confession. 

When Greg came home for lunch on the morning that I wrote my confessions of anger, I showed him my scribbled mess. He looked at me and said, “Why do you still have it? Go burn it! Do you feel better?” I have a good friend in my Greg. I am blessed. I told him I wanted him to see it and honestly, as I look at it, it is beautiful to me! If I did not confess it then I could not find release from it. It represented the gift of God’s beauty, power, forgiveness, grace, mercy, generosity, faithfulness, and peace to me. 

Have you ever been so burdened? It sure hurts. I am so sorry if you have your own pain, anger, or even sorrow that you bear. I wrote about my journey hoping that you might go to God in prayer and confess it and release it to Him. I pray you find joy and the gift of creative vision so that you may go and bear much fruit. I know I am much better for having done it and I know you will be, too! Shalom y’all! Tara 3/23/21😉