Five Minute Friday: Ten

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

No makeup. Stretchy pants. Comfy couch.

It’s the #fmfparty.

I can’t speak highly enough of this group of people. Most of us have never met in person, and yet there is genuine love. Real friendship. Laughter and tears, prayers and pondering. I shake my head even now thinking about the wonderful happenstance of it all.

The wonderful working of God.

I’m not sure what Kate was thinking with this prompt tonight. We write about: ten.

Go.

Ten Truths: Some That are Universal and Others That Should Be

* You are beloved by the Creator of the universe.

* When crabby, take a nap.

* Dogs are better than cats & Pepsi is better than Coke.

* Choose life. Get help.

* Leggings are not pants.

* Quality over quantity.

* Women – all women, all sizes, all shapes, all ages, all ethnicities – are beautiful.

* Cilantro tastes like soap.

* Writing soothes the soul.

* Jesus saves. Every time.

Bonus Eleventy!

In the comments, my friend pointed out that I forgot to include two very important things:

* “Meat should never be in the shape of a loaf and nothing edible should ever jiggle as much as jello does.”

Stop.

Coming back to edit (which I’m not supposed to do).

I decided to look and see what book of the Bible comes in at the 10th slot, and then go to the 10th verse of the 10th chapter. Doing so took me here:

“And the rest of the people he put under the command of Abishai his brother, that he might set them in battle array against the people of Ammon.” – 2 Samuel 10:10 (NKJV)

This is quite interesting, for the context here is an Israelite battle against the Ammonites and Syrians. A battle that occurred at the apex of King David’s reign. Following this are Bathsheba, Tamar’s desolation and “Absalom, my son, my son.” Years of sin and strife and struggle.

David forgot, for a time, to stay engaged in the battle.

Something to ponder.

My journey to faith. (15)

Consider Your Ways

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

Studying the book of Ezra means studying the books of Haggai and Zechariah, two prophets who figure prominently in the Ezra storyline. One identified himself as a young man (Zechariah 2:4). The other was probably an old man (Haggai 2:3 may point to Haggai having seen the Temple before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it). It’s possible that they both returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel/Sheshbazzar, though they are not named among the company (Ezra 2).

These somewhat-murky figures serve as God’s megaphone to a discouraged and distracted people. In no way am I condemning the Jewish people. I don’t blame them for being discouraged and distracted. Rebuilding the Temple (and Jerusalem itself, as seen in the book of Nehemiah) was no easy task. Opposition came from all sides. I understand why many of them threw up their hands and looked to reestablishing their own homes (Haggai 1:4).

It’s a picture of the fear and wrong priorities I have all too often.

Onto the page the ink spilled. These men of God begin to speak.

Haggai says, “Consider your ways” (1:5)

Our English “consider” is made up of three separate Hebrew words:

Sum/siym: to put, place, set, appoint, make; direct

Lebab: inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding

‘al: upon, on the ground of, according to, on account of, on behalf of, concerning, beside, in addition to, together with, beyond, above, over, by, on to, towards, to, against

Direct your mind. Set your will. Make an account of what you’re doing.

Think about it.

Really think about it.

Haggai is calling his people to obedience. He is telling them to examine their priorities. He hearkens back to Ezra 3:3, when they built the altar and offered sacrifices to the Lord “despite their fear of the peoples around them” (NIV). He is reminding them. Drawing their minds back to what truly matters.

They were suffering through drought, famine and scarcity because they had forgotten their first love. Haggai’s voice, perhaps gravelly and low-pitched with age, demands their attention. He speaks the message of God. He tells them that they need to get down the business of restoring the Temple, restoring worship. Blessing would flow from their obedience.

They can do this. They can respond positively.

They can because they are not alone. They are not left to grapple with the overwhelming rubble and the sneering, hostile pagans. “I am with you, says the LORD” (Haggai 1:13)

We don’t have to stretch far to make the application to our own lives.

God does not promise to prosper us materially. The Church is not national Israel; the way the covenant blessings are applied to us is different. Yet He does promise to bless and keep us as we seek to please Him (check out the entire book of Ephesians for a plethora of examples). When our priorities are right and we seek to obey Him, we are graced with love, peace, joy and fulfillment – even if the circumstances remain difficult. We walk in the assurance of knowing we have done what’s right.

I didn’t want to hear this today. Didn’t want to read these words of Haggai.

Here’s the unspoken thought behind all this: Obedience costs something. Yes, the rewards are great. But the cost can be great, too. The returned exiles had to defy pretty much everyone from the king on down as they began the work once more. They faced harassment at best, death at worst. It was no joke to do what they did. (Further on in the story we find out that some of the officials in the area contacted King Darius about it. King Darius winds up saying, “Yeah, leave them alone – better than that, do whatever you can to help them. And have them offer some sacrifices for me and my sons.” Nobody knew that this was going to be the outcome, though).

Obeying God is worth the cost. I know that. He’s proven Himself faithful. I know that I must fear (reverence) Him and not those whose only power is to kill me (Matthew 10:28). (Not that I think anyone is going to kill me. I’m not paranoid. It’s just a principle about the place of God and the place of people in my life).

Still. In my smallness, in my humanness, I fear.

There are two lengthy blog posts in my drafts queue. Publishing one of them, let alone both of them, is scary. I don’t want to deal with the potential fallout. I don’t want to wade through nasty comments. I want to pretend that the things never happened. That I don’t know about them. That everything is fine and wonderful.

I can’t. I know I can’t.

I must consider my ways.

Set my priorities.

Obey God.

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Free

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

Bouncing between intense headaches and nausea all week.

This is will be brief.

Kate and the writers focus on: free.

Go.

Be kind to your sick friends.

We long to be free.

We don’t want to miss special events. We don’t want to be stuck in our homes. We don’t want to worry about our finances because we miss work. We don’t want to be in pain. We don’t want to be weak.

If you’re with me tonight, longing for a body that doesn’t hate you, enjoy these jokes. They make me smile:

.

.

.

I hope you at least chuckled a little.

We need these little bright spots on the tough days.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)