Are we listening?

 

Psalm 81 6-16

    I hear this most gentle whisper from One
    I never guessed would speak to me:

6-7 “I took the world off your shoulders,
    freed you from a life of hard labor.
You called to me in your pain;
    I got you out of a bad place.
I answered you from where the thunder hides,
    I proved you at Meribah Fountain.

8-10 “Listen, dear ones—get this straight;
    O Israel, don’t take this lightly.
Don’t take up with strange gods,
    don’t worship the popular gods.
I’m God, your God, the very God
    who rescued you from doom in Egypt,
Then fed you all you could eat,
    filled your hungry stomachs.

11-12 “But my people didn’t listen,
    Israel paid no attention;
So I let go of the reins and told them, ‘Run!
    Do it your own way!’

13-16 “Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now?
Israel, will you follow my map?
I’ll make short work of your enemies,
give your foes the back of my hand.
I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs,
never to be heard from again.
You’ll feast on my fresh-baked bread
spread with butter and rock-pure honey.”

Happy Easter.
God is awesome.
He has given us the amazing opportunity to experience his love and joy. For most of my life I had the perception that Easter was only one day. I knew it as Resurrection Sunday. But as I grew older, I found that Easter was not just a day but it is a season that spans over 40 days after the resurrection of Christ.
In this psalm we see that God is speaking to the children of Israel. In God‘s beautiful providence, he is showing it as directly after the Passover. We are completing the Passover. This is Psalm is directly to speaking to us today. In this song God is telling us again about his love for us and how he has provided for us and how He will continue to provide for us. The one thing you have to remember as his children we need to LISTEN to his direction.
There are so many times in my life where I’ve had my mentors and family members tell me a story. They can tell the story several times. The story can be told so many times it can become an inside joke. We have heard stories so many times that we can tell it word-for-word from the person telling the story. One thing that we cannot do is miss the underlying meaning . We have to acknowledge the story but also remember and analyze the story each time it is told.
In this song the children from Israel have been out of Egypt for several centuries. The meaning of the Passover is to remember the deliverance that God gave their ancestors. But over the years they have forgotten what God has done for them. In this song they are re-telling the story to make sure that we listen.
It is Easter, we have the joy of the resurrection and the blood. Are we listening? What is God telling us? This Easter we were able to celebrate with others, but last Easter we were sheltering in place. This Easter we can celebrate open, last Easter we could not touch each other. This Easter we are able to celebrate at church, last year we were fearful of touching or breathing on each other. What has God revealed to you in this last year and how will it change your relationship with Him? Will we have to have another awakening with verse and psalm centuries from now?
Be blessed.

Why are there enemies?

Enemies.
We all have tried to erase or mitigate the things that are in opposition to us or our interest. It is natural to avoid conflict and come to resolution. In Psalms 69, we are presented with a real dire situation with David. He is being overwhelmed with so many adversaries that he is in complete desperation.
He does not have a friend or any person that can help him. Every where he looks he cannot find any assistance or aid. He then turns to God and acknowledges his weaknesses and sins and is aware of the consequences of these sins.
The themes that are echoed throughout these verses are:

Psalm 69: 4

More in number than the hairs of my head
    are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
    those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
    must I now restore?

  • When we are in relationship with God the world will be against us. The relationship with God stops us from having a true relationship with the things of this world: list, hate, greed, loss, frustration, etc. When the world recognizes that this relationship has been severed it then comes against us. The world has become our “enemy” since God has become our main focus. Psalm 23: 5 , in order to be blessed you have to have enemies.   Psalms 23:5 : You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

Psalm 69: 5; 19-20

O God, you know my folly;
    the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

You know my reproach,
    and my shame and my dishonor;
    my foes are all known to you.
 Reproaches have broken my heart,
    so that I am in despair.

  • After David tells his situation, he acknowledges his own sins. He recognized that God is the supreme judge and justifier. He knows that man would only give him grace when it is appropriate and good for the other. In the light of God’s eye, the justification is genuine and permanent. No matter how many issues that we face, when we believe in God and the price that Christ paid for us, we will be able to acknowledge all that is wrong in us and have the peace that God can cover all of our transgressions and downfalls .

Psalms 69: 30-31

I will praise the name of God with a song;
    I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

 This will please the Lord more than an ox
    or a bull with horns and hoofs

  • God wants your heart, not the sacrifice. So many times we attempt to do things and make sacrifices to gain better standing with God. But God doesn’t want our deeds, he wants our heart. He wants us to have the relationship with Him and not the objects of sacrifice. Sometimes we get into the “doing” of the things and try to check them off. But we forget why we are doing these “things”. God wants us to remember why we are doing the things for him. What is the mission behind the journey? How will this sacrifice bring God glory?
How can we see the blessings in the midst of our enemies? How can we acknowledge our downfalls to God? How can we bring back the mission to our sacrifices?
Be blessed.

In the face of fear

Psalm 57: 1-3 

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,

    for in you my soul takes refuge;

in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,

    till the storms of destruction pass by.

I cry out to God Most High,

    to God who fulfills his purpose for me.

He will send from heaven and save me;

    he will put to shame him who tramples on me. 

Selah

God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

 

During our time traveling through the Psalms, we have seen many faces of David revealed in his songs. We have seen joy and adoration. We have seen sorrow and despair. We have seen adultery and murder. In this song we see a different face of David, this is his face and attitude in the presence of fear.

In the beginning of the David story, we see David as a strong young man with confidence and strength. David is on the front lines of the Israelites war, where the entire army of the Israelites are shaking with terror.  But David is strong in his determination to win the battle against Goliath. This courage has been conveyed over the ages as a pinnacle part of courage in the face of fear. In his later years David also experiences fear when his son is king and David is exiled from his kingdom.

But in Psalm 57, this experience of fear is when David is being pursued by Saul the king of Israel. At this time Saul is David’s father-in-law.  David has served as a major general in Saul’s army.  David has been his personal musician.  David is Jonanthan’s best friend.   David knows that king Saul has been anointed by God. Because of this David will not raise a hand against him.  Saul relentlessly pursues David for an extended amount of time upto the point where David hides in the cave.  In this cave, Saul comes within inches of death and harm from David, but David spares his life.  

Psalm 57 illustrates how God protects us in the face of certain death and fear. The only way I can equivocate this setting is if you are standing in front of a tiger who is three feet from you but the tiger does not see you and he does not harm you. The overwhelming presence of that fear can immobilize a person or cause so much fear that the person falls dead. But when God is with us he protects us and gives us calm and peace in the fear.  God protects David in such a way that he blinds the threat and allows no harm to come to David.

There are many people currently that are experiencing such terror and fear in the direct face of opposition and they try to run or fight and do not succeed. This psalm is telling us that when we actually believe that God is in control and He is true to his promise.  We can literally stare at anything that threatens us and be calm. This is not only physical, emotionally, mentally,  financially or spiritually. He is able to comfort us and allow us to rest in the midst of adversity and condemnation if we are in him.

Because of this I am able to smile every day despite what is happening around me. I hope that the Spirit will allow you to rest in him as well.

Blessings on the way

Today’s Reading: Psalms 45 

I have a confession: I really read and focus on the first 75% of the psalms and most readings on my first read through.  This leaves the remaining 25% of the passage as a skimmed portion.  Because I have recognized this in myself, I have made it a practice to read through passages twice on the first time through and then I have to commit to reading the passage several times that week to fully gain the information and knowledge in the passage.  

With this preface, I read the passage for the blog several times and now I am able to understand several messages in the passage and see how it reflects what I believe.  The two main ideas that have been revealed are:  1.) Blessings are on the way and 2.) We need to get out of the way of the blessings. 

In the beginning of the Psalm, the author is writing about the beginning of a celebration and festival.  The first ten verses are setting up the splendor and the amazing things that are at hand. 

Psalm 45:4-8

In your majesty ride out victoriously

    for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;

    let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!

Your arrows are sharp

    in the heart of the king’s enemies;

    the peoples fall under you.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.

    The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;

    you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.

Therefore God, your God, has anointed you

    with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;

    your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.

In these verses it shows the goodness and mercies that God has in store for each of us.  God delights in the preparation and celebration that we can enjoy being in union with Him.  It details the protection and the blessings that are ready for us in this union.  

As we read further, it also demonstrates that we are at risk of not allowing ourselves to enjoy the fullness of the blessings.  I have seen this in myself, I have not allowed the richness and fullness of the blessings to be accepted because I allow the past to dictate the future.  The things that are in my past continue to try to remind me of who I was and not who I have become in this new union.  But as I have grown in my relationship with God, I can forget the past and look toward the future. 

Psalm 45:10-11 ; 16-17 

Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:

    forget your people and your father’s house,

    and the king will desire your beauty.

In place of your fathers shall be your sons;

    you will make them princes in all the earth.

I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;

    therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.

These verses are not saying to negate the past experiences that have created the circumstances that have made you available to this blessing, but to allow them to help you grow into the new creation that He has in store for you.  

I believe that God is always ready to give us more blessings and he has them ready, but we have to not allow the past or other influences to hinder the manifestations. Two of the mentors that I look to for direction in the fullness of blessings are Peter and Paul.  Both were plagued with their past lives before and with Christ, but through His Love and Patience they became founders of the Church.  Stay prayerful and be blessed.

The Other Side : My Belief -Psalms 33

Today’s Reading Psalms 33

One of the most common practices among gardeners is the pruning and cultivation process. This pruning process is one that takes off small pieces of the plant that allows the plant to grow and flourish and to become more fruitful. Sometimes pruning process is difficult and sometimes it changes the complete structure and the base of the plant. But in the correct hands the pruning process is something that makes a tree into a more sustainable and profitable plant.
If the pruning process is not done correctly the tree or the plant can overgrow and this can cause devastation in the future. Several weeks ago when the ice storms came there were several trees in our backyard that had massive branches that fell on the ground and caused several light outs and electrical issues. These trees had not been pruned properly. This maintenance that was deferred and created several nights that were cold and dark for the family.
Many times in our life God being the master gardener chooses at the right time to prune things from our lives so that we can better focus on Him or turn attention to Him in order for us to grow. Sometimes these are easy and sometimes these are hard. Sometimes pruning happens in our health; sometimes it happens in our wealth; sometimes it happens in our families; so sometimes it happens in our bodies. This process happens when we allow God to be sovereign in our lives.
The best part of the pruning process is the Other Side.
Psalms 33 : 1-3
Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
In Psalm 33, the writer is telling the joy and praise that they have for God and the goodness of his works. This author cannot explains these things without going through some traumatic events. This person cannot exhibit the joy and sun without the nights in anguish and heartache. This person has truly seen the harshness of life and is able to see the Other side of the the pruning show a beautiful as stronger side.
Psalms 33: 16-19

The king is not saved by his great army;
    a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
    and by its great might it cannot rescue.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
    on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

I believe the sun is always shining and the the rain will come and dampen the day.   But I also  believe and have witnessed the goodness and mercy that God has given me as related in this beautiful Psalm.
My prayer is that if any of you are going through a period of pruning, that you are able to see the promise of the other side. If you see someone else in the mist of a journey, give them hope of the Other side. Be blessed

 

Lynden McGriff

Why I believe – Psalm 21 – Move

 

In the first psalms I shared about the gardener and the seed. As reflecting on the last entry of Psalms 9,  I see my belief rooted in God as the gardener in the garden from the beginning of the Bible. He nourishes me and prepares everything that I need.   He gives me strength and places me where he needs me to be please in order for me to grow into the mature person he has for me. The gardener creates life in each one of us.

In gardening, after the seed germinates it starts to grow and there are several steps in order to make the seed turn into a plant. One of the main things that has to be done is the seed has to be moved. The seed moves from the seedling starts into a bigger pot. The seed is moved into the ground. Each of these movements is essential for the true growth of the seed.

In our lives, God moves us at the optimal time in which He sees that we can no longer grow in our current situation.

A master gardener knows that if the seed is left in the seedling form there would be no growth for the seed. The seed has to be moved to change and make the seed more mature in order for fruit to grow. The seed’s movement has to shake the foundations of the roots in order to become stronger. This movement causes a change in the plant in order to bear more fruit.

Psalm 21:1-7 

O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,

    and in your salvation how greatly he exults!

You have given him his heart’s desire

    and have not withheld the request of his lips.     Selah

For you meet him with rich blessings;

    you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.

He asked life of you; you gave it to him,

    length of days forever and ever.

His glory is great through your salvation;

    splendor and majesty you bestow on him.

For you make him most blessed forever;[a]

    you make him glad with the joy of your presence.

For the king trusts in the Lord,

    and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

In the Psalms 21, we see the life of David that God has given and has purposed for David. This is David’s life in review: David is a shepherd. Then David is a musician in a court. Then David is a soldier. Then David is a prince. Then David is a sojourner. Then David is a king. Then David is exiled. Then David is a king that rules his lands.

In each of these movements God is with David and God placed him in the new situations. This is what Psalms 21 shows: how the king David has been blessed by God in the mist of these moves. How lovely is it to have God in the mist and then have God move in us.

It is sometimes difficult for us to understand when God moves us. Sometimes the move is voluntary. Sometimes the move is involuntary. But we have to understand that each movement in which God has for us He still bestows upon us his protection and in the end for his glory.

The question we have to ask ourselves daily is how will I respond to God’s movement of me in this life and will I rejoice at the movement and at the results that he has given me.

This is why I believe: Psalms 21:1-2

O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,

    and in your salvation how greatly he exults!

You have given him his heart’s desire

    and have not withheld the request of his lips.

Fatherly Love

 

Today’s Reading : Genesis 3: 8-15

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring[a] and hers;
he will crush[b] your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

 

The beginning of Advent is one of my favorite times of year. It’s the anticipation of the renewing of our spirit and of our faith. It is excitement for the renewing of hope and joy. It is the renewal and refreshing of our relationships.  It is a time of reflection and introspection into ourselves and our relationship with God.

In this particular passage of the day I see it through a different lens. I’ve had a paradigm shift since reading these passages from being a young boy to a young man and now a husband and a father.

As I’m reading the third chapter of Genesis and the fall of man, I can revert to the old Lynden and “Just try to get through it” or ask the Spirit to allow me to see it in a different perspective. Now as I have matured, I can see the deeper side of the true story.

The setting is ten years into the future: I come home after a day at work and Jillian is not home but the kids are at home. Oliver,19, Ruby,16, and Nadya,15. I know that they are home because I had contacted him before I left work to make sure that they had the dinner started and chores completed. As I come to the house I called out to all of them. The food is in the oven and the chores are done, but they are nowhere to be found.  As I search the house I call for them but no one answers.

I find them in the attic where they have found the mother’s wedding dress. Ruby and Nadya tried to put the wedding dress on and have destroyed the wedding dress. Oliver is trying to help them mend the dress.  They are all distraught; they are all crying; they are all sad. I look at them with heartfelt sympathy and remorse. Their actions have created a painful and disappointing error. But this is created an opportunity for love and compassion and redirection.  I give them their consequence: They have to tell their mother that they have destroyed her wedding dress. The have to deal with the consequences of their actions, but I will continue to give them the needed love and support that they need.

This is an example that I think many people can relate to. This is essentially what has happened to Adam and Eve in the garden. Our loving Father has come to fellowship with his children. When He comes, they are ashamed of what has happened and remorseful.   God knows what is going, and he asks a simple question. This question is inquisitive and without any punitive tones or condemnation.  He is asking because he loves them.  He already knows what has happened he wants us to come to him and take responsibility for what has happened.

Many times I’ve seen this scene as a wrath of God or wrath of a malevolent father.  But now I can really see the gentleness and the sorrow in which He sees that his beautiful creation has changed. But the most amazing thing that I am able to understand now is His love and compassion for us.  He sees how this circumstance creates an opportunity for change. God with all his power, all his wisdom, and all his might could’ve easily wiped the slate clean and create a new world with new people and have “Paradise” once again. But he understood that no matter how “perfect” anything is there has to be a balance. He knew that there was have to be a balance between the light and dark, chaos and order, love and apathy.

Advent is the expectation and anticipation of the newness of life. But Advent is also showing God’s purpose and God‘s love for us. He knew that the perfect world in which we to live it had to be balanced. That’s why he knew from that moment of the fall, Christ will come to balance the world and us.  He knew that to change in the absence of suffering, we would not truly appreciate and understand the fullness of his love.

Because of his fatherly love, he knew the only way that we could I understand our part in his love was to allow us to go through the hard times, but He will be there with us in those hard times.   To the point where he himself came down in the form man as Christ.

My prayer for this Advent season is that God is with us, showing us with his Fatherly love He’s there with us in every and any circumstance. Creating pockets of Opportunity and that His love has a purpose and a plan. He spoke it into existence that the Offspring would trample the serpent under his heel. We have to acknowledge that Christ has prevailed and given us that power.

 

 

Assurance

 

Assurance : The acknowledgment or confirmation of anticipated items or events

The 12 chapter of John has several recurring themes: the theme of light and the theme of glory. In this chapter, this is the week before the crucifixion.  This is the last week of Jesus’ life.  These are the last actions of Christ earthly ministry before the resurrection.   

In the beginning of the chapter John recounts the gathering at the house of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.  At this particular gathering we given a setting tasty is very familiar throughout Christian theology and tradition: The preparation of Jesus’ death.  Mary uses  the perfume that is equal to a year’s salary.  Mary uses her hair to wipe the Jesus’s feet.  She is using all of her being to glorify and bring light to the dark times coming ahead.  This is a type of light and glory Mary is preparing Jesus body for his ultimate sacrifice and the glorification of his time earth.

While at Lazarus’ house, people are coming to see and experience the man that has been brought back to life.  This was one of the most profound miracles that Christ had performed.  Lazarus was not only dead, but he had been in the tomb for several days.  We have gotten accustomed to going to funerals and having the benefits of modern medicine to help assuage the true morbidity of death , but this was not the custom in the times of Jesus.  In the manner of hours the body begins to decompose and the natural process starts.  By the time Jesus got to the town of Lazarus, he was in full decomposition.  But now several weeks to months later, Jesus is eating with Lazarus and people want to come and see the miracle.   This is shows not only show that Jesus is capable of miracles, but he is Lord over life and death of others and God will do the same for him.  This this act is glorifying God‘s domain over life and death.

Each piece of the gospel is there for an intentional purpose,  here John mentions the group of Greeks. This is very poignant in this section because the Greeks deal with life, death, and gods in different ways. He uses examples of the wheat and how to death of the wheat to springing back to life for new plant to the Greeks. He also uses the other metaphors here with the Greeks of light and glorification. 

He uses light and glory several times in this chapter. He shows how light overcomes darkness how he is the light that overcomes the darkness of the enemy. He shows how the anticipation of his death and resurrection would normally receive as the final blow but he uses it as a catalyst to show the light and the glory of God.

One of the most profound portions in this entire chapter is the force of God. I’ve read this chapter many times in my lifetime but the most our inspiring section is when God the father acknowledges and glorifies the person of Christ in actual audible and meaningful terms. God completes his qualification and assures us that Christ is the one who is glorifying God and fulfilling the Scriptures.

John 12: 27- 30 

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.

There are not many times in the Old Testament or in the New testament in which God’s true voice is heard. In this verse God‘s force is not only audible but it is heard by the entire multitude. This gives us the assurance that God‘s plan and words are true. Many during this time in Christ life, many did not believe that God‘s word and actions were true. Many today do not believe that God‘s words and actions are true. But this brief, yet powerful moment gives us assurance, that undeniable realization that all things are working in God‘s favor.

I know that in today’s society it is hard to grasp that God plan is still valid. A year ago so many things in my life changed. My family members were passing away at young ages. My son was diagnosed with different things. And close friends we’re passing away day by day.  In the current situation there are thousands of people passing away daily. In these times it can seem as if we are in a mess of darkness. But we have to understand that God‘s light and glory will be shown and glorified, if we believe in Him. 

May God reveal Himself to us as he did to the multitude and give us Assurance: Allow us to hear him in thunder of the storm or in the whisper on a breeze.

The Apostle John – The Beloved Disciple

Can you imagine, we are only a month away from beginning of Advent. The time to reflect about the coming of Christ into our life or the renewing of our relationship with Christ. We have just celebrated Halloween and we were entering the High Holy time of the year. This is a time of deep reflection, a period of time to allow our minds to become centered not only on the outside but on the inside. We can see this with our spiritual and physical sides. The days are getting shorter and the weather is turning cooler.   We are finding new ways of connecting with each other inside, but at a safe distance.

We begin our new journey into the reflections and writings of the Apostle John in the book of the Apostle John.  In this book, we see one of Jesus’ closest friend’s accounts from the beginning of the ministry to the crucifixion and the burial and the resurrection. With this unique opportunity to view through the eyes of John we can see the true transformation of Christ in many different aspects. John is one of a few disciples who experienced many of the intimate details of Christ’s life. John was there when Jesus was baptized. John was there when Jesus meet with Moses and Elijah on the top of mountain in the Transfiguration. John was there at the garden of Gethsemane.  John was there at the Crucifixion.  John was there at the tomb of the Resurrection.

John is the apostle that is referred to as beloved because he was there through the most intimate times of Christ’s ministry. He also is three main authors in the New Testament, besides Paul and Luke.  The Apostle John wrote: the book of the Apostle John, I John, II  John, III  John, and Revelation. 

The relationship that John had with Christ is one that we should emulate on a daily basis. We should make a point of taking time to be with Christ daily to know his voice, to know his touch, and know his purpose in our lives. Many times we have gotten distracted by the outside world. During these past eleven months we have been given a opportunity to start slow down and reflect on Christ in our life. A prayer of mine is that we were able to find time as we journey through this book of John and into the Advent season in December and slow down.   Come inside to the place where Jesus waits patiently. And begin to reconnect with Christ on a daily basis. Allow his words, his testimony, and his love for fulfill us and show us his purpose.

May you be blessed. 

The Age of Wisdom

Knowledge is where you receive information gathered from different sources.  Wisdom is the synthesis of the knowledge and experience to create a meaningful understanding. 

I have been fortunate and blessed to have many mentors in my life, and one of the most influential mentors I have currently is my aunt. On the 31st of October she will reach a new chapter in her life, she will be 80 years young. She has had a life full of experiences. She is my mother’s older sibling. She was born right at the beginning of World War II. She experienced segregation and integration on a very intimate level. As she grew up to adult she worked in the school system. Her career in the school system spans over approximately six decades. 

She is a person who has shown me how to work hard and diligently for the future. She started her school career as a cafeteria worker.  She pursued her dreams and aspirations by attending night school to complete her Bachelor and Masters degree.  She became a teacher, then a counselor, and then an administrator. For the last 20 years post-retirement she has still been in the classroom teaching technology to kindergarten through second graders. She has so much life experiences that I hope to attain half of that information in a knowledge in my lifetime.

When searching for a subject for my “Writer’s choice” my first thought was to call my aunt and ask her what are her words of wisdom that she would give to me to share in this blog. As we spoke she tells me about life; about marriage; about children; and about health.  As we speak I ask her, “ What are some of your favorite verses or scriptures?”  Her first response is John 14:1-3

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 

As we speak the Holy Spirit starts to speak to her and she gives me some very amazing nuggets of wisdom starting with Luke and also Genesis. She mentions Luke 6:27-36  where Jesus is telling the crowd to love your enemies as yourself

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Genesis 45: 1- 3 (The Full chapter relays the fullness of the story) 

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

In Genesis 45, this is the ultimate reveal of Joseph to his brothers. In this particular situation Joseph meets his brothers after several years been estranged from them because they sold him into slavery to never be seen again.  In this particular scene Joseph could have done one of two things: he could have completely banish them and set them off in isolation or he could show love to his enemies, which are his brothers, he chooses the latter. 

In this particular section we can see how Love is through the Holy Spirit in both Luke and Genesis. It’s amazing how my aunt was able to bring these two sections together in such manner with flawless effort. 

It is easy for us to love our friends our neighbors our family. But it is almost impossible to love individuals that want to do harm to us in the flesh. But we have been given this amazing gift to be able to lookout outside of our flesh and allow the Spirit to love unconditionally through Christ.  This same love can be seen between David and Saul.  (Refer to Samuel I & II) 

In this conversation that we had my aunt also gave us some additional nuggets of wisdom:  Even though you are asked to love others, you can choose the proximity in which you can love them. You can love without making yourself completely vulnerable to the other person. She referenced my grandmother: “Some people you have to feed with a long handle spoon”.  This is translated to mean: “In order to love some people, you have to love some individuals at a distance at the same time protecting yourselves”. You can not be dissuaded from giving your love to them because of fear.  God is Love and Love conquers fear.  May you be be blessed this week.