Trust

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and lean not on your own understanding!

 

If you don’t understand something, it’s okay.  God does!  If you feel like you don’t “know” what’s going on, it’s okay!  Knowledge is NOT power.  The only power that matters is the power of God.  The only knowledge that matters is God’s word and your faith in Jesus.   If we “knew” everything, then what?  Modern day Americans live in a society where the compulsion to “know” something is literally on their fingertips, a simple google phone search away.  If you don’t know where you’re going, then surely GPS does. Gone are the days of trial and error.  Has this made us a more “advanced” society, or has it set us back as a people completely reliant on robots and machines?

If you don’t “understand” something, are you looking to your Bible for answers?  Are you able to take a break, go for a walk alone to pray to God and ask Him to reveal something to you? Or are you looking at the next “self-help” book or blog for answers?  God has ALL the answers! And sometimes He doesn’t give you the answer you are looking for or at the time you “need” it.  He wants us to rely and fully trust in Him for everything!  Not just big decisions, but small daily decisions as well.  Is Jesus truly your shepherd, your leader, your king?  Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you or are you instructing yourself? What would it look like to fully have faith and truly trust?

ūüíú

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Levite + Concubine (Text of Terror)

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Painting by Mario Moore (2009)

I am currently making my way through the Old Testament and have landed on Judges 19. ¬†I’ve been reflecting and simmering over this text for some time, trying to make sense of the horror of this story. ¬†The conclusion I’ve came up with is sin sucks. ¬†It sucks really bad, and inevitably leads to destruction and death.

Here’s the recap…

Israel had no king (Judges 19:1):  Right away the story is letting us know that the people (Israelites) have no one in authority to follow or be accountable too.  No king = free for all.  Do whatever you want.  What happens when a parent lets their kids do whatever they want?  Or a boss who lets their employees work whenever and however they want?  No leadership, especially godly leadership, is no bueno.  *insert thumbs down*

A Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine.. (Judges 19:1): ¬†A Levite is from the tribe of Levi and they are the ones who worked in the temple with the priests (i.e. Levites were the ones who played worship music, handled security, etc.). ¬†Even though the practice of taking concubines (ie. legal mistress) is prevalent throughout the Bible, is it right? ¬†Especially for a Levite to do so? ¬†Levites are supposed to be ambassadors of God’s holy temple. ¬†Even in today’s times, just because something is “legal” doesn’t make it right.

She (the concubine) was unfaithful. ¬†She left and went back to her parent’s house (Judges 19:2). ¬†The concubine cheated on the Levite. ¬†This is somewhat ironic, because technically the Levite was “cheating” on his wife by taking a concubine in the first place. ¬†Then she left him and went back to her parents house, which shows that her father still had authority over her instead of her pseudo-husband. ¬†Once again the cultural context must be taken into consideration, however, the situation just doesn’t seem ideal.

In Judges 19:3-9, the text states that the Levite went to the concubine’s house to persuade her to come back to him. ¬†Her father welcomed the Levite with hospitality and kept persuading him with food and drink to stay. ¬†Scripture also refers to this man as a¬†“father-in-law” and the Levite is referred to as a “son-in-law,” which makes no sense because they weren’t technically married. ¬†Perhaps the father wanted the Levite to present an offering for his daughter? ¬†A bride price?

So then the Levite, his servant and concubine finally left together and started heading back to the temple. ¬†Along the way, the Levite did not want to stop in any cities whose people were not Israelites. “He said, ‘come, let’s try to reach Gibeah or Ramah and spend the night in one of those places'” (Judges 19: 13),¬†even though his servant who he was traveling with suggested otherwise. ¬†When they reached the town of Gibeah in the tribe of Benjamin, they “stopped to spend the night. ¬†They went and sat in the city square, but no one took them in for the night” (Judges 19:15). ¬†

Finally, an old man came and offered them to stay at his house for the evening. ¬†This is where the story gets really twisted. ¬†The Levite, concubine and servant all end up staying the night at this old man’s house. ¬†However, “some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. ¬†Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your¬†house so we can have sex with him.” ¬†(Judges 19:22). ¬†Once again the irony is thick, because the Levite originally did not want to stop at a city that didn’t inhabit Israelites, assuming that Israelite towns were better. ¬†Apparently this is not the case, because “wicked men” were residing in Gibeah. ¬†Also, it’s ironic because the Levite technically did this to the concubine when he went to her father’s house. ¬†He basically knocked on her father’s door, asking her to come out of the house and come back with him so she can continue to be his “mistress” aka sex slave.

The story ends up getting worse, as the old man refused to give up the Levite, but instead offered his virgin daughter and concubine to be raped and abused all night. ¬†“When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. ¬†He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” ¬†But there was no answer. ¬†Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.” ¬†(Judges 19:27-28). ¬†We now see a shift in the text. ¬†The Levite is no longer referred to as the concubine’s “husband.” ¬†He is now referred to as her “master.” ¬†Also, we don’t know if she is confirmed dead on the doorway or still alive. ¬†We do know that there is no weeping, no sadness, no nothing.

And just when you think things can’t get worse, it does. ¬†When the Levite returned home, “he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel.” ¬†(Judges 19:29). ¬†It all seems to be straight out of a horror film, but no, it’s straight from the Bible. ¬†Why did the Levite send her body parts to the 12 tribes? ¬†To start a war amongst the tribes? ¬†Because how dare someone do something to “his property.” ¬†Throughout the remainder of the book of Judges, war and punishment ensue and at the end it is once again stated, “in those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” ¬†(Judges 21:25).

Left to our own devices, we too have the capacity to become murderers, adulterers, rapists, lustful, prideful creatures who treat others like objects. ¬†All praises and glory to our King Jesus who died on the cross for our sins, so we don’t have to be like this! ¬†We don’t have to be a nameless concubine, a nameless servant, or a nameless Levite. ¬†God has given each and every one of us a name to sit alongside Him in the throne room one day. ¬†Do you want God to be the King of your life? ¬†Or do you want to do whatever you see fit with no oversight or accountability?

Chicken Sausage Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms w/ Peppers, Onions, Spinach

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Chicken sausage stuffed portobello mushrooms w/ peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes and spinach on a fresh bed of arugula.

Ingredients:
portobello mushrooms
diced chicken sausage (fully cooked chicken & apple sausage)
sweet peppers (diced)
white onion (diced)
cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
minced garlic
spinach
olive oil
italian seasoning
fresh arugula
sprinkle of shredded cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remove stems from mushrooms.  Dice stems to add to stuffing mixture below.
  3. Add olive oil to baking pan.  Place mushrooms cap side down in a baking pan. Brush olive oil on mushrooms.
  4. In a saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat.
  5. Add onions, peppers, mushroom stems and diced chicken sausage to saucepan.  Heat for several minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Once the onions become translucent, add italian seasoning, minced garlic, cherry tomatoes and spinach.
  7. Scoop stuffing mixture inside each portobello mushroom.
  8. Lightly sprinkle shredded cheese on top.  Place in oven and heat for approximately 10 minutes.
  9. Serve warm on a fresh bed of arugula. ¬†Enjoy! ¬†ūüėÄ

#JustSayNoToSelfies

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What is happening to this world that we live in? ¬†Modern day America is going downhill. ¬†Everywhere you turn, people have their faces planted in their phones (or digital device). ¬†Phones aren’t even phones anymore because half the time, people don’t even talk to people on the phone, they are texting, emailing or video chatting instead. ¬†Phones are now mini handheld computers that conveniently fit in your pocket.

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This is a phone. ¬†(*ring ring* “hello?” initiate conversation)

 

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This is not a phone! ¬†(*insert favorite song* beep, buzz, vibrate, a million different sounds, lights flashing, images popping up and down, endless possibilities, overstimulation, collapse, fingers moving too fast leading to carpal tunnel syndrome, radiation pouring into my head, eyes getting dry and red from light emission, I forgot what I was doing, so I’ll just google something instead, where am I going, GPS, attention deficit disorder, multi-tasking, addiction, stunting your kids’ brain development, time for a selfie, check my profile, check email, send a text, don’t make eye contact with anyone, just bury my face in my phone, because I have no self control and can’t put my device down and be a real person, battery dying, must charge phone before I have a meltdown).

Why?

With phones turning into mini computers, the rise of social media outlets is also just as astonishing.  Why do people have to have so many online profiles?

#WAKEUP  #GETALIFE

Why do we need to “advertise” our lives? ¬†I don’t get it! ¬†Do I really need a billboard of myself? ¬†You can call me a hypocrite for having this blog and for having an email address, however, I deleted my facebook and twitter back in 2014 and haven’t turned back since. ¬†It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders to be free from these time-wasting vesicles. ¬†It was like giving up on drugs. ¬†I went through withdrawals for a few weeks, didn’t think I could do it, thought about re-instating my profiles, felt so disconnected and “alone.” ¬†Until the veil was lifted, my brain re-aligned itself and I began to see clearly again! ¬†I could see the trees around me for the first time. ¬†I could smell the flowers blooming in the air. ¬†I could hear the birds chirping from their nests. ¬†My brain wasn’t bogged down anymore with online media pollution. ¬†The best part was when I met people and at the end of our conversation, they asked me what my facebook was. ¬†I loved people’s reaction when I told them I didn’t have a facebook profile. ¬†The moment of awkwardness or astonishment in their face was priceless. ¬†How this could be? ¬†You mean I actually have to make a real connection with you? ¬†So does this mean we have to exchange phone numbers now because I actually don’t really ever want to call you. ¬†I really just wanted to be your “friend” online and then engage in mutual voyeurism of each other’s profiles..

During my first year of psychology graduate school, one of the professors stated to a room full of future therapists that we are going to have to deal with a whole new set of issues, problems and disorders that has never been around in the history of time. Technology, media consumption, and online social worlds are shaping people, their behaviors, and their brains like never before. ¬†It’s even going as far as re-defining what it means to be human. ¬†I stand with a Biblical worldview in that we, the people, (creation)’s identity is defined by our relationship with our Creator. ¬†No amount of technology can ever take that away. ¬†However, whether you believe in God or not, whether you are following Jesus or not, maybe it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the use of your time. ¬†One of the first issues we discussed in my class was “gaze aversion” and how it is destroying our relationships. ¬†¬†What are you looking at? ¬†Is it really that important? ¬†Are you looking up or down? ¬†Is your gaze towards the almighty God who created the heavens and the earth? ¬†Or are you gazing down at your 50th selfie?

#JustSayNoToSelfies

Old School Becomes New


Montell Jordan cover of “Break Every Chain.”

Yup, that’s right, Montell Jordan is a pastor and worship music leader now. ¬†Praise God! ¬†Further proof that the Lord can use anyone at anytime for His purposes! ¬†The path that you were or are on can radically be re-directed. ¬†You don’t have to stay in chains! ¬†All those times you’ve said no to God’s call, eventually there will be no other option, except to say YES and surrender. ¬†Fully surrender!! ¬†When this happens, it is glorious! ¬†No words can describe what it means to fully be in God’s presence, to know that you are His, to know that nothing else matters except to be reconciled to your Creator. ¬†He made the moon and stars to light a path for us! ¬†He is the God of healing, of miracles, of salvation. ¬†Matthew 19:26 says,¬†Jesus looked at them and said, ‚ÄúWith man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.‚ÄĚ

Don’t ever forget where you came from and what God has saved you from! ¬†If you haven’t tasted the sweetness of the Lord, then you are missing out! ¬†Come today. ¬†There is no point in waiting, there is no time to waste. ¬†Now is the time. ¬†Turn towards the Lord. ¬†Repent. ¬†There is nothing that you’ve done that God can not forgive, NOTHING. ¬†There is nothing that matters more in this finite life, in this waning world, than a relationship with our everlasting Father. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalm 18:2).

Receive it! ¬†‚̧