Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt

I received this book to review and interestingly, I'd just finished a book about Bathsheba by another author.  In fact, the other author's view was one I'd long-held.  But as I read this book and saw the story in another light and thought about the scripture...I believe this story is probably closer to how it really happened.

In Angela Hunt's fictional assumption of what happened in Bathsheba's life, I was moved by her portrayal of Bathsheba.  She showed her to be a woman of great character who loved her husband, Uriah the Hittite.  In fact, in Angela's story, a prophecy is given over Bathsheba's life that she would be a "Tob" (of great beauty) woman and she questions whether it's a blessing or a curse.  Most translations of the Bible tell the story of David & Bathsheba's sexual encounter in much lighter tones that does Ms. Hunt.  Most translations say, "he lay with her" which almost makes you think it could have been consensual.   Angela paints a picture of rape.  And as I went to Blue Letter Bible to compare David & Bathsheba's story with that of David's children, Amnon and Tamar, (which we know was rape), the very same Hebrew word is used:  shakab.  I believe Ms. Hunt did her homework!

I highly recommend this book.  I would give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A holy marriage

“Be holy, for I am holy.”  I Peter 1:16

Andy and I were married forty years ago this next Sunday.  It was such a special day.  I wouldn’t call it perfect, but it was very special.  My brother, Bob, offered to let us take his new Camaro on our honeymoon to the mountains.   Throughout the reception, I kept trying to tell Andy that Bob had hidden his car because he didn’t want shoe polish on it…so we needed to borrow someone else’s car to meet him on the highway.  Somehow, that was never communicated.  So we left the church and I paused at the top of the church steps to throw my bouquet, but Andy didn’t stop.  He was anxious to leave in that hot Camaro.  And since he had my arm, he actually dragged me down the steps!  I had bloody knees in the photos of us in my dad’s car as we were leaving. (My dad finally tossed us his keys while we were standing there looking pathetic with no car to take.)  We were off to a great start!  But you can’t understand the excitement I felt.  I was Mrs. Andy Dietz—about to embark on the greatest adventure of my life.  I was all his and he was all mine.

That’s holiness—being set apart or consecrated for a particular person or service.  I was picked by Andy…set apart to be his wife for a lifetime.  I vowed I would never give myself to another man as long as we both lived.  I was set apart to be Andy’s wife and he was set apart to be my husband.  I was holy, for he was holy.

We sometimes think of holiness as being “holier than thou.”  That’s nothing close to what this means.  It’s loving God so much that we want to be “all His.”  He’s already promised to be “all ours.”  It’s a forever relationship bound by love.  We’re promising to not have an adulterous relationship with the world—we’re going to be holy or set apart for God alone.  Holiness is a beautifully exclusive relationship.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Scary Story of a Man Possessed

He was a legend.  He lived in a graveyard and everyone knew he lived out there.  It had become a rite of passage for many teen-aged boys in this town to row their boats out to the abandoned graveyard.  They had to step foot on the island where this wild man lived and touch a grave before they could leave.  Other boys would be in their boats watching to see if their comrade chickened out or if the crazy man did something.  He'd been known to charge those who were brave enough to enter his domain--it was as if he could smell their fear!  Grown men had gone to the graveyard together many times and tried to subdue him with chains--they feared for the safety of their families.  But he pulled those chains off as easily as if they'd been made out of wet moss.  And he would become enraged and scream and wildly chase grown men off the island in terror.  People feared him--plain and simple.  Of course, with someone as crazy as the Wild Man, rumors grew.  It was said he'd eat small animals while they were still alive.  No one had seen him do that, but what else did he eat out there on that small island?  And there was that tale that he had children chained up inside a cave-like tomb.  In fact, parents used the Wild Man to threaten their children into submission, "If you don't clean your room, I'm going to take you to live with the Wild Man!"  Lately, it had been reported by the boys being initiated into manhood that the Wild Man no longer had clothes and that he was sleeping among the dead.  Either his clothes had become so old they'd fallen off of him or he'd torn them off in one of his rages.  The island graveyard was no place to be.

But that's exactly where Jesus and his disciples ended up after being out in a boat in that terrible storm--which Jesus had calmed.  When they landed, they were met at the boat by the Wild Man.  Jesus immediately knew what was wrong.  The man was demon possessed.  So Jesus addressed the demons living inside of him.  He asked, "What's your name?" and was told, "Legion, Battalion, Army" because an army of demons was living inside of him.  The demons knew Jesus had authority over them and knew their habitation in Wild Man was over.  They begged him to send them into a herd of pigs instead of sending them to the bottomless pit.  No one wants to go to the bottomless pit.  And that's what Jesus did.  Those demons entered the pigs and sent them over the cliff to their deaths...and at the same moment, Wild Man was set free!  Jesus and his disciples dressed this newly liberated man and began teaching him on the spot.  The owners of the pigs (which Jews weren't allowed to own) went into the village and began telling everyone what had happened.  People came to the island and found Wild Man sitting at the feet of Jesus in his right mind and fully clothed.

Guess what happened next?  The people were fearful!  They were more fearful of Wild Man being in his right mind and completely set free than they were of him when he was crazy.  They begged Jesus to leave.  The Voice version of the Bible says, "The people are scared to death, and they don't want this scary abnormality happening in their territory.  They ask Jesus to leave immediately.  Jesus doesn't argue."  So Jesus leaves.  But before he does, Wild Man asks to go with him.  Jesus replied, "No.  Go home.  Tell your people this amazing story about how much God has done for you."

I read this story this morning and it startled me to realize that the people were more fearful of the miraculous than they were of the demonic.  Isn't that interesting?  I really don't think that has changed.  People gravitate towards the demonic and "play" with it.  But even people in the church veer away from the miraculous and are skeptical, suspicious and scoffing.

But Jesus left that unbelieving, fear-bound town with a witness.  What could they do with a Wild Man who'd become civilized?  How could they dispute his testimony, his restored life, his new reputation?  I think it's amazing that Jesus could only have had a few hours with him...but it was enough.  Enough to set his feet on a new path and to transform him into a new man.  Enough to be a testimony to an unbelieving, fearful community.  Jesus still has a witness, a testimony, to change the hearts of unbelievers...everywhere.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Plank, anyone?

"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice or consider the log that is in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, allow me to take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite (play actor, pretender), first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye."  Luke 6:41-42

How do we see other's faults so clearly...and yet we don't see our own?  I've got the remedy for that!  Actually, God has the remedy but I've learned what it is.  We're told in Proverbs that just like water reflects what it sees, another man's heart reflects our heart.  I believe what that means is that whatever we see in another person's life that irritates us is actually true in our own lives.  Just like the verses in Luke, the speck is made out of the very same material as the log.  They're both wood.  We're looking at the other person's speck and want to point it out to them when the very same thing is true in our own lives...in much bigger proportions.

Let me give you an example.  Andy is a perfectionist about many things.  He likes his clothes hanging a certain way and for things to be neat and tidy.  My closet looks nothing like his and it doesn't bother me for things to be a little disorderly.  So one day, his perfectionism was driving me crazy.  But knowing the speck/log principle, I went to God and said, "OK.  So if it's true that what I'm seeing in Andy is also true in my own life, You're going to have to show me.  Because I am NOT a perfectionist!"  Let me tell you...God is fast.  Within 10 seconds, He told me, "Becky, you're a spiritual perfectionist."  Wow.  I let that sink in for a few minutes and was devastated when I understood what that really meant.  A spiritual perfectionist is nothing more than a Pharisee.  Someone who desires spiritual order so much in their life, that they even create rules to live by.  Rules that  God doesn't even demand.  And it's hard to be a good Pharisee without imposing those rules on others.  This was not what I signed up for!  I humbled myself and asked God to remove the plank from my eye.  Andy's speck didn't look so big or offensive after all.

I've become a student of this.  I've observed people who complain about issues in other people's lives.  And you know what?  It's true.  They don't even know that the very thing they're complaining about is also true in their own lives.  In fact, it's been my observation that most of the time, it's eerily close...sometimes down to the very last detail.

So before you complain about the speck in someone else's eye, you might want to ask God for a mirror....a very BIG mirror!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Abundant LIFE!

When I was about 34-years-old, I went to God and said, "If this is all there is to the Christian life, I'm kind of disappointed."  I was going to church (my husband was on staff for goodness' sake) and I felt like I was doing all the "right" things.  But I couldn't seem to get my hands on that illusive abundant life.  I think God delights when we come to Him with statements or questions like that--He wants to deliver!!

I committed to pouring myself into the Word of God.  Honestly, that's all I knew to do.  I was desperate.  And I was meeting with a group of women and praying.  About this time, we had also formed something which fondly became known as P&P to us--Praise & Prayer--with a group of friends who were as desperate to find that abundant life as we were.  I would systematically read my Bible during those days and ask God to speak to me.  I would be surrounded by commentaries, Bible dictionaries, Hebrew & Greek lexicons, etc. I was no scholar, but I was sure desperate.  I remember reading John 14:6 and the Holy Spirit instructed me to read it again.  I did.  And when I did, I just remember Him whispering, "It's progressive, Becky."  I looked again...and again.  And then I got it!!  I had to come to Jesus as the Way.  He's the only way to God--and it's a narrow way.  And to get to abundant life, I had to go through truth!

I have consistently pursued Truth since then.  I'm constantly asking God the truth about a situation, a person, a direction...everything.  Jesus is truth.  And as I pursue truth, I'm pursuing Him.  And the more truth He reveals, the fuller my life gets.  In fact, there are moments when I become giddy about my life!  Pursuing truth is like a treasure hunt--one discovery leads to another.  And with each discovery comes more revelation of who God is and who He created me to be.  I can still go through hard things and can get overwhelmed, but abundant life isn't dependent on my circumstances. God has revealed truth in the midst of some very hard circumstances in my life and it's like an amazing awakening takes place.  My eyes are opened to things I've never seen before and an explosion of the joy of the Lord rushes in and changes my perspective!

If I could hand every believer one single thing, it would be this...pursue truth.  Because when you do, you are certain to arrive at ABUNDANT LIFE!!  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

One Step at a Time...

It's so easy to get overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world and feeling responsible to solve all of the world's issues.  It's enough to quit Facebook.  

Jesus told us in John 16 that he was leaving, hard things were coming, but He was sending the Holy Spirit to us.  The Holy Spirit would guide us, teach us, counsel us, comfort us, and be our advocate.  To me, the most powerful verse in that whole chapter is verse 13.  

It says, "But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father—the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future]." 

The most important thing we can do right now is listen.  We need to be hearing what the Spirit of God is saying to each of us individually.  And then we need to obey.  If we're listening to everything the world is telling us, we'll become so overwhelmed that we may freeze and do absolutely nothing.  But if each of us is listening and obeying, it will all get done.

There are so many voices out there trying to get us to do this or that or to become involved in their ministries or to feel the way they do about their projects.  And it may be really great stuff!  But it won't be the BEST for us if the Holy Spirit hasn't led us there.  We need to be still, hear God's voice, and obey...one step at a time.

Friday, September 4, 2015


Don't you just love it when God pursues you with a message and just seems to add to it layer by layer?  That's what He's been doing with me lately.  He's been pursuing me with the message of "my story."  I even made it the theme of our VBS this summer:  "Invite God into Your Story!"

And I've been doing just that...inviting God into my story.  And more than that, asking for my story to be a part of His story.

You know, we always think about getting to heaven and getting to ask the saints of old to elaborate on their stories--or to thank them for inspiring us.  But do you realize they can't wait to ask us about our stories?  They are going to want to know what it was like to live with the Holy Spirit residing in us.  They're going to want to know about walking around every single day with that kind of power.  That thought alone has given me pause.  What am I going to tell them?  What did I experience that they didn't get to experience?  How powerful did I allow the Spirit of God to be in me and through me?

I picked this book up yesterday at Mardel and read it in a single evening.

The subtitle caught my attention for good reason and I couldn't wait to see what he said.  Joel says he was a nerd as a teenager.  But his dad would tell amazing stories of his childhood or teenage years.  And Joel realized he had no stories to tell.  So his philosophy became "DO IT FOR THE STORY!"  He was tired of living a careful, wallflower existence and saying "no" to adventure.  So he began to say "yes" to life and adventure just so he'd have a story to tell.  His book is full of God-adventures in the Antarctic, South Africa, Haiti and more.

If you want a story, you have to take advantage of what is in front of you.  Say yes.  It may mean overcoming some fears.  It may mean you'll do things you never thought you could do.  It may mean practicing something until you do it with excellence.  But most importantly, it's saying "YES" to God!  It's inviting Him into your story, asking for divine connections, and stepping out in faith.  It's awakening to the things around you and the adventures and fun God wants to share with you.  It's saying "YES!" to the Spirit of God and agreeing to go, do, and say whatever He wants.  It's listening intently and obeying.  It's a faith adventure!  And in the process, you're going to discover the very purpose for which God created you.

I'm all in!