Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Second Lead Syndrome -- Who should get the girl?

Most readers and writers understand second lead syndrome. It's that strange feeling in the heart that perhaps the heroine (sometimes it's the hero) should choose to marry the Other Guy and not the main male character.

In some romances, the main female character has lived an unloved life. Then suddenly two perfect guys come out of the woodwork (sometimes they are friends, related, enemies) and they both want her.

Sometimes it's easy for the reader to pick the True Love our heroine should ride off into the sunset with. IF it's too easy, there's a cheat involved. Bad writing usually makes the second lead somewhat evil and unworthy of our heroine; he has an evil secret or an unacceptable flaw or he doesn't really love her for herself. Good writing makes both guys equally flawed, equally loving, equally good. Thus good SLT should divide the heroine and twist her heartstrings as much as it twists the heartstrings of the reader and the author. When writing a scene with the Second Lead, the writer should be totally confused as to whether her heroine will choose this guy. This is when Second Lead Syndrome really kicks in. Because the author is as in love with the second lead as she is with the main character. She can see that a life with the poor guy would be just as happy for the heroine as a life with the rich guy.

This second lead thing pops up in many stories. Harry Potter/Hermione/Ron     Edward/Bella/Jacob  Of course the choice must be made because we don't live in a world where the heroine can have both guys, even if she wants them both. Why do we always want them both? (Or is it...why do I always want her to have them both?) So for those of us living in our society with our societal norms of marriage, if the heroine keeps  both her lovers, we're talking sin (to the puritanical mind), menage a trois (for the lustful mind) and piggy behavior (for the folks who have fairness issues.)

We want to choose a guy who's perfect for her. Or we want her to choose a guy because she's perfect for him.

I don't know but I have these moments where I find myself watching a movie and getting very annoyed with whom the heroine chooses. A lot of issues having to do with class, societal ideas about marriageability. Real subtle racial issues. I'll have to deal with that in another blog.

Of course, I cheated in Constant Tower. Our heroine gets the guys. <-- note: guys. Although it's a bit complicated and one wonders who the relationships will pan out in actuality, because these are truce marriages after all.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blessed be the names of the Lord

The Lord has so many names and all those names should be blessed and are blessed because they tell us so much about Christ's work, character, and glory.

Bless the name Jesus because "God saves" His people from Sin, Sickness, Hell, and Death. Through this name, we have a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. We can speak to this great sweet Jesus who is all that the prophet Job wished for, one who has one hand on God's shoulder and the other on ours.

Bless the name "Our Great High Priest" because there is one Mediator between God and Man, Jesus Christ the Righteous and there is no other word among men whereby we must be saved.

Bless the name "Prince of Peace" because through him there is Peace between God's Justice and God's Love toward us, and He has broken down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile. He has given us Peace that passes understanding, and through Him the Wonderful Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, has come to all men.

Bless the name Christ/Messiah because He is the anointed one whom the whole world awaited and who had been anointed by God with an anointing far above all humans to do a great work far above all humans, all angels, and all gods.

Bless the name Son of God because he is God's Dear Son and because before the world was He was -- or rather "before the world was I AM" and he lived with the father and when no human was found who could stand in the gap, the Father sent the only begotten Son, who is the image of the Father, to show us what the father is like. He and the Father are ONE, and whoever has seen him has seen the Father.

Bless the name Son of Man because He is the descendant of Adam the Son of God and is the second Adam who creates a new race of humans, because He is the awaited One who has restored the earth to humanity, taken it away from the usurper, and made manifest the true Sons of God. Through His perfect Life and death, Man has the right to

Bless the name the Great Shepherd of the Sheep because He is our Good Shepherd and is not a hired hand. He gives His life for His sheep and lead us to still waters.

Bless the name "the bishop of our souls" because He does oversee our souls and all of God's Called-Out Ones.

Bless the name "King of kings and Lord of Lords" because He has made us a kingdom of priests and has given us authority and power over all the demons on earth that trouble us.

Bless the name "Bread of Life" because He is the true bread that came down from heaven and because He is Living Water.

Bless the name Redeemer because He has bought us back from Sin who owned us and paid us Death, Sickness, and Hell for our wages. We are free and our chains are cast off and we have returned to our true owner and Father, the God of Lights, Love, Truth, and Mercy.

Bless the name "Bruiser of the serpent's head" because all creation groaned and waited for the . to whom who

Bless the name The Lamb of God because He was the lamb sacrificed from the foundation of the earth. Because of his perfect life, and sacrificial death, He has the right to open the seven seals of the scrolls that proclaim ownership of the earth. Through His sinless blood, we humans are able to stand before God perfectly righteous as if we had never sinned and we conquer the Enemy of man by the blood of this pure Lamb and by the Word of our testimony of Him.

Bless the name Lord because He is the "owner and master" of the earth and He is worthy to be praised and obeyed because He has wrestled with principalities and won. He took captivity captive and gave gifts to men.

Bless the name "Word of God" because He is everything God ever spoke about Man, the Universe, Angels made into a living human being, and Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God

Bless the name "The Great Physician" because He was wounded for our transgressions, the chastisement for our Peace was upon Him and by His wounds we were healed

Bless the name "Light of the World" because the world lay in sin not knowing what or who God was. They worshiped stone and wood and demons who meant only to destroy them. But now the world can arise and shine for its Light has come and those who live in great darkness have seen His great Light.

Bless the name the Author of our Faith, because at the end of time He will have written our lives in the Book of Life.

Bless the name the Captain of our Salvation because He is The Lord Strong in Battle.

Bless the name the Friend that sticks closer than a Brother, because he knows when we sit and when we stand and he is acquainted with all our ways, hearts and thoughts.

Bless the name Emmanuel because "God is indeed with us" -- He lives within us to make us holy, He stands beside us as our Advocate and Counsellor against all the adversary's accusations. He came to earth to live and die as one of us and he has been subjected to all the temptations we have been subjected to...yet He did not sin.

12Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.  Colossians 1:12-20

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh, Holy Night (Lyrics in Navajo)

Jesus is Lord vs Jesus as Saviour

In the Bible, the confection of the early church was Jesus is Lord.

Nowadays Christians say "Jesus is my saviour." Or they say "Jesus saves." Which is all true. Jesus has saved us. But should we not obey him? And why are we so focused ONLY on His saving us from sin? Has he not also saved the earth? And is he not also to be utterly obeyed?

Jesus says, "My friends are those who hear the word and keep it."

The way the early church knew someone was converted to Christ was not that the person went around saying "Jesus is my savior" but that the person acknowledged that Jesus was Lord and to be obeyed BECAUSE he is the perfect holy son of God and the one who has redeemed his people and all the world from the power of the devil. The early church knew Jesus was Lord of all.

Another subtle stealing of Jesus' glory is the phrase "Jesus is my Lord and Saviour."

Again, all true.

But Jesus is the Lord of the whole earth. He has redeemed the earth. He is not just there for us to obey. He is now the rightful owner of the world and one day he will show it by opening the seven seals. He has become the Second Adam. He has conquered ll the usurpers Sin, Sickness, Demonic entities and ultimately death. He has brought back the earth to God and now owns the title deed of it again. Man's dominion is returned. This is what the whole creation has been groaning for: A Saviour and Lord of the Earth who is worthy to reign over it, and a return of spiritual power and authority to the sons of God to be manifested.

Therefore, it is not enough that we worship and OBEY Him as Lord. We must also see that all things in heaven and earth bow before Him. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Born to Redeem the Sons of Earth: "Avenge me of my adversary"

1And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.7And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Sometimes we forget that Jesus was born into the earth to avenge us against our adversary. He is a Saviour and a Deliverer. Not only does He save us from sin but because of Jesus Christ, "the prince of this world" is judged.

It is interesting that Jesus equates praying to God with a poor wounded disadvantaged widow asking God for justice. We often come to God with the words "grace" and "mercy" on our lips. It terrifies us to ask for justice. But is it too much to see that Jesus is aware that people on earth are under the bondage of a cruel oppressor? Even when Jesus destroys the works of the devil and redeems us out of the hand of the devil, we still have to wrestle against principalities and to fight the good fight of faith.

Pharoah, who typifies Satan, did not easily let God's people go. Even after all the gods of Egypt were judged with terrible plagues, Pharoah still would not let the people go. Even after the people were freed in the Passover, Pharoah pursued them. It's that way with Satan.

Yet Jesus has conquered the world. And we will conquer it with out faith. We have to hold on to our belief in this aspect of Christ's work. Jesus HAS conquered Satan. He was born to conquer sin, sickness, and the devil. Therefore as we pray to God, let us pray that God's will be done! Let us pray that the victory Jesus won on the Cross will be reflected in our own victory over sin, sickness, and our many adversaries. The kingdom of heaven is taken by fervency, and the fervent take it. And how can we be fervent? Because we know the son of God -- the awaited redeemer of Man-- has redeemed Humanity. Therefore we pray that the greatness of Jesus' salvation will be shown in our lives, in our bodies, in our spirits. We fight the good fight and hold on until we see the manifestation of the Lord's speedy answer to our prayer. Remember God had speedily answered Daniel's prayer three weeks before Daniel received the answer to the prayer. But Daniel kept on keeping on because he knew the Lord was his deliverer and the avenger of Israel.

We should hold on and persist as that widow woman did because Jesus has brought us justice and power against the evil one. He came into this world to save sinners. From death. From hell. From the Adversary.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Matthew's Dreams, Luke's Visions, and Pilate's Wife's Dream

When we read the Christmas narrative in the gospels, we see that Matthew writes about dreams and Luke writes about visions. Luke says he has perfect knowledge about the events around our Lord's birth, but he doesn't include everything. As John writes in his own gospel, "there are also many other things that Jesus did which are not written in this book." So John mentions the raising of Lazarus for instance. But the others leave that out. So Luke is concerned with Jesus, the son of Man, so he doesn't include anything having to do with wise men coming and bowing to Jesus or with Herod wondering if Jesus is king of Israel. Luke leaves out the Wise Men, the star, Joseph's dreams.   But he talks about Jesus being wrapped in "swaddling cloths" (which were clothes used to swaddle corpses, the only thing Mary had on hand.) He talks about the events in Mary's cousin's life. He is the only one who talks about the familial relationship of Jesus to John.

So hubby and I were thinking about Pilate's wife. Yeah, i know...that's Easter. But hey, Easter and Christmas are connected.

On the night before the day Jesus was to speak to Pilate, Pilate's wife sends him this message:

"Have thou nothing to do with that good man, because I have suffered many things in a dream because of Him."

Claudia Procula is not the only one who had visions and dreams about Christ. I tend to think the man who tired his colt -- on which no man ever sat-- probably had a dream of some kind. (Since the disciples were utterly unaware of this colt being tied up. And would probably have argued with Jesus that young colts aren't easily ridden until they're broken in.)

Back in the day, people took dreams seriously.

The value given to dreams and the value given to one's wife is shown in this dream. A wise wife whom one listens to, a wise wife who hears from heaven, is a wife one should listen to.

Pilate is known in history as being very rationalistic and tough. (Of course history had forgotten all about him and people were saying the Bible made him up -- just like they said the Bible made up Ur of the Chaldees, the Hittities, David, etc...until archeology proved the Bible right)

Why should such a man trust his wife's words? This is the guy who mingled the blood of the Galileans with their sacrifices. First, his wife is Claudia Procula... daughter of a big guy in Rome. But secondly, he totally believes and trusts his wife. Has his wife had dreams before?

We see that he honors his wife in that he's trying his best to have nothing to do with Jesus. He even uses the Israelite "washing of the hands" bit to link Jesus with the sacrifice of sins in the Torah.  

A wise wife who has dreams should be honored. Dreams and visions should be honored.

No doubt people in the governor's court knew about Jesus. Josephus wrote that one of Pilate's children had been healed by Jesus earlier. I'm not sure of that. And the gospels record that Herod's steward was one of the disciples of Jesus. So maybe Claudia was following all this. Or maybe she wasn't.

What I like about this is that she is told something about our Lord. She's a complete stranger but she is given a dream of him. In many ways, Claudia Procula is like the wise men. She is outside of the covenant of Israel. yet she is given a truth. This is happening all over the world today. Moslems in many cultures are having dreams of Jesus. This little child born on Christmas was sent by God to draw ALL to him. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Conformed to Tradition

We are told by Paul not to be conformed to the world. (Of course we still are in many ways conformed.) And we are told (by Paul) to hold to the traditions taught by the elders. And we are told by Jesus that certain clerical traditions (created by men) "make the Word of God of ineffective."

We really have to learn to see things as they appear in Scripture..not how we "have been trained to believe" is there.

So yeah, there is the old Three Kings error. And the Three Wise men error. Not kings, not three.

And there is the old Kings and shepherds all in the same barn creche thing. And there is the old "swaddling clothes thing" (The word "swaddle" was used in Elizabethan times to mean the clothes used to wrap dead bodies. Now it just means cute baby clothes.)

When tradition takes over, people cannot see the truth even if it's in front of them in blazing red levels. And humans are so arrogant and against change that even when the truth is shown to them they will not look at it.

For instance, try telling the typical Bible-believing Christian that Mrs. Job needs compassion. It's like pulling teeth to get them to feel for this woman (the weaker vessel) who lost all her children all at once (and who had no comforter come to visit her.)  They say she was "tempting her husband." Why? BECAUSE Tradition has trained them to hate her. And try telling them that the same Hebrew word is used for "bless" and "curse" and they look at you as if you're nuts. Yet, in English we have words like that. "Cleave" means "to cut asunder" and also "to cling together." And the word Raise and Raze are homophones that mean the opposite of each other. But folks will not believe anything that challenges their traditional views, even in the name of compassion. Quite simply, they feel they have a Biblical mandate to hate Mrs. Job because tradition (and some elder or deacon or Sunday school teacher) told them to.

Same thing with Mrs. Lot. We English speakers like to think Lot delayed and Mrs. Lot looked back because they longed for the sins of Sodom. But the angles speak of Lot's unmarried sisters who are in this house, and Lot speaks to his daughter's husbands. If one reads the passage clearly, one can see that it is quite possible that Lot had more than two daughters.

Tradition affects our eyesight and our reading comprehension....and it affects our theology and our hearts.  (I won't even go into the fact that the KJV translators messed up badly. After all, it's okay if we don't know Greek.) But when something is said clearly and we read the opposite into it, EVEN WITH OUR EYES OPEN, it just makes me feel we're not being mindful.

Often the bad theology comes from people reading only a part of a verse.

Paul says he has a thorn in the flesh, "a messenger of Satan to buffet me."  Everyone leaves out the "messenger of Satan to buffet me" part. Why not take Paul's words at face value?

Paul says, "A woman's head should be covered when she prophesies or teaches." What do some people do? They say women should cover their heads ALL the time in churches.

Jesus says, "When you fast, don't let anyone know." YET, when Christians fast, they tell everyone they are fasting.

Jesus said, "Heal the sick" He didn't say "Pray for the sick to be healed."
He said, "When you go out, you are to proclaim, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand'."

Jesus said, "A ghost doesn't have flesh and blood as you see I have." He didn't say, "There are no such things as ghosts."
True, this opens a whole can of worms. After all most christians believe the dead either go to hell or heaven. Some others believe in purgatory or soul sleep. The whole idea of ghosts just messes with our theology.

Which reminds me:
Jesus spoke of people being turned out into "outer darkness."
But isn't hell in a contained area? I'm just asking. I'm not saying I know the answer. I'm just saying that we really have to acknowledged what is there."

John says, "Outside of the gates of the New Jerusalem are...cowards, whoremongers, the faithless"
Okay, so we have folks in hell (and hell is cast into the eternally burning lake of fire) and we have New Jerusalem. With gates? So who is outside the gates? What kind of people?

Ezekiel wrote about those who would serve the prince forever yet  (because of some infraction) they will "NEVER" see his face forever. Uhm.

I'm just saying... we have to really see what it is we are seeing. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dark Parable: And the destruction of things is also holy

I dreamed I was on a dark white swampy planet. No moon or sun that I could see, just an eerie whiteness. The ground was made up everywhere of watery swamp white Madonna(?) lilies or white worms. The worms appeared to be the major sentient inhabitants. There may have been buildings around but it was only as I walked and discovered a school or station stone marker which read, "A s if to Fairmont" that I realized it was an earthlike planet.

I realized the lilies and the worms were not native to the planet and someone had brought them to the planet. This caused them to take over the entire planet. I then saw a writing, "And the destruction of things is also holy." I wasn't sure I wanted to believe that. Becaue it seemed the world had been destroyed by stupid people bringing in the innocusous lily and/or worm that had no natural enemy in that planet. I didn't think it was the earth but it could have been the earth or a parallel earth. A fellow astronaut wazs flabbergasted because the lily was so pretty and he couldn't believe that something so pretty had caused the problem. He had tken a little bit of the lily and was going to put it on the flight with us also. I wasn't sure if the lily seed had come inside the worm or the worm had come inside the lily seed.

Sometimes the story around the words in a dream matter, sometimes the words spoken in the dream are the only things that matter.

In this case, I think the story around the dream will make a good little scifi story...and I'll use the words in the dream as the title Either "As if to Fairmount" or "And the destruction of things is also holy."

But I will ponder the words and the story of the dreams.

The first) that destruction can be hidden in small things.
The second)  that God also destroys as well as buildis.
the third) that even human carelessness in destroying a thing is within God's hands.

Will see how this all comes out.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I will not learn from you

Of all the different kinds of pride I've encountered or indulged in, this is the one I've seen as almost intractable and unyielding because it is the kind of pride that is selective. And selective pride is hard to deal with. Oh yes, there is racial pride, clan pride, poverty pride, survivor pride. And all these kinds of prides hurt others in addition to hurting the proud person. But the racially proud person might go to a black doctor if forced to. The poor person may allow herself to starve rather than accept help but if push comes to shove, she will give least for hunger's sake to take a loaf of bread. But the "I will not learn from you" pride is so near bitterness and such a mix of so many prides and so many emotions that it's hard to break its power over its possessor. And generally, the person who has this kind of pride is quite a sweet person in all other situations... but in this one situation with a specific person or types of persons....well, a coldness pops up, and yes, an inability to learn. This is the dangerous thing.

I speak from experience. Both on the receiving and giving end of this particular sin/hurt/bitterness.

I've tried to teach certain writers but they consider me not famous enough, not white enough, not Christian enough, not enlightened help them.

And I've had people try to teach me stuff but then I just can't listen to them because I feel they have not suffered enough, or they are not enlightened enough (in my opinion), or they are not Black, or they are too evangelically trained Christian-y, or they are not whatever.

Of course sometimes we have to deal with arrogant teachers. Sometimes we have no other choice but to learn from an arrogant person. I remember....back in the day, WBAI had a very arrogant teacher of alternative health. He dripped arrogance. But hey, he taught so many good things. So what are we to do with these arrogant teachers, all swollen with their self-importance?

More often than not I am polite with these folks...(because they do mean well) but if they come at me with some superiority (which they often do because they are more famous, or subtly prejudice, or subtly more holy than unholy me) I get nasty. Although I am generally nice and accepting to other folks who want to teach me. Hence, the selectivity of the sin.

Now what am I to do with this nastiness of mine when dealing with holier-than-thou Christians? Obviously, I must forgive the past and stop being bitter at people who treat me as if I'm stupid. Obviously, I must assume that a possible teacher can teach me something, even if some teacher betrays subtle racism, subtle superiority, subtle nastiness. Ah, what a bother! Because I don't really want to add another spiritual challenge to my life. But worse, it's a bother because these folks I refuse to learn from aren't gonna change anytime soon...nor do they consider themselves in need of change.

So yeah, it's my battle alone. And I have to suck up and be all humble and teachable and let some superior annoying super-Christian teach me....while they walk away triumphing over me. Dang! The stuff God requires of His people!

Oh, BTW, got the title from a really great teaching book by Herbert Kohl...about how black and poor kids react to certain teachers. 

Friday, December 09, 2011

Bibles, Bibles...and the KJV

Most Bibles are fairly trustworthy. But translation is an art. Even in English, one word can mean so many things. So a translator chooses a word in his language which he thinks suits the word best. For instance the word in Hebrew, the word for bless and the word for curse are the same things. So Job 2:9 can be translated, "curse God and die" or "bless God and die." Another example is that the Hebrew word for "sin" and "punishment" are the same words. So Gen 4:13 can mean "my sin is greater than i can bear" or "my punishment is greater than I can bear." So the translator has to decide, based on his knowledge of grammar and also his own theology what is going on. That's hard. (We have words like that in English: For instance, cleave means to separate and to bring together. Or the word "letter" can mean a letter in the alphabet or it can mean a written message.)

The world's knowledge of history and language has grown over the centuries. The KJV translators didn't know as much as modern linguists do about Greek Vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation so they miss a lot. Look at how the different translations translate Mark 9:23 Depending on where the translator puts the comma and the quotation marks, you can have a totally different healing theology. Because of archeology and other things, modern translators fix the errors in older translations.

The KJV is honest though. When they guess at a word they put the word in italics. Or when they added a word to make the sentence "clearer", they put that in italics also. One of many examples is Romans 11:4 The translators slipped in "image" of Baal. Either because they didn't understand the word there or because there was no word there and they want to make it clearer. It's always best to read the KJV verses with and without the italics. Read the verse without the italics, then with it. For instance the KJV writes "a coat of many colors" and modern translations write "an embroidered coat with a long sleeve." I like the KJV translator's honesty. Most modern translators don't tell you where they added some words. And usually (not always) the KJV additions are right.

The KJV is fairly trustworthy, although there was spiritual battles between denominations and the translators compromised on what words to use to please one side or the other. And it depends on who was translating a particular book. For instance in Acts 28:9, the KJV writes, "others also who came were healed." But in other translations, the verse reads, " the rest of the people on the island were healed." It's subtle but it's as if the KJV translator of ACTS couldn't quite bring himself to believe that everyone was healed and simply said "others also."

Sometimes a translation is right but our English minds read it wrongly because of English words. For instance, Paul writes "see what big letters I write" and because the word for "letter" in English can mean an actual letter or a message, you have people thinking Paul had eye trouble. Another example in Hebrews 5:14 where it's translated word of knowledge your "senses trained" and the meaning is that we have our five senses are trained to discern between good and evil: our sense of smell, eyes, ears, taste, touch, can be trained to discern and have a word of knowledge. Plus so many English words have changed meaning since the old KJV days. "The darkness comprehended it not" means "the darkness did not overcome it" but so many people read the KJV and think the verse is about the darkness not understanding.

My favorite Bible translation is Young's Literal translation and also the KJV but I also have an Eastern Text and a French and a Spanish Bible. One can never have too many Bibles. I always go to to look at all the verses.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Magnificat: Mary, one of the 99%

Then Mary said, "My soul praises the greatness of the Lord!

Before I go on to talk about the 99%, I just want to pause and ponder this "magnifying" the Lord.

Here is a description of what "magnify" means in the Hebrew context. People are always asked in the Bible to magnify the Lord.

 Barnes' Notes on the Bible
O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:3
O magnify the Lord with me - This seems to be addressed primarily to the "humble," those referred to in the previous verse. As they could appreciate what he would say, as they could understand the nature of his feelings in view of his deliverance, he calls upon them especially to exult with him in the goodness of God. As he and they had common calamities and trials, so might they have common joys; as they were united in danger and sorrow, so it was proper that they should be united in joy and in praise. The word "magnify' means literally "to make great," and then, to make great in the view of the mind, or to regard and treat as great. The idea is, that he wished all, in circumstances similar to those in which he had been placed, to have a just sense of the greatness of God, and of his claims to love and praise. Compare Psalm 35:27; Psalm 40:17; Psalm 69:30; Psalm 70:4; Luke 1:46.
And let us exalt his name together - Let us unite in "lifting up" his name; that is, in raising it above all other things in our own estimation, and in the view of our fellow-men; in so making it known that it shall rise above every other object, that all may see and adore.

Her Magnificat echoes the song of Hannah (another song by a woman about being poor and powerless) and makes me think of Psalm 78 where the Psalmist recalls what happens when one "limits" the holy one. Remember, earlier in this chapter, Zechariah has already gotten a promise from God and failed miserably to not limit the Holy One. It's only after the blessing actually appears (when God is sure Zechariah's mouth isn't going to ruin the promise) that Zechariah's mouth is opened and Zechariah can sing his own song of praise. But Mary gets her revelation at the moment of the promise (and her affirmation later when Elisabeth is also given her own revelation and greets her.)

So what does Mary say?

46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
50And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
51He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
54He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
55As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Okay, such a song makes me think, "Okay, Mary, what's up with that?"

True, it's a song from the Holy Spirit but it also rises from Mary's heart. Mary is all about the poor, and she is not about forgiving the rich in some gooey sentimental way. She is about totally revamping the system as the religious world has declared it. And it is often this way in our days. God DOES help the poor and he DOES send the rich away empty. Why are people in Africa, India, etc more likely to receive answers to their prayers? Because they have less than we do.

So she magnifies God for this. Perhaps religion had made her forget what God was like. Perhaps the teaching of her day had made her limit God but she has found herself again. God is for the poor!

Psalm 78 (various passages)

9The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.
10They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law;
11And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.

40How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!
41Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
42They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.
43How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan:

56Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies:
57But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.

Zecharias and Gabriel


Starting with my Christmas posts.

First with Zecharias/Zechariah/Zacharias/Zachariah

In the first two chapters of Luke we are told that Zechariah and his wife are holy but that they didn't have children. Now, they are old. Elizabeth was barren when she was younger and now, older, she is even more barren.

Zechariah is a priest, offering incense to God and who knows what he is thinking about ...maybe about his age, maybe about his lack of children. But suddenly the angel Gabriel appears. (I soooooooo love Gabriel.) Gabriel says, "Don't be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayer has been heard. Your wife will bear a son."

Now this is odd. Has Zechariah, even after all these years been praying for a son? That's some heavy duty faith. It's one thing to pray for a son when your wife is young and barren. But now she is old and barren. And Zechariah has still been holding on, hoping against hope, having faith and consciously --or unconsciously-- praying for this. Has he not been conformed to the world yet? Has he not decided to simply give in? Has he been fervently praying all this time and holding on to something that is now utterly impossible because he knows God is able to do the impossible? Has he been studying the stories of Sarah and Hannah and persevering against all the strongholds of unbelief (It's God's will, Zechariah, that you didn't have a child, etc, yadda yadda.)???

Of course this could be all unconscious praying, a kind of sad wish he's only half-aware of. Or maybe he had prayed a long time ago...and God never forgot the prayer.

Note, though, Zechariah's response to this news that his prayer has been answered. It's pretty much the same response that the early church had when they prayed for Peter to be released and Peter was released. He doesn't quite believe it. Now, in the English version of Zechariah's conversation exchange with Gabriel, Zechariah pretty much asks the same question Mary asks the angel. "How can this be?" I don't know the tone in which he asked, and the King James version translators either didn't know or ignored Greek and Hebrew punctuation so we can't really see the difference. But it's apparent that Gabriel treated the same question differently depending on how it was asked and who asked it.

Gabriel made him immediately dumb and unable to speak his unbelief. I personally don't think that this is Gabriel being antsy. He was putting a bit in his mouth James 1:26 -- as Psalm 32:9 tell us. This is someone taking away the rudder of Zechariah's life. The tongue is the rudder of our life and we can destroy even a miracle by our negative words. Jesus tells us that we will give an account of every idle words Matthew 12:36 we speak. God has given us such wonderful promises to speak, wonderful words of life. So we have to commit to speaking properly. Why? Because as Christians, we do not walk in the dark. We know how the world operates. We do not stumble in the dark as those who have no light.

I often wish I would have a bit put in my mouth Psalm 39:1 so I won't say anything negative about my life and put the ship on the wrong path. James 3:2 James 3:4

It's tough but God has asked us to be mature and grown and to be adult about our authority, our power, our use of words.

So, no matter what I will watch my words. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so Psalm 107:2and stop talking negatively or affirming the pathological truth.

Oh God, set a watch before my lips.Psalm 141:3

The Lord had prepared a blessing for the world, yet even in such a great situation there was the possibility that Zechariah's speaking lack of faith would cause the blessing to be destroyed. We Christians work in collaboration with God. God works with us, never without us. Speaking the word and not having a mouth that  speaks sweetness and bitterness is important. The Bible says the people marveled that Zechariah delayed. So, here is the situation. The time came for Zechariah to come out from behind the curtain and I imagine he's been practicing speaking and begging God to return his voice to him and telling God "Lord, I promise. I will speak faith." And then he realized God wasn't gonna return his faithless voice to him. So now he's stuck with the problem of going outside to the congregation without being able to speak. What will he say? What will they think? Will they think he's evil and was struck by God for some sin? God hasn't taken away his ability to write so he can write about what happened. Writing takes time. One can't just slip out everything when one writes. And he doesn't get his voice back until John is named. Then he can affirm with his own voice what God said to him.

I think of the Wise woman in the Bible whose son died. Folks kept asking how her son was. She didn't tell them the matter. I think of Jesus who told his disciples that Satan was nearby and he was going to be careful with what he said. I think of the angel Gabriel who shut up Zacharias' mouth so Zacharias' negativity and unbelief wouldn't affect Elizabeth's pregnancy. I think of Joshua leading the people of Israel around silence..because God told them he had already won the victory. (If they had spoken, would they have been asking themselves doubtful questions?) I think of Jesus who did his best not to say "Lazarus is dead" when his disciples asked him how Lazarus was. Also when Jesus healed the man outside of Bethsaida and told him not to go back inside the town because hanging around folks who didn't believe in healing wouldn't have been good for the man. I think about the time Jesus said to his disciples, "The time is coming for me to die soon and I won't be talking any more about this because the prince of this world comes." All he needed was for more and more of his disciples to be talking about "Crucifixion shall never happen to you." There is a whole lot of careful speaking and careful non-speaking in the Bible. There are also situations where God shows us that we should call those things that be not as though they were. God called Gideon, "Though mighty man of God" when Gideon was pretty wimpy. He renamed Simon (reed) "Peter" (a rock) because -- let's face it!-- Reed is a pretty wimpy name. (Although Peter was always wimpy and even after Jesus renamed him and prayed for him, Peter would go back to being reedlike. Heck, who gets a vision of God saying he loves Gentiles as much as Jews, then later turns against that very same vision and starts not hanging out with Gentiles? Peter, that's who.)

Anyways, Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and we should learn to call those things that be not as though they were. And yeah, Jesus wasn't EVEN kidding when he said we would have to account for every idle word.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength

I was telling God how hard it is to have a great all-powerful God. We limit the Holy One of Israel all the time. Sure we believe He heals but if we have eight or nine things with us, we find it hard to believe He can heal all 8 or nine things suddenly all at once. We think He's great but for whatever reason we can't see Him doing wondrous miracles. At least I have that problem. I would like Gabe's healing from autism, muteness, teeth issues, palate issues, tummy issues, allergy issues and for my healing of all my ailments and for all our financial ailments to be manifested all at once.

Some Christians will immediately say that "we have to learn to endure, that God does everything one at a time, one step at a time, in little increments, in categories, so we can learn persevereance and endurance. But I think this is false because sometimes folks, like me and my son, have waited 21 almost 22 years to be healed of stuff. And God would not drag things like out. So there is something we have to make our faith rise to. This is something we have to learn, to ascribe glory to God. How great is my God? Very great...and yet...and yet...

In the Psalms, David by the Holy Spirit says that when God delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt on Passover, there was not one of them sick, their shoes waxed not old on their feet. The Passover lamb healed every single person of every and all their afflictions. A great salvation, a great simultaneous salvation. So as I was pondering all this, and how I would love to be able to pray for the sick and to make them totally healed, every whit whole, I suddenly thought of the spirit of prayer and supplication out of the blue and got the feeling that the spirit of prayer of supplication is what allows us to ascribe to God glory and strength and to imagine impossible things.

Yes, sometimes there is a mystery. Sometimes it's unforgiveness, sometimes lack of faith, sometimes God alone knows what, sometimes lack of fervency. Too many people die unhealed, though, waiting for the appointed time. So I'm wary of waiting. Satan lets us put off a lot of things and Derek Prince says that is often a trick to make us "wait" to receive. I've received it for Gabe now.

And I'm being fervent. It's the latest stuff I've been working on, after working on the unforgiveness loving heart thing. If the suffering is very intense I don't think God plays with lives like that. Jesus said, "God answers readily and speedily." And Daniel was answered speedily. But the devil was getting in the way for 3 weeks. I always think it's best to believe that God has given and that we are to spend our times taking heaven by force...because the healing was already provided and the prayer was already answered. God teaches us how to receive as the days go on, but he has already given it to us.

All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers. 2And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. 3And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. 4Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.  Deuteronomy 8:1-4

For forty years you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen. Nehemiah 9:21

He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes. Psalm 105:37

Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Psalm 96:7; 1 Chronicles 16:28; Psalm 29:1

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; Ephesians 6:18

Wish Fulfillment Mary Sue Characters

I'll be blunt about this. I hate Mary Sue characters.

I;ve had to deal with a great many of them in the past month. And I KNOW I've gotten on quite a few folks' nerves because I snapped at them about their main characters. Whether it's a black writer with a character who suffers racism quietly although he is secretly a powerful alien. Whether it's a black writer who creates a character whose wonderful skill is discovered. Whether it's a white writer who creates a character who saves the day. Whether it's a female writer whose queen character does EVERYTHING in the palace because she is THAT GOOD, we are in Mary Sue territory where the character is screaming, "Look at me. Look at meeeee. See my humble greatness, hidden underneath all this apparent normalcy. I am here to save the day or to destroy it." And honestly, it is all too much.

Quite simply, Mary Sues do not work in a good story. As a writer, a reader, and a Christian, I find myself getting impatient with them.

As a reader, I dislike them because they sap away all sense of drama. They beg to be loved by the reader and they want the reader to see how great, humble, wonderful they are. This makes them flawless or they have flaws in a likable way. They sap the story of drama because obstacles fade away before them. They hog all the their humble way. No one else is allowed to do great things because the Mary Sue character is the be-all and end-all. In fact, in stories with Mary Sues, most other characters are shown to be stupid, incompetent, helpless, lazy. Mary Sues simply do not share hard work with everyone and their supposed hard work and obstacle is usually so easily conquered by them that the reader always knows what will happen.

As a writer, I dislike them because they betray the fact that the writer is too close to his story. A writer is supposed to step outside of his story and his own mind and see his story with a clear eye. A writer is supposed to be telling a story, and is supposed to be in love with all his characters. The characters aren't supposed to be there to show how great the Author's stand-in is. Oh, sure, we writers are always in our characters but we have to have enough slickness and craft to hide our desire to be loved, or our desire to be shown as great and misunderstood.

As a Christian I also dislike wish fulfillment Mary Sue main characters because I think we should be honest with ourselves. No one is flawless. Some flaws are not likable. No one is perfect. No one survives alone. No one is the savior. Other people are not there to be useless and weak so we can show off our skill. Mary Sues make come off as humble. But it's a kind of twisted pride that gets annoying after a while. I understand heroes and heroines are there to save the day but in a world of psychology, theology, and democracy... we can't ignore other people.

When writing about a character who is all-knowing, we need to step aside and ask ourselves how we are treating the other characters.

We must be honest with ourselves so we can write honest characters. This means that a character must be human, with weaknesses. I don't mean they must be victims because that's another way of making them saints. I mean they must have it in them to do evil. They should not be saints or lovable scamps or victims. They should be human.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Two wondrous answers to prayer, and a birthday dream

Three sweet little godwinks from God this morning. One about affirming the word and speaking to the mountains, one about a particular youtube preacher friend, one about dieting. All three were things I was thinking about last night. So I feel God was telling me this morning that he was with me last night.

Other than that: two wonderful answered prayers. The first: My friend Tamera went to the doctor and they saw a mass on her chest. The Prayer Center on facebook prayed for her and when she went back to the doctor, the mass had disappeared.

Another answer to prayer: My friend Jessica was supposed to take the MRSE. She and her hubby were to drive to a city about 100 and 200 miles away, both taking the tests the next day in different cities. She had been worried so we prayed and prayed and prayed. So she goes to this town and sits in a cafe. While there, she felt a nudge to talk to a certain woman. She went with the nudge and plucked up courage to speak to this strange woman in this strange cafe. Turns out the lady had written a book on how to take the MRSE. Then, turns out the lady had a copy of the book on her. Then, the lady GAVE Jessica the book. Jessica read the entire thing that night. The book had some incredible things that Jessica would never have known about. Upshot, Jessica passed the MRSE

Is our God personal and upclose and good or what?

Okay, I'm one of those people who really think dreams on holidays and on birthdays are super-important. So, today is my birthday and last night I had this odd little dreamlet. I was showing a little boy how to walk to school.

The school was in between two blocks. One block was a main road with snow that had gotten dirty. The block behind the school was a quieter block and it was called TURN street. (Yeah, I know... reminds me of the verse in the Bible about the street called STRAIGHT.)

Anyways, snow was all around and --on the sidewalk-- dirty snow from the road that had piled up from snowplows or whatever. I had told the boy how to walk in such times. Because the roads were all plowed but the sidewalks were covered up and little kids could be  half-covered, more than leg-deep in the snow. By the way, it was such a sweet little boy. About 7 or 8. Light brown hair. Very sweet and kind. WHO the heck are these lovely people, especially these lovely kids, we meet in dreams? I told him how dangerous it was to walk in the road because he avoided the snow but I kinda conceded that he had to walk in the road and he should look behind himself as he walked. Later, someone told him some more advice. He said to me, "You didn't give me all the advice on how to walk to school in this snow." He wasn't chiding me, but I did feel a bit imperfect to not have told him everything about how to walk. I said I was sorry, that I had missed telling him that. And he was so sweet about it. Not chiding me at all.

My friend, Rose-Marie interpreted it this way:

i think its about paying attention to small details for the sake of  hearing the voice of God. We nurture obedience, like that small child in your dreams, we have to be  absolutely honest and exact in our speaking. No shading. also, the little turn off was quieter.... God is taking you  that way. Woman!! Korea? you are not going to chase that boy that you like! NO!

The other dream that's kinda important to me is from a few days ago. I dreamed I was eating Baked Turkey, mashed potatoes, fish heads, green peas. When I woke up I instinctively knew that that was the diet God has prepared for me.  Everyone loses weight in his/her own way. I feel God is telling me not to do anything weird like all fruit or all whatever but to do what He knows is best for me. Perhaps I need protein. Who knows? But this dream -- combined with my dream of the angel pushing corn, wheat, pork, and processed food off my plate-- has given me a guide as to what to eat.

Then there was this one on the night of Dec 5th
I dreamed that I worked in an ofice with Kim Jaejoong and Kim Hyun joong (or was it Jung il woo.) These are Korean actors I have crushes on. Both of them were so kind to me. They invited meto a picnic inthe park "this tuesday" with a Chinese leader or king. I was so worried because I thought it was also the same day I had an appointment with Robert DeNiro. I was informed by the secretary that I should stop eating onions because even when I left a room, the aroma of onions and onion odor body odor still lingered and that when I breathed, I had onion breath. I found out the meeting was on another day and that I could go to the two different appointments, the DeNiro appointment being first. Then when I was eating with DeNiro, he also told me to stop eating onions. It was as if a day would come when the power of the onions would remain with me even if I stopped eating them. The effect of the onion would still go on. In dreams, what we digest is often what we "eat spiritually" in waking life. But what could onions mean? Unless, God really means onions. And really, I do eat raw onions ALL the time. I

Would you believe this dream came true in a weird way. I asked a friend what it means and she said, "simply don't eat onions." Then she added, "Onions are blood thinners." A week after this dream, I had to have emergency oral surgery on my teeth, the doctor asked if I  had been taking blood thinners.  I said no. Because I had given up the onions. If I had been taking the onions, my body would have had a hard time clotting. God had helped me in time. .

So yeah.. am at 270 pounds now. I want to go to Korea. God has told me I have six great works to do. I have to commit to obeying God. That's another thing. I have been putting candy bars in my mouth even when I HEAR the Holy Spirit telling me at the very same time NOT to eat it. Clearly disobedience to be saying, "Ooh, I know I shouldn't eat this but...."  So from now I'm determined to obey and to do what I know I should do.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Eureka...and the moment of sudden delightful comprehension

There is a memory that sticks with me. It's a memory of learning, a memory of a day when I was suddenly enlightened about something. Now, I'm sure we all have had moments where we suddenly "understood" something but that this particular memory should stay with me after all these years (I'm 51, gonna be 52 on Monday, and this thing happened about 40 years ago) ...well, I KNOW there is a reason why it has stayed so upfront in my memory.

This is the memory: I was in orchestra class in the basement with Mr. Klingensmith, our music teacher. I think it was elementary school. I had a violin in my hand and we were all playing some music. But the thing was...I didn't know how to read music or to play the violin. Yep, I was second violinist and surrounded by tons of people and had been in the orchestra for a while but I was woefully ignorant. This was how I was reading music and playing music. (And this was how I was "playing the music" on that day of my enlightenment) I had my violin in my hands and I was looking at the fingers of the kid next to me. The left middle finger on the D string, the left index finger on the A string or G or E string. The left ring finger on the.... well, you get the idea.

I would glance at the music notes and not really get how they connected to the notes being played on the violin. I hadn't begun taking piano at that time, so I was woefully ignorant on two counts: music reading and violin playing.

Anyway, the watching of the nearby violinist's fingers....was what I did everyday....and that was what I was doing on that day.


Suddenly. One of God's "suddenlies" it DAWNED on me that when the violinist beside me pressed her index and middle fingers on the A string, that that was where the C was on the music sheet. And when she pressed her index finger on the A string, that that was where the B was on the music sheet.  I was amazed. After all those weeks of faking it, I finally UNDERSTOOD.  I understood what was on the music sheet and I understood what the fingers were doing and I understood what Mr. Klingensmith was saying about the first bar and the B notes and the B flat meaning you moved your index finger just a little back on the A string. All that in one moment of time.

And I have always remembered it...this great epiphany.

This is the image and the concept I have in my mind when I pray for God to send out His light and His truth and His understanding to someone. This is the memory I have in the forefront of my mind when I ask God to make my younger son "understand." A sudden AHA moment when my younger son is watching TV and the words MUSIC on the screen and then suddenly totally comprehending "seeing" the words ...or when he writes the letters of his name and SUDDENLY understands that letters are written sounds and that they can be rearranged and played with to facilitate communication.

It's so easy for me to understand that this could happen with him because this sudden eureka moment has happened with me. So I believe and this is the image I focus on.

Of course there are other eureka epiphany moments. Moments when one suddenly realizes that someone loves you, that God loves you. And there are the Eureka moments of despair ...when one KNOWS one is dying. And there are the false eureka moments ...when one experiences an impression or epiphany which  is caused because one is self-deceived or caused by satanic delusion....for instance, an event which makes one believe in something that is not true. Moments like when David Gervais "realized" as a young child that God did "NOT" exist and was a great lie invented by humans. Moments when one suddenly understands that the world is based on greed and there is no love in the world. So yes, there are false eureka moments.

But this eureka of delightful comprehension is the one that I'm pondering...the one which I believe God has caused me to always remember...because He knew I would have to hold onto the vision of getting my son to talk.  

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