Next Steps

Steve and I went to Deer Ridge Ministries! Investigate @ http://www.drmretreats.org .  Yes, we did see lots of deer. Of all the pastoral retreats I’ve attended, this one had the best combination of people and books.

So, if you know me, you know that time with God results in lyrics and songs. On Thursday morning, I was diving into Isaiah 5:7 within my NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. (Thank you so very much, Dr. John H. Walton & Dr. Craig S. Keener!) The untold hours you spent in creating this study Bible has blessed me repeatedly.

Isaiah 5:7 says, “The people of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.”

On the page after Isaiah 5:7 is listed, there is an inset box called “Wordplay”. It says that in Hebrew, justice = mishpat.  Bloodshed = mishpah.  (Here one substituted letter changes a word from good to evil. The word started off right and veered off course.) Righteousness = tsedaqa. Cries of distress = tseaqa. (In this instance, one tiny, deleted letter causes a word to transform from good to evil.) I physically wrote these words out on my yellow legal Member’s Mark Quality Guaranteed paper in green ink.

The difference between a good cop and a bad cop is what is in their hearts. The difference between a good pastor and a bad pastor is also what is in their hearts. One tiny moral or practical substitution or deletion can make quite a difference. But the key to this verse is the fact that God delights in us. If we reciprocate that delight, we can be certain that our motives and actions will result in good things.

Naturally, this rumination led to lyrics and tunes. So I hurried to the available piano, with my yellow pad prepared with blank scores. Irregular treble clefs caused some chagrin. (Why couldn’t I have extreme control of fine muscles the way graphic artists do?)

In the process of walking from the piano through the kitchen back to our suite to get something, another pastor’s wife from Indiana, named Julie, came into the kitchen. We talked. I showed her this wonderful study Bible. I explained what I had discovered: a single letter can change everything from good to evil.

She pointed out the fact that a tiny adjustment within a person can lead them from evil to goodness. (It really is a simple thing to say to God, “I am so sorry for all my evil thoughts and actions.” While this is a revolutionary thing to pray, it is very simple to do. Even a very young child can pray this prayer. A seismic shift then occurs in that child’s life.)

Two different lyrics and songs emerged from this verse. So I got home and attempted to use my MacBook Pro’s numbers feature to consolidate the songs into a less erratic version than what my pen can create. Using a numbers spreadsheet, it is possible to create the scores with the words correctly spaced out below the bold lines , while the notes can be precisely spaced within the F-A-C-E spaces. However, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge is problematic in numbers; because one is only permitted to write within the cells, and one is not permitted to write upon the lines of each cell. Therefore, I concocted this cumbersome and time-consuming code today:

 

q q = quarter notes: line, space, line
Qr=quarter rest; Er=eighth rest;      Hr=half rest

I have concluded that it would be a better use of time to retrieve my keyboard from the church. (This month, I get to teach fourth graders about friendship & music.) Then I need to play these songs over and over by ear and using legal pad penned scores, until these songs are ready for me to buy some type of selfie stick; so that others can hear these songs played and sung. (As I was praying last year about 2018’s goals, God specifically told me to improve my musical performance skills, rather than to purchase a program like Print Finale.)  So, if I truly want to delight in the LORD, those will be some of my next steps.

 

Between now & next Wednesday…

the question I need to ask is: What has God revealed to me about this?

 

Huh? You ask? Where’s she going?

Roll back to last September. Our pastor entered into an agreement with Dr. Wayne Lee, of Church Life Resources. So we have partnered with him in prayer about our church. We’ve had face to face & phone consults and webinars and homework, and so much thinking and praying since September.

FYI: Dr. Lee has created a model consisting of four quadrants, plus an inside core that consists of two semicircles. Quadrant 1 is SPIRITUAL LIFE. Within Q1 has three components: Spiritual life (consists of corporate and individual prayer time, plus time in the Word of God); Preaching / Teaching;Worship.

If you’ve read previous posts from this blog, you know that I adore teaching fourth and fifth graders, and have that privilege on Wednesday nights. So today’s webinar suggested that churches at our level should create their own curriculum that is not solely knowledge based. To be effective, it must answer this question: What has God revealed to me about this?

Currently, I am teaching (from Discovery Rangers and Stars curriculum [Assemblies of God]) Sculpture, Fitness & the book of Exodus. Our fitness memory verse is: 1 Corinthians 6:19,20. “Do you not know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit…Therefore, honor God with your bodies…” is roughly what that verse says. 1 Cor 6:19-20 correlates with Spiritual Life.  The book of Exodus is filled with sculpture, since God instructed Moses in the processes of building the tabernacle. Basically, five different structures had to be sculpted between Exodus 25:10-27:17. How providential that this segment of Scripture encompasses both Preaching / TeachingWorship.

So my honor between now and Wednesday is to stroll through memory and then seek new revelations concerning what God has revealed to me about fitness, the ark of the covenant, the table for bread, the golden lamp stand, the bronze altar and the pillars.

How past and present and God’s Spirit intertwine

Tonight, I have the high privilege of teaching some tweenagers, fourth and fifth graders. Amanda Davis is in charge of teaching about Africa; and I get to teach about First Aid and also to Focus on the Book of Luke. Well, for the last three weeks that we’ve met, I brought a devo concerning the Good Samaritan (who needed serious First Aid). Since I’d been meditating on that passage, each week had a different aspect of the Good Samaritan highlighted. But what to teach tonight? I’ve been puzzling and asking God that for days now.

This morning, I awoke, thinking of England’s Royal family. The future heir to that throne is listed on my 714 prayer app. Soon after I thought of Royalty, I remembered that for the last two days, I’ve been reading and rereading through the book of Luke, searching for what angle from which God wants me to teach. Last night, I concluded that King / Kingdom was my ticket. So in my iPhone’s notes, I have listed all the references in Luke where “King” or “Kingdom” is listed. There are many references; so one can safely conclude that this is truly a theme that was important to the Apostle Luke.

Then, it occurred to me this morning, that perhaps I should get out the Bible study chart that I designed. My first daughter, who is now in her late twenties, was such a great baby. She was sweet and good, almost angelic. But God knew that I needed much time to think and process, being a writer at heart, so He gave me a baby that slept a lot during her infancy and toddler years. Therefore, I had much time to write (after my devotions, and after the house was spotless – I even had the luxury of copper handles on my kitchen cabinets. I loved polishing them to a sparkling burnish. But that’s beside my point!)

So I plan to post this chart, page by page, that teaches people how to study the Bible. (I took hermeneutics at Central Bible College, in Springfield, MO, many years before it merged with Evangel University. At the time I created the chart, I wanted to create a chart for one passage in every book of the Bible. Time will tell if I can accomplish this in my lifetime. But that, too is beside my main point.

So when I got the notebook that contains the chart out of my closet, I also discovered a part of a fictional story I wrote during that same time frame. Both the chart and the story dovetail perfectly with what I believe God wants me to teach the tweens tonight.

So the past and the present are perfectly intertwined. I just can’t wait to see what God does tonight! (By the way, I tried to market this chart, back in the days when I lived in Carthage, IL. But I did not take my creative writing teacher’s advice to try 100 times before giving up on the market. Instead, I have chosen to GIVE this chart away to anyone who wants it.)

Why I am Thankful Today

I am so thankful for my friend, Robin White. Currently, we are in a cooperative writing endeavor. She has encouraged me to continue writing the story of the J Family. The J Family was introduced on this website. So I worked on chapter 5 yesterday. Robin believes this story has market value.

Having already published one book, I know the drill and the necessity of promotion for a book. But my life does not allow all of that wrangling expenditure of time – I would rather write and let someone else function as the promo person. Nor do I need royalties, or to fill out monthly reports to the state of Illinois, recording sales and use taxes owed. So, I think I will function like a ghost writer. Robin feels I should only post segments of my chapters, so that the book can be marketed.

So, if you want to see a portion of chapter 3, please let me know. At any rate, if Robin had not encouraged me, the J Family would not have come this far. Generally, I start a work (fiction or non-fiction), then abandon them for years, and then return to that work with more wisdom. But this story is about a family of four that travels through the Bible and through life in one year.