Harp and Story

To Go, or to Stay

To Go, or to Stay

We were in Paradise, California this past July where Steve recorded two new harp CDs with our good friend and sound engineer, Gene LeSage. We celebrated Steve’s 65th birthday in their spacious backyard and throughout the time we stayed with them we enjoyed much pleasant and stimulating conversation and good friendship. Now, in less than 24 hours Paradise is in ashes. As I watch the video footage of the carnage from this “hell” fire my heart breaks for our friends we have who lost their homes and all their possessions; and for all the others impacted by the devastating loss of property and lives. This Camp fire is being called the worst fire in California history with over 6,000 homes destroyed and as the forensic recovery teams begin their work more and more bodies are being found buried in the debris.

Paradise, California was a beautiful town situated in the foothills of the Sierra’s nestled among lofty pine and fir trees. The town’s leaders were so proud of this idyllic setting that they forbade the cutting down of these giants without special and costly permits. Steve and I presented Harp and Story at a local church last July and one lady I was talking with made the comment that Paradise is a paradise, but God help us if a fire ever comes through. Was she uttering a prophetic statement without realizing her words would have such an impact only a few short months later?

As I have watched this horrible destruction unfold my thoughts have turned to characters in scripture being told by Yahweh to leave and go to a place “that I will show you.” An obvious example of this is Abraham when Yahweh told him to leave Haran and journey to Canaan. Another is Lot when the angels told him to flee Sodom lest he be caught up in its destruction. The family of Jacob going down to Egypt and then the children of Israel leaving Egypt to return to the land promised to Abraham is another example. Joseph being warned by an angel to flee Bethlehem because Herod was coming to kill the child, Yashua, another example. And what about the apostle Paul wanting to go into Bithynia, but being directed to go to Macedonia instead. And for us, perhaps, this is a warning to not get so tightly attached to our things and/or our surroundings that we cannot get up and go at the command of Yahweh to a place that we know not. Like one man said concerning the Camp fire, “I have lost everything, but I still have my life. I’m going, but I don’t know where yet.”

Remember these folks in your prayers that Yahweh will be wisdom for them as they make critical decisions in the days ahead.

 

 

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How Did We Get Here?

For Expediency’s Sake

I grew up during a time when parents didn’t think twice about letting their children play on the streets of their neighborhoods; or ride their bikes down the road to the local mom and pop convenience store.  A family was a mom and a dad with kids, not a dad and another man who was mom or a mom and another woman who was dad.  Boys knew they were boys and because they were boys they used the boy’s bathroom and girls knew they were girls and knew to use the girl’s bathroom.  On my street “drugs” was something that you got from the drugstore for a headache or fever or cold.  We hardly ever locked the house and almost always left the keys in the car; our house was never robbed nor was our car ever stolen.  I grew up in a security that I didn’t even think about – it just was.  My teachers at public school started the day with prayer and a reading from the Bible, before we all ate lunch in the cafeteria someone went to the microphone on the stage and offered thanks to God for the food.  No one even thought to propose that somehow this magnificent world came into being by anything less than the Hand of God.  We went to church, we sang songs, we listened, we prayed, we loved our neighbors and took care of them when they needed our help. Children rode in the open back of pick-ups, the wind blowing our hair in wild disarray and when we were naughty we were disciplined, more than likely with a paddle to the bare behind. We loved and rejoiced over all our babies; they might have come at an inconvenient time, but no one I knew ever thought to murder this precious, thriving life.  These blessings to us were more than a mass of tissue leaching a woman’s vitality, they were gifts from God.  We lived God’s commandments as best we could, we paid our taxes and we went to work, we supported our families with what we earned and we never realized a malignant, wicked force was slowly, bite by bite, eroding away what we loved, cherished and valued; until one day, bemused and befuddled we awoke with a startled, “What happened,” and then we realized we had come to the game late, having been lulled into a state of apathy by our own sense of peace and safety. So what happened in the intervening years between then and today?  I think we can find the answer to this question in the story of Y’Shua before Pilate from John chapters 18 and 19. 

Here’s a summary with a bit of commentary:

*  Y’Shua is brought by the high priest’s and officers to Pilate, whose first question is: “What accusation do you bring against this man?”  Every day an assault is brought against the character of Y’Shua YHVH by mankind’s schemes of wickedness, his occult practices, greed, murder, homosexuality, adultery, drunkenness, all manner of perversions, deceit, slander, the hating of Elohim, and inventing of evil and… Those who brought Y’Shua to Pilate were of this ilk.

*  The people respond, “If this man were not an evil-doer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” And Pilate tells them, “Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your law.”  But these Jews respond, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” These people don’t want the penalty of judgment on their hands; but they do want their way.  They are vocal, they are persistent.

*  Pilate asks Y’Shua, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And Y’Shua replies, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”  We try to gather facts to help us make an enlightened decision.

*  Pilate answers, “I am not a Jew, am I?  Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You up to me; what have you done?”  Y’Shua answers Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If my kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”  We may not like what we find out.

*  Pilate comes back with, “So you are a King?”  Y’Shua answers him with, “You say that I am a king.  For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”  Pilate says to Y’Shua, “What is truth?”  We may try to discount what we hear.

*  And then Pilate goes out to the crowd and announces, “I find no guilt in Him.”  Pilate attempts to get out of this situation by offering the agitators a choice; the release of a convicted felon or their king, but the crowd chooses the release of the criminal.  We state our findings and then maybe we look around for a way to compromise our convictions, hoping the mob opinion will be favorable to ours.

*  At the mob’s insistence Pilate takes Y’Shua into custody and treats him like a convicted criminal.  After Pilate’s soldiers abuse, beat and mock him, Y’Shua is once again brought out to stand before the crowd where Pilate proclaims, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.”  Wearing a purple robe and a crown of thorns, Pilate presents Y’Shua to the people and says, “Behold, the Man!”  But the mob opinion turns ugly and wanting to preserve our own skin we give into a pretense of acceptance hoping that somehow the attitude of the mob will change.

*  But the chief priests and the officers respond with, “Crucify! Crucify!”  Pilate says to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.”  But the Jews are adamant, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of YHVH.”  But the mob seeing a crack in your defense demands more.

*  When Pilate heard this statement he was even more afraid and said to Y’Shua, “Where are you from?”  But Y’Shua did not answer him.  So Pilate responded with, “Do you not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?”  Y’Shua answers this statement of Pilate’s with, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin.”  The camel’s head is in the tent door.  Do we, like Pilate attempt to threaten Y’ShuaYHVH because things have not worked out how we wanted them to? What are we to do?  Give me something to work with, we plead, (something other than His Truth.) 

*  With this verbal exchange Pilate makes efforts to release Y’Shua, but the mob is having none of it.  “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar’s; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar,” they vehemently declare to Pilate.  One last chance, please, listen to reason, but the opportunity has passed to nip the thing in the bud, it has grown into a full-scale take-over by the rabble.

*  Pilate responds to their intimidation by once again bringing Y’Shua out and then sitting down on the judgment seat to render his verdict.  “Behold, your King,” he says to them, but they shout back, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!”  Our voice grows dim amid their shouts like a child’s piano tinkling out “Jesus Loves Me” against the rant of their fury.

*  And one last time Pilate halfheartedly tries to reason with the crowd, “Shall I crucify your King?”  And the chief priests answer, “We have no king but Caesar.”  We finally cower under their threats and intimidation; they no longer hear our voice, because we gave them the microphone. 

*  So Pilate then delivered Him to them to be crucified.  And another principle of Torah bites the dust, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among men has been silenced again.

We, like Pilate will have to make a decision.  We hear the accusation, we may try to not accept responsibility for the action we see taking place, but sooner or later it will demand a response from us.  We may try to deny involvement, or blame someone else or cast doubt or dispersion on credible evidence, but the matter is landed squarely in our lap and there is no avoiding it.  But what is truth anyway?  Truth for you may not necessarily be truth for me, thereby trying to absolve our self from any guilt, perceived or otherwise.  And then for expediency’s sake we compromise; well it’s not really that bad, and then we give in, we adjust and our reality is changed. 

Torah, YHVH’s instructions for life, was given to us for our benefit and well-being; they are a guide that keeps us from injury and harm.  YHVH made a path for us to walk; as long as we stay on that path we are kept safe by the Light of His presence.  Darkness and light cannot abide together; where Light is darkness cannot be.  Go into a dark room and turn on the light, what happens to the darkness – it flees. 

We have to know what we know and then stand on it. Ephesians 6:11-13; “Put on the full armor of YHVH, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the full armor of YHVH that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

 Which side will we take a stand on, or maybe we won’t take a stand at all, or maybe for expediency’s sake we will make a statement that this action is wrong, but then take no action to try and make our voice heard.  We have to, we must learn to stand – to stand firm in YHVH.  As a light set on a hill cannot be hidden so we must let the Light of Y’Shua YHVH shine in and through us so the whole world can witness the glory of His presence abiding in us.  Whether we go into captivity or perish by the sword or by pestilence or famine or if we escape and endure unto the end we must not compromise with evil, we must stand firmly grounded in YHVH’s Truth as revealed by His Ruach; for we shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set us free.

Let Your Light shine in me,

Let Your Light shine in me,

Let Your Light so shine that ALL men might see,

Let Your Light shine in me.

This is my prayer for you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

Australia…reflections

Here we are, on the Great Ocean Road
It had been a year since we had seen our son and his family and we just couldn’t go to that side of the world and not have some time in Australia with them.
When our son and his family decided to move to Australia I put my emotions in words one day when I said, “One side of the world might be rejoicing, but the other side of the world is crying.” As I continued to lament my loss, YHVH’s Spirit spoke to my heart one afternoon, “look at it this way, Shirley,
it is another continent for you.” Back in 1995, in a dingy, run-down hotel room in the out-back of China, my very first international trip, as I was checking out of that hotel room YHVH’s Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “I will send you to worse places than this if you are willing.” And He has! I have discovered in the intervening years though, that “worse” places does not necessarily mean poverty, but more appropriately lack. Until we traveled to Australia I had no idea that this beautiful land lacked a foundation of faith in the Creator of the Universe, YHVH.

A view from the top!
Victoria, the state where we spent our time is a beautiful land. 15 years of drought have now been followed by 2 years of abundant rain. Lakes that had dried up are now full again, hillsides are lush and green, farmers are harvesting bumper crops, sheep once again are roaming the pasture lands; we saw this down-under country at its best, from the Great Ocean Road to the High Country, Mt. Buller to Melbourne and hardly a church in it. We kept expecting to see little white churches in the small country towns we drove through, but hardly a one. It was eerie not to see this evidence of faith as is the custom in America. Even if Americans by and large don’t attend the churches that dot the landscapes of towns all across our fair land, it is somehow comforting knowing that they are there. The churches keep up the pretense that America is still a “nation under God”. Australia, however, has been described as a “godless nation.” Australians have no religious pretense; they seem, generally speaking, not to be a church-going bunch. We were told that there is a bible-belt where you can find an abundance of churches and church-goers, but by and large Australia is a self-made country that takes great pride in their own boot-strap ability.

Grandma and Grandpa with Isabelle and Jacob

Our granddaughter Isabelle, is soon to be 4 and Jacob is sooner to be 2; what precious days we spent with these two little ones, jumping on the “jump-o-lene (Isabelle’s new word for trampoline), swimming in the kiddie pool, going to the beach, feeding the ducks, playing on the swings and slides at the park and taking “d’ventures” to many of Victoria’s most beautiful and scenic places. It’s the most wonderful thing to be a grandparent; you get to experience your children all over again through your children’s children! We would often say to each other, “did you see that? Micah used to do that very same thing when he was little.” Jacob loves to “tweak” his sister just the way Micah loved to irritate his brother. Isabelle isn’t a morning lark and neither was her father; thumb in mouth, blankey dragging behind her, she much prefers extended cuddle time just like her daddy, but Jacob is all business, “I’m up – let’s play!” At almost 2 he has a great throwing arm; we were really impressed with his ability to throw a ball and not just throw it, but throw the ball so you could catch it. If they still lived in the States Micah would have him in Little League. Alas, not much baseball in Australia!

Now, after having visited this country and spent extended, intimate time with our son and his family do we have a greater understanding of how to pray for the people of this beautiful nation and more importantly for our family? Yes! Thank you YHVH for making this trip possible. May there be many more!