Category Archives: Choices

Fasting together: He cannot be absent in our story!

Fasting together: He cannot be absent in our story! Catch up on missed posts here!

“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 KJV.

If you are familiar with the story of Esther and her cousin, Mordecai (Esther 2:7), you are aware that she was just an average young lady enjoying her normal life until Queen Vashti was kicked out of the palace for rebellion against the king. A new queen had to be found and Esther’s beauty landed her the part.

Soon, Mordecai overheard a plot by Haman, a man who was above all the princes in the king’s court, to destroy the Jewish people. Mordecai realized that Esther was the only hope they had of getting to the king and having the decree abolished.

Esther called for a fast.

We are all aware that the book of Esther never mentions God, no reference to Him, nothing whatsoever about Jehovah in the entire book. We assume they are serving Him, fasting to get His attention and praying along with the fasting.

But it is never mentioned.

I have always found that intriguing when the rest of the Bible is so full of the Almighty. Let us step outside of tradition, from what we have always been taught in Sunday School, and look at this story with a different set of eyes.

Why doesn’t Esther ever call on the Lord for help? Why doesn’t Mordecai refer to Him in any of his pleas to Esther?

We assume there was repentance; we assume there was prayer with the fasting because that is what we read with all of the other accounts in the Bible. But it is absent in this story.

Maybe the story of Esther is more of a lesson in what fasting is not because it cannot be absent in our story.

They had all of the right actions, the right motions, but God is not mentioned.

Yes, the Jewish people were spared from Haman’s despicable plan and he was destroyed in their place. God was protecting His chosen people. Esther and Mordecai could be called heroes for their brave actions to step in and put their lives on the line for the Jewish nation.

But we need to be careful when we fast that we do it for the right reasons, with a right spirit and a clean heart and God must be first and foremost in all we do!

Mordecai’s famous line, “…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” is a great example to us today. Truly, Esther was put in that position to be able to stand in the gap for the Jewish people. But whether she and her cousin Mordecai knew Jehovah remains to be seen since there is no indication or mention of His name in the entire book.

What will others say about us? Do we go to church, go through the Christian motions but have no relationship? What will the Lord say about us? He warns in the New Testament of that very thing when the people begin to list all of the things they had done in His name. His reply? “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:23 KJV.

Is He mentioned?

Let’s make sure as we begin to close out our Daniel Fasts that this is not our last fast! When we have daily communion with the Lord, learn to make prayer and fasting a regular part of our lives, we can draw ever closer to the One who answers those prayers.

Daniel Fast Recipe for Veggie Tacos!

1 large sweet potato, cubed

2½ cups spinach, fresh

¼ red onion, sliced very thin

1½ Tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon chili powder

Salt and Pepper

¼ teaspoon oregano

Juice from one lime

½ avocado, mashed (optional)

Toss the sweet potato with all of the spices. Add the sweet potatoes to heated oil and cook for 10-15 minutes until tender. Add spinach and cook about three minutes, until wilted. Serve in warm whole wheat tortillas, or wraps, with lime juice. You may also like adding the mashed avocado to your tortillas as a spread!

Don’t forget to grab your copy of The Daniel Fast Devotional! Good for any fast, it is a great, simple read with devotions for every day of a three week fast. Get yours on Amazon here!

 

 

 

When we are guilty of Schadenfreude

 

When we are guilty of Schadenfreude.

I never did really care for slapstick comedy. The Three Stooges? Ugh. I couldn’t wrap my head around their warped sense of humor; twisting Larry’s nose or slapping Curly across the face just didn’t seem to be funny to me. But, then again, others loved it.

Dick Van Dyke did a spoof years ago on the comedy of seeing others in pain; the typical chair breaking, smashing his fingers, getting his tie caught in a drawer, etc. And he stated that people can relate to that type of humor because we all love a little sarcasm. And, when that misfortune happens to someone else, well, that is even better.

Schadenfreude is taken from the German language; Schaden, which means harm and Freude, which mean joy. But, put them together, and Schadenfreude means malicious joy at the misfortune of others.

Someone falls down and you laugh? It’s Schadenfreude! (pronounced SHAH:dən:froy:də or my simple pronunciation, SHA-den-froi-duh. A recent study indicated that children as young as two years old experienced and expressed Schadenfreude! Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5 ESV.

As intrigued as I am by the word itself, and how much fun it is to say, it really isn’t so amusing, is it?

Before our granddaughter, Norah Jayne, was born, one of her uncles bought her a Onesie with the words “Silently Judging You” screen printed on the front. Little did we know that Norah, in her delightful personality, would also come with a furrowed brow at times that seriously does look like she is silently giving us the once over. (smile)

But I think we are all a little like that Onesie. We SAY we don’t judge, we SAY we wouldn’t laugh at another’s calamity or misfortune but inside we are likely guilty, at some point in our lives, of doing that very thing.

Jonah was one that came to mind in the Bible of someone who might have possessed a little Schadenfreude. He had a little trouble obeying God to begin with but he finally gave in, journeyed to Nineveh, delivered the message God told him to preach and then, basically, sat down and waited for the show. He knew they were going to be destroyed and he wasn’t really that unhappy about it. It was no secret that they deserved judgment. As a matter of fact, he was downright aggravated when they repented and God spared them! (You can read his story here.)

And aren’t we a little like Jonah, too? It’s so hard to admit that we could have any of these ugly attributes inside of us, but without prayer, without spending time in the Word and filling our hearts and minds on the good things of God, the ugly can creep in so unaware. Before we know it, we are standing back, silently judging and thinking things that we wish would go away.

It’s also hard to confess that we are human and prone to sin. Even as a child of God, we have to die out to that flesh every single day. Paul said we had to keep it under subjection, and the only way to do that is to make sure that we have relationship and connection with Jesus Christ.

Wile E Coyote would do his best to make a trap for the Road Runner, with the help of the ACME company supplying all of his tools necessary to carry out his diabolical plan, in the middle of the desert, no less. Of course we all realize that Wile E Coyote possessed Schadenfreude, he would so enjoy seeing the Road Runner get what was coming to him…even though every cartoon would end without that satisfaction. But I can’t help thinking that crazy Road Runner was really the one with the Schadenfreude problem. He would torment that poor coyote, watch him plunge off a cliff and with that silly grin on his face, holler the only two words we ever heard him say, “BEEP, BEEP!”

You see friend, the enemy knows how to work these things into our minds. He realizes it isn’t likely, as a Christian, that he can cause you to stumble with alcohol or drugs. You aren’t likely to go rob a bank or solicit on the street corner. He can’t entice us with things we think of as BIG SINS, because they would be obvious. But the sins of the heart, the not-so-obvious Road Runner sins, here is where he can start putting thoughts in our heads about others, sneak in the jealousy, envy and covetousness. Before long, we find ourselves feeling that malicious joy at the expense of another’s misfortune. We may even justify in our minds that it is okay to feel the way we do toward this particular person because of their actions. “I knew they wouldn’t make it anyway…” “It was bound to happen again, that’s just the way they are.”

“Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble. For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.” Proverbs 24:17-18 NLT.

God, help us today to realize that it is YOUR mercy that keeps us from falling every day. It is also of the Lord’s grace and kindness that we are not consumed for our actions and thoughts! He extends such compassion and forgiveness to us on a day to day basis and we are, in turn, to offer that same hand of mercy to others. And since most Schadenfreude takes place in the mind, and heart, that is where we must begin; submitting our hearts, our human frailties, to God and allow Him to take out the ugly and replace any malicious joy with His spirit.

For the kingdom

 

So, I received an IN-vite

So, I received an IN-vite. The #FiveMinuteFriday word prompt today is IN-vite. Let’s try that again, for this post only, if you want to keep your circle of friends, the emphasis must be on the first syllable. Make it long and drawn out and then cut off that second syllable as if it were offensive to you. INNN-vite! 

Growing up in southern Indiana, I may or may not always been grammatically correct in all of my speech. It wasn’t that I was illiterate, it wasn’t that I didn’t receive good grades or that my parents had not taught me better, but sometimes Hoosiers just choose to say some things differently. One such contraction is that of you’ns or you’uns; which when used properly, slides off the tongue closer to yuns. What in the world does it mean, you ask? Well, that is easy, it is just Mid-western slang for You guys, you-people-over-there, all you folks taking up space, or for my Tennessee friends and anyone south of Louisville, ya’ll. Or, all ya’ll which means anyone sitting close by, anyone related by birth or marriage, including sixth cousins twice removed and those connected to, or even remotely associated with those that you are speaking to at the time.

So, it is not strange, odd or even weird that other words were also possibly pronounced differently. Words such as INNN-vite, especially spoken by the Greatest Generation (for clarification purposes, that means those from the WWII era, not you millennials) were special. We knew they meant invitation but that was high-falutin’ (another fave), puttin’ on airs, and just too much trouble on a hot summer day to assemble and roll off the tongue. INNN-vite would do.

I remember my grandmother telling me when she received my wedding invitation in the mail, “Honey, I got your INNN-vite today and I will be there with bells on!” I can still hear her saying it as if it were the most important invitation she had ever received. Of course I knew that her shortened version was a verb and not a noun, I knew it wasn’t used correctly, but it wasn’t the pronunciation that was important; it was the fact that the invitation had been received. She was included, thought of and wanted, for a special occasion.

Jesus invited the woman at the well to experience living water. When the God of the universe issues an INNN-vite, you sit up and pay attention, you go call your friends and extend your own invitation for them to Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.”

The Pharisee invited Jesus into his home

Peter invited the messengers of Cornelius to spend the night

The Ethiopian eunuch invited Philip to sit beside him in his chariot and then Philip invited him into the Kingdom by preaching Jesus

And Jesus continues to invite each of us to experience this living water, this New Birth. It was not just at the well in Samaria, it continues today, a couple of thousand years later, to everyone who reaches out to take it. He invites us to leave behind our past, our sins, our heavy burdens, shame, fear and so much more. The price has been paid, the debt no longer hangs over our heads and we can live victoriously as those who have been grafted in, who have been generously invited into this Kingdom, not as observers, but as children of God!

And we should continue to invite people to know Him. Invite them to church, invite them to small groups, to individual Bible study; just invite them to coffee! Extend a hand of fellowship, so to speak, and show the love of God, which is the magnet that draws them into the Kingdom.

Peter’s life was forever changed when Jesus invited him to “Come, follow me.” Our lives will never be the same if we respond to that INNN-vite; RSVP with a Yes and then don’t forget the next line on that card. It asks, “How Many?” How many are we going to bring with us, to how many will we offer eternal life and deliverance from the weight of sin? Don’t be afraid to ask, to extend that offer to just, “Come.” Most are waiting and just needing that sincere, down-to-earth nudge.

You give the INNN-vite; Jesus will do the rest.

For the kingdom