Tag Archives: bible

God likes to Share Secrets…

15 Jun

 

 

Sitting in a Bible Study one morning, I was tired and cranky and having a hard time finding anything of interest in what was being taught. Just at my most uninterested moment, God stepped in and brought life to his word.

 

In John’s account of Mary at the tomb after Jesus’ resurrection, it reads “but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.” John 20:6-12

 

I’ve read the passage many times, but this time God spoke. “Do you want to hear something interesting,” he said to my heart.

 

 “Yeah,” I responded eagerly, excited for revelation that was about to hit me. The Bible is a fantastic book; it’s full of history, life stories and the guiding principles God intends for his people. I have read the whole Bible, actually several times over and over again for the last twelve years. Many times I’ve read simply out of obedience. I would read a chapter and not understand it or even forget that I had read it altogether.

 

However…there is this other, deeper side to the Bible; one that is full of revelation only accessed through God’s Holy Spirit. When you hit that vein…it’s like striking oil.  Words that never made sense or seemed to be just words, suddenly pop of the page, grabbing your heart in both hands and usually sending your mind reeling. Your entire being seems illuminated and ringing in tune with the Truth. Yet, at the same time you feel small and insignificant compared to the size of the revelation you’re trying to digest.

 

“Do you know why two angels were in the tomb, one at the head and the other at the feet of where Jesus had been placed in the tomb,” God said coyly.

 

I didn’t know; I just thought it was because there were two angels standing around in the tomb to testify about Jesus’ resurrection.  “No, why,” I asked.

 

“They are the real, manifested angels who had been only symbolically portrayed at the top of the Ark of the Covenant.”

 

Understandably, this might not mean much to you or make much sense, but for me it was a moment of pure bliss and revelation…the Bible coming to life and giving imagery to the gold covered Ark with two angels at the top which the Israelites carried through the desert, described in Exodus 25, “And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends.”

 

For me, this revelation sent my mind into outer space and gave me a whole new appreciation for God’s intricate timing and structure regarding his interaction between heaven and humanity.

 

For you, I hope it brings a comfort and a challenge. Comfort if you currently are reading the Bible and find it dry and boring at times; but a challenge that there is more. Before God’s revelation came about the Ark, I had read the passage several times. I had questions in my heart regarding what was written, but I allowed them to linger unanswered and wasn’t offended that my questions weren’t being resolved. That is always fertile ground for God to plant in; He loves a hungry heart.

 

What’s a passage in scripture that challenges or even offends you? Keep it close, lose the offense, but seek the Truth and God will eventually bring revelation through the Spirit that will blow you away!

Walking un-Dead Preach about Jesus?

4 May

Bible 411: Did you know that after Jesus’ resurrection, holy people who had died, came out from their tombs and walked around town talking to people?

Gist: After Jesus was crucified on the cross and resurrected, graves broke open and resurrected holy people (not zombies) wondered into Jerusalem to talk to people! ( Can you imagine this scene! How did they look? What did they say? Why only godly ones? What did people think? Why doesn’t anyone talk about this stuff!)

“Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.” Matthew 27:50-53

Public Prayer…He hated it and so did I!

22 Apr

As the man approached, my guard went up; while his words conveyed he was simply a stranger in distress, I found myself doubting his story. We were in the heart of San Francisco, two blocks from the water; Ava and I sat waiting for my father outside a Starbucks on Market.

“Good evening mama, could I bother you for just one second,” the man had made eye contact with me and was approaching humbly, his two boys in tow. “I was wondering if you could help me out. You see, we just came into town and this morning both our luggage and our car were stolen. I have called a local hostel and they are willing to accept us for the night, but we need some money for a cab to get to the east side of town. Can you spare any extra change?”

Having lived in the Bay Area all of my life, requests for financial aid from people on the streets is a common occurrence. Are they really in trouble? Maybe…maybe not. Are they lying to you for money? Maybe…maybe not. Yet while his story might or might not have been true, his question was still the same, “Can you spare any change?” At this point in my life, the answer to that question simply depended on my mood and what I had in my purse. Most times the answer was “No,” and I would walk off quickly, a tinge of guilt trailing behind me, hoping they wouldn’t ask again or shout something rude. Other times, I simply ignored the question, trying to pretend I hadn’t heard them or hoping they were probably speaking to someone else (avoiding eye contact is essential in this scenario). And rarely, when I was feeling really generous, I would hand over a few dollars. In my head, this looked a lot like Mother Teresa ministering in the slums.

As I was about to make a decision on how to respond, my dad came out with his coffee and joined us. And while the gentleman re-explained his situation to my dad, I watched his two boys; they were about Ava’s age, five and six. Climbing all over the brick planter box, they appeared completely uninterested and emotionally unconnected with their father’s attempts to get strangers interested in their cause.

After hearing the man out, my dad made a decision and asked; “Can we pray for you and your sons?” my dad asked the man.

“Wait, what…No!” I thought to myself. “The man is asking for money not prayer!” I was repulsed by the idea for a number of reasons. 1. I don’t know these people. 2. He didn’t ask for prayer. 3. We are in PUBLIC. 4. We are in PUBLIC. 5. Did I mention, we are in PUBLIC…in the middle of San Francisco…with cars and business people passing by!

While I was having my own issues with my dad’s “monkey wrench,” it seemed so was our new acquaintance. Almost like a teleprompter, his face displayed extreme disgust. He seemed annoyed at us for wasting his time, and to add insult to injury, now he had to endure some old man’s ministry time with no payoff at the end.

Reluctantly, very reluctantly, all six of us formed a circle and joined hands on the sidewalk of the bustling city-center. Just before I closed my eyes for prayer, I caught a glimpse of the two boy’s faces. My cold heart melted as I saw their eagerness for prayer. These two boys, who just a minute prior were in their own world, trying to avoid their father’s “hustle,” were now completely engaged and anticipating someone doing something different, something that felt like love.

I don’t remember what my dad prayed; I’m sure it was amazing. What moved me (and I think the boys too) was not the words of the prayer, but simply the power of praying for someone personally. Caring, really caring, for the needs of another person enough to petition God on the matter, that was sparing something maybe even more valuable than money; that was real “change.”

“Could we spare some change?” Apparently that was the same question God had for me. Was there room enough in my life for “change?” Could I drop my prejudices and judgments? Was giving and caring for the needs of others something I even had the right to quantify or pass through a series of litmus test for validity?

As the man grabbed his boys, thanked us curtly for the prayer, and moved onto his next prospect, the boys’ eyes lingered on my father. Still in shock, but quietly grateful for what just happened, I began to notice the strongest, most fragrant smell of roses. It was as if a bouquet was right under my nose. As I panned the area looking for flower carts or passing perfume wearers, nothing seemed like a logical explanation. And as the wafting sweetness stayed for nearly five minutes as we made our way to the cable car, it seemed to me, this was a gift from God in acknowledgement for my “Change.”

While my story is great, here’s a real class act!

Luke 10:30-37 Parable of the Good Samaritan

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

Origin of the Species: My Book’s Evolution and the Big Bang of His Words

18 Apr

“The photography and concept are exceptional. However, despite there being lots of interest in your proposal, I am afraid that we must pass…”

Senior Acquisitions Editor,
Zondervan Publishing
August 15, 2007

Only a few months earlier in May, I was walking on cloud nine. After two years of collecting photographs and verses, we pitched our concept:, a hardcover, glossy, coffee-table book, filled with colorful images and scripture to the largest Christian Publisher around; and the response was beyond my wildest dreams.

“This is really beautiful! It would be an honor to work with you!” Sue beamed excitedly over the phone to my partner Keith and me from her Zondervan headquarters in Michigan. “I have big plans for this work, maybe something like what we did with Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life. We’ll start with some revisions, but all I really need to do is get your book before the board at the end of this summer…then we’ll go full speed ahead and with a national launch.”

Preparing to become a Christian Superstar dominated my thought-life all summer; “What is my best side for the camera?”  “How much of the back-story do I tell interviewers?” There was a concern about how the fame and money might change Ava and me, so I determined we would stay in Danville and try to lead “normal” lives.

As August came into view, the anticipation grew. I was scheduled to meet up with Keith that afternoon and just before I left, I felt the Lord speak to my heart, “I love you. I love this book. I have so many great plans. Don’t be surprised if things work out differently than you think.”

“Wow!” I thought to myself, “This book is going to be even bigger than I imagined! If God himself is saying He has great plans…maybe I’ll even be on Oprah!” (At this point, I didn’t yet comprehend that God is not impressed with TV personalities and media exposure. He admires broken and contrite hearts.)

Yet, becoming a World Renown Christian Author was never my plan. Two years earlier, at the start of 2005, authoring a book was the last thing I had planned to do with my life. Having graduated from UC Berkeley with a Rhetoric degree, law school was on the horizon. Yet deep down I had reservations about signing my life away to a career that would take me far from my daughter. “Lord, I just don’t want to wake up thirty years from now wondering what I’m supposed to really be doing with my life and why I’m so far from it. If you want me to go into law, great. If not, please change my plans.”

While my prayer came from a very genuine place, I had no real idea what I had just done to myself! My life was no longer my own; I had just signed away the right to have things done “my way.”  God had His own version of “Ari Fry” and he was about to let me in on the plan.

Not more than a few days later, succinctly and straight to my heart God said, “You are not going to law school. You have finished that path to it’s end. I have some work I need you to do with your brother, your mother, and a book.” While I was excited that there seemed to be a new game plan for my life, straight from the Big Guy upstairs…I had no idea what it all meant.

God’s mysterious pronouncement about my future began to take shape within two weeks. Seemingly out of the blue, a friend shared a longstanding dream to create a coffee-table book that would make Christianity accessible through images. Almost as soon as his words left his mouth, I felt the Holy Spirit bolt through me confirming this to be “the book” God had mentioned. I thought to myself, “Wow, this God stuff really works!”

In the years leading up to our pitch for Zondervan, as I took the images, matched them with verses and photo-shopped key words, hearing from God was no longer a rare occasion…we spoke everyday. As the body of work grew, so did my eyes and ears to hearing His lead. In one instance, while hiking down a path, God told me, “Stop, get down low, and look to your left.” In a world of it’s own, crawled a green ladybug on the spike of a thistle. Another time, God said to me, “Make the ‘R’ bigger. No, much bigger.” He was right, I was thinking too small, and once I adjusted the size, the whole verse fell into place.  It was a sweet time of doing what I love with the one I love.

So as the summer of 2007 came to a close and the call came in that afternoon from Sue at Zondervan, this total direction shift, a complete 180, seemed to come out of left field. Keith’s face was overshadowed with sadness, I had a hard time comprehending what was happening. I was scared to ask, “What did Sue say? Did you talk to her this afternoon?”

“The are killing their ‘Gifts and Inspirational’ department. They are losing money and it’s not an essential part of the company, so our book would be too expensive for them to produce because of all the imagery.” Punch in the stomach, I was out for the count. Didn’t see that one coming…at least, not at first. As I sat there reeling from the blow, I remembered what God had told me just that morning, “I have so many great plans. Don’t be surprised if things work out differently than you think.” Ouch, I guess His “differently” wasn’t the same as my “differently.” And as crushed as I was, I gave a champagne toast that night to the fact that I had heard correctly form God.

As the years have passed, we self-published, but that was too costly to support long-term. We’ve pushed on several doors, hoping a publisher would catch the vision; but each door seemed barricaded. We even recently had a way back into Zondervan, but ironically it was Round Two in the ring, ending this time with yet another punch to the gut. All the doors just keep closing…until now!

I found my Open Door.

My “Open Door that no one can shut.” Revelations 3:8

INTRODUCING…My eBook! Click Here for my $3.99 eBook

(The book will be accessible in your iBook app)

Low production costs, no gatekeeper publishers, my work can finally be sent out to do what it was always intended to do; give viewer’s a visually rich experience with the Bible.

While this was not what I had in mind when God proposed a book deal, nor what I anticipated when He mentioned His “great plans,” for this book, in the meantime He certainly has reworked, transformed  and upgraded it’s author. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Here are a few Excepts from the Book:

“Where were you when I was being molested?” A friend’s cry for answers.

15 Apr

Is God useless and helpless when it comes to human suffering? That’s the picture I had gotten in the past when questions like these came up. “Where was God when I was being molested,” questioned my dear friend. For the most part I never even wanted to look straight at that issue; my dull understanding came from sideways glances through a peripheral vision of seemingly endless atrocities committed against humanity.

As a vulnerable child is approached by their prey, where is God? Previously, I had two vague and disturbing images that would come to mind. Surrounded by bright light and ethereal clouds, an elderly

Father with a flowing white beard peers down from the Heavenlies to earth, searching the landscape for something discernable. Because he is so far removed, he can only see large worldly events through the haze of the glorious light. But if he squints and strains to bring an individual into focus, for only a second he can see the abuse, yet quickly recoils and thinks, “But if I help that one, then they will all want help!”

Worse however, I find it even more horrifying when I try to understand the abuse through the personal relationship Jesus Christ offers. No longer removed and distant, Christ is now standing in the room. He looks on helplessly as the child’s innocence is being devoured. Jesus watches the whole event with sadness and pain, just waiting for the ravaging of her body to cease so he can comfort her with a whisper through his tears, “It’s going to be alright.” No it’s not Jesus, why don’t you stop crying and do something! Pick up that chair already and hit him over the head you helpless, useless God!

As my dear friend continued to share about her experience, she revealed, “I cried out to God several times asking, ‘where were you when I was being molested?’ One day he responded with a vision, showing me that the whole time, Jesus had been in the room.”

“Ah ha, I knew it! So he was just standing around looking on helplessly,” I thought to myself.

“I don’t want to get too graphic,” she offered, “but the Lord showed me that Jesus was actually between me and my abuser. That everything the molester did to me, he did to Jesus first. He took the brunt of the abuse.”

My heart dropped.

I had no idea.

I had no idea.

I have no idea who God is…

The implications of this revelation tore my theological world into pieces. Somehow, this means that all day, everyday, Jesus is being molested. Yet not just molested, he’s being burned, hit, spit at, yelled at, raped, murdered, and maimed just to name only a few sins committed by one human against another. But how is this possible?

A few days earlier on Sunday at church, our pastor had been teaching from Ephesians 3:18, “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” but he accidentally repeated the dimension of “high” twice and left out “long.” It got me thinking about how some have explained those dimensions form the shape of the cross; but a cross could be made by only two of those dimensions, so why all four? Just as I was pondering this, I had a very clear supernatural vision. The cross at the front of the church became brilliant gold and extended dimensionally both forward through the room and also behind the wall it was mounted on out into the courtyard, seemingly through time and space

.

My previously pathetic comprehension of the cross, the black and white still frame image of two pieces of wood, some

nails through Christ’s flesh, a painful death sentence he shared alongside some thieves, and the taking on of the world’s general sinful nature, suddenly burst into full color with rapid motion images.

The cross was not a stationary or metaphorical event. The traditional recounting of Christ’s trial, flogging and crucifixion is grievous indeed, yet there are many who have been falsely accused, beaten or crucified; potentially even all three. However, if in addition to being falsely accused and sentenced, beaten and whipped beyond recognition, and then crucified alongside legitimate criminals, Christ on the cross individually and personally experienced each human being’s suffering from the beginning of time to the last day, then I truly stand in fear and trembling before the greatness of my God.

Could that be what scripture recounts here, “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’)” Matthew 27:45-46 An eerily similar cry to, “Where were you when I was being molested?”

The cross has always been the Christian symbol of Christ’s suffering for humanity, but could it be that in addition to the physical events portrayed in the gospels, on the cross, Christ supernaturally and personally interceded for each human being “real-time” up to the point when he declares, “’It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30

How do you work this thing? re:The Bible

11 Apr

The Bible scared me when I first considered picking it up. It wasn’t the Bible itself as much as the fact I had no idea how to start reading it or what all those names and numbers meant. And while we now have digital Bibles to make this process easier; I feel printed Bibles still allow a more interactive experience (that is, at least until my hologram Bible is produced, jk but not really). So…here’s a crash course in Passage Finding! This way the next time someone references like, let’s say, Matthew 12:15, you’ll know where to find it.

First off, utilize the Table of Contents in the front. There’s NO SHAME in looking up the page number. Look for the Book or Author name, in this case “Matthew.”

Next, find the Chapter Number just after the Book or Author Name in the top left or right corner. In this case, we are looking for “12.” Some books like Jude have only 1 chapter, while other books like Psalms have 150.

Finally, once you have located the Large Chapter Number within the text, then you will need to look for the Small Verse Number. This is harder to find because most times it’s hidden between words or even part of a separate paragraph. Looking closely, we find Verse “15” leading the pack. (The chapter number, 12 is separated and followed by the verse number, 15 using the “:” symbol).

There you have it, “Matthew 12:15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all who were ill.”

One last note, for many years I thought it was “wrong” to write in my Bible. “It’s a Holy Book,” I thought to myself, “I can’t mark it up.” Some of this mindset might have come from a reverence for “The Word,” but more than likely thinking back, it came from all those years using school text books. At the start of each year teachers would reprimand us, threaten us, and commit to invoicing us should we make a single mark in their precious text books! Someone finally straightened this issue out for me and gave me permission to write in my Bible. Hence: I HEREBY GIVE YOU FULL PERMISSION TO WRITE, MARK, NOTE, AND HIGHLIGHT YOUR BIBLE.

What did or has kept you from reading your Bible?

Jesus’ parents lost their tween for several days?

11 Apr

Bible 411: Did you know that Jesus’ parents lost their tween for several days? Can you imagine losing the Messiah…um…he was here a minute ago.

Gist: As a young boy Jesus goes with his family to the capitol city; without permission he decides to stay longer, causing his parents great concern.

Luke 2:41 “Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. 42 When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. 43 After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, 44 because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.

45 When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. 46 Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. 47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[d] 50 But they didn’t understand what he meant.

51 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.

52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.”