Friday, June 30, 2017

June 30 - Psalms 122-125 - Bible in a Year

Psalm 122

1A song of ascents. Of David.


I rejoiced when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
2And now our feet are standing
within your gates, Jerusalem.
3Jerusalem, built as a city,
walled round about.
4There the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
As it was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5There are the thrones of justice,
the thrones of the house of David.


6For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
“May those who love you prosper!
7May peace be within your ramparts,
prosperity within your towers.”
8For the sake of my brothers and friends I say,
“Peace be with you.”
9For the sake of the house of the LORD, our God,
I pray for your good.

Psalm 123

1A song of ascents.
To you I raise my eyes,
to you enthroned in heaven.
2Yes, like the eyes of servants
on the hand of their masters,
Like the eyes of a maid
on the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes are on the LORD our God,
till we are shown favor.
3Show us favor, LORD, show us favor,
for we have our fill of contempt.
4Our souls are more than sated
with mockery from the insolent,
with contempt from the arrogant.

Psalm 124

1A song of ascents. Of David.
Had not the LORD been with us,
let Israel say,
2Had not the LORD been with us,
when people rose against us,
3Then they would have swallowed us alive,
for their fury blazed against us.
4Then the waters would have engulfed us,
the torrent overwhelmed us;
5then seething water would have drowned us.
6Blessed is the LORD, who did not leave us
to be torn by their teeth.
7We escaped with our lives like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare was broken,
and we escaped.
8Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 125

1A song of ascents.
Those trusting in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
unshakable, forever enduring.
2As mountains surround Jerusalem,
the LORD surrounds his people
both now and forever.
3The scepter of the wicked will not prevail
in the land allotted to the just,
Lest the just themselves
turn their hands to evil.
4Do good, LORD, to the good,
to those who are upright of heart.
5But those who turn aside to crooked ways
may the LORD send down with the evildoers.
Peace upon Israel!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February 1 - Leviticus 20-23 - Bible in a Year

Leviticus 20

Penalties for Various Sins.
The LORD said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites:  Anyone, whether an Israelite or an alien residing in Israel, who gives any of his offspring to Molech shall be put to death. Let his fellow citizens stone him.  I myself will turn against such a man and cut him off from the body of his people; for in giving his offspring to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name.  Even if his fellow citizens connive at such a man's crime of giving his offspring to Molech, and fail to put him to death, I myself will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who join him in his wanton worship of Molech.  Should anyone turn to mediums and fortune-tellers and follow their wanton ways, I will turn against such a one and cut him off from his people.  Sanctify yourselves, then, and be holy; for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.  Be careful, therefore, to observe what I, the LORD, who make you holy, have prescribed.

"Anyone who curses his father or mother shall be put to death; since he has cursed his father or mother, he has forfeited his life.  If a man commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.  If a man disgraces his father by lying with his father's wife, both the man and his stepmother shall be put to death; they have forfeited their lives.  If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall be put to death; since they have committed an abhorrent deed, they have forfeited their lives.  If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.  If a man marries a woman and her mother also, the man and the two women as well shall be burned to death for their shameful conduct, so that such shamefulness may not be found among you.  If a man has carnal relations with an animal, the man shall be put to death, and the animal shall be slain.  If a woman goes up to any animal to mate with it, the woman and the animal shall be slain; let them both be put to death; their lives are forfeit.  If a man consummates marriage with his sister or his half-sister, they shall be publicly cut off from their people for this shameful deed; the man shall pay the penalty of having had intercourse with his own sister.  If a man lies in sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period, both of them shall be cut off from their people, because they have laid bare the flowing fountain of her blood.  You shall not have intercourse with your mother's sister or your father's sister; whoever does so shall pay the penalty of incest.  If a man disgraces his uncle by having intercourse with his uncle's wife, the man and his aunt shall pay the penalty of dying childless.  If a man marries his brother's wife and thus disgraces his brother, they shall be childless because of this incest.

"Be careful to observe all my statutes and all my decrees; otherwise the land where I am bringing you to dwell will vomit you out.  Do not conform, therefore, to the customs of the nations whom I am driving out of your way, because all these things that they have done have filled me with disgust for them.  But to you I have said:  Their land shall be your possession, a land flowing with milk and honey.  I am giving it to you as your own, I, the LORD, your God, who have set you apart from the other nations.You, too, must set apart, then, the clean animals from the unclean, and the clean birds from the unclean, so that you may not be contaminated with the uncleanness of any beast or bird or of any swarming creature in the land that I have set apart for you.  To me, therefore, you shall be sacred; for I, the LORD, am sacred, I, who have set you apart from the other nations to be my own.

"A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortune-teller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death."

Chapter 21

Sanctity of the Priesthood.
The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to Aaron's sons, the priests, and tell them:  None of you shall make himself unclean for any dead person among his people, except for his nearest relatives, his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother or his maiden sister, who is of his own family while she remains unmarried; for these he may make himself unclean.  But for a sister who has married out of his family he shall not make himself unclean; this would be a profanation.

"The priests shall not make bare the crown of the head, nor shave the edges of the beard, nor lacerate the body.  To their God they shall be sacred, and not profane his name; since they offer up the oblations of the LORD the food of their God, they must be holy.

"A priest shall not marry a woman who has been a prostitute or has lost her honor, nor a woman who has been divorced by her husband; for the priest is sacred to his God.  Honor him as sacred who offers up the food of your God; treat him as sacred, because I, the LORD, who have consecrated him as sacred, am sacred.  

"A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death.

"The most exalted of the priests, upon whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been ordained to wear the special vestments, shall not bare his head or rend his garments; nor shall he go near any dead person.  Not even for his father or mother may he thus become unclean or leave the sanctuary of his God, for with the anointing oil upon him, he is dedicated to his God, to me, the LORD.

"The priest shall marry a virgin.  Not a widow or a woman who has been divorced or a woman how has lost her honor as a prostitute, but a virgin, taken from his own people, shall he marry; otherwise he will have base offspring among his people.  I, the LORD, have made him sacred."

The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to Aaron and tell him; None of your descendants, of whatever generation, who has any defect shall come forward to offer up the food of his God.  Therefore, he who has any of the following defects may not come forward: he who is blind, or lame, or who has any disfigurement or malformation, or a cripple foot or hand, or who is hump-backed or weakly or walleyed, or who is afflicted with eczema, ringworm or hernia.  No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any such defect may draw near to offer up the oblations of the LORD; on account of his defect he may not draw near to offer up the food of his God.  He may, however, partake of the food of his God; of what is most sacred as well as of what is sacred.  Only, he may not approach the veil nor go up to the altar on account of his defect; he shall not profane these things that are sacred to me, for it is I, the LORD, who make them sacred."

Moses, therefore, told this to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites.

Chapter 22

Sacrificial Banquets.
The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron and his sons to respect the sacred offerings which the Israelites consecrate to me; else they will profane my holy name.  I am the LORD.

"Tell them:  If any one of you, or of your descendants in any future generation, dares, while he is in a state of uncleanness, to draw near the sacred offerings which the Israelites consecrate to the LORD, such a one shall be cut off from my presence.  I am the LORD.

"No descendant of Aaron who is stricken with leprosy, or who suffers from a flow, may eat of these sacred offerings, unless he again becomes clean.  Moreover, if anyone touches a person who has become unclean by contact with a corpse, or if anyone has had an emission of seed, or if anyone touches any swarming creature or any man whose uncleanness, of whatever kind it may be, is contagious, the one who touches such as these shall be unclean until evening and may not eat of the sacred portions until he has first bathed his body in water; then, when the sun sets, he again becomes clean.  Only then may he eat of the sacred offerings, which are his food.  He shall not make himself unclean by eating of any animal that has died of itself or has been killed by wild beasts.  I am the LORD.

"They shall keep my charge and not do wrong in this matter; else they will die for their profanation.  I am the LORD who have consecrated them.

"Neither a lay person nor a priest's tenant or hired servant may eat of any sacred offering.  But a slave whom a priest acquires by purchase or who is born in his house may eat of his food.  A priests' daughter who is married to a layman may not eat of the sacred contributions.  But if a priest's daughter who is widowed or divorced, and having no children, returns to her father's house, she may then eat of her father's food as in her youth.  No layman, however, may eat of it.  If such a one eats of a sacred offering through inadvertence, he shall make restitution to the priest for the sacred offering, with an increment of one fifth of the amount.  The sacred offerings which the Israelites contribute to the LORD the priests shall not allow to be profaned nor in the eating of the of sacred offering shall they bring down guilt that must be punished; it is I, the LORD, who make them sacred."

Unacceptable Victims.
The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites, and tell them:  When anyone of the house of Israel, or any alien residing in Israel, who wishes to offer a sacrifice, brings a holocaust as a votive offering or as a free-will offering to the LORD, if it is to be acceptable, the ox or sheep or goat that he offers must be an unblemished male.  You shall not offer one that has any defect, for such a one would not be acceptable for you.  When anyone presents a peace offering to the LORD from the herd or the flock in fulfillment of a vow, or as a free-will offering, if it is to find acceptance, it must be unblemished; it shall not have any defect.  One that is blind or crippled or maimed, or one that has a running sore or mange or ringworm, you shall not offer to the LORD, do not put such an animal on the altar as an oblation to the LORD.  An ox or a sheep that is in any way ill-proportioned or stunted you may indeed present as a free-will offering.  One that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn out or cut off you shall not offer to the LORD.  You shall neither do this in your own land nor receive from a foreigner any such animals to offer up as the food of your God; since they are deformed or defective, they will not be acceptable for you."

The LORD said to Moses, "When an ox or a lamb or a goat is born, it shall remain with its mother for seven days; only from the eighth day onward will it be acceptable, to be offered as an oblation to the LORD.  You shall not slaughter an ox or a sheep on one and the same day with its young.  Whenever you offer a thanksgiving sacrifice to the LORD, so offer it that it may be acceptable for you; it must, therefore, be eaten on the same day; none of it shall be left over until the next day.  I am the LORD.

"Be careful to observe the commandments which I, the LORD, give you, and do not profane my holy name; in the midst of the Israelites I, the LORD, must be held as sacred.  It is I who made you sacred and led you out of the land of Egypt, that I, the LORD, might be your God.

Chapter 23

Holy Days.
The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and tell them:  The following are the festivals of the LORD, my feast days, which you shall celebrate with a sacred assembly.

"For six days work may be done; but the seventh day is the sabbath rest, a day for sacred assembly, on which you shall do no work.  The sabbath shall belong to the LORD wherever you dwell.

"These, then, are the festivals of the LORD which you shall celebrate at their proper time with a sacred assembly.  The Passover of the LORD falls on the fourteenth day of the first month, at the evening twilight.  The fifteenth day of this month is the LORD'S feast of Unleavened Bread.  For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.  On the first of these days you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no sort of work.  On each of the seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD.  Then on the seventh day you shall again hold a sacred assembly and do no sort of work."

The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and tell them:  When you come into the land which I am giving you, and reap your harvest, you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest, who shall wave the sheaf before the LORD that it may be acceptable for you.  On the day after the sabbath the priest shall do this.  On this day, when your sheaf is waved, you shall offer to the LORD for a holocaust an unblemished yearling lamb.  Its cereal offering shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD; and its libation shall be a fourth of a hin of wine.  Until this day, when you bring your God this offering, you shall not eat any bread or roasted grain or fresh kernels.  This shall be a perpetual statute for you and your descendants wherever you dwell.

"Beginning with the day after the sabbath, the day on which you bring the wave-offering sheaf, you shall count seven full weeks, and then on the day after the seventh week, the fiftieth day, you shall present the new cereal offering to the LORD.  For the wave offering of your first fruits to the LORD, you shall bring with you from wherever you live two loaves of bread made of two tenths of an ephah of fine flour and baked with leaven.  Besides the bread, you shall offer to the LORD a holocaust of seven unblemished yearling lambs, one young bull, and two rams, along with their cereal offering and libations, as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD.  One male goat shall be sacrificed as a sin offering, and two yearling lambs as a peace offering.  The priest shall wave the bread of the first fruits and the two lambs as a wave offering before the LORD; these shall be sacred to the LORD and belong to the priest.  On this same day you shall by proclamation have a sacred assembly, and no sort of work may be done.  This shall be a perpetual statue for you and your descendants wherever you dwell.

"When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you glean the stray ears of your grain.  These things you shall leave for the poor and the alien.  I, the LORD, am your God."

New Year's Day.
The LORD said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites:  On the first day of the seventh month you shall keep a sabbath rest, with a sacred assembly and with the trumpet blasts as a reminder; you shall then do no sort of work, and you shall offer an oblation to the LORD."

The Day of Atonement.
The LORD said to Moses, "The tenth of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement, when you shall hold a sacred assembly and mortify yourselves and offer an oblation to the LORD.  On this day you shall not do any work, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD, your God.  Anyone who does not mortify himself on this day shall be cut off from his people; and if anyone does any work on this day, I will remove him from the midst of his people.  This is a perpetual statute for you and your descendants wherever you dwell:  you shall do no work, but shall keep a sabbath of complete rest and mortify yourselves.  Beginning on the evening of the ninth of the month, you shall keep this sabbath of yours from evening to evening."

The Feast of Booths.
The LORD said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites:  The fifteenth day of this seventh month is the LORD'S feast of Booths, which shall continue for seven days.  On the first day there shall be a sacred assembly, and you shall do no sort of work.  For seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD, and on the eighth day you shall again hold a sacred assembly and offer an oblation to the LORD.  On that solemn closing you shall do no sort of work.

"These, therefore, are the festivals of the LORD on which you shall proclaim a sacred assembly, and offer as an oblation to the LORD holocausts and cereal offerings, sacrifices and libations, as prescribed for each day, in addition to those of the LORD'S sabbaths, your donations, your various votive offerings and the free-will offerings that you present to the LORD.

"On the fifteenth day, then, of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate a pilgrim feast of the LORD for a whole week.  The first and the eighth day shall be days of complete rest.  On the first day you shall gather foliage from majestic trees, branches of palms and boughs of myrtles and of valley poplars, and then for a week you shall make merry before the LORD, your God.  By perpetual statute for you and your descendants you shall keep this pilgrim feast of the LORD for one whole week in the seventh month of the year.  During this week every native Israelite among you shall dwell in booths, that your descendants may realize that, when I led the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, I made them dwell in booths.  I, the LORD, am your God."

Thus did Moses announce to the Israelites the festivals of the LORD.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bible in a Year - January 2 - Genesis 4-6

Genesis 4

Cain and Abel.

The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, saying, "I have produced a male child with the help of the LORD."

Next she gave birth to his brother Abel.  Abel became a herder of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the ground.

In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground, while Abel, for his part, brought the fatty portion of the firstlings of his flock.  The LORD Looked with favor on Abel and his offering,

but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.  So Cain was very angry and dejected.

Then the LORD said to Cain:  Why are you angry?  Why are you dejected?

If you act rightly, you will be accepted; 

but if not, sin lies in wait at the door:  its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it.

Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out in the field."

When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

God then said, "What have you done?  Your brother's blood cried out to me from the ground!

Now you are banned from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.

If you till the ground, it shall no longer give you its produce.  You shall become a constant wanderer on the earth.

Cain said to the LORD:  "My punishment is too great to bear.  

Look, you have now banished me from the ground.  I must avoid you and be a constant wanderer on the earth.  Anyone may kill me at sight."

Not so! the LORD said to him.  If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged seven times.  So the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one would kill him at sight.

Cain then left the LORD's presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Descendants of Cain and Seth.

To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael; Mehujael became the father of Methusael, and Methusael became the father of Lamech.

Lamech took two wives; the name of the first was Adah, and the name of the second Zillah.

Adah gave birth to Jabal, who became the ancestor of those who dwell in tents and keep livestock.

His brother's name was Jubal, who became the ancestor of all who play the lyre and the reed pipe.

Zillah, on her part, gave birth to Tubalcain, the ancestor of all who forge instruments of bronze and iron.  The sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.  

Lamech said to his wives:

"Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; 
wives of Lamech, listen to my utterance:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for bruising me.

If Cain is avenged seven times,

then Lamech seventy-seven times."

Adam again had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth.  "God has granted me another offspring in place of Abel," she said, "because Cain killed him."

To Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named him Enosh.

At that time people began to invoke the LORD by name.

Genesis 5

Generations:  Adam to Noah.

This is the record of the descendants of Adam.  When God created human beings, he made them in the likeness of God;

he created them male and female.  When they were created, he blessed them and named them humankind.

Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when he begot a son in his likeness; after his image; and he named him Seth.

Adam lived eight hundred years after he begot Seth, and he had other sons and daughters.

The whole lifetime of Adam was nine hundred and thirty years; then he died.

When Seth was one hundred and five years old, he begot Enosh.

Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he begot Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters.

The whole lifetime of Seth was nine hundred and twelve years; then he died.

When Enosh was ninety years old, he begot Kenan.

Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years after he begot Kenan, and he had other sons daughters.  

The whole lifetime of Enosh was nine hundred and five years; then he died.

When Kenan was seventy years old, he begot Mahalalel.

Kenan lived eight hundred and forty years after he begot Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters.

The whole lifetime of Kenan was nine hundred and ten years; then he died.

When Mahalalel was sixty-five years old, he begot Jared.

Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years after he begot Jared, and he had other sons and daughters.

The whole lifetime of Mahalalel was eight hundred and ninety-five years; then he died.

When Jared was one hundred and sixty-two years old, he begot Enoch.

Jared lived eight hundred years after he begot Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters.

The whole lifetime of Jared was nine hundred and sixty-two years; then he died.

When Enoch was sixty-five years old, he begot Methuselah.

Enoch walked with God after he begot Methuselah for three hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters.

The whole lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years.

Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him.

When Methuselah was one hundred and eighty-seven years old, he begot Lamech.

Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years after he begot Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters.

The whole lifetime of Methuselah was nine hundred and sixty-nine years; then he died.

When Lamech was one hundred and eighty-two years old, he begot a son

and named him Noah, saying, "This one shall bring us relief from our work and the toil of our hands, out of the very ground that the LORD has put under a curse."

Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years after he begot Noah, and he had other sons and daughters.

The whole lifetime of Lamech was seven hundred and seventy-seven years; then he died.

When Noah was five hundred years old, he begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Genesis 6

Origin of the Nephilim.

When human beings began to grow numerous on the earth and daughters were born to them,

the sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of human beings were, and so they took for their wives whomever they pleased.

Then the LORD said:  My spirit shall not remain in human beings forever, because they are only flesh.  Their days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years.

The Nephilim appeared on earth in those days, as well as later, after the sons of God had intercourse with the daughters of human beings, who bore them sons.  They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.

Warning of the Flood.

When the LORD saw how great the wickedness of human beings was on hearth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but evil,

the LORD regretted making human beings on the earth, and his heart was grieved.

So the LORD said:  "I will wipe out from the earth the men whom I have created, and not only the men, but also the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air, for I am sorry that I made them."  But Noah found favor with the LORD.

These are the descendants of Noah.  Noah, a good man and blameless in that age, for he walked with God, begot three sons:  Shem, Ham and Japheth.  

In the eyes of God the earth was corrupt and full of lawlessness.  When God saw how corrupt the earth had become, since all mortals led depraved lives on earth, he said to Noah:  "I have decided to put an end to all mortals on earth; the earth is full of lawlessness because of them.  So I will destroy them and all life on earth.

Preparation for the Flood.
"Make yourself an ark of gopher wood, put various compartments in it, and cover it inside and out with pitch.  This is how you shall build it:  the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.  Make an opening for daylight in the ark, and finish the ark a cubit above it.  Put an entrance in the side of the ark, which you shall make with bottom, second and third decks.  I, on my part, am about to bring the flood [waters] on the earth, to destroy everywhere all creatures in which there is the breath of life; everyone on earth shall perish.  But with you I will establish my covenant; you and your sons, your wife and your sons' wives, shall go into the ark.  Of all other living creatures you shall bring tow into the ark, one male and one female, that you may keep them alive with you.  Of all kinds of birds, of all kinds of beasts, and of all kinds of creeping things, tow of each shall come into the ark with you, to stay alive.  Moreover, you are to provide yourself with all the food that is to be eaten, and store it away, that it may serve as provisions for you and for them."  This Noah did; he carried out all the commands that God gave him.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 1 - Genesis 1-3 - Bible in a Year

Genesis 1

The Story of Creation.
1In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth —
2 and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters—
3Then God said:  Let there be light, and there was light.
4God saw that the light was good. God then separated the light from the darkness.

5God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Evening came, and morning followed—the first day.

6Then God said: Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other.
7God made the dome, and it separated the water below the dome from the water above the dome. And so it happened.
8God called the dome “sky.” Evening came, and morning followed—the second day.

9Then God said: Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear. And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared.
10God called the dry land “earth,” and the basin of water he called “sea.” God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. And so it happened:
12the earth brought forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw that it was good.
13Evening came, and morning followed—the third day.

14Then God said: Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the seasons, the days and the years,
15and serve as lights in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth. And so it happened:
16God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night, and the stars.
17God set them in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth,
18to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good.
19Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day.
20 Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.
21God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of crawling living creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw that it was good,
22and God blessed them, saying: Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth.
23Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day.

24 Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: tame animals, crawling things, and every kind of wild animal. And so it happened:
25God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.

27God created mankind in his image;
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.
29 God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
30and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened.
31God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.

Genesis 2

1Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed.
2 On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.
3God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.


The Garden of Eden.
4This is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—
5there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the ground,
6but a stream was welling up out of the earth and watering all the surface of the ground—
7then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

8The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom he had formed.
9 Out of the ground the LORD God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10A river rises in Eden to water the garden; beyond there it divides and becomes four branches.
11The name of the first is the Pishon; it is the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
12The gold of that land is good; bdellium and lapis lazuli are also there.
13The name of the second river is the Gihon; it is the one that winds all through the land of Cush.
14The name of the third river is the Tigris; it is the one that flows east of Asshur. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

15The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.
16The LORD God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden
17except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die.

18The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.
19So the LORD God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name.
20The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.

21So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
22The LORD God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man,

23the man said:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called ‘woman,’
for out of man this one has been taken.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

25The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.

Genesis 3

Expulsion from Eden.
1Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?”
2The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
3 it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’”
4But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die!
5God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.”
6The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

8When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9The LORD God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you?
10He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.”
11Then God asked: Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat?

12The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.”

13The LORD God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”

14Then the LORD God said to the snake:

Because you have done this,
cursed are you
among all the animals, tame or wild;
On your belly you shall crawl,
and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.
15I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
They will strike at your head,
while you strike at their heel.

16To the woman he said:

I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.

17To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat from it,

Cursed is the ground because of you!
In toil you shall eat its yield
all the days of your life.
18Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you,
and you shall eat the grass of the field.
19By the sweat of your brow
you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.

20The man gave his wife the name “Eve,” because she was the mother of all the living.
21The LORD God made for the man and his wife garments of skin, with which he clothed them. 22Then the LORD God said: See! The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever?

23The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken.
24He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Don't forget about the FAITH part of Faith and Politics

It seems that people are very worried about the current political situation.  Tonight's Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has given many people cause to despair.  As Christians, let me ask you you have faith?

In my Catholic Biblical School course, my teacher pointed out that "God can use political circumstances for His own purposes," which got me to I believe that God is bigger than this election?  Do I believe that God can work in my life, in this country, even if our political situation is...well...what it is?  Do I believe?

If the answer is yes, that I do, in fact, believe in God's power, than there is no cause for despair.  I'm not saying that we shouldn't do what we can do to "help" Him (haha!  That's laughable!  As if WE could help Him!).  But we are called to act, to be active, and to do whatever we can to bring goodness to this world.  Part of that is learning about our politicians and voting wisely.  Part of that is raising questions, protesting immoral or unethical plans/behaviors/beliefs.  We have to do our part.  But if our country picks a leader who does not live up to our beliefs, does our faith hold?  Can we believe that God is bigger than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?

The world has been in this situation before.  Let me correct myself...the world has been in worse situations before.  Remember Pharaoh?  Remember Herod?  Remember what they couldn't do?  They could not stop God's plan from happening.  They could not stop God.

No, I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, or who is best to vote for, or who you shouldn't vote for.  I am also not going to tell you that this might be a year to not vote, either.  I'm going to let you make those horrible decisions for yourself.  I am going to tell you that Jesus tells us not to worry.  That He says that He brings peace.  He tells us not to fear.  Who are we to say otherwise?  

And please don't forget that the world has seen terrible, actually evil, leaders before, and yet, God has never failed to keep His promises.  

Faith is not just a feeling.  It is not just a belief.  Faith is an action.  It is a response to your belief.  Our faith must lead us to peace.  No, not just peace between police and people of color.  Not just peace between America and other countries.  Faith leads us to peace of heart.  Peace of mind.  Peace of soul.  Because neither Pharaoh, Herod, or more modern "evil leaders" like Hitler or Stalin, none of them have been able to kill a person's soul.  None of them have been able to stop a person from achieving heaven.  And yes, things have been bad with them.  And history will decide if these potential leaders will be "evil" or not.  But remember, they do not have the power the keep you from heaven.  If that doesn't bring you peace, why doesn't it?  Do you believe in heaven?  Truly?  Do you believe in God?  Do you believe?

And let us not forget...America is a country where we can make things happen.  We have rights.  We have freedom.  We have the ability to make change a reality.  We are not weak.  This situation is not hopeless.  This situation is not over.  Our country is still great.  Two people who happened to get lucky enough to run for president are not going to single-handedly bring this country down.  Let us ask God, once again, to bless the USA, and let us believe He will.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Scandalously Extravagant

As many of you know, I enjoy running.  I actually enjoy it.  I mean, sometimes it’s horrible and torturous, but for the most part, I like it.  Even when it’s difficult, actually.  When I have a bad run, I tend to get motivated to do better.  It’s weird.  I know.  But I like it.

Over the past several years, I have run several half-marathons.  So, in case you don’t know, a marathon is 26.2 miles, which makes a half marathon 13.1 miles.

Every time I have finished a half marathon, I have been so exhausted that I was very grateful that I didn’t sign up to run the whole thing, because I couldn’t imagine the type of pain and exhaustion that doing what I did TWICE is like.

But a little over a year ago, I put my mind to doing the training for a full marathon.  I created a schedule.  I mustered up a ton of internal discipline, and I started training for this big event.

The thing about marathon training is that it’s not just an endurance race.  Race day is only part of the marathon.  It’s only the LAST 26.2 miles.  There are a LOT of miles run before that day.  And that’s the hardest part.

So I started training.  I started running.  And I was doing really well.  And I was SO proud of myself.

The pain that I started to experience in my hip wasn’t really pain at first.  It was just, sort of annoying.  And it hurt the worst in the first part of my runs, but it diminished a lot by the end.  So I convinced myself that it was just tired, but that warming it up was good and important and all that was needed.

After a couple of weeks, I started to realize that this pain was actually more than just tired muscles.  But I wanted to be “hardcore,” and I wanted to do the race, so I decided to “run through the pain.”

I remember one run in particular.  I parked my car at the church, actually.  There is a trail right behind the church, and I was planning on running on the trail that day.  I started running, and the pain was incredible.  I couldn’t believe how much it hurt.  Now, the logical thing to do would have been to stop running, go home, ice it, take some Ibuprofen, and rest.  But there’s nothing logical about the decision to run 26.2 miles.  Not really.  And I didn’t go home.  I was afraid that taking a day off would hurt my momentum that I had been building.  And so, I ran.  Nine miles.  In pain.

The race always hurts. Expect it to hurt. You don't train so it doesn't hurt. You train so you can tolerate it.: It was that day when the pain became constant.  It was THAT run that did me in.  The pain wouldn’t go away.  It didn’t get better after I got warmed up.  I didn’t get better when I got done.

My calendar told me to run the next day.  And I did.  And it hurt.

I kept running, even though I KNEW that I needed rest.  I KNEW that I needed to do more cross-training, more stretching, and maybe, even for just a little while, a little less running.

But pride…stupid pride…told me that I couldn’t take a break.  Because taking a break was equivalent to quitting.  So I didn’t.  Until the pain got to be so bad that I could barely walk.  It hurt all the time.  It hurt terribly.  I got X-Rays, which told me nothing.  I knew there was no skeletal injury.   Eventually, I had to quit.  I thought that the damage might be permanent, because of how bad it was.  And it made me really really sad.


Doesn’t rest seem like a luxury?  
Be sure to take some "me-time" this year such as going to the #spa! It will help refresh your mind and body. #SPAugust:

Doesn’t rest seem scandalous?

We are all under a TON of pressure.  You might have pressure from teachers, colleges, and parents to get good grades and be good students.  You have pressure from your parents to be responsible and active participants in family events and life.  You have pressure from your bosses to work according to their schedules and their needs.  You have pressure from your friends to respond to their text messages quickly and enthusiastically.   To hang out and spend quality time together.  You have pressure you’re your coaches, music directors, etc. to show up to practice, to make it a priority, and to give 100%.  You have pressure from Richard, the Core Team and me, to attend Life Teen and to give your time to serve other teens in this community.  And this list here is only a small list of all of the ways you are pressured on a regular basis.

And so, with all of these pressures, it makes total sense that the first thing to go is rest.  Sleep.  Because the only thing pressuring you to sleep is your body.  And the only thing pressuring you to rest is your mind.  It’s EASIEST to let yourself down than it is to let someone else down.  Self-care is seen as selfish.  And so, you sacrifice to make sure that all of those things that are pressuring you, all those PEOPLE who are pressuring you to give your time and energy are content.

And yet, they never seem to be.  No matter how much time and energy you give, there will always be a demand for your time.  And energy.

Our culture loves busy-ness so much.  It’s almost a status symbol to be as busy as possible.  We practically glorify those who get too little sleep.

But, rest is important.  God actually thinks it’s so important that He designated an entire day for us to rest.   And when we don’t rest, our bodies get injured, or sick, and our bodies MAKE us take breaks.

See, it’s easy to say that our bodies are just our bodies, and that they can take a lack of sleep and rest, but it’s not that simple.  We are not just bodies.  And we are not just souls.  Pope Saint John Paul II said that we are body-souls.  Don’t think for a second that the way you treat your body doesn’t affect your soul.  Of course it does!  It has to!

For me, when I am especially exhausted, I have a really difficult time praying.  And it doesn’t just have to be physical exhaustion.  In the last four months since my dad died, I have to admit that the most accurate word that I have to describe my grieving process is that I’ve just been tired.  Physically.  Emotionally.  Mentally.  And yes, spiritually.  It’s not necessarily because of a lack of sleep.  It’s because of a lack of rest.  I feel like that's the only thing on my mind.  It's all I want to talk about.  And it's exhausting to not.  I feel guilty when people like my volunteers complain that they didn't get their Christmas party this year, or their big planning meeting that was supposed to take place during the time when I was dealing with his death.  And that guilt makes me...guess what?  Tired!  I experience it mostly as a lack of spiritual rest.  When we don’t allow our souls to rest with God, we get exhausted.  Rest is always healing.  Restorative.  And we need that in all aspects of our lives.

Find rest in the Lord. It is there.: That’s not to say that work is inherently bad or evil.  Work and rest don’t have to oppose each other necessarily.  And laziness and rest don’t have to be interchangeable, either.  God tells us to rest, not to be lazy.  In fact, laziness, or SLOTH, is one of the seven deadly sins!  He doesn’t tell us to give up work.  Certain kinds of work can be really restful.  For me, actually, (when I’m not over-doing it), running is a restful activity.  It works my body, but it rests my mind.  And it rests my soul.  Especially when I see something beautiful or good on my run.  I love when I run at sunset or sunrise, because it’s lovely.  I love when I run on 80th over the bridge that goes over highway 36, because I get an amazing view of the mountains when I’m going west, and of Denver when I’m going east.  And I always use that time to let my soul be renewed.

Three Rivers Deep | elemental book series  "A two-souled girl begins a journey of self-discovery..."   READ MORE @ Several years ago, when I was working on getting my certificate in youth ministry, we started the day in prayer, and the instructor gave us the direction to ask God to show us how He sees us.  So I did this, and I say very clearly a daisy, which is my favorite flower.  At first, I thought that it was just because daisies are my favorite, and because God was telling me that I am His favorite (just like all of His kids are His favorites).  But the longer I looked at this flower, the more I realized that God loves me for the same reason that I love that flower.  See, a daisy doesn’t DO anything for me.  It doesn’t keep me company when I’m lonely.  It doesn’t give me money when I need or want something.  It doesn’t make me laugh with its sense of humor.  All it does is…it BE’s.  It "be’s "itself, exactly as God created it.  And I think that it’s beautiful.  And it makes me happy.

God doesn’t love me because of what I do.  He can’t love me anymore if I am good, or any less if I am bad, because He IS love itself.  He loves me because I am me.  I am who He created me to be.  I am a red-head.  I like Disney movies.  I like country music.  He loves me…because He created me the way that I am.  And there’s nothing I can do to change that.

When I learned this, I felt so much freedom.  I felt FREE to rest with Him, because I felt like it was ok that I can’t do it all.  I don’t have to.  And it’s very healing.

Rest is scandalous, because busy-ness is the mark of an important person…to other people.  Rest is extravagant.  We spend great amounts of time working and saving money to take a vacation just so we can rest.  We wear ourselves out just so we can rest.  We think of rich people as people who rest.  Retired people rest.

But God says that rest is blessed.  We are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS.  And it’s ok to BE with God.  And we are all called to rest.  It’s good for the body.  For the mind.  AND for the soul.

Sit in silence sometime.  Clear your mind.  It's not as easy to do as it seems like it should be.  But ask God to help you.  Let Him restore your soul.  Maybe you'll have to give something up in order to make that happen.  That's ok.  Trust that He'll take care of that. 

Here's a link to an interesting blog post.  Not at all spiritual, but still helpful: