Steve & Betty

Sharing the Good News of Jesus!

Resolution


I stand at the edge of the end, excited about the soon coming beginning.

Thankful for all that has been, for it has caused me to open like an aging, but still fragrant rose.

 My openness has enabled me to see each day as a gift; a sweet-smelling gift from God to share with whomever I meet.

To share with whomever is in need of a kind word, a smile or understanding; a bit of myrrh or frankincense.

I have no need to force change on those needy souls, as time changes us all.

My only mission and challenge is to love and embrace them just as they are.

Yes, I stand at the edge of the end and breathe in the aroma of a new beginning.

Thankful for what is to come.

 

 Shalom and Happy New Year…………….Betty


Eyes Full Of Mercy

Last New Year’s Eve my  Resolution for 2011 was a scripture, ” To love the Lord (My) God with all my heart and (My) neighbor as myself. “Mark 12:30 and 31  I really tried to put this into practice throughout the year, but discovered that this is not an easy thing to do.  I truly believe that this is a worthy resolution and one that I need to continue applying  this year. I think that I may have recently discovered a key that will help me in being more successful in reaching this goal in 2012.

The Friday before Christmas I was visiting with my daughter and granddaughters. I went upstairs with Cooper, one of my granddaughters who needed  some help  making her bunk-beds and straightening up. As we were putting clothes on hangers, a very loud vehicle passed the house, turned around in the cul de sac, passed the house again and then parked in front of a house down the street.  My granddaughters’ reaction was surprising, as she has such a sweet loving spirit. “I hate that guy! He always does that. He drives up and down the street making so much noise.”  My response to her was that “hate” was a very strong word and that I was sure that although his behavior was upsetting to her, she really did not hate him.

My youngest granddaughter, Cassi, was also in the room. As you know from previous postings, she has taught me much and the words that came out of her mouth that morning were the key to my understanding why I had not been as successful keeping my 2011 New Year’s Resolution, as I had hoped to.

“Cooper”, she said kindly, ” Maybe he is just learning to drive and is practicing. He can’t help it that his car is old”.

What was the key? MERCY! Cassi saw beyond the noise of his car and offered him MERCY.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Michah 6:8

So in 2012, I hope to be able to see everyone who I am attempting to love as myself, with Cassi’s eyes, eyes full of Mercy.

Shalom……………Betty

“Why I Celebrate Hanukkah”

I am often asked why I celebrate Hanukkah if I am a follower of Jesus? My answer is simply this, because I am a follower of Jesus, I celebrate Hanukkah.

In John 10:22 , we read that Jesus himself went down to Jerusalem to celebrated the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah, “Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade”. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”. To me, this clearly says that Jesus not only did not do away with what was important to his people, but he added a greater dimension and purpose for them as Messiah.

Now for a brief history lesson for those who may not be familiar with Hanukkah. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean revolt of the 2nd century BCE. This successful revolt was against the Syrian-Greek Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes following his murderous rampage against the Jewish people and his desecration of the Temple. According to the Talmud,the temple was purified and the wicks of the Menorah burned for the 8 days required for the purification ceremony, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one days light.

Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days and begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev and ends on the 2nd of Tevet in the Hebrew calendar. This year, 2011, Hanukkah will begin at sundown on December 20 and end at sundown on December 28. A special candelabra, called a Menorah, is used for Hanukkah. It holds 9 candles. The candle in the center, and usually a little higher than the others, is called the Shamash. This candle is used to light each of the others on the appropriate nights. As the candles are lit, a special blessing is said. Then the Menorah is placed in a prominent place so that it can be seen; usually a window.

Now to share with you how I came to celebrate Hanukkah as a follower of Jesus. Several years ago I began studying our roots, as believers in Jesus (Yeshua),in the Jewish faith. Consequently, I studied the Feast days during this period and learned that these are days that God set aside as appointed times to meet with Him….and that He never removed them. With the coming of Messiah they were made complete, but not removed. Now, Hanukkah is not one of those Feasts set aside by God, but it was important enough for Jesus to celebrate. And if it was important enough for Him to celebrate, did that also mean it was for me? Thus began my journey.

As I began to meditate on the meaning of Hanukkah, the commemoration of the dedication of the temple and the important symbolism of the candles in the Menorah, especially the Shamash, God began to speak to me through His word.

In John 8:10 we read this,

  • When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

And in Matthew 5:14, speaking to his followers, He said this,

  • You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can not be hidden”

And in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 6, Paul wrote these words,

  • For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 3, verses 16 and 17, Paul said,

  • Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple”.

Some of you may already see where I am going with this, but for those who do not, let me show you what God revealed to me in these scriptures and in so many more in His Word.

  1. First of all, the Shamash was revealed to me as representing Messiah Jesus (Yeshua).

  2. The other 8 candles represented me,(and you)as a follower of Jesus. By the way in Biblical Numerology the #8 represents a new beginning, a new order of things, new creation, new birth and the resurrection to eternal life.

  3. The first Hanukkah was a celebration of the dedication and cleansing of the Holy Temple back to God, after it had been desecrated by the evil Antiochus IV Epiphanes. We, as followers of Jesus, are the Living Temple of God; God’s Spirit dwells within each of us.

  4. And since God’s Spirit dwells within us, we are to be His light to the world dispelling darkness and celebrating the miracle of Messiah.

Taking all of this into account, I came to the conclusion that Hanukkah is for the Believer in Jesus and this is how I celebrate it.

  1. On the first night of Hanukkah, I place a candle in the place for the Shamash and a candle in the far right spot on the Menorah. I light the Shamash.

  2. I then light the candle on the far right using the Shamash. Then I pray a prayer something like this. “Father God I thank you for the gift of eternal life through your Son, my Savior, Yeshua. I thank you for the light that shines in my life because of Him. Yeshua, as I light this first candle I ask you to shine your light into my heart and reveal to me anything that is not of you and that prevents me from being all you want me to be. I ask that your light in me will shine so brightly that those who know me will come to know you. I repent of any thing that separates me from you and I thank you for newness of life in you.  Amen “

  3. I then place the Menorah in a window to symbolize the Light of Christ shining in my heart (temple) to a lost world.

  4. The next night, I place fresh candles in the Shamash and the 2 spaces on the right. After lighting the Shamash I light the candles I placed on the right with the Shamash. I then pray a similar prayer or whatever Holy Spirit leads me to pray. Then I place the Menorah in the window and allow the candles to burn out.

  5. Each night thereafter, I place fresh candles and add one until the 8 days of Hanukkah is complete.

At the end of these 8 days of rededication and repentance, I find that I am renewed, remember the meaning of the number 8, and am ready and able to fulfill the command of Jesus in Matthew 5:16, “……let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”.

So, this is why I, a follower of Jesus, celebrated Hanukkah.

Shalom……..Betty

“Every Knee Shall Bow”

The sky was deep blue and crystal clear. The air was crisp and cool with a hint of woodsmoke from early morning fires. I was filled with a sense of peace, as I drove west on 441 through Mount Dora and Eustis. Cassi, my 3 year old granddaughter, and I were on our way to the Downtown Eustis park, one of our favorite Friday play places.
From her car seat in the back I could hear her talking to her imaginary friend,Sally. Her little voice, as usual caused me to smile, as she shared 3 year old incite with Sally. Then she asked me, “Bebe, where’s Jesus?” I realized that in that exact spot the previous week I had shared with her that Jesus was with us all the time. Now she picked up that train of thought, as though we were still carrying on that conversation. My response to her was, “He’s with us right now, Cassi. We can’t see him, but he is here, and we love him so much, don’t we?” She responded with, “Yes, and we love Santa Clause too!” With a little laugh, I answered, ” Yes, we do, Baby?”
I’ve been mulling this conversation over and over in my head trying to determine why Cassi connected loving Jesus with loving Santa Claus. What conversation had she overheard that made this connection for her? Were they of equal importance in her little mind? Had we been talking so much about “Santa’s coming to town” that she now understood Jesus and Santa to be on the same level of significance? Had I demoted God to the level of Santa Claus?

She’s only 3 and her understanding of Jesus comes from what she has heard those older than her share. She doesn’t understand the Trinity, but then few of us do. She knows that Jesus loves us and that we talk (pray) to him about our needs and concerns. She doesn’t yet understand John 3:16, but she does understand that when things aren’t going right we go to Jesus (God) and talk to him about it. She understands that we thank Jesus for the blessings in our life. All this is good, but is it enough if she understands Jesus and Santa to be worthy of the same kind of love.

I want my granddaughters to understand that Jesus is the truth, the life and the way. That apart from him NOTHING ELSE matters. I want them to love him because he is God, not for what he has done, or what he will do. So now I ask myself what can I do to help them, and in this case, Cassi, understand His Majesty?

My Cassi is now 4 years old but this is still my mission…………..

Shalom, Betty
Originally Posted in 2010 in my blog: Bebe’s Blog

New Paths versus Old Paths

As we spoke, the small middle-aged man in the wheel chair told me,  “My parents taught me never to trust anybody.”

“Nobody?” I asked.

“Yes, nobody.” He answered.

“Life can be like a hot iron leaving scars on us when we accidentally touch it.” As I sat alone in the reception area, that thought came to me as I contemplated what this man had shared with me that morning. Yes, sometimes the marks left on us in childhood last a lifetime. But do they have to?  Do we have to allow these marks we received as vulnerable children to become ugly scars?

Why did this stranger open up to me as he had?  Was it because I recognized him as a person and not just a person in a wheel chair? I’m not sure, but I believe the Spirit of God within me was noticed by him, enabling him to open up.  He probably wasn’t even aware of God’s presence, but God was aware of him.

God chose to use this chance meeting of two people to begin to draw him out of himself. Like the venom from a snake bite the “poison” of our lives does not have to remain with us. God wants to draw it out. He has great pity on us and wants us to be whole and healthy.  He wants us to be filled with hope, expectation, joy, laughter and a willingness to try something new.

Why do we follow our old ways of doing things? Is it because it is a path, like a well worn path through the forest, that is easy to follow and takes no effort?  Any new path is a little frightening.  What if we get lost? It’s not well traveled and who knows what strange things we may encounter. But we must remember that the old path will take us right back to old familiar places with all of  their problems.

Is this what God wants for us?  No! He wants us to follow new paths in the hope of  finding  better results.  If we don’t we will find that we are like this man in the wheel chair. Locked in our past and unwilling to move on.

 

Shalom,  Steve

 

 

“Loving From A Distance”

I looked down and saw a pair of turquoise eyes looking up at me. As I walked through the house doing chores, he followed me from room to room. Each time I stopped, so did he and looked up adoringly with those gorgeous eyes of his.  That Miney, my sweet cat, loves me, is indisputable, but behind those beautiful eyes and inspite of his love, I still see his fear and lack of trust. Each time I attempt to caress him he dashes off and watches me from a safe place. Miney knows that I am the one who feeds him  and makes sure his water bowl is full. I’m the one who gives him the special treats he loves so much.  And he loves to be in my presence as long, as I don’t get to close.

Am I like Miney, Lord? Do I love you sometimes from a distance? Do I look at you adoringly, but fearfully? Am I grateful for all that you give me,  yet run when you want to give me a special caress?

Trust! That’s what it is all about…..Miney loves me, but he just can’t bring himself to fully trust me. This breaks my heart, for he is one of three feral kittens I rescued from sure death two years ago and still he doesn’t trust me.

I was rescued too!  When I was heading down a path that led to total destruction, God reached down and changed my course. I love him so much, but I’m still working on trust.

One of these days I’m hoping that my Miney will trust me enough to curl up in my lap, like his brother and sister, Eeny Meeny and MoMo. I have a feeling that God, is saying the same thing to me. “Come on Betty. Just climb up here and let me hold you closely.”

Is He possibly saying the same thing to you?

Shalom……..Betty

“Ribbons, Bows and Beautiful Toes”

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Everybody has gift giving on their minds. Special gifts in special boxes, wrapped in unique, colorful paper, ribbons artfully displayed and bows attached with great love.

Of course, we humans aren’t the only gift givers. Our heavenly Father gives many “gifts” too.  When God gives a gift, He gives it with an eternal purpose in mind. He want us to use it, not put it on a shelf and forget about it. No matter our social status, our education or lack of it or any thing  else that makes us who we are, God  graciously gives  “gifts” to everyone and He wants  us to use these “gifts” to show His glory to others.

One special gift He gives each of us  is our lives. This includes our bodies, souls and spirits, which work together to bring forth personalities that express our individuality.  He created us to be special and unique, from our finger prints to our beautiful toes.  Yes, our toes! Those ten appendages that keep us balanced as we walk are beautifully designed gifts.

He has also given each of us talent.  Some of these are visible and others not so obvious, but each of us has been given a “special package” wrapped with us in mind. At birth we are handed these “gifts” and as we get older God shows us what special things He has for us to do with our unique “gifts” .

Just like children we often see the gift someone else has been given and think that it is better than ours.  We think their “gift” is more attractive and want it instead of the “gift” designed with us in mind. As we become more mature in understanding God’s plan for us, we are able to see, as we “unwrap our gifts”, the revelation of what He has given and what He wants us to do with these “Gifts” to glorify Him.

So this year as we unwrap the gifts we receive, let us remember the unique “gifts” God has given us. Let’s thank Him for these amazing “gifts” and stop looking at what He has given to someone else. We can’t  use the gift we’ve been given while looking at the “gift” in the other person’s hand. I need this reminder from time to time.

Shalom…..Steve

“Please Don’t Feed The Animals!”

The sign at the zoo said, “Please Don’t Feed The Animals!”   Why?  Well, they require a special diet, of course and the zoo doesn’t want anyone losing a hand  while feeding the lions or getting an unwanted bear hug.

We, as Christians, are sometimes like caged animals when going through difficulties and not completely believing that  God will help us through that trial. God brought this thought to my mind not to long ago after going through many months of looking for work.  I had the overwhelming feeling of being stuck in one place and not able to get  out. That sounds like a cage doesn’t it, so now you know why I said, sometimes Christians are like caged animals….. Guess I felt trapped too.

Later that same week I received a phone message on my answer machine. ” Steve”, the voice said, “I have a few suggestions that might help you in looking for work”.

WHAT SUGGESTIONS???  I’d been on the computer daily!  I had a stack of resumes about 1 inch thick, which I had sent out and I had followed up on every lead I had been given! What more could I do?

I guess I sounded like I was growling a bit, didn’t I?  But deep within I realized that I needed a little help and this friendly voice was encouraging. This person who called  disregarded the sign that read, “Please Don’t Feed The Animals!”. Why did she take a chance reaching into my “cage”?  In all my frustration I might have “bitten” her badly, but the Holy Spirit boldly gave her the confidence to call anyway.

Thank you Lord for those who unselfishly reach out to others and put themselves in a vulnerable place of possible rejection. Lord, I thank you for those who risk it all and  “”Do Feed The Animals!”

 

Shalom……Steve

 

“It’s Okay!”


We, as humans, have a great love for our pets. If one of our pets becomes frightened we do our best to calm them down. We once had a dog, a golden retriever, who knew when a storm was brewing. She was terrified of the thunder and lightening. She would put her head under the couch waiting for the storm and then tremble when it came. Of course we, if we could, would have done anything to alleviate her fears.

I have a cat who has an unsettled look on her face from time to time. Sometimes she hears thing that frighten her. I find myself telling her, “It’s okay.” Sometimes stroking her head or holding her in conjunction to my saying, “It’s okay.”

I was thinking about this today. Doesn’t God do the same for us? Doesn’t he say, “Be not afraid. Be at peace.” We, as his children, often become frightened of wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famine, economic failure and everyday anxiety. The television news is enough to keep us in a state of perpetual fear. But God wants us to remember his words, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.”. And if we listen…….. really pay close attention to his voice, we will hear him say, “It’s okay… it’s okay my child… be not afraid.”

Shalom……Steve

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