DAY 28 – A Cause Worth Fighting For

28 ELUL

The High Holy Days are rapidly approaching – just one short day away. The Shofar has been blowing every day of Elul. Are we prepared for the Days of Awe or are we still warring within? Are we fighting the GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH or are we fighting to STAY JUST THE WAY WE ARE?

Have we done the hardwork of repentance and reconciliation or are we still waiting for someone else to make the first move?  Has the blast of the Shofar weakened our stony hearts, loosened the bitter roots and brought us to a broken and contrite spirit?

L-rd have mercy. The call to Teshuvah has been ringing loud and clear.   Let us consider where we are on the journey home:

1. Stop the behavior (sin, attitude)
2. Regret the sin
3. Confess the sin
4. Resolve never to do it again

STEP FOUR: RESOLVE (To remove all excuses and options for hardness of heart from your mind)

Beginning again, with a fresh resolve in the heart to do things differently:

  • Reconnects us to our Creator
  • Heals the soul and
  • Repairs the world

Even if your efforts have been futile in the past, never weary of trying. Learn from the past mistakes, and start all over again wiser than before. Tikkum O’lam (The Healing of the World) is a worthy cause. It is Hashem’s cause.

DON’T GIVE UP – YESHUA HAS NOT.

Hebrews 4:14-16 |  14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

DAY 27 – Between You and Me

27 Elul

It really pains my heart to see us step over one another under the guise of making peace with  G-d.  Possibly just possibly – the peace we are seeking is in the hard work of reconciliation we are avoiding.

Don’t be afraid.  Do the hard work.  Maybe we need to take the roadless traveled and meet up with someone on their rocky road of dealing with us.    Not everyone will reciprocate the effort.  No worries …  IF we have done all we can to make things right (Matthew 18:15-17).

Let’s do the hard work.

Make peace and Make Our Father’s Heart Proud.

IF we master the art of making peace,

perhaps we will also become known as (aka) the  Children of God.

DC TALK – Just Between you and me 

Sorrow is a lonely feeling
Unsettled is a painful place
I’ve lived with both for far too long now
Since we’ve parted ways

I’ve been wrestling with my conscience
And I found myself to blame
If there’s to be any resolution
I’ve got to peel my pride away

(chorus)
Just between you and me
I’ve got something’ to say
Wanna get it straight
Before the sun goes down

Just between you and me
Confession needs to be made
Recompense is my way to freedom now
Just between you and me
I’ve got something to say

Confession is the road to healing
Forgiveness is the promised land
I’m reaching out in my conviction
I’m longing to make amends

So, I’m sorry for the words I’ve spoken
For I’ve betrayed a friend
We’ve got a love that’s worth preserving
And a bond I will defend

(repeat chorus)

In my pursuit of God, I thirst for holiness
As I approach the Son, I must consider this
Offenses unresolved, they’ll keep me from the throne
Before I go to Him my wrong must be atoned

If there’s to be any resolution
I’ve got to peel this pride away

Just between you and me
I’ve got something’ to say
Wanna get it straight
Before the sun goes down

Just between you and me
Confession needs to be made
Recompense is my way to freedom
It’s my way to freedom

It’s my way to freedom (2x)
I’ve got something to say, so let me say it today
It’s my way to freedom (2x)
I’ve got something to say, confession needs to be made
It’s my way to freedom (2x)
I’ve got something to say, confession needs to be made
It’s my way to freedom (2x)
I’ve got something to say…

DAY 26 – “Still Warring…?”

26 ELUL

Reconciliation can be a complicated process and most of us, don’t know how to do it very well.   Our fears, memories and propensity for “doing what we have always done” can hinder the healing process in a relationship.  I believe the following story illustrates this point.

STARTING AGAIN

Two men come to a rabbi asking for help to settle a problem.

Both are angry at each other and neither will apologize.

The rabbi says:

   OK, at the count of 3, both of you extend your hands and shake.

   OK, 1, 2, 3.

Very good, says the rabbi but now you have to say something.

   In Judaism it’s not enough to just shake.

   Now which one of you will say something to the other?

OK, said one man, I’ll start.

      I wish for you everything in the new year that you wish for me.

The other man responds:

      You see, Rabbi, he’s starting up again.

-Author unknown

Resolve with all of your heart to “startup again” the right way.

Romans 12:17, 18 |  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Day 25 – What Part of Go Take Care of It, Don’t You Understand? Part 2

25 Elul 5769

“What Part of Go Take Care of It, Don’t You Understand?”  Part 2

Matthew 5:23-24 (The Message Bible)  This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters.  If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right.  Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

As we moved into early fall, our conversations began to unthaw but not before, we had a short verbal sparring which startled me.  Fortunately, my husband who was in the other room heard our exchange and was able to offer some objectivity to the situation after she left.

I began by saying, “Did you hear that?”  Her response surprised me but Mike’s answer offended me.  I could not believe what I was hearing.   My husband of just shy of five years, was telling me that (based on the conversation he had heard from the other room), I may be the reason why my BFF had responded to me negatively and abruptly ended the conversation.

He went on to say, “I know what you were trying to say but the way you were saying it, seemed to dismiss her idea – like yours was more important.

 I came into the living room, looking for support (not feedback).  What I got instead was – an unbiased, objective perspective AND IT WAS MOST UNWELCOMED – on my part.  (No, he di’int just take her side!)

The little weeds of hurt that were planted in my heart during the summer of silence had sprouted into fiery bitter darts.   Oh, I was mad and fully offended.   (Who died and made him almighty communicator?)  Mike says that he still remembers the look I gave him. As, he should… 😉

I fumed for hours but had to concede that my husband loved me and meant me no harm.  And the BFF – well… we considered her a beloved member of the family.  So now what do I do?

In my heart, I kept hearing “What part of go take care of it, don’t you understand?”  I had to go make things right on my end.  It was my turn to apologize for hurting her. Not my intention but that was her experience and I was truly sorry.

Shortly after we did meet and talk things out.   What was obvious to her – “something she felt I should have known” unfortunately was not obvious to me.  It took a verbal sparring on the back porch (a week before) to bring the hurt and pain we were both still feeling up to the surface.   The passage of time (during the summer) had not healed the wounds.  Making nice and tip toeing around our conversations did not fix the problem.  Healing came when we both came together in humility to remove the offenses that threatened to destroy our friendship.  It was not easy but it was worth it.

Do you hear the shofar sounding… “What part of go take care of it – don’t you understand?” 

We can’t assume people know, that they are hurting us.  Nor can we assume people KNOW how to tell us that they are hurting because of something we said or did.  It works both ways. 

Whoever is at the altar (hopefully it’s both of us) and remembers or has some inkling that something may be amiss – leave your gift (G-d will still be there) and go be reconciled with your friend or loved one.  It may be a rough road ahead.  You may have to come to terms with some things about yourself that’s OBVIOUS to others but a blind spot for you. 

Our Heavenly Father is serious about relationships and expects us to treat one another with love, respect, dignity and understanding.   We are HIS children and as such, His Ambassadors.   Reach out to someone who has hurt you or you have hurt and do the work of reconciliation.   Partner with G-d in the Healing of the World.

It will make His Heart Smile.

Day 24 – What Part of Go Take Care of It, Don’t You Understand? Part 1

24 Elul 5769

”What Part of Go Take Care of It – Don’t You Understand?” Part 1

One Memorial Day weekend many years ago, my BFF (best friend forever) unplugged “without warning”, and decided not to communicate with me. She would not answer or return my calls. As a result, I had no clue regarding what I had done to warrant the silent treatment. I prayed continuously about the situation and asked the Lord to show me what I did wrong and how to make it right.

I began reading Matthew 5:23-24 | Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

This scripture was challenging for me NOT because I didn’t want to make things right but because I would gladly make things right, if I had the chance.   I would gladly leave my gift at the altar –  but she refused to have anything to do with me.

We had never had a cross word or a vicious disagreement. So I was left with the mystery of figuring it out. But that was driving me crazy. I finally stopped trying to defend myself in the courtroom of my mind and concluded that I was innocent until my friend revealed the charges against me.  I eventually accepted the situation as it was while still mourning the loss of my friend. As the summer came to end, my BFF began coming around again but she never mentioned the summer silence.

Although, I was glad to see her, it was obvious things had changed between us. The conversations were short, safe and shallow. The deep hearty shared laughter of the past was no more to be found in our company. We were cautious and I was jaded. I didn’t want to bring up anything that would trigger the door on our friendship closing forever but it was also tiresome not knowing how all this began in the first place.

I was still challenged by the scripture in Matthew and kept hearing in my heart – you need to talk to her. “What part of go take care of it, don’t you understand?” 

My response, I will… tomorrow.  ( I didn’t really mean tomorrow just some time in the future).

(To be continued)

Day 14 – “Rough Road Ahead” – Part 2

14 Elul

I was somewhat surprised at the responses from the poll.  The majority of you said you would “Forge Ahead.”  A few of you said, you would “pray” and one person said they would never have taken the road less travelled.  I actually thought the vast majority would avoid the road altogether.  So thank you for your responses, I now know that my choice was a “very human one.” (lol)   But there is a message in this.  Let’s take another look at this sign – ROUGH ROAD AHEAD.

Originally, when we first encountered this sign it was in pristine condition. A couple of years ago, we drove up again and this was the condition it was in. It looked as though someone had unleashed their fury on its face – which I could understand BECAUSE ROUGH ROAD AHEAD – really meant ROUGH ROAD AHEAD.

The wide opening narrowed to a one lane road – spiraling downhill. There was no room for changing your mind unless you wanted to experience the rush of falling off of a cliff and careening into the abyss below. The die had been cast and there was no turning back. When we finally reached the bottom, we found ourselves in a wide open desert like valley – surrounded by mountains. There were no sounds or signs of life. It was as though the animals were even whispering “Go Back, Go Back.”

Olivia and I sat terrified in the cockpit as the Dodge Caravan slowly crawled over the rocky terrain. There was evidence of off-roading activity in the distance past but the minivan was not up for the challenge. And as you guessed it, no cell phone reception. We were truly in the middle of nowhere and all I could do was persist on this road that now seemed to lead to nowhere with my only guide – the van’s built in pre-GPS compass pointing west.

~~~~~~

I began considering what a horrible predicament I had placed my family in and began to repent. “Lord, I am so sorry… please don’t let my children suffer from my stupid decision. Why didn’t I believe the sign? It said Rough Road Ahead. I apologized to Olivia and we prayed for G-d to guide us out of this apparent land of the lost. I “vowed never” to do this again. The only two experiencing perfect peace were the little ones sleeping soundly in their car seats, seeming to enjoy the continuous swaying and rocking as if they were back in the womb.

What was supposed to be two hours at the most became a six hour voyage into the night – the sun long gone with the light of the moon now our celestial flashlight. We finally came across a woman driving in the opposite direction. She informed us that we were on an Indian reservation and that Highway 33 was another eight miles west.  Gratefully we made it back to civilization but not before nearly hitting a deer and a coyote.

~~~~

What are the rough roads ahead for you?  A relationship others have said is not good for you?  The ambition for work that maybe separating you from G-d and those you love?  The piece of your heart that you still haven’t quite surrendered to the L-rd?  Selfishness, envy, laziness, lack of self-control?  We all have our paths that have been ordained – some of the rough roads are “G-d ordained” a part of His training and character development.  Some of the rough roads are a result of our rebellion.  We just don’t believe “RRA (Rough Road Ahead)” applies to us.

Regardless of the reason, you may be on the rough road – G-d always has a plan for bringing us to that place where we come face to face with our Creator and nakedly with ourselves. 

The shofar is sounding!  Are you up for the ride?

Proverbs 3:11-12 (Amplified Bible)| 

11My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastening of the Lord [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof, 12For whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

Day 13 – “Rough Road Ahead” – Part 1

13 ELUL 5769

We cannot partner with G-d in the healing of the world, if we are not experiencing healing and wholeness ourselves.  Indeed, personal change precedes reconciliation with others.  The work of healing the world begins with doing the hard work first on ourselves AND the daily sounding of the shofar during the days leading up to the High Holy Days is a reminder of this crucial reality.

We are all prone to messing up – it’s the human way.  We just don’t get it right all of the time.  Sometimes our mess ups are due to ignorance, sometimes stupidity – as we ignore the signs around us and other times due to straight up rebellion.   G-d has given us specific directions regarding how to live.    Are we paying attention to the signs all along the road of our lives or are we convinced that our way is the right way even when the facts contradict us?

Several years ago, the girls and I took a road trip to Sacramento.  On the way home, we planned to stop in Oxnard and have dinner with some friends.  As I traveled down I-5, I began to wonder if there was a “faster” way to my destination.  The small towns running parallel with the highway seemed to offer possibilities of a “secret passage way” through the mountains if I was up for the adventure.  I took out my map and could see that there was a highway that would lead me through the mountains to Hwy 101.  Cool!  With a full tank of gas and full tummies, I ventured onto the scenic roads less traveled.

800px-SR33-Pinos

All was going great.  I followed the directions on the map and we were making progress – we would make it to Oxnard in about 60-90 minutes.  It was about three o’clock in the afternoon when we reached the “highway” that would lead us to the “promised land.”  What I wasn’t prepared for was the sign at the entrance of the road leading to State Highway 33.  Take a look.

Rough Road Ahead - 6

Now what would you have done, if you had seen this sign – Rough Road Ahead?  Remember, according to the map, we are half way to our destination.  Less than a couple of hours away are the sandy beaches, the hotel, our good friends and the beautiful Southern California sunset.

Isaiah 53:6 NLT| All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.

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