A Child Has Been Born

April 26, 2019: Isaiah 9, 17; 2 Kings 17.

I don’t know if you picked up on it but I love to read! I read several books at once. There’s the…

  • Living room, there’s nothing on TV, book.
  • Bedroom book to relax with.
  • Bathroom book, boring but important.
  • Office book to study and take notes from.
  • ebook for the drives to Mt. Pleasant.

(“Girl, Wash Your Face” was an ebook I downloaded from the “Libby” app.)

My office study book today is “To Your Children’s Children – Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come” by Bob Greene and D. G. Fulford. I got up at 5 am to work on my family history. Today’s question? “How many children do you have?”

I wrote for 2 hours.

I explained the meanings of our children’s names. I recorded the relatives who share their names. I told their due dates and birthdays. I wrote about almost losing our daughter in my 7th month and the 3-1/2 weeks of bed rest. Then the 11 hospital admissions and 5 months bed rest to safely deliver our youngest son. Having a baby is the most joyful, scary, exhilarating, painful, exciting, fulfilling experience of your life!

Now that they are grown I’m thrilled with their accomplishments. I am one proud Mama Fish!

God was proud of His Son. He told us everything He would be 700 years before He was born.

“Most of the events referred to in chs. 1-39 occurred during Isaiah’s ministry (see 6:1; 14:28; 36:1), so these chapters may have been completed not long after 701 BC, the year the Assyrian army was destroyed…” New International Version Study Bible Introduction to Isaiah

* * * * * * *

Isaiah 9:6, “For a child has been born – for us! the gift of a son – for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.” The Message

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Ask Anything

April 25, 2019: 2 Chronicles 28; Isaiah 7, 8.

I just finished the book, “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis. I made a list of the lies I’ve believed.

  • I’ll start tomorrow.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m better than you.
  • No is the final answer.
  • I should be further along by now.
  • I’m a terrible writer.
  • I will never get past this.
  • I can’t tell the truth.
  • I’m defined by my weight.

These lies are the opposite of what the Bible says. God also says, “Ask anything.” I started praying for followers. God sent 16 on Instagram last week. Woo-Hoo!

Isaiah 7:11, “Ask for a sign from your God. Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!” The Message

There are several ways to make money blogging. When I’ve brought the opportunities to God, He said no. Even the small things I tried, like AdWords, came up empty.

In spite of that, since I started blogging we have:

  1. Paid off our credit cards.
  2. Paid off the medical bills.
  3. Paid off the van.
  4. Paid off the truck.
  5. Paid off the house.
  6. Paid our share of the boy’s weddings.
  7. Paid for our new van with cash.
  8. Paid for gall bladder surgery.
  9. Paid for a new computer – twice.
  10. Paid for a new furnace and air conditioner installation.
  11. Paid for 2 washers. (Front load washers do not last!)
  12. Paid bills during 3 months of unemployment.
  13. Paid a 65% increase in health insurance.

(See frugalfish.org.)

I’m blogging without ads or affiliate marketing. Why? God told me not to and He meets our needs. He does a good job, don’t you think?

Isaiah 8:11, “God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people. …” The Message

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When All is Said and Done

April 24, 2019: Micah 4-7; 2 Kings 16.

Micah 4:1, “But when all is said and done, God’s Temple on the mountain, firmly fixed, will dominate all mountains, towering above surrounding hills.” The Message

I’m so glad God is in control! Especially, when I feel out-of-control.

We played the chorus of the last song while Pastor Gary exhorted the people. After a few times, I decided to play freestyle – no melody.

Somehow, in my changing gears, I changed keys! (Don’t try this at home.) I don’t know how that happened! The rest of the team stopped playing. They couldn’t figure out what I was doing. I apologized after we exited.

Micah 6:8, “…Don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously.” The Message

I left right after playing to help in the youth department. The café was short on workers and it was “Build Your Own Burrito” night.

My son Derek called to ask me to help. He gave me the head lady’s number. She has three team members who will be gone during ball season. She’s looking for help over the summer.

I explained that I could come early, but had to leave for practice. I would return after I played. Then I asked when she needed me to start.

“Last week!”

I’ll be working with my sister-in-law Melinda. I’m grateful for our close relationship. If you are struggling with your family, there’s hope!

Micah 7:5-7, “Don’t trust your neighbor, don’t confide in your friend. Watch your words, even with your spouse.

(6) Neighborhoods and families are falling to pieces. The closer they are – sons, daughters, in-laws – the worse they can be. Your own family is the enemy.

(7) But me, I’m not giving up. I’m sticking around to see what God will do. I’m waiting for God to make things right. I’m counting on God to listen to me.” The Message

  • Don’t give up
  • Stick around.
  • See what God will do.
  • Wait for God.
  • He’ll make things right.
  • Count on God.
  • He hears you.

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River Valleys Leak Like Sieves

April 23, 2019: Isaiah 5; 2 Chronicles 27; Micah 1-3.

 

Micah 1:2-4, “…Listen, earth, and everyone in it…. (3) Look, here He comes! God, from His place! He comes down and strides across mountains and hills. (4) Mountains sink under His feet, valleys split apart; the rock mountains crumble into gravel, the river valleys leak like sieves.” The Message

Remember Nebraska.

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153 Big Fish

April 22, 2019: Mark 16; John 20, 21.

We went out to eat after church on Sunday. We didn’t get home until 3 pm. I napped anyway but didn’t rest as long.

I could tell this morning. I’m tired. I had 2 posts to write and 6 loads of laundry. I knew I had to pace myself or I could get sick.

* * * * * * *

When Jesus called Peter, James, and John they were fishing. They had fished all night and not caught anything.

Jesus instructed them to go to the deep water and let down their nets. They caught such a large number of fish that the nets started to break, see Luke 5:1-11.

Their families lived off of the sale of that large haul for three years. God took care of their families while they were following Jesus. They knew how to pace themselves and make the money last.

After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter, James, and John went back to fish. Once again, they caught nothing. But Jesus knows where each school of fish swims. He instructed them to let down their nets on the other side of their boat.

John 21:11, “Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore – 153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn’t rip.” The Message

This huge haul fed their families while they prayed in the upper room. And during the early years of their preaching. We don’t know how many years they made that money last.

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Not Sure About Worship

April 21, 2019: John 19; Matthew 28; Luke 24.

Easter Sunday. I didn’t have the new song memorized. I barely learned it. We practiced for this service 10 days ago. David got me a music stand.

The first time through in practice, I got lost and skipped a line. We started over.

I decided the only way to stay on track was to sing along. It was not in my key range. I tried singing an octave above but it went too high. I ended up singing harmony. (It wasn’t pretty.)

But during the service, I belted that harmony out and gave it my all. I didn’t hold back. It still wasn’t pretty, but at least I didn’t get lost!

Matthew 28:17, “The moment they saw Him they worshipped Him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Proverbs 21:2, “We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives.” The Message

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Jospeh Of Arimathea and Nicodemus

April 20, 2019: Matthew 27; Luke 23.

When I read of Joseph of Arimathea on Friday, I wondered why he didn’t speak up for Jesus, see Mark 15:43. I found out he wasn’t there.

Matthew 27:57, “Late in the afternoon a wealthy man from Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, arrived.” The Message

Possibly, he went home because he disagreed with the plans of the council. When he returned, it was too late.

Luke 23:50-52, “There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character.

(51) He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the Kingdom of God.

(52) He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used.” The Message

* * * * * * *

I researched “Arimathea” and found out more about Joseph – and Nicodemus.

“We learn that Joseph of Arimathea, who retrieves the Body of Christ from Pontius Pilate, is still very much a fearful undercover disciple.

Nicodemus, on the other hand, has by now figured out that he has absolutely nothing to fear, and brings a hundred litre of myrrh-and-aloe.

And to put that into perspective: a few chapters earlier, Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, had used one litre of the same oil to anoint Jesus’ feet (which, whether the modern reader likes it or not, is a perfectly proper and open allusion to the most honorable member of a bridegroom’s anatomy).

In the previous chapter, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, and John makes sure that the reader relates Mary’s act to Jesus’ act (12:1, 12:9).

Mary’s oil filled the whole house with a pleasant scent (12:3) but Lazarus’ corpse was producing the stink of death (11:39).

John also makes sure that the reader knows that Martha believed in the resurrection (11:24), and makes it very unlikely that Mary didn’t (11:45, 12:11).

The oil that Mary used was so costly that spending a litre of it had irritated Judas Iscariot.

Mary’s litre represented 300 dinari, which was a common man’s annual wage.

Nicodemus brings one hundred times as much; that’s one hundred years of labor worth of myrrh oil.

Moving that kind of oil must have involved every merchant in town.

There’s no way that Nicodemus could have amassed that much oil covertly, or even keep its purpose secret.

Surely the whole town knew about it. But why the oil?

When Judas complaints about Mary’s oil, Jesus tells him, “Let Mary be, that she may keep it for the day of My burial” (John 12:7, Matthew 26:12, Mark 14:8), and a large majority of modern commentators will state that Mary “prepared” Jesus’ Body for embalming.

That is entirely incorrect.

Embalming the dead was done in Egypt (Genesis 50:2, 50:26) but certainly not in Israel.

The Talmud allows embalming only if there is a dire emergency (such as there being no grave available) but states that it should be strenuously avoided because it desecrates the body (Avraham Steinberg, M.D. encyclopedia of Jewish Medial Ethics, page 377).

To the Jews, draining a corpse of its blood and removing certain organs constituted a horrendous desecration of the human body, and even the bodies of executed criminals were treated with respect (Deuteronomy 21:23).

Neither Mary nor Nicodemus intended to embalm Jesus.

John tells that Joseph and Nicodemus bound the Body in linen wrappings with the spices according to the custom of the Jews (John 19:40).

But that custom was not a burial custom.

Jewish burial customs are described in the Lazarus cycle and no oil or aromas are mentioned (note that only John tells the story of Lazarus of Bethany, to make sure that the reader understands about Jewish burial procedures).

The aromatic oil appears in the next chapter, and is applied to Jesus who raised Lazarus.

If Mary’s one litre had filled the whole house with scent, Nicodemus’ hundred litres must have wafted all over the region.

Its strong and bitter scent was unmistakably recognized by everybody in the wide surroundings and reminded everybody of only one thing, and that wasn’t death.

With his hundred litre of myrrh-oil (and a hundred is two times fifty, or a double witness to jubilee), Nicodemus unmistakably declared that the marriage of God and mankind had been consummated.

He never went there to bury Christ; he went there to see Him be “born again,” just as Jesus had explained him when the whole Nicodemus cycle started (John 3:3).

The only other time that word σμυρνα (smurna) occurs in the gospels is in the nativity story, when the magi from the east gave it to Mary and Jesus when He was born the first time (Matthew 2:11).

The older gospels had told the story of Christ’s burial in Joseph’s tomb but none of them mentioned Nicodemus’ massive myrrh contribution (in Mark and Luke, the women bring spices; no myrrh is mentioned).

It may have occurred to John that the audience of the older three gospels hadn’t understood the resurrection as described by the earlier versions, and he may have inserted Nicodemus’ outrageous gesture as a kind of inside joke.

To people in the know, he couldn’t have done it more obviously.

A hundred litre of myrrh-oil. Custom of the Jews.

A garden with a new tomb in which no one had yet laid, which is obvious to anyone a direct reference to the locked garden (the virgin bride) of the Song of Solomon 4:12 and the wafting spices of 4:16 (also see John 3:29).

All gospels explain that Jesus’ Body was placed in the tomb on the day before the Sabbath.

And all gospels tell that the women went to the grave the day after Sabbath.

Not a single member of a Jewish audience would have assumed that the women went to the tomb to embalm a person who’d been dead for two nights and a day (also see John’s hint in John 11:31).”

abarim-publications.com

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Crossed Over The Brook Kidron

April 19, 2019: John 18; Mark 15.

“Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendor of Your Son. …So He might give real and eternal life to all in His charge. …I spelled out Your character in detail to the men and women You gave Me. …Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life. …So they can be one heart and mind. …Now I’m returning to You. I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing so My people can experience My joy completed in them. …”

Jesus’ Prayer from John 17

* * * * * * *

John 18:1, “Jesus, having prayed this prayer, left with His disciples and crossed over the brook Kidron. …” The Message

* * * * * * *

“Kidron Brook…the winter torrent which flows through the Valley of Jehoshaphat, on the eastern side of Jerusalem, between the city and the Mount of Olives. …Through the mountain ravine no water runs, except after heavy rains in the mountains round about Jerusalem. …David crossed this brook bare-foot and weeping, when fleeing Absalom (2 Samuel 15:23, 30). …It afterwards became a receptacle for all manner of impurities (2 Chronicles 29:16; 30:14) and in the time of Josiah this valley was the common cemetery of the city (2 Kings 23:6). …Its precipitous, rocky banks are filled with ancient tombs. …It runs in a winding course through the wilderness of Judea to the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea.” biblestudytools.com/dictionary/kidron/

King Jesus crossed the Kidron brook where King David wept as he crossed. David put his kingdom in the hands of God and God gave it back to him. Jesus put His Kingdom in God’s hands as He crossed.

The Kidron Valley was a dump and ancient cemetery. All around Jesus was dead stuff and dead bones. Even the brook died. It only ran in winter. It ended in the Dead Sea. Jesus knew He was on His way to die.

But He crossed the brook knowing God would take care of His Kingdom. God would take care of His followers – present and future.

John 18:36, “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. …” The Message

Jesus trusted God completely. He didn’t need to explain Himself or defend Himself. I need to do the same.

Mark 15:5, “Still, he said nothing. Pilate was impressed, really impressed.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Proverbs 19:11, “Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget.” The Message

Jesus showed us how to live – even in death. He gave. He gave his last breath. They didn’t kill Him. He laid His life down.

Mark 15:37, “But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave His last breath.” The Message

* * * * * * *

John 10:18, “No one takes it from Me. I lay it down of My own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received the authority personally from My Father.” The Message

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She Did What She Could

April 18, 2019: Mark 14.

Maundy Thursday finally arrived. I made a hair appointment last September, hoping they would ask me to play. David took the afternoon off and they asked him to sing.

I worked out two elaborate transitions to cover awkward key changes. I played through the service twice on Wednesday. The guitar player was not impressed with the first transition I showed them on Tuesday. I started to second-guess myself.

Mark 14:8, “She did what she could when she could…” The Message

I played through the service one more time. The new worship leader liked the first transition. Maybe she would like the second.

After my haircut, David wanted a light supper. He took me to Kentucky Fried Chicken. 😀 Since I wasn’t singing, I ordered the chicken pot pie!

We finished eating and had over an hour to wait before our final practice. I called the church and they graciously let us wait in the hall.

The worship leader arrived 20 minutes later. I explained the 2nd transition to her. We played it a couple of times.

The guitar player also came early. We tried them with him. He thought one sounded “janky.” (That’s not a compliment.) I made sure to wait for a full measure between ending the song and starting the transition.

The lighting man asked me if the spotlight was in my eyes. Did I want him to move it?

“Yes, put it all on Barb. She’s leading!”

He did! I was a happy camper. I was wearing my favorite black top with lace, bell sleeves and black jeans. I was sitting in a dark area lit by blue lights and the light from my music stand.

David was leading the first song and Derek was on the drums. I knew exactly what to do and relaxed.

I had everyone turned down on my Aviom and the keyboard turned up. I wanted to wrestle to play the quiet parts softly. The guitar player picked up what I was doing and started playing softly, too. (We thought he unplugged! 🙂 )

I smiled as David started singing. The difficult transitions worked flawlessly. As we played the last song, I noticed another spot I could back down on.

We finished the song and I stopped. The pastor wasn’t on the platform yet! Barb whispered, “Chorus!” I tried to jump in and played the wrong chord. (I put “jazz notes,” aka wrong notes, in every service. Sigh.)

The “hard to please” drummer said I played pretty. The “impossible difficult to please” guitar player said the same.

After the service, the Senior Pastor shook my hand and thanked me. Okay, he shook the hands of all the musicians and thanked them. But, still, – the man can play circles around me!

I poured everything out for that service. Jesus filled me back up with His Spirit. That feeling lasts for days!

Do all that you can, while you can. Even when people think it’s a waste of time or money.

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After Sunset

April 17, 2019: Matthew 26.

Since the “We Remember” Service is Thursday, they canceled Wednesday’s adult service. Pastor Monte Knudsen is the guest speaker at the youth service in the E3 Center.

As the sun was setting, David popped popcorn. We got comfortable on the couch and watched a movie.

Some sunsets are bittersweet. The last sunset of camp. The last sunset of summer before returning to school. The last sunset of vacation before heading home. The last sunset with our loved one.

But what if you knew it was your last sunset on earth? Jesus knew.

Matthew 26:30, “After sunset,…” The Message

Jesus showed us how to finish our day on His last day.

  • Enjoy the sunset, v. 20.
  • Linger at the table, v. 20.
  • Talk about important things, v. 21.
  • Remember, v. 26-29.
  • Sing praises, v. 30.

My best memories were of conversations around a table full of dirty dishes. Dad would talk about deep things but there was always laughter.

When we were ready for bed, he would get out his guitar. He would sit on the bottom step playing. Sometimes, he played harmonica with it. Other times, he sang…

“There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins.”

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?”

“He washed my eyes with tears, that I might see…”

Dad died 9 years ago today. (Yes, Dad, I remember!) And our sons carry on the traditions. Luke plays the guitar for his daughter, Olivia, and sings to her.

And on this anniversary, Derek is playing the guitar and singing. He’s leading worship at the E3 Center for over 100 teens, singing,

“Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?”

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