When I Sin

When I Sin

Today’s post is a little different for me. It’s a poem which comes from a friend, Brita Alaburda, who is very artistic and has a love for words. She loves God, people, poetry, and chocolate cake (: among other things. She is also a fellow Word Weaver. Please let her know what you think of her poem! Thank you.

Corrosion comes to this corruptible goblet

When a decision is made

to play out

my mind’s ecstatic imaginations

eating away

at the incorruptible lustrous silver

of the conversations

between the King and I

preferring the gradual, vain destruction

of thoughts causing selfish reaction

and in doing

the organic metallic is blemished

I am left dull

as a woman tarnished

I succumb to my stained silence

no longer articulating the artistic,

with the only sound being my discolored groaning

I close my eyes

feel a sensitivity to

majestic Life unlike myself,

commanding a seeking

So I do what I know to do – ask –

If it is possible, my cup has become dark–

clean me?

And I am empty–

fill me?

Allow the words of my living to speak freely again?

I am made anew

substance bringing forth utterance

drink of delight

with pronunciation properties peculiar to myself

yet dignified possession refined to His liking

receiving a royal refreshing

going from gray to gold

can copious producing

now occur

of only pure

liquefied gilded word glory

now reflecting

Lord, help my unbelief

Lord, help my unbelief

Have you ever had a very sick child?

Or maybe you found out your child would be diabetic, deaf, blind, autistic, or have some type of disability.

Since my son was premature, he didn’t hit developmental milestones on time. He was taking his time crawling; he rolled everywhere he wanted to go.

We held his hands while helping him stand or take a few steps. But he did not want to do that. He cried and clung to us terrified we would let go of him. After a while of this, and taking him to our doctor for regular checkups, our doctor recommended an orthopedist.

Matthew was nearly two years old when he saw Dr. Schrader.

After being in his office for three minutes, Dr. Schrader told us, “I’m pretty sure I know what’s wrong, but let me do some x-rays first.”

He came back to the room with the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.

This diagnosis shocked us and left us in disbelief. I knew of Cerebral Palsy, but my husband did not know what this meant. He immediately thought it was like Muscular Dystrophy, which can mean death at a fairly young age.

The doctor assured us Matthew would get no worse. He would need physical and occupational therapy but would be fine.

Still, it was hard to see our son barely able to walk at four years old, and needing extremely painful surgery. It killed me. He recovered well but used a tiny walker for two years or so, and needed multiple surgeries.

My husband didn’t take it well. We sought prayer for healing many times; even taking him to a local faith healer. We wanted Matthew to have a “normal” life.

Mike and I wondered what God was doing, and why He allowed this. I struggled with my faith at times as well.

Mark 9:14-29 tells us of a story of a man struggling with his faith.

The disciples could not cast out the demon in his son, so he took it up with Jesus. The father asked Jesus,

“If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” I love Jesus’ answer…”If I can?”

The father cried out, “I believe; Lord help my unbelief!”

What does this mean? I have heard many explanations about it and have attempted to explain it myself.

I read a devotional on this by Chaim Bentorah from Biblical Hebrew Studies. He explains that a certain Aramaic (another Semitic language) word for faith or believe (there are more than one) refers to a mother nursing her baby. There is an underlying meaning, he explained:

Faith or belief in the Semitic mindset is a bonding, an expression of love, honor and respect.  We tell people in our Western culture that they must believe, like it is a great effort. They must grit their teeth, clutch their fist and like the child in “Miracle on 34th Street” keep repeating over and over: “I believe, I believe.” Yet hayaman (belief, faith) is as natural as a mother nursing her baby.  The baby looking up into its mother’s eyes and the mother looking into her child’s face shows pure love, commitment, and bonding.  Nothing is forced, disciplined, it just happens.

https://www.chaimbentorah.com/2013/01/devotional-mark-924/

We can imagine the father in Mark’s story having plans for his son’s future just as we do for our children. I often thought about Matthew’s life when he was an infant–who he would grow up to be, do, and what sports he may play.

When this father said, “Help my unbelief,” the Aramaic word for unbelief correlates with “little faith” more than lack of faith.

Chaim goes on to say this father loved his son and he loved Jesus, but he needed his love in the proper order. We know we need to love Jesus more than anything, but when your child, spouse, or other loved one needs healing, it’s hard to think of anything else.

Chaim explains this even more:

His love at that moment for his son was greater than his love for Jesus, but what little love he had for Jesus he asked that Jesus accept that as its priority. The man was literally saying: “I want to love you more than my son, but to be honest, that is a little hard right now, accept what love I can give you.” 

How did Jesus respond to this..?

Jesus responded by healing the man’s son.

He is so good! When we struggle with unbelief or putting our love for God in the right order, He understands!

He understood how much we wanted Matthew healed. He understands the love of a parent for their child…God knows the love of a child as well as we do.

When we struggle with our faith, sometimes it’s not that we don’t love Jesus, it’s just that we need our love put in the proper order. Jesus can help with that. He doesn’t hold back healing or His love because we struggle.

Jesus doesn’t hold back healing or His love because we struggle. #disablities #specialneeds #ThisSideofHeaven

God did not heal Matthew all at once. He had other issues, medications, and surgeries until he was seventeen. But God loves us and always knew our needs. He has never stopped providing for us or our children.

Matthew still has some minor difficulties. Our pastor at that time, asked us if a complete healing meant Matthew’s personality, love for God, and his gentle spirit changed, would we still want it?

Our answer was NO.

Matthew’s struggles (and ours) is creating us to be who God wants us to be. Matthew’s love for the Lord is evident to all who know him. He has never felt sorry for himself or wanted pity from others. He is stronger than most people I know.

We wouldn’t want it any other way.

In what ways do you need help putting your love for Jesus in the proper priority?

Is it All Greek to You?

Is it All Greek to You?

Did you see the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

It has been my life. In 1992, I married my Greek husband, Mike (aka Minas). Little did I know what I was getting into.

On our wedding day, An Egyptian friend brought a pan of his famous baklava to our reception as a gift. Watching all the Greek women surround that pan of baklava, smelling it and holding it to the light as they whispered in Greek, “What is this?” “Who brought it… it’s not Greek…” was embarrassing.

Moral of the story? Take nothing but Greek baklava to a Greek wedding or any other Greek get together…They know the difference!

When Mike and I got engaged, we went to a family party for his uncle. I have never had so many people kiss my cheeks in one day. About the time I met everyone, it was time to say our goodbyes and start the entire process again.

Just like the movie, Greeks name their children after someone else in the family, and as a result, you have many of the same names in one family. There is a Louis 1, 2 and 3, and Louis 1’s daughter is Louise, who has a daughter named Mary after Mike’s mom. So, there is Mary, my mother-in-law, Mary, my husband’s cousin, as well as a niece, and our daughter’s middle name is Mary. Mike’s dad was Theodore, then there is Mike Theodore, Anthony Theodore, Teddy, and T.J. (Theodore James.) There are two Michaels and one Mike, too.

And, no doubt, I have missed some!

His family is wonderful! His parents, who have now passed, never made me feel anything less than family. They had big hearts with which to love all their children, in-laws, and grandchildren. They would have done anything for you.

I learned a great deal about the Greek culture and language living in this family. My husband likes to say “Greeks are proud of their pride” or is it, “They take pride in being proud.” Anyway, it’s true. They have a lot to be proud of.

There are many Greek words that can’t be translated into English. Mike’s family owned a restaurant which I helped with every once in a while. Mary spoke both Greek and English. With us she would sometimes start in English and suddenly switch to Greek in the middle of the sentence because there was not a word in English to say what she wanted to say. When I asked her what she said, she would answer in two or more sentences to define the Greek word.

This knowledge helped me appreciate the language and culture of the New Testament. Word studies fascinated me, and they deepened my understanding of scripture.

However, I have learned there is a big difference between the Greek and Hebrew minds and/or thinking. It’s good to understand this when studying scripture.

Greeks are logical thinkers. Their (ancient) language is made up of mostly nouns, and the pronouns used most are “I” and “me.” The Greeks heavily influenced our culture, as well as most of Europe starting with Alexander the Great.

Greek philosophers taught more about the mind than the heart. They believed only the state could teach children, parents were incapable.

The Hebrew mind is quite different. Consisting of more verbs, their language is about doing, not thinking.

The pronouns they use most are, “we,” and “us.” They thought with their hearts, not their heads. In the ancient language there was no word for mind, they included it in the word for heart. They also believed in teaching the child from home. Every son learned the skills of their father, like Jesus.

In Greek, the word believe is pisteuō, and it means, “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.” (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g4100)

In Hebrew, a word for believe is aman, it is compared to a tent peg.

“The word, ‘believed’ is the very same Hebrew verb aman.

The picture we have from this is that Abram was firm in his devotion to God. Just as a stake planted in firm ground supports the tent, even in a storm, Abram will support God, even in the storms of life.”

“The Hebrew verb aman means more than just knowing something to be true.”

“The Hebrew in Genesis 15:6 does not say Abram, ‘believed’ God, it says he was ‘firm’ in God. From Genesis 26:5 we see that he was firm in his obedience to God and his Torah.” (https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/studies-interpretation/aman-believe.htm)

The Greek word believe deals with what we think to be true, and where our confidence or persuasion lies, while the Hebrew meaning represents a firm foundation in God and His Word. Hebrew deals with action, not thought.

So, many can say, “I believe in God”, or “I believe in Jesus” without really putting their trust in Him. Unless there is an action, or devotion, and a firm foundation in God and His Word, believe can mean little more than, “I think he is real.”

Do we want to be thinkers or doers when it comes to our belief in Jesus?

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James 1:22-27

We need to consider whether we want to be like the Greeks or the Jewish people in our thinking. Do we want to be thinkers or doers?