Sunday, February 28, 2010

How to Take an Olive Oil Bath

Got your attention, didn’t it?

I began to notice how much olive trees and oil are used in Scripture and wanted to learn more. To see if there might be more to God’s choice than just those trees being prolific in that area. I discovered some interesting things.

Olive oil is the most versatile and useful fluid. It was used in sacrifices, anointing, medicinal, perfumes and cooking. Oil touched everyone and every part of their lives. Rich had their expensive perfumes and the poor were left the olives to be gleaned after the harvest. The olive tree was multi-faceted just like God.

Many times the olive tree is used as a symbol for Israel.

And we, who believe, have been grafted into the original tree. Some tradition even holds that the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was an olive tree. Rom 11:24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree! Kingdom life is contrary to what is natural. Over and over again, Jesus pointed this out during his ministry on earth.

If the trunk of the tree is cut down, the shoots from the roots continue to grow, ensuring its existence. How true is this for the nation of Israel.

Olive trees must be cultivated. The fruit of an olive tree in its wild state is small and worthless. Our own efforts will never be enough. They are worthless.

The most fruitful trees are the product of bare & rocky ground situated preferably at no great difference from the sea. They require years of patient labor before reaching full fruitfulness. The soil around the tree must be frequently plowed and broken up. The trees form deep roots, last a long time & produce fruit for years. At harvest, the tree is shaken or beaten with a rod. Like the tree we must endure the strife of rocky ground, often have our lives turned upside down and be humbled and afflicted in order to produce the fruits of righteousness. The good first fruits of oil.

When Jesus went to pray before facing the cross, we know he chose the Garden of Gethsemane. But did you know that name means “oil press?” He spent his last quiet moments alone preparing to be crushed in the oil press.

Ps 52:8 But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever

The righteous man will not be uprooted.

Prov 21:20 In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.

The Old Testament is full of uses and references to olive oil:

The word Messiah means “Anointed One”

The Manna God provided in the desert tasted like it was made with olive oil (Num 11:8)

Ingredients for sacred oil specifically for anointing the priests and Tabernacle. The recipe for this oil was not be used for anything else. (Ex 30:23-25, 37-38)

Oil was to be combined with spices along with the burnt offering (Ex 29:40) But was not used with the sin offering.

Lev 5:11 …he must not put oil or incense on it, because it is a sin offering

But it was used for anointing the sick. In Lev 14:13-18, oil is used on the lepers and is a demonstration of his restoration of life.

Oil was symbolic of honor, joy and favor and did not accompany purification rites associated with dishonor, shame and was withheld from the body in times of mourning.

Ps 23:5 …you anoint my head with oil and my cup overflows

Is 61:3 … the oil of gladness instead of mourning

Another major use of oil is as a source for light and fuel. A lamp filled with oil maintains a steady flame.

Ex 27:20 Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning.

God’s Word is referred to a lamp unto our feet (Ps 119:105) without the Spirit to shed illumination means nothing. Anointing oil is also symbolic of the Holy Spirit. It is the source that allows the light to shine forth.

The Spirit takes on a few characteristics in the Bible.
As oil (1 John 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One)
Water (John 7:37-39 …streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit…)
And wind (John 3:8, Acts 2:1-4)

And finally in maybe the most perplexing analogy I found

Ps 133:1-2 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. It is like precious oil poured on the head

Brotherly harmony sanctifies us and unites us with God’s holiness

SOOO…. How do you take an olive oil bath? You soak in the Word of God and scrub yourself clean with the blood of Christ and then lotion your body with joy, peace, patience, love, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and then go out and watch how you shine!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Can't See

I'm not a crier. I can listen to sad music, watch a movie that breaks your heart, I can even watch someone else cry. I'm not saying I'm cold hearted and don't feel anything - I just don't burst into tears.

It's the far smaller things that cause me to sit in my car and cry at 6am and wish I could simply crawl back into bed and have a do over.

Let's go back to the end of the work day on Wednesday. Snow had been falling through the afternoon, but nothing too major. This is Michigan and it is February. We should be used to it, but traffic was definitely moving at a much slower pace. For the next hour and a half I drive incredibly s l o o o w. By now, I am starving and cranky as can be. I am close to putting my head into the steering wheel but instead slam my water bottle back down in the cup holder. Maybe an extra time or two for some added stress relief. By now the roads are actually getting bad. All I want is to be home.

Inching my way closer and closer... until.... complete standstill. Cars in front of me begin to turn around and I see the flashing lights ahead. Too many flashing lights. And I turn around and go back the 7 miles I just traveled in order to get to a road that I CAN take to get home.

Finally almost 2 hours after I left work, I pull into my parking lot and immediately realize I forgot to stop at the store to return the movie I rented. I went inside, crammed some food in my belly and went back out in the snow. Slide past the apartment entrance, spend more gas spinning tires trying to get up the hill to my apartment (that they NEVER salt). Finally, now after 8pm I am home to stay. In an extremely unpleasant mood.

I go to bed with hopes of sleeping off the frustration.

I wake up and go about my normal routine. Run outside and start my car (no I don't have a remote start) and come back in for the last minute things. I get out to my car, throw it into reverse and turn the windshield wipers on to clear the snow.


The wiper on the driver's side is gone! Completely taken off. Who steals a wiper blade? And as I am realizing that all I have is a very bare metal arm, I also realize I am stuck in the snow and ice (still not plowed or salted). As I push down on the gas pedal in futile effort to move, it all comes crashing down and I sit in my car and cry.

Pathetic. I know. I don't tell you this to make you feel sorry for me (As if!, right?)

Now I am running late and depite the conditions that require you use wipers, I head to work. At first I can see pretty well but as I went it got harder and harder to see through the glass. Turning a corner as street lights and brake lights reflected off the dirt splatter making it almost impossible to see, it hit me.

This is how we operate here on earth. Our perspective - it's not clear. There is dried mud and truck splatter. It can get hard to see. We need God to be our wiper blade. To keep clearing off the things that make it hard to see what He sees.

1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Message)

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. (or trying to see thru a dirty windshield) But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

My day did end up turning out better than it started.

I am very spoiled at my job. The guys I work with are so generous and they have done countless things for me (including supplying me diet coke, slurpees, lemon cookies and licorice). My road foreman could tell I wasn't in a great mood and offerred to get me a slurpee today. I turned him down (That's when you know it's really bad!!) I told him about my wiper blade. When I was about to take my lunch and go buy a new one, he had taken care of it and wanted to surprise me. Which then allowed me to work through my lunch hour and leave an hour early.

By the time I left, I was in a great mood. I had even spent quite a bit of time laughing.

Let's just say for a while lemons and cake will not be the same to me...

and I remember the people who love me and care about me - they alone are enough to make me smile.

And without God, it's much harder to navigate this earth journey.


(JD... this is pretty long, maybe even panoramic??)

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Finally Did It

I conquered a couple things recently.

Awhile ago a friend of mine started a prayer room that is open on Thursdays. When there isn't live music they simply play music. From the beginning, I was invited to come with my guitar and play. A few weeks ago I finally took the time to ask about scheduling a time. So this past Thursday found me packing my guitar, feeling good and not nervous at all. I even played an original song. There were only a few people there, but I really never even noticed them. There were a couple issues and distractions, but I think I have learned something from them - like I don't want someone I've never played with trying to play with me by looking over my shoulder. When I got home I emailed a friend who leads worship for a living to get her perspective on it, which really helped me understand that the only thing that matters is the place my heart is at. It is something I want to do again soon. I like it much better than feeling like I have to "entertain" people.

On the heels of that wonderful experience, I got to drive to Fort Wayne to meet some very wonderful women. At least I think I was really there. Yeah, I was- otherwise I ate something strange and had the craziest dream... Before going I admit I was nervous, because I wanted to have a good time and be relaxed. Normally, in any group, and especially a group that I didn't know well, I take the backseat. I become the wallpaper who observes and rarely shares the thoughts in my head. And later as the memories are brought up, the one who isn't even remembered as being present. So I prayed for weeks leading up to this day that I would be able to just be myself. To stay engaged the entire time and to bring my own spice of love and light to the party.

Overall, that day I wasn't anxious at all. I think it helped me to be able to just meet Sheryl first and establish that one contact point first. God knew that's what I would need. It didn't even dawn on me until afterwards. I loved every one of them: Laurette, Ariane, Shelli and Sheryl, even the "flat" friends that came along for the ride. You guys were a little quiet, but it was fun having you there too. It felt like we had been hanging out our whole lives. Through the whole day (with the exception of one small 5 min period) I was there participating - laughing and loving and sharing me. It was the best compliment to hear I was the same in person as I was online because that was what I was praying for. That I would be authentic. Really I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

Then I got sick and have been home on the couch for 3 days in a row now. I'm just so thankful it held off. Or maybe I'm just allergic to fun and need to build up my tolerance a bit more :)

This Jill can't even find her box anymore.... I think it went to the dump!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Act of Balance

Over the past few days I've had some great conversations and some not so great ones, but they all seemed to center around finding the right balance in life. How do we treat life with seriousness and yet be joyful and life-giving? How do we participate in the blessings He's given without going outside the boundaries He's given for them? How do we trust and hold to our faith when circumstances just keep beating us down and we don't understand at all?

I don't have the answers either. We take it one day at a time. One step at a time. Sometimes just one breath at a time.

Let me share a wise story with you from The Alchemist.

A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for 40 days and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there the wise man lived.

Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our hero, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world. The wise man conversed with everyone, and the boy had to wait for 2 hours before it was his turn to be given the man's attention.

The wise man listened attentively to the boy's explanation of why he had come, but told him that he didn't have time just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in 2 hours.

Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something, said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that help 2 drops of oil. As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill.

The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After 2 hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was.

Well said the wise man, did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardner 10 years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?

The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been to not spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

Then go back and observe the marvels of my world, said the wise man. You cannot trust a man if you don't know his house.

Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen.

But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you? asked the wise man.

Looking down at the spoon he help, the boy saw the oil was gone.

Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you, said the wisest of wise men. The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never forget the drops of oil on the spoon.

Praying for all of us to protect that which has been entrusted to us, while keeping our heads up and eyes open to the beauty and wonder all around us.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Death, Love and Beauty

Death is the end of something. There are two kinds of death. The first one is a physical death where a living creature ceases to exist on earth. The other death happens internally. It is the experience of having things that were a part of your existence no longer be a part of you. There are healthy people walking around dead, like Egyptian sarcophaguses. Either completely empty inside or totally in bondage. That's the extreme, but there is a balance; loss of something with hopeful anticipation of something better.

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new is come!"

Love, true love, is that which can give the most without asking or demanding anything in return. -Mazia Hammond

Love is unselfish and sincere and above all is truthful. It is something that brings great pleasure but at times can seems painful. It's a seed that stretches your most inner being in every direction and often feels trapped by the confines of our humanness. It is something our human minds can never entirely comprehend. Love's strength comes from the giving, not the getting. Its appreciation is solely found in the fact that in order to recieve it there was an effort taken by someone else to give it. Without a cost to the giver, there is little to appreciate for the reciever. Ironically, the appreciation the reciever feels is given back to the giver in the same manner.

Also, the score zero in tennis.

1 John 3:16 "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched...but felt in the heart. -Helen Keller

To see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour. Beautiful is whatever excites the keenest of pleasure to the senses and stirs emotion. It is one thought, one grace, one wonder, which into words no virtue can digest. -Christopher Marlowe.

It's something that's lovliness increases and will never pass into nothingness. We feel it's essences haunt us till they become a cheering light unto our souls. -John Keats

True beauty is simplicity, the very nature of something reflecting outwardly. A prism shines out a rainbow of light. The light comes from outside and pierces through the center of the prism, which then reflects the light into colors. This is beautiful. If light cannot reach the center of the prism, there is no rainbow. So, it is the simple essence of the clear, empty prism that is beautiful. So it is with everything.

Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

* from the archives*

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mixed Bag

I am sitting here wondering what I should write about today. Should I share what God has been teaching me? Or some of the great things I have read this week?

Today I think I am just going to share some of me. (You've been warned)

First, some of you may or may not know that I do not have a Facebook page nor a Twitter account. Nor at this time do I have any desire to. I don't have anything against either of those things, i just choose to limit my "things" to not include those. Having said that - I made it into a tweet today. As far as I know my first. In other twitter related news, I noticed on a blog I was reading someone had tweeted Josh. I am going to have to have a talk with that girl - she can't be messin' with that ;) although I may be cheating a little too...

It's strange to me how some people can so openly share things about their lives or thoughts that I would never dare to except in the deepest of trusts. Sometimes I wish I was more like that. Other times I am grateful that I am not.

I tend to be very profilic in my words, especially in writing. But in person, if I have to say something that's hard or try and explain something, often its like the words just bounce around in my head but don't seem to be in an order that's speakable. Some people find this annoying. I find it annoying when other people do it sometimes. So I'm working on - saying less in writing and more in person.

Over the last 2 months or so I have been on a journey of sorts. Kinda like doing research on my own life (I love research). Looking thru the miscroscope of the past deeper into things than I have before. Analyzing feelings, relationships, beliefs, perceptions, etc. It hasn't been easy, but I believe it's been very worth it. I am different than who I was then. And in the future I want to be better than I am now. A better daughter, a better friend, a better christian. I'm getting out of the kiddie pool of the past. I've outgrown it. And I'm moving into the deeper waters of the river.

In 2 weeks, I am going to meet some of my new friends. I am excited but at the same time I am still nervous. In a group, I am much more comfortable blending into the wallpaper and observing - in a don't speak unless addressed sort of way. Since I've themed this year "The year of so much more," I really want to be a part of the moment and not just an footnote.

In the words of Porky Pig.... That's all folks.

I'm not sure you got your money's worth on this one. Sorry no refunds.