Sunday, April 6, 2008

Monday Morning Cover to Cover

Thanks so much to all of you for your kind words to me while I was really sick for a couple of weeks. It was a scary time for me fainting nine times with no control and watching my body not co-operate. I Am B A C K and I am so grateful to God for health! I started feeling a lot better mid-week but this past weekend, I took a group of high school students to Austin for a state academic competition and it set me back a little. I went through with the trip because I was paid several months ago to do it. I would have had to return the money. My husband is in-between jobs right now and I am unemployed looking for a job. Pray for me Monday as I hit the streets looking for a job.

I want to share with you five verses that linger with me as we read the Bible together this week. Today we read Judges 19 and 20, a very disturbing story about a husband cutting up his dead wife into 12 pieces and sending her as a "message" to each of the tribes. I was deeply moved by this vile volatile vicious story. My beautiful God so showed up for me tonight as I read these two chapters. He spoke His Love and His Kindness over my life as I reflected on a story from my teenage years. I will end this post with that story. Deuteronomy 33:23,24 says there is no other God who rides the heavens to help you. The word for help means "lifesaver." He saved my life as a teen. He continues to rescue me to this very day.

DO NOT FORGET
The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord (Judges 3:7). They forgot the Lord their God. Oh My! So caught up in living life, they forgot about their God who had delivered them. Caught up in busyness of multiple children and multiple ministries and multiple activities. Am I hiding in the busyness of life or am I demanding things go my way. Or am I inviting my God to invade every nook and cranny of my life? Does my life invite others to take a look at my God or do I forget about HIM as I move through my day?

RISE LIKE THE SUN
May those who love God rise like the sun in all its power. Judges 5:31. I loved Deborah’s song of love to her King. She was so in love with HIM. May we all rise like the sun this day to love HIM.

GO IN THE STRENGTH YOU HAVE
Judges 6:12 Go in the strength you have, mighty warrior. That’s what God called this scared-to-death servant who just said: Why has all this happened to us? Where are all His wonders now? God never left Gideon. God’s response was not rebuke but His presence. Go in the strength you have and I will be with you. But I am the least, the weakest, replies Gideon. I feel like Gideon so often that I am the least, worthless. I can go in the strength I have and trust God for His presence, His calling.

WAIT FOR ME GOD
Give me a sign that it is really YOU talking to me God! Please don’t go away until I come back with an offering. Judges 6:17,18 – And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘I will wait until you return.' Gideon moved and put out a fleece twice in the strength that he had. God is always waiting for us to return.

OBEY WITHOUT FEAR
Judges 6:27 Gideon did what God commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the people of the town. He obeyed when no one was looking. A heart for God obeys when people are looking and when no one is looking.

So that brings us to this vicious, vile, violent crime in Judges 19 and 20. Her husband had much time to think about what he would do with her body as he traveled back home with his dead concubine on his donkey. This priest decided how he would get the attention of each of the tribes---send a butchered part of her body to them showing them what had been done to her. Judges 19:20 – such a thing had never been done before and the response of the tribes was right when they said: “tell us what to do” to get the evil out of their midst. Finally, this atrocity attracted their attention.

Deuteronomy says any evil in Israel will be dealt with aggressively. The Benjamites had the opportunity to turn over those who perpetrated crimes. It seems that the leaders of the Benjamites protected their bad characters, their families. Other tribes overlooked it as well. But the concubine being butchered----it took this shocking revelation --- "never seen such a thing in Israel" --- to show them that they had refused to deal with the evil growing in the children of Israel. They FORGOT about their God. The tribe of Benjamin was given opportunity to turn over the evil in their city...and the leaders of Benjamin refused to turn over the men, refused to extricate and eradicate the evil. They all had a corporate responsibility to deal with the evil. This evil among them was known. The Levite could have buried his concubine and hid the story OR disclose the evil and call for a response. Thousands died because he stood up to say this evil among us is not right before our God.

We cannot sit back and watch evil move. Do I pretend that all is well when so many in our country are entertaining evil. What evil will I die for? There is a moral responsibility bigger than just my family. I cannot keep silent over evil in my own life, my family, my world. I must respond.

I want to share with you a story from my childhood. I was sixteen. I was layed on the threshold of my door one early spring morning, left for dead. It was my first prom night and I consumed way too much vodka straight out the bottle. Alcohol poisoning. Knocked unconscious. Gang rape. My date and his friends used me. I was left the next morning in my white eyelet prom dress covered with blood on my family’s doorstep still unconscious. I would not awaken for another 24 hours. My parents never took me to the hospital. They picked me up and put me in the back room hoping I would wake up. It was my decision to drink. It was my date and his friends’ decision to rape me. The rape was not my fault.

When I read Judges 19 and 20 tonight, and got to the point of the concubine being layed on the threshold, I sobbed and sobbed. But, inside of me, there is something beautiful about this story for scores of people responded to the abuse of this woman. Responded to the evil in their world and said NO MORE. You see, my God is the one Who responded to my story when I was a child. Called me by name. Called to HIMSELF. And that has been more than enough! He fights for me all my days. Deut 33: 26,27. Yes, there is no one like my God who rides the heavens to help. Underneath me are His everlasting Arms. I am secure. No longer worthless. My perception of what I think about myself is not based on what happens to me. My story doesn't define me. "Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted." (Brennan Manning)

This story so speaks to me tonight. I love what the Israelites did to the face of Evil. And I love how my God strengthens me to traipse upon the Evil that rears its head in my life. NO MORE. I do have something to offer to others even though I may feel worthless for my beautiful God rescued me from the domain of darkness and He is rescuing me all the time. Thanks be to our good God. May we not ever forget what He has done for us!

25 comments:

annie's eyes 4/07/2008  

I am so glad you are feeling better, dear Bev. I have thought about you and lifted you before the Throne so many times this week. I imagine the weekend was very hard, as you regain your strength. It's such a horrific story--yours and chapters 19-20. I sat and sat with it. I did not like it. I was angered that it was included in what I knew I had to address this week, truth be known. And you saw the redemption in it! Thank you for being such a Light, exposing darkness and evil, and revealing His Glory in it. Every time you tell me a little more of your story, I am so amazed you turned to the Lord, and so very thankful that He made something so beautiful! You are such a sweet miracle of His. Thank you again for going deeper with such love. I have a few comments that I will post now over at annie's eyes. Be blessed and continued healing to you, dear friend, Annette

CrownLaidDown 4/07/2008  

Oh my friend, I cannot hear your story again wihtout feeling so very sad, sick over the harm caused to you friend. Yet, I see also another element at work in you--resurrection power! The joy of Christ in you is beautiful. YOU are beautiful!

Praying for you and for Bob. God is going to bless your socks off! I'm looking for Him to!
Much love,
holly

Jean 4/07/2008  

Hi, sweet Bev. I decided to copy this post of yours and send it to my sister instead of the post at ETJ. This way, she gets all your wonderful insight from the readings last week, plus part of your story. I've only skimmed your post here this morning because I have to run out the door in a few minutes, but I also printed out a copy for me so I can sit at my table with my Bible and read your notes and God's word. When I read Judges 19 and 20, I was horrified, but was more mad at the husband than anyone else. His servant wanted to stop in some alien town, but the priest wanted to go someplace where he thought he'd be safer than his alien town. That's what I was referring to when I said "know where you're spending the night".....it was directed at him, not at his wife. When I read it later, I didn't think that part was clear and then when I read your story, I was horrified that I had seemed flippant about any part of the story. And, why did I have to read your story to think that....why didn't I remember my sister? Anyway, I am so sorry, but I have to say I am also feeling very selfish, because your story has ministered to me and I am sure it will do so to my sister, so for that I am thankful. More than that, though, Bev, it is very likely to bring men and women into the kingdom of God which is an incredible testimony to your beautiful faith. "And Abraham/Bev believed God, which was credited unto him as righteousness." That's probably paraphrased somewhat as I don't have my Bible here.

I love you, Bev. Sorry I am so long-winded. By the way, you're making friends across the way....go check.

Mary Lou 4/07/2008  

Bev, I am thankful that you turned to the Lord and that you have allowed Him to use your life all of these years. My heart broke at your story. The thing that kept coming to me as I read Judges was that as long they looked to God they lived in peace, it was when they took thier eyes off of Him and turned to evil that they did not live in peace. Oh, how that is true in all of our lives. Each man was living what he thought was right in his own eyes and that is never good. You have so much to offer and He will bless you and Bob with jobs and the means to provide for your family. I sent you a note my snail mail. I mailed it on Friday. May your job hunting be blessed today. Thank you for being willing to be poured out for Him.

Bev Brandon 4/07/2008  

Annette, I'm so taken by your words. So loved. Thank you. You so bring God to me.

Bev Brandon 4/07/2008  

Humble Holly, you are the one who held FAST to your LORD in your season of wanting more. You looked north and south...but He knew the way you would take and you so honor HIM with your life! Thank you for your compassion to me.

Bev Brandon 4/07/2008  

Jean, thank you so much for your gracious generous words. I don't see it but I'm grateful to you for the initiative you have taken with me to build me up, to encourage me, to meet me where I am and not judge. While I'm taken aback by your words, I am touched deeply by your kindness and love. Thank you from my heart.

Bev Brandon 4/07/2008  

Mary Lou, How very true that if we look to our God, it's peace that we find like scared-to-death Gideon finding peace, no longer hiding in his fear. Snail Mail! Wow that's a treat to look forward to...thank you for thinking of me especially today as I hit the streets running job-hunting. Appreciate deeply your words.

Shonda 4/07/2008  

Bev, I too am glad that you're feeling better. I trust the Lord will lead you and your husband. I will continue to pray.

I see what Holly sees in you, the resurrection power of Christ. You are a new creation, the old is gone. Through the horrible ordeal, God was there for you and called you to HIM. You do have something to offer to others. Through your experiences you can point them to our Savior.

I also pray that as a society we respond to evil and not let it run rampant. That sin be called sin and not smoothed over. That parents, including myself, teach their children what is right and what is wrong; to be responsible for their actions and not laying blame on others.

Again, there is so much I glean from these readings. I thank you for inviting me to be a part of this study.

I've always loved the story of Gideon. However, I have never read past the victory of the Midianites. I wrote about what I learned from the rest of Gideon's story. I learned that he failed to leave a godly inheritance by allowing his family to worship idols. Great tragedy struck his family. I wrote ”An Inheritance” on my blog to share how I desire to leave a godly inheritance for my children and their children.

And yes--may we never forget the things the Lord has done for us!!

May the Lord continue to bless you!

Love & blessings-
Shonda

Alana 4/07/2008  

Bev,

I'm in tears over your story and so glad I came here this morning to read what you had to say.

You are an amazing woman. Thank you so much for your encouragement this last week. I was ready to give up on this venture, but you put things back into perspective and made it doable for me again. And guess what? I've been faithful to read ALL of the reading since then! God is good.

Thanks friend, so glad you are feeling better!

Bev Brandon 4/07/2008  

Shonda, I am always struck by your teachability, your humility, your openness. I love your heart. I love your quest. And I am deeply grateful to you for marking my life and the kind things you always say! You're a gem!

Bev Brandon 4/07/2008  

You have been such a gift to me Alana. I just love your life. I love your passion. I love your enthusiasm. I love your honesty. I love your courage. You are quite amazing! Thank you for inviting me in and allowing me to walk with you...what an honor, what a privilege. And your tears mean much to me.

helenw13 4/07/2008  

Bev,
You are living breathing testimony of the healing power of the Lord...and not just all those many years ago but in the here and now...so many setbacks but you continue to allow the Lord to set you back under the safety and protection of His wing...thank you for mentoring us in trust...reading your words this morning was so impactful...I went back to my post and encouraged others to make sure to click over to your site...the week's readings were challenging especially the last few chapters...you helped me to make better "sense" of them.
I continue to pray for your physical healing and for the jobs that God has waiting for you and Bog...and for all the people that will be touched as a result of God's assignments for you both. I am completely humbled by your heart this morning.

You can read my thoughts for the week here Helen's site!

Have a blessed week,

Helen

amy 4/07/2008  

New to your blog but what perfect timing. We are studying the old testamet in our Amazing Collections study and I needed your words today

thanks

helenw13 4/07/2008  

Oops...didn't mean to call your beloved Bob...Bog...oh my!

Nise' 4/07/2008  

So good to hear that you are feeling better! It moves me so to hear how God brings Beauty from Ashes in the lives of my sisters in Christ. What you said about Gideon obeying at night really hit me as I did not think about when he obeyed. What you said, " A heart for God obeys when people are looking and when no one is looking", tenders my heart.

My thoughts are here.

Bev Brandon 4/07/2008  

Helen, I read your beautiful comments and left you a touching note. Your welcomed words are powerful even if you call my husband a Bog. JK. You are such a gifted writer. That was such an intense story with so many questions with it. I love the stability and kindness you offer to my life. I am an unworthy servant who has done her humble but mere duty to her King. And I love my King SO MUCH.

Bev Brandon 4/07/2008  

Amy, welcome to you...I visited your blog and loved your quilt idea collection. I collected quotes from friends at my children's baptisms and hope one day to do something with them. Nice to meet you and come back again.

Bev Brandon 4/07/2008  

'Nise - I love how your teachable heart is always looking for what pulls you "in" to your God so you can be "all in" with HIM, as the saying goes. ALL IN. You even read with teachability. Have loved getting to know you this year. You are a faithful, open, honest woman who is a joy to me.

BethAnne 4/07/2008  

Bev,
I am so sorry that happened to you. I cannot imagine the pain that went along with that. What a wonderful, graceful and grace-filled woman you are today. Praise be to God for your life. You touch so many with your sweet words and kind heart - thankfully, God spared your precious life that night. Thank you for sharing that - I know that there are others who read this who will be touched even more deeply than me because they have 'been there'. They will be blessed by your story.

Ang baylis 4/07/2008  

Dear Bev,
I have kept you in my prayers as well and am so happy you are feeling better. I have to tell you that I skimmed through the readings this week because I have been preoccupied by having a lot of company staying here. It's strange how the times I need God the most is when I am prone to wander. I didn't read all of chapters 19 & 20 but will read them tonight before I go to sleep. Your story is so sad. It makes me so grateful that God got ahold of you and wrapped you in His arms. He wanted you, Bev. It takes a special woman to share her story with us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You will still be in my prayers daily!
Much love to you!
Angie xoxo

p.s. I just wrote a tiny bit on mine for today. I don't ever want to forget what He's done for us!

Josh 4/08/2008  

I'm glad you're back. I've got a bit of the Flu spell, but I'm trying to fight through it.

Take care!

Bev Brandon 4/09/2008  

Bethanne, there is something about you that is so precious, so endearing, so inviting. Thank you so much for your kind remarks. It has been a joy to interact with you. You are so real and so full of life. Bev

Bev Brandon 4/09/2008  

Thank you Ang, it was my privilege to share with you. He wants us all! Isaiah 30:18 - He longs to be gracous to you and have compassion on you. I love your honest heart and believe God is moving toward you because of it. May you continue to make that time that is so sacred for you with HIM. You are a joy to all of us, to many!

Bev Brandon 4/09/2008  

Hey Josh, Hope you are better and don't share those germs! Can't believe you are going to be a dad. You will be a great one. Hope all is well with you guys. Thanks for commenting.

Praying for Our Friend Joanne Psalm 131:3 Waiting on God. Hope Now. Hope Always.

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I've met some amazing women through blogging. I would love to hear from you. My personal e-mail is:
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I have another blog where I blog daily as a small group of us read through the New Testament this year. It's called A String of Pearls. We carry each other on mats (when we just can't walk anymore) to Jesus and sweet things like that.

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