"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

5/30/13

Introducing Mephibosheth

Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth. 2 Samuel 4:4

It's been a while since I did a Bible character biography - and it's not from lack of inspiration or motivation. I just haven't found or made the time. But I'm changing that - because I've been thinking about profiling this particular Bible character for at least a month - and he's told me he's not planning to wait much longer. So, here I go.

Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan and the grandfather of King Saul. He is first mentioned briefly in 2 Samuel 4:4, and his story is told off and on in 2 Samuel 9-19.

Graphic credit
The first mention of Mephibosheth is not an encouraging one. He definitely started off on the wrong foot (excuse the pun. Please!). At the age of five, both his father Jonathan and grandfather Saul were killed in battle. When his nurse heard the news, she picked him up and left his home, fearing for their lives. In the process, she dropped him and he became lame in both feet.

Yet, he was still an heir to his grandfather's throne - a throne David had taken over. And this undoubtedly made this man nervous. But his father and the new king had pledged their friendship to each other and their descendants forever (1 Samuel 20:42), so he needn't have worried.

Once David's reign was fully established, he decided to make good on his pledge. He learned of Mephibosheth from Saul's old servant Ziba, and invited his best friend's son to eat at the king's table, and granted him the land that once belonged to his grandfather Saul (he ordered Ziba and his descendants to care for the land).(2 Samuel 9:1-13 And Mephibosheth became devoted to David for life.

Or did he?

As King David was leaving Jerusalem because Absalom's insurrection, Mephibosheth's servant Ziba reported that his charge had for all intents and purposes betrayed the king. And David took Ziba at his word.
The king then asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?” Ziba said to him, “He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, ‘Today the Israelites will restore to me my grandfather’s kingdom.’” Then the king said to Ziba, “All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” 2 Samuel 16: 3-4
Graphic Source
 A few chapters later, however, when David returned to Jerusalem victorious, Mephibosheth approached the king, claiming his innocence. He told David that Ziba had refused to saddle a donkey for Mephibosheth, which trapped the man in Jerusalem when he wanted to join his king in exile. He had not attempted to regain the throne for his family, the lame man said. (2 Samuel 19:26-27) David, after hearing both sides, made his ruling.
 The king said to him, “Why say more? I order you and Ziba to divide the land.” 2 Samuel 19:29
So, who was telling the truth? Most believe it was Mephibosheth - and I am among them. According to the text, when Mephibosheth approached David in 2 Samuel 19:24, "he had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely." That doesn't sound like the actions of a traitor. And his response to David's decision to divide the land?
Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him take everything, now that my lord the king has returned home safely.” 2 Samuel 19:30 
Again, sounds like a devoted follower to me.

There are so many different ways to relate to Mephibosheth. A child of the enemy - accepted by the king. The imperfect man - accepted anyway. A devoted follower. A betrayed person. The misunderstood. And more.

In what ways are you like Mephibosheth? What can we learn from him?



Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

5/27/13

Remembering

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. Psalm 143:5

 The human brain is a fascinating, mind-bogglingly complex part of the human anatomy. More intricate than any other part of your body, it is "grand central station" for personality, thoughts, calculations, bodily functions of every kind, and, of course, memory.

And today is a day to remember. It's a legal holiday set aside honor those who went before us, fighting for our country - giving their lives so we can be free.

It's a popular day for barbecues and picnics and other outdoor activities - it is the "unofficial start of summer," after all. And for some, that's all it is. But that's not how it should be. Those who made that sacrifice for us deserve to be remembered, to be honored.
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Of course, forgetting isn't only relegated to holidays such as this. God's Word is full of people who forgot things and were the worst for it. Again and again, the Israelites forgot the Lord's promises to them and went their own way. Solomon forgot the teachings of his father David and followed idols. King Joash followed God's ways - but only while Jehoida the priest lived. Once this man of God died, Joash forgot all the good and went His own way. And the list goes on.

God teaches us lessons every day - through His Word, the Holy Spirit, other people (even nonbelievers sometimes!), books,  nature, circumstances - you name it, He can and has used it to bring us closer to Him - to make us more like His Son. On this Memorial Day, do not forget.

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We're discussing this here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?
 
Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

5/15/13

Jewish Holiday: Shavuot

Here is another Jewish holiday that several of you may not have heard of. Shavuot, which began primarily as an agricultural holiday, has become a holiday celebrating the receiving of the Torah by Moses on Mount Sinai.

Shavuot, which means "weeks," is celebrated on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan. See this post for more details on the Hebrew calendar (which is VERY different from ours). This year, Shavuot began at sunset yesterday, May 14 and ends at sunset tonight. (See post referenced above for an explanation of the sunset to sunset thing :) )

Shavuot is one of the three "pilgrimage festivals" when Jews were required to travel to Jerusalem and bring their offerings (the other two are Passover - which I discussed here and here - and Sukkot, which is a few months away yet). It marked the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. After temple times, it became a celebration of God giving the Israelites the Torah on Mount Sinai.

According to the Torah, it took precisely 49 days, or seven weeks, for the ancient Israelites to travel from Egypt (which is celebrated on Passover) to the foot of Mount Sinai. The Torah commands: "On that same day (the 50th) you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work." (Leviticus 23:21) This is the holiday of Shavuot. (Known to most Christians, by the way, as Pentecost)

There are a handful of traditions associated with Shavuot. One is to stay up all night studying the Torah. It's also common to eat dairy foods on this holiday. It is also common, in the synagogue, to read the book of Ruth, as well as the Ten Commandments.

As always, click on the links throughout this post for more details - or ask questions in the comments!

Had you heard of Shavuot before? What was most interesting to you?



Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths
Graphics courtesy of Christians Unite 

5/13/13

Shared Suffering

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)
Graphic Courtesy of Christians Unite
"I know what you're going through. I've been there."
There's something comforting about those words. You make a very special connection--a unique bond, if you will--with someone who has truly been through the very same difficulty you have. A bond of common experience and suffering. A fellowship, if you will.

I, for instance, have a very soft spot in my heart for the wives of ill/disabled husbands, because I am one. It's not just that I can "give them advice" because of my own experience. And it's not just that they can do the same for me. It's a special kind of comfort and understanding that comes from empathy--being able to be in someone else's proverbial shoes. It's the "fellowship of sharing in his [or her] sufferings." It's being able, in a sense, to make suffering lighter by sharing it. It's knowing that person just a bit better because of your commonality.

Knowing what Jesus went through in his earthly life is one thing. I can read the Bible for that. Yet, with the right attitude, experiencing it myself can give me a new, more intimate fellowship with Him: the fellowship of shared experiences. So, perhaps, because I have been rejected by others, chastised by Jews, and misunderstood by my closest relatives, I can empathize with My Savior, and draw a bit closer to him.

It's easy to take experiences like these and whine about them, or even to withdraw from the Lord, feeling forsaken. Yet, why not see them as an opportunity to empathize with our Savior, and to develop that fellowship of sharing suffering?

Heavenly Father, I know that your empathy for me is complete, as you have gone through everything I have. Help me, Lord, to feel some of that same empathy with You, and to draw closer to You in the process. I know I cannot empathize with you completely, as I am but a human, while You are divine. Still, draw me closer to you through the fellowship of our shared suffering, and help me to look at my own suffering in this same light. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

**

 We're discussing this here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?

 
Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

5/9/13

Beautiful Weeds


The Barn Door

My experience with dandelions changed greatly when I moved from Los Angeles to the Midwest. How? Check out my post - today at The Barn Door, and learn about Those Little Yellow Flowers: Then And Now.

 
Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

5/6/13

A Sacrificial Sacrifice

But the king [David] replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24a

 As Christians, we want to be a witness to those around us. We want to be generous and giving, because that is what Jesus would do - what Jesus DID do when He was on earth, and what He continues to do in heaven. For what we give to others, we are, in actuality, giving to Him (Matthew 25:40).

And admit it (I do!): we don't even mind getting a bit of a benefit ourselves from our generosity. We like to be complimented for our giving. We like to be thanked, to be appreciated. Be used as an example for others to follow.

Photo Credit
There can be a problem with this, however. If you are a person after God's own heart (like David in the verse that opened this post), your giving - your sacrifice - should be...well...sacrificial. If you toss God your leftovers (Mark 12:41), how is that honoring to Him? If your charity/sacrifice helps you - whether it is with self-esteem, encouragement, getting rid of stuff you don't need, or countless other ways I'm not remembering - more than the recipient, how is it really a sacrifice? What are you truly giving to God?

Of course, I'm not saying it is sinful to receive a benefit from your own giving. Just be sure the benefit isn't the REASON you are serving or giving. Don't give something that "costs you nothing" and  expect God to see it as a gift to Him.

Heavenly Father, it's easy to give and serve when the cost to us is minimal or nonexistent. But that isn't what You want from us. Help us to serve You, and Your people, sacrificially. It isn't our leftovers - our hand-me-downs we were going to throw away anyhow - that You want. It's our hearts - and the things we appreciate. You gave up Your Son for us - help us to show our appreciation for that through our own sacrificial giving. In Your Son's name I pray. Amen

**
 We're discussing this here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?
 
Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

Promises, Promises

You know when God makes a promise, He is going to keep it - even if it's a promise you wish He wouldn't. But even that is good, if you look at it from the right perspective.


I'm over at the Internet Cafe today, talking about just that. Hope you'll stop by and be encouraged by God's promises - even if you don't like them. Do you promise?
 
Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

5/1/13

Busy Busy - A Goals/Progress Update

I don't know about you, but I am having a hard time believing today is the first day of the last full month of school for my kids this school year. May? Really??

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April was, if I may say so, a crazy busy month - mostly with non-computer-related things. I almost don't want to review my goals. But I will. Ready??

Here they are - from last month's post:
  • Post, on topic, at least twice a week to my blog (with 2/3 of it fresh content) - this does not count teaser posts to other blogs I post to.
  • Finish the last Margie Lawson and Ane Mulligan lessons.
  • Once I know exactly what I need to do, a minimum of five chapters a week "fixed" for Ailing Body Nourished Soul.
  • Until I know about ABNS, a minimum of 5k a week in Handmaiden to a Princess. After that, 2k a week minimum.
I only posted once last week, but otherwise I did manage two on-topic posts each week the other weekz, for a total of seven on-topic posts. Five of them were fresh content.

I did the last Margie Lawson lesson, but haven't touched Ane Mulligan's. I WILL do it. Eventually. I've done as much as I could with Ailing Body, Nourished Soul for the moment and am waiting on feedback so I can get busy on restructuring the book.

As far as Handmaiden to a Princess? I'm to 32,650 - which means I managed just over 11,500 this past
month.

Not great - but that's enough looking back. Time to set some goals for this month (which will include four exciting days at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference - thanks to some AMAZING online friends!).

And here we go:
  • Post, on topic, at least twice a week to my blog (with 2/3 of it fresh content) - this does not count teaser posts to other blogs I post to.
  • Prepare one-sheets for, and present pitches on, Flitter's Foggy Day and A Story of Faith.
  • Work at least some every week on Ailing Body, Nourished Soul
  • Enjoy and learn much from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina the week before Memorial Day.
Will leave it at that for now. Definitely looking forward to this month! Thanks for reading - and cheering me on!

 
Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

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