Sunday, July 26, 2009


Over a year ago I ran across the word “mashena” – I think I was looking through name websites trying to help my mother find a name for her dog or something or other. As soon as I saw this name/word though and its meaning I knew it was “my word”

Mashena is Hebrew. (And I’ve always had a fascination with all things Hebrew) It means: Welcome, stability, a place of rest.

This word has become my motto, my goal, my prayer, my hope, my purpose. It fits so perfectly into many of the interests and gifts that God has given me.

One of my favorite verses has always been the one from Micah that says, “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.”

I believe that is how I should live out “mashena” in my life – no matter what my life circumstances are. To seek justice (which often means refuge for the oppressed rather than judgment of the wicket – though it means that as well.), to love mercy, to provide that “welcome” and “rest”, for people. And I can do all this – I can seek to make my life one that offers stability, rest, and welcome by being humble – by understanding that I am capable of any fall and that the only reason my life does not have some of the trials we like to judge others for is of no doing or superiority of mine.

So, after a couple years of a blog called “The Single Domestic” – I’ve decided to transition to something a bit more broad. For those that have followed from that former blog – you’ll still find recipes and decor stuff here -because that is all about “welcome” and “rest” in my heart. But there will be more – things about justice and mercy and stability – whatever form that takes in my life on any given day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

31: Justice

Psalm 5-34

I recently had a discussion on a message board about "justice" so as I was reading the first few psalms the term justice popped out at me.

Psalm 9: 7-10

The LORD reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
He will judge the world in righteousness;
he will govern the peoples with justice.
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Justice = refuge for the oppressed.

later in vs. 15-16:

The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.
The LORD is known by his justice;
the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.

Justice = the wicked reap what they sow. (I think it's important to note here that it's not just "You all suffer from your mistakes" but that the wicked reap what they sow in connection to judgment. I mean - yes, we all obviously bear the consequences of our actions - but the "ensnaring" mentioned here connected to God's justice mentions the wicked.


The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked and those who love violence
his soul hates.
On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.
For the LORD is righteous,
he loves justice;
upright men will see his face.

Again, the harsh "judgment" against the wicked. But - "justice" is still connected to the righteous seeing his face.

I could be totally off base - but I think in the past most people would've assumed "justice" meant the harsh judgment for those who have done wrong. I think we've flipped to the other side - where most people see "justice" as the "refuge for the oppressed" with the number of "justice causes" that have sprung up in the past few years - especially within the church and religious organizations. Obviously - both are correct. I've got a heart for the latter - but it's done me well to be reminded that Justice is more than just that refuge - that there is judgment involved.

And - I don't always know the difference between the wicked and the oppressed. I hate to be all pop culture - but since he was all over the news - Michael Jackson comes to mind. Wicked or oppressed? My heart feels like it's the latter - but - I certainly don't know. I think that in the absence of that knowledge - it's always best to err on the side of being a refuge rather than bringing judgment - because we're also told to "act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly" - the mercy and humility part seems to suggest that as fallible humans we should err on that side. While, at the same time, recognizing - that sometimes it is time for the wicked to become ensnared by the traps they have set - and that no amount of mercy or humility can change that.

I rambled a lot there - but hopefully something made sense. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

30/40+: Slaves in the Promised Land

Ezra - Psalm 4

Text: Nehemiah 9

(side note: every time I see the name "Nehemiah" I start singing a song from a church musical when I was a kid "O me! O My! O Nehemiah look what we have done! The walls are down the gates are broke oh. . hum de hum dum hum...." yeah. That's all I remember. I DO however have this musical to thank for teaching me about Nehemiah re-building the walls of Jerusalem.)

Anyway. I feel a bit like a broken record but the Israelites keep pointing this out about themselves and every time my heart just breaks. In Chapter 9 the Israelites are standing "in their places and confess[ing] their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day and spent another quarter in confession and in worship of their Lord their God." (2-3)

As they do this they remember their past. There was no Bible to carry around those days - so they often repeated their history. My years as an English teacher taught me that repetition has a rather strong literary effect - and God certainly employs it. Just in case you missed it before - one more time let's see just what these Israelites have been up to:

Verses 5-15 describe all the amazing things God did for them - how God made a name for himself (10). (That seems to be one of the big themes God is showing me in this speed read - that God made a name for himself and it's A Big Deal)

And, of course, the Israelites "failed to remember the miracles [God] performed among them" (17).

They went back and forth - At one time they "reveled in [his] great goodness" (25) but "as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was even in [his] sight" (28).

Yet -even with all this unfaithfulness from the Israelites - we get this:

"our God, the great, mighty and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love. . . n all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong... Even while [our kings] were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.

But, see, we are staves today, slaves in the land you gave our forefathers so they could eat it's fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, it's abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress." (32-37)

Now, if I was God I'd say, "hold on..the kings I placed over you? I seem to recall you begging me for those kings so you could be like those around you? Those are of your asking as well!" (Though I know God did anoint and appoint kings)

That last part is just so sad to me. Living in the promised land - and the promised land is doing exactly as was promised - producing abundant fruit. Yet, the people do not get the benefit of the promise - they're there - but the fruit goes to the king and they are slaves in the land because of their sin.

Living as a slave in a promised land. Just because you're somewhere God wants you to be doesn't mean you're exempt from making mistakes or suffering consequences of your actions.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

24/40+: Boldness

Text: 2 Kings - 2 Chronicles (Yes - I changed it to 40+. It's looking doubtful that I'll make it in 40. I'm going to try not to beat myself up for that :-p )

My last entry said 2 Corinthians was repetitive - I meant Chronicles. ;-). Sorry!

Here's a passage from that repetitive book though from the Message paraphrase. (I occasionally read a chapter or two from that book when my interest is failing.)

2 Chronicles 6:18-21, 36-42.

[Solomon is speaking]

Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn't large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I've built. Even so, I'm bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I'm setting before you right now. Keep your eyes open to this Temple day and night, this place you promised to dignify with your Name. And listen to the prayers that I pray in this place. And listen to your people Israel when they pray at this place

. . .

When they sin against you—and they certainly will; there's no one without sin!—and in anger you turn them over to the enemy and they are taken captive to the enemy's land, whether far or near, but repent in the country of their captivity and pray with changed hearts in their exile, "We've sinned; we've done wrong; we've been most wicked," and turn back to you heart and soul in the land of the enemy who conquered them, and pray to you toward their homeland, the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you chose, and this Temple I have built to the honor of your Name,
Listen from your home in heaven
to their prayers desperate and devout;
Do what is best for them.
Forgive your people who have sinned against you.

And now, dear God, be alert and attentive to prayer, all prayer, offered in this place.

Up, God, enjoy your new place of quiet repose,
you and your mighty covenant Chest;
Dress your priests up in salvation clothes,
let your holy people celebrate goodness.
And don't, God, back out on your anointed ones,
keep in mind the love promised to David your servant.

One recurring theme to me is just . . . that "faith in yourself" idea. In a way that is far far different from the self-empowerment people talk about today. I guess it's more of an understanding of who God is that makes you understand who you are - and it gives you confidence to act according to how he designed you. I mean - it sounds like Solomon is kind of ordering God around in a way that our moder sensibilities gasp at his audacity - but he does it because he believes it. He really believes that God promised all of those things - that they are his to claim. He believes that God honors his promises - and therefore all he is really doing is reminding himself of God's promises.

It's a boldness that I admire that I've seen in the people who have popped up in the pages of scripture. I don't feel like I can quite put into words just what kind of trait it is I see in them - because boldness isn't exactly right - but hopefully a few of you can see it too through the scripture passages I've pulled out.