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Category: Devotional Writings

Do Not Forget To Entertain Strangers

I used to volunteer for the soup kitchen in Winchester, Kentucky. I had a babysitter for the (toddler aged) boys and cooked 2-3 days a week until I was called away from that ministry to focus entirely on my writing.  One day, hardly any help showed up.  It was just me and one other girl for a while, then one more girl came.

On a normal day, we cooked the meals on wheels lunches starting at 7:00. Around 9:00, someone would come and deliver bread and desserts that a local store donated, and then the driver would come to pick up the meals on wheels food that we’d prepared that morning.  Once that was done, I was supposed to lock the doors and unlock them at 11:45 when it was time to serve lunch.  The day that the staff was really small, I forgot to lock the doors.

I was outside of the kitchen in the dining room sorting the bread and the desserts.  The items we couldn’t use for the meal that day were put on a table and given free to the people who came to eat.  A lot of people came early to get the good stuff every day.  Any boxes of doughnuts and such, we would put on the tables, open, for people to just enjoy.

I was alone in the dining room.  This is a long room – the length of the church building – and I was at the end, near the kitchen, well away from the only entrance to the room.  As I was sorting bread, I turned around and a man was standing right next to me, his arms outstretched as if he was coming in for a hug.  He was tall, unkempt, unshaven, sweaty, filthy, and he smelled really bad.  I’d never seen him before.  But I hugged him anyway.  It felt wrong not to.  He slapped me on the back and said, “I’ve just been telling people about Jesus!”

I smiled and said, “Amen, brother.  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?”  I gestured to the table.  “Do you want a doughnut?”

“Boy, do I!”  He quickly sat down and opened a box of 3 cinnamon rolls.

I asked, “Do you want a cup of coffee, too?”

Around a mouthful of pastry, he said, “Oh yes.  Coffee.”

I went into the kitchen, poured him a cup of coffee, and took it to him.  He said, “Man, they don’t treat us like this in Indiana.”

I turned around to do the bread, then just a second or two later turned back around intending to ask him where in Indiana he was coming from.

He was gone.

The box of pastries was gone.  The cup of coffee was gone.  The chair was pushed in.  There were no crumbs anywhere.  It was probably 20 yards to the doorway (If you look at the pitcture, I was way up by the column by the kitchen window, and he would have had to come past where I stood to take this picture) and there was no trace of him.

I asked the girl who was working with me if she saw the guy leave, and she said, “What guy?”

I don’t know who that man was.  He was probably a homeless guy from Indiana.  But, Hebrews 13:2 immediately came to my mind and stayed with me all day:

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

halleeLOGOspinefinal

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You Aren’t An Impostor

Impostor syndrome is the name given to the feelings when a person doubts his or her accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. No matter how much evidence there is to the contrary, people with imposter syndrome still can be filled with incredible self-doubt.

I suffer from this on an extreme. It just is how my brain works. I’m not sure what triggers it — maybe it’s a subconscious reminder of a series of bad decisions through my teen and young adult years or maybe it’s just how I’m wired — but the entire time I’m writing, teaching, speaking, or just interacting with people in my day-to-day life, in the back of my mind I’m waiting for someone to expose me as a fraud. To claim and make sure everyone knows and understands that I don’t have the right to my authority, to my words, to my talents.

I could let it cripple me. It would be very easy for me to give in to the fear and just stop succeeding.

Here is an interesting fact: Successful women are more highly susceptible to it. I think that’s fascinating.

The thing is, it’s normal. Isn’t that crazy? It’s normal and it’s common and it’s okay to think those thoughts as long as you don’t let those thoughts drive you or impede you.

If you happen to suffer from imposter syndrome, too, let me tell you how I mentally fight it back so that I CAN teach, and I CAN write, and I CAN speak and know that I CAN do those things well, with grace and strength to inspire and to educate.
I remind myself of some truths:

You are God’s creation. He gifted you with talents and skills for this very moment. Every step you’ve made to reach this point, He’s affirmed over and over again.
You are a loving wife of an adored husband who would give you the moon if you requested it.
You are a good mother with great kids who thrive.
You are a good friend to AMAZING friends who step up when you need them because they know you’ll have their backs, too. And even when it’s hard, it’s okay to ask for their help.
You have words to offer the world that encourage and inspire and energize. Words God gave you and to hold them back would be a detriment to His kingdom plan.

If you suffer from imposter syndrome, let me encourage you to fight it off – even if you have to do it daily (like me). Write down encouraging truths about yourself and repeat them out loud if you need to. Sometimes, I need to.

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Not Forsaken

scrollIn Christ’s time, there were no Bibles. The Word of God was on scrolls, but the scrolls were precious and rare. People received the word of God, spoken by someone reading the scrolls, and they spent their adolescence memorizing the Scriptures.

There also were not chapters and verses within the Scriptures. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, added the chapters and verses to the Bible in the early 13th century – nearly 1300 years after Christ’s death and resurrection.

If I said, “John 3:16,” most of you would know exactly to what I was referring. I wouldn’t have to say, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” I simply have to quote chapter and verse and you know it.

In Christ’s time, due to the memorization of the scriptures and the absence of numeric designation of chapter and verses, when someone was referring to a passage, they simply said the first sentence of said passage. That referred to the whole thing.

christ_on_crossWhen Christ was on the cross, he said these words, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).

I don’t believe that Christ was saying that God forsook Him while He hung on that cross. I don’t believe that God turned His back on Christ at that moment. *I* believe that Jesus was referring to Psalm 22 and the prophesy made by David so many generations before. The first line of Psalm 22 is, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” And in the tradition of that time, Christ would have been directing people to that prediction found within that Psalm:

I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.

For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

In fact, I believe that Psalm 22 specifically says that God did NOT turn his face from Christ:

…Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.

So there are many interpretations that say that God cannot look at sin; therefore, He turned away from Christ in the darkest hour of His need. However, I believe that such interpretations are eisegetical, which means “not related to the text,” or, man’s biased interpretation based on Habakkuk 1:13:

You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,
And cannot look on wickedness.
Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,
And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours
A person more righteous than he?

Resurrected Jesus ChristBefore translation, that verse in the original text does not mean that God cannot look upon wickedness, it means He cannot look upon it with approval.

I believe that this is an exegetical interpretation, which is to mean derived directly from the text: All throughout Christ’s ministry, the prophecies of His life and ministries were fulfilled. From the cross, He used precious energy and breath to utter a single sentence to direct those who would hear and tell the story of the prophecy of Messiah’s death — and remind them of the triumph. He was reminding those there that He would triumph over death as He told His disciples He would when he said in Mark 9:31:

“The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.”

Psalm 22 ends with God’s triumph.

Why does it matter? Because I think that it’s wrong to think that God cannot look upon sin. God is omniscient and omnipresent. He sees everything and knows everything. We might grieve Him, but His back is never turned.

He never turned His back on His Son, and He’ll never turn His back on you.

I hope you have a blessed day celebrating Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

halleeLOGOspinefinal

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Don’t, Do, and a Promise

Philippians 4:6 tells us: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…

Be anxious for…NOTHING
Pray for…EVERYTHING.

But, it doesn’t stop with don’t and do. Notice the ellipsis at the end of that verse. It is only half the sentence. Beyond “don’t do this thing that is in human nature and do this thing that you have to consciously do all the time with thanksgiving in your heart even if times are really super hard,” there is the promise of a beautiful gift.

Philippians 4:7 says: …and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The PEACE of GOD which surpasses ALL understanding will GUARD our hearts and minds through CHRIST Jesus.

I know I want that peace. I know I cling to the promise that I will receive that peace that passes all understanding. I know even in the depth of the valley when I’m sinking and overcome with despair, I can seek God, open that line of communication with Him, and receive HIS peace.

What burdens are on your heart, friend? How can I pray for you today?

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Observing a Daniel Fast

Daniel was a prophet of God during the 6th century B.C.  I once heard it preached that Daniel is the only man, other than Christ, that the Bible has nothing bad to say about.  I have enjoyed any and all of the studies I’ve done in the book of Daniel.

He was among some Israelite children who were taken captive by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar during a siege of Jerusalem. Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, were among a select group who were chosen based on:

Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.  Daniel 1:3-4

Based on how they did things, the king fed them delicacies and wine and gave them intense training for 3 years, after which they would be able to serve the king.  The problem with the food was that the Babylonians did not follow a Levitical diet, and they offered their food to their idols before they consumed it.  Despite their circumstances and the fact that this could have resulted in severe punishment for them, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, refused to eat the food and to drink the wine.  The eunuch in charge of them said:

“I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.”   Daniel 1:10

Daniel offered a challenge to him.

“Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.”  Daniel 1:13-14

So, the eunuch consented and at the end of ten days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier and stronger than the other captives who partook of the delicacies and wine of the king.  So they were allowed to continue with their diet for the three years training time.

Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.  Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-Nego); therefore they served before the king.  And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.  Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus. Daniel 1:18-21

That is the first time such a diet is mentioned in the book of Daniel.  The next time is in Daniel 10.

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.  Daniel 10:2-3

Daniel had received a message from God, and he fasted for 21 days so that he would fully understand this vision.  At the end of his fast, he was able to interpret the vision from God (which is understood to have been a vision of the risen Christ) and give a prophecy about his vision.

So, there are two instances in the book of Daniel where he fasts from anything but vegetables (and according to everything I’ve studied, the term for vegetables includes fruits and seeds) and water.  Once was to make his body healthy, to improve his appearance, to “buff up” so to speak.  Another time was to strengthen himself spiritually for God to speak to him.

Starting January 2, my husband and I will begin a 21-day observance of “The Daniel Fast”.  I want to detox my body and focus on God.  I’m using the fast to strengthen both my body and my spirit.

If you Google Daniel Fast, you will get a wealth of resources that do all sorts of talking and explaining about the fast.  Some allow tofu, some explain away drinking herbal tea, some spend page after page trying to explain just how to do it.  I’m going to keep it simple.

In observing the diet we will eat only vegetables, fruits, and unleavened bread that does not contain any ingredient that is not made directly from a vegetable or fruit.  For instance, I am going to make tortillas out of fresh ground flour and olive oil (instead of shortening or beef tallow).  When I make a salad, I’ll flavor it with olive oil (cold pressed) and lemon juice.  We will eat only whole grains (brown rice vs. white rice). We will only drink water.  We call it “vegan extreme”.

We aren’t looking for shortcuts. We’re not going to consume a “to-furkey” because it’s a vegan turkey. We’re just looking to simply eat straightup fruits and veggies and drink only water.

We do this fast annually, and it is so rejuvenating to both my body and spirit that I start looking forward to it weeks in advance. This year, I feel led to share with you my menus for the fast as well as recipes, hints, tricks, and insights I receive as I fast and pray.  I will be posting daily in my Hallee the Homemaker facebook group about it. If you want to join in, check back on this blog through the Daniel Fast tag at this link, or join that group (I promise I won’t try to sell you anything.)

Other than that specific group, I’ll also be on a social media fast. So, that’s about the only place you’ll be able to find me other than this website.

halleeLOGOspinefinal

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