A Detour Around the Trees

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Although I had planned on using our time together today to try and answer some of the questions that were raised at the end our last visit—questions as to why God would choose to use trees to tell His story of redemption—it doesn’t look like that is going to happen.  The reason is, every time I have tried to organize my thoughts on the subject, it was as if somebody put my brain on “automatic scramble;” and, after being hit with the equivalent of a mental brickbat, not just once but many times, I decided that it would be to my advantage to go with whatever alternative the Lord decided to give me.  This seems to be that alternative—a reflection that I am calling “A Detour Around the Trees”—for all of the obvious reasons.

This detour originally began as a status update for my Facebook page, however, it never made it that far.  For whatever reason, while I was working on this, I didn’t experience the “brain scramble” that I did with the other work. As a result, this update just kept on growing until eventually it looked more like a reflection rather than an update–so that is what I decided to make it.

It was always my intention, once this blog was up and running, to use one of our visits to explain why I had chosen “His Truth, My Voice:  The Reflections of a Reluctant Prophet” as the name for my blog.  But, even though we have been meeting together, on average, once a week for the past five months, it is something that remained unattended to.  I thought that since some of you may have been curious about my choice of names, this would be a good time to offer an explanation for it—plus, it will give my brain something of a break, too.  So, let’s get started by first explaining the “reluctant prophet” part of the name.

This originated many years ago, when I was trying to get a new singles’ Sunday school class started at my church; a class specifically designed for more in-depth Bible study than what was currently being offered.  When I proposed the class to the powers-that-were, though, I was told by the minister of education that I would not be allowed to teach the class because I was a woman who would be teaching adult men.   He explained to me that there were only two other women in the church at the time who were teaching adult men, but it was okay for them because they were married and their husbands were “visible presences” in the church.   When I replied that, as a single woman, I considered Christ to be my husband until He gave me one in the flesh, and that I certainly hoped He was a visible presence in the church, the minister didn’t know quite how to respond—other than to say that he still didn’t want me to teach.

What, me a prophet?

I Don’t Think So…

Interestingly enough, about this same time, I was asked to be the guest teacher in a men’s Sunday school class at another church about a hundred miles away. Obviously, this church didn’t have the same concerns about me teaching men that my home church did.  Naturally, none of this made any sense to me, so while I was out walking one day, asking the Lord what I should do about both situations, He spoke to me, saying, “You need to resolve this issue because I am going to make you a prophet…”

Since that was the last thing I expected to hear, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the first thing out of my mouth was, “But I don’t want to be a prophet, I want everyone to like me.  Besides, I have read ‘The Book’ and I know what the ‘people of God’ have done to the prophets of God in the past–plus, I am really not up for being drawn and quartered, burned at the stake, beheaded, or boiled in hot oil.  So, what is ‘Plan B’?”  Although I waited and waited for Him to respond, no answer came.

More time went by and when no “Plan B” was forthcoming, I decided to go back to God in an effort to try and negotiate a better deal for myself.  “Okay, I get it—there is no ‘Plan B’.  But, if You are really determined to go ahead with this ‘Plan A’ thing, at least let’s define our terms; that way I will know exactly what You will be expecting of me as your ‘prophet.’  According to my definition of the term, however, I just don’t see how I could possibly be qualified to be one.  I don’t foretell the future, I don’t give personal words to people, and there isn’t a preacher that I know of who would move over and let me preach the Word from his pulpit.  So, what do You mean when you use the term ‘prophet’?”

After a short pause, all I heard Him say was, “Think about it.” (Mind you, He has told me that on more than one occasion and I really don’t like to hear it because, as far as I am concerned,  it requires just a little too much effort and thought on my part, if you know what I mean.)

Hmmm…think about it, huh?  Well, the thought that came to my mind right away was of the three offices that were mentioned in the Old Testament:  those of prophet, priest, and king.  And, as I began to think about them, I realized immediately that I could eliminate any consideration of the duties of king because gender alone would exclude me from that office.  As for the office of priest, I was aware that it was to be filled by someone who would represent the people before God; someone who would bring sacrifices, prayers, and petitions before Him on their behalf.  Of course, being a Christian meant that I was already a member of the priesthood of believers, so I couldn’t see how I would have to concern myself with that office either.

Thinking Cap

This is too much like work!

With this process of elimination speeding things along, all that was left for me to consider was the office of the prophet.  I knew that this office was going to be different from the others because both of those were intended to be hereditary ones.  The office of prophet, however, was to be occupied on an as-needed basis by the person chosen by God to be His representative before the people; as such, he would be charged with the task of delivering God’s Words to the people,  so that they could come to understand His thoughts, positions, or attitudes concerning any given subject or situation.

As I thought about all of this, suddenly the bells went off—ding, ding, ding—and the light bulb came on—blinkie, blinkie, and I said, “OK, Lord, I’ve got it.  As Your prophet, what You want me to do is to take Your Word to people, and use it to explain to them who You are, and what You want from and for them.  I can do that—in fact, I have been doing that for years!  No problem.”

Thankfully, I did not have to work so hard or think quite so much when it came to the reason for the “His Truth, My Voice” part.  That’s because those words came to me directly from the Lord, in two messages given on two separate occasions.  In a word given to me by the Lord on June 26, 2008, He said,

“Use the voice that I have given you…age is not an issue, appearance is not an issue…the truth is the issue—make that your focus.  Remember, My Truth is your voice.”

And later, in a word given to me on July 28, 2009, He said,

“Remember:  My Word is My Truth, and My Truth is Your Voice.”

His instructions couldn’t have been any clearer so, for once, He didn’t get any back-talk from me—something which certainly must have come as a welcome change!

 

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Selah, with “Press On.”

 

Loose Threads…

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Sewing Machine and ThreadsWhen I was very young, my mother took a job as a school bus driver so that she could buy two things:  a Royal typewriter and a Singer sewing machine.  Not long after she bought the typewriter, she enrolled in, and later completed, the typing and shorthand classes which were being offered by one of the local high school’s adult education programs.  Although I am sure she did exemplary work in those classes (my mother always brought home “A’s”), I don’t think she ever got to use her newly acquired skills in any vocational way.  That’s because my mother’s real gifts were in cooking and managing, and it was the combination of these gifts that made it possible for her to quit driving the bus and move on to managing the cafeteria at a newly opened school in our area.

Of course, she excelled at this job and, after serving successfully in this capacity at a number of different schools, she was eventually promoted to the position of Food Service Supervisor; a position which required her to oversee the management and productivity of nineteen of the school cafeterias in our city–and a position which she held until her retirement. Interestingly enough, although I cannot remember my mother ever using that Royal typewriter again, it was that very machine that I used to teach myself to type, using my mother’s old night school books, probably when I was just eight or ten years old.

Singer Sewing Machine

A Sewing Machine Like My Mother’s

As for the Singer sewing machine, when my mother first purchased it, I know she used it a lot because I remember always being under her feet while she was sewing.  Probably as a way of getting me out from under, she started giving me little things to do on my own–actually beginning the process of teaching me to sew, even though I was only about two at the time.

My mother’s interest in sewing started to wane, though, once she took the full-time position as cafeteria manager, most likely because she no longer had the time to sew.  I, on the other hand, was just getting started.  In fact, I took to sewing like the proverbial duck takes to water.  I was making clothes for my dolls and me before I was eight, and by the time I had reached my teens, I was doing production type sewing, sewing flat-felled seams around all of the other students in my home economics class.

Much later, when my first marriage ended in divorce and I became the single mother of two little boys, I was able to use the sewing skills I had acquired to provide an income for my children and me.  Later still, when I went back to school to study architecture, along with the courses for my major, I took some courses in costume design and history and, once again, it was my sewing skills that opened a new door for me–building costumes for the theatre.  The contacts that I had made while working in the university’s theatre then led me to a job building costumes for a season at a large opera company in the southwest.  Upon my return home, and after one of the people I had worked with at the opera recommended me to the designer at our local theatre, I was hired me to stitch costumes for that company.

One day about this same time, a friend showed up at my door—saying she believed she had a “word from God” for me, and telling me that I should go to the large television ministry in our area and apply for a job.  At the time, I couldn’t imagine what I would do there, but then she told me that they had a wardrobe department and that they needed a new tailor!  So, I applied, was hired, and that is where I have worked, off and on, for the past twenty-seven years.  Although I was hired initially as a tailor, I ended up doing just about everything associated with wardrobe, from design to maintenance, and was quite content in doing so—that is, until about eleven years ago.

As I mentioned in my reflection, My Journey to the Land of Blog, this was about the time my supervisor asked me to take over the scheduling for our department.  At first, I was very reluctant to take the job on because it meant using a computer and at the time, I didn’t even know how to turn one on and off.  But, guess what?  I took the job and it wasn’t long before I learned learned my way around that once terrifying piece of machinery.  Why?  I think, for more than any other reason, it was because of the typing skills I had developed while working on my mother’s old Royal typewriter, when I was only eight or ten years old!

An Old Royal Typewriter

An Important Machine in My Life

Amazing, isn’t it, how one seemingly insignificant decision can make such a big difference in not just one, but in so many lives?  I am sure that when my mother decided to go to work to buy that typewriter and sewing machine, she had no idea of the long range implications of her decision.  No doubt, she thought she would use the typing and shorthand training to get a job in an office somewhere, and was probably planning on using the sewing machine to make her clothes for that job.  She had no idea at the time that in taking the bus driving job to buy the items, she would learn about the job at the school; a job which would make better use of her gifts, one that allowed her to work while her children were in school and yet be at home when they were off for the summer, and one where she would ultimately be able to bless a lot more people (and, as a job where she wouldn’t be wearing anything other than uniforms, there would be no need for sewing!).

At my mother’s funeral, I had the opportunity to meet one of the many people she made a difference to in her job, when a gentleman, who had been the principal at one of her schools, waited in line to introduce himself to me.   This school was a model for our city and he told how, when they were preparing to open it, he had been asked who he wanted to manage his cafeteria.  He said that he had no idea, just to send him “the best”–and, he said, that is what he got when they sent him my mother!

In retrospect, the typewriter and sewing machine were probably just a couple of “loose threads” in my mother’s life—projects or goals that were started but never completed.  Surely, when she bought them, she thought she was purchasing them for herself; all the while not having a clue that, in God’s master plan, she was really buying them for me–and, that in doing so, she was ultimately setting the course my life would take.  She had no way of knowing then that a sewing machine would be the means by which I would make a living, or that a typewriter would eventually make it possible for me to learn to use the computer–something which would make it possible for me to be on the web–and which would make it possible for me to share with others the things that I have learned about God.  What may have merely been a few loose threads in her life have, in my life, proven to be the very things that God has chosen to use over and over again, in the weaving of the tapestry which has become my life.

To be sure, they are just further evidence of the truths that…

  • “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and… the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:27-29 NKJV);
  • He works all things together for good to those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28); and,
  • “He has made everything beautiful in its time (Eccles. 3:11 NKJV).”

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable [are] His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33 NKJV)

 

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Francesca Battistelli singing, “Beautiful, Beautiful”…

 

My Journey to the Land of Blog

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Where Did This Come From?

Have you ever suddenly found yourself in a place and then wondered how you got there?  Or, maybe you had actually been planning on a trip but then, once you arrived at your destination, you felt like you needed to pinch yourself just to make sure that you were really there?  Well, that’s the kind of situation I find myself in these days, as far as this whole blogging business is concerned.   I mean, as few as three months ago, if anyone had suggested that I write a blog, I would have laughed and said, “Do what?”  That’s because, as the most private person I know, as well as one of the most vocal social media “conscientious objectors” ever, I would never have ventured into the land of Blog unless I had been compelled to do so by Someone whose wisdom far exceeded my own.  So, just how did that Someone go about getting me to leave my place of relative safety and take up residence in such an alien land?

In retrospect, I think the implementation of His plan for my journey actually began about eleven years ago.  That was about the time my boss asked me to take over the scheduling responsibilities for our department.  I laughed then, too, because doing the scheduling meant using the computer and, at the time, I couldn’t even turn one on and off without a great deal of fear and anxiety.  However, not being one to let a challenge go unmet, I agreed to give it a try.  It wasn’t too long afterward that I discovered the computer training classes regularly offered by our IT department—so I signed up.  And wouldn’t you know it—the more classes I took, the more of them I wanted to take.  And then, I took the most wonderful class of them all—the Word table-making class—and yowzers!—all of a sudden, the clouds parted, the skies cleared, and a whole new world of technical possibilities opened up before me!

Blogging

Blogging–Yea or Nay?

You see, for years I had been hand-drawing the charts and diagrams that I used in my Bible study presentations, even though I had long wanted to find a more professional manner in which to present them.   Let me tell you, once I was in possession of those table-making skills, I went berserk—I started turning out so many great charts that I could hardly keep up with myself—it was just too wonderful to be believed!  Of course, by this time, I wasn’t content to stay within the narrow confines of the Word world, so I began exploring the worlds of Excel and PowerPoint, and eventually made it into the far reaches of the land of Access!  Gradually, as my computer skills improved, my self-confidence increased, and it wasn’t long before I decided that I would start on the book that I had always hoped to write.

Actually, I had, for quite some time, been hoping to write at least two books—one presenting a Biblical perspective on the increasing number of disasters that were taking place all around us, and one that would teach people a new approach to reading and understanding their Bibles.  So, armed with my new skills and confidence, I very eagerly started working on the “disaster” book, and was even making great progress on it until…uh-oh…a series of disasters struck my own family.   While not in the same league as the category four or five tornadoes that we have been hearing about recently in the news, these events still turned our lives upside down and consumed so much of my time and energy that I found it necessary to relegate my writing project to a back shelf in my life—to that place of literary limbo where it has been gathering dust for over five years.

How to Blog a Book

My Blogging Handbook

I had begun to despair of ever being able to liberate it from this sad state until about three months ago, when I came across a book at the bookstore entitled, How to Blog Your Book, by Nina Amir.  Although it was very small and tucked away among the many other books on the shelf, it called to me, saying “Judy, Judy, Judy, take me home”—so I did!  I bought it, took it home, read it quickly, and was so inspired by it that I decided that I would gladly leave the safety of obscurity and move to the land of Blog, if it meant being able to finish my book.  Once I had cleared that seemingly impossible hurdle of faith—a very strange thing happened; I started thinking that doing one blog was just so “small potatoes,” why not do three blogs—one for the disaster book, one for the Bible study book, and one for my personal testimony?

I am blogging this

Look, Ma–I’m Blogging!

It seemed like such a good idea that, since then, I have been busy studying everything “blogular” that I could get my hands on, in an effort to immerse myself in the curious culture of this new land and to familiarize myself with its strange new language—a language replete with such strange sounding terms as widgets, plug-ins, dashboards, cascading style sheets, HTML, headers, footers, sidebars, bots, spiders, pages, posts, and RSS feeds.  While still far from being fluent, I am a lot farther along than I was a few months ago, and I am very pleased to be able to say that the first of my three new homes on the web has been set up and is really quite comfortable.  As far as the other two are concerned, they are still under construction, but I will let you know as soon as they, too, are habitable. In the meantime, please continue to visit me here as often as you can because, as the new kid on the blog block, I need all of the good company that I can get!

 

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If you find yourself stuck in life, Peter Furler is here with “All in Your Head,” a little something to help get you moving.

The Prophet is In, Just Bring Your Own Snacks

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Welcoming Entrance

Welcome to My Home on the Web!

Hello, my name is Judy Roberts, and I am so pleased to be able to welcome you to my new home on the web.  If you have any interest in things of a spiritual nature—and by spiritual, I mean those of the Christ-honoring kind—please feel free to stop in and visit me whenever you can.  Just a note, though:  if you were visiting with me in my brick and mortar home right now, I would be doing my best to make you feel more at ease by offering you some coffee or tea, and perhaps one of my homemade apple squares or killer chocolate chip cookies.  However, given the limitations imposed upon us by the nature of the web, I am sorry to have to inform you that when you visit me here in the future, you will be on your own as far as snacks are concerned.  So, let me encourage you to get those lined up before you sit down at the computer—that way, our conversations won’t suffer from quite so many interruptions (although bathroom breaks are certainly understandable).

Since you have absolutely no idea who in the world I am, I guess the best way to begin our new relationship would be by introducing myself to you.  The long and the short of it is this:  I am the wife of John, the mother of David, Matthew (aka Alex), Andrew, Joshua, and Jason, the grandmother of Devin and, most importantly, a devoted follower of Christ.  I have worked for over twenty-five years in a Christian television ministry, first as a tailor in the wardrobe department, then as a wardrobe stylist and costumer, and most recently as one of the schedulers for its busy makeup and hair department.

Although I haven’t done a single thing to merit the world’s attention—that is, I haven’t written any books, gone on any speaking tours, or even taught a Bible study on a regular basis recently—I have lived quite an interesting life, and one that has been far from boring.  That’s because I have somehow managed to develop an unusual knack for getting into trouble, even when sitting in a locked room all by myself.  I just don’t understand how I do it; by nature, I am a quiet, introverted person—someone who tries to mind her own business, and someone who will go to almost any length to avoid conflict or confrontation of any kind—and yet, I have repeatedly found myself in some of the strangest predicaments that you could have imagined.  That’s because, in spite of my own timid and fearful disposition, I have had to:

  • Live a life of total dependence upon the Lord, never knowing when or how my needs were going to be met (even though I would much rather have had the security of a regular income with all the fringe benefits that usually come with it);
  • “Woman up” and learn to confront people who were out of line, even people who were in positions of authority, when I would have preferred digging a hole, crawling into it, and pulling the dirt back over my head; and,
  • Die, die, and die again to my own natural inclination to please others, choosing instead to please God, so that I could find the voice that He had given me to use for His purposes.

Why?  So I could be transformed from the spiritual wimp that I once was into the woman of spiritual substance that I am now.  Although this transformation hasn’t been an easy one, and certainly all my kicking and screaming didn’t help speed up the process any, I now realize that all of these adventures in faith have been an essential part of the training that I needed if I was ever going to be trusted to speak for God.  Now, having come to that all-important realization, I would like to share with you, my new friend, just how God has used those experiences, and the many lessons that I have learned through them, to prepare me to be what I can only describe as His most reluctant prophet.

I hope you know that the welcome mat will always be out for you here, so please feel free drop in whenever you are in my neck of the web.  Just remember to BYOS—and a comfy chair wouldn’t hurt either.

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Please Make Yourself Comfortable