Restoration in the Face of Deconstruction

I’ve probably started to write 15 blogs about the concept of Deconstruction. It’s a pervasive, sneaky, deceptive line of philosophy that breaks down Christianity into four words: “Hath God Not Said?” If you remember who spoke those four words, you’ll understand where I’m going with this. “Hath God Not Said?” in the King James vernacular, are the four words Satan, disguised as the Snake, said to Eve in the Garden of Eden just before she made her eternally-impacting bite of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. With those four words, Eve decided she needed to know more than the Lord wanted her to know. She decided that her thirst for knowledge was more important than the spiritual consequences, and so began the downfall of humanity (please note that I am in no way, shape, or form blaming Eve for the Fall of Man. I believe Adam & Eve hold the responsibility evenly & that humanity has used Eve’s arrogance to subjugate and discriminate against women since that singular moment, but that’s another blog. 🙂 ).

So, Deconstruction began in the very infancy of earth…Satan came in, made Eve question the truth she’d known since Creation, & that line of “wait a minute, is THAT what God said? Is THAT what He intended?!?” has been used & abused ever since…it’s nothing new.

In 2020, I started studying the Torah with a small group of people–my home church at the time–and as the pandemic began, we took a pretty deep dive. It was fascinating; I found myself going back to the Garden & the original plan God had for His people. As we studied things in the original Hebrew, I really found myself getting more & more frustrated at the differences between the Hebrew intentions & the English translations. This wasn’t anything new to me, but it was the first time I REALLY took a deep dive, & it came with some very frustrating side effects. I’m still struggling with some things. I’m struggling with how God laid out His word very clearly, yet His people even in those early days started off on such a wrong foot. The precedent that was set even by patriarchs such as Abraham, Moses, Isaac–these are deeply flawed people who were responsible for creating the foundations of the children of God–how do we reconcile this? How do we trust a murderer to accurately transcribe the words of God? How do we trust a man who openly deceived kings, to raise up an anointed people?

And then I REALLY got into my head about language, which has always been a struggle for me, even in the New Testament. There are Hebrew words that we CAN’T translate into English–we don’t have the words for it–and there are words the translators were actively influenced into mistranslating by those that funded the work (the King James Version is a great example, particularly in regards to baptism).

I’m still struggling with these issues. If I had the time to do the deep dive into Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, I’d like to say that I would; in all honesty, I’m probably too lazy to do the work myself. I know that’s kind of pathetic to admit. Do I still believe the Bible is the word of God. Yes, I do. Do I believe that our English translation has some work to do? Absolutely…but for now, it’s the best we have. Am I willing to bank my salvation, my lifestyle, and my eternity on “the best we have?”

Yes, I am.

I have almost 37 years of reading/studying/singing this Book under my belt (sometimes barely, sometimes voraciously), & it’s never steered me wrong. It’s always drawn me closer to a God Who understands and welcomes my questions. There are things I do NOT understand (imprecatory Psalms? Those seem harsh…although I understand the sentiments, particularly when I am stuck in traffic.:) ), & I firmly believe that’s okay. Where we do not understand, we trust. That’s faith.

That’s a hard lesson I learned a long time ago. I’m reminded of it a LOT as I go through this journey of processing issues with translations.

Most of the time, when I compare the Hebrew information I’m given (my husband is really, really great about studying this stuff beyond what I can begin to process) I get aggravated as to why it’s not broken down more accurately in the English version. It always, ALWAYS puts a new light on the very character of God & His intentions for His people. In fact, the more you look at the Hebrew words in the Old Testament, the more you get the picture of a loving God Who wants a people that are truly set apart & dedicated to His goodness. Most of us that are raised in the church see an Old Testament God Who has His finger on the “smite” button…but it’s not the case, so in reviewing the original languages of the Old Testament, it causes you to realize just how much He truly adores His kids!

This disconnect with the Old Testament–seeing it as the book of the Smite-Happy God–verses the Jesus-Died-For-Our-Sins happy-lovey God of the New Testament–has created this whole, “well, the OT is all of the rules and harshness, but the NT FREES us to do whatever we want!” kind of mentality. It’s not the truth.

The New Testament is the restoration of the separation caused in the beginning of the Old Testament–The sin we started with, the gap between us & the very throne of God, is erased and reconciled with Jesus’ sacrifice in the Gospels. It’s a beautiful, circular coming to salvation that God planned thousands of years ago.

Yesterday during worship, “restoration” was a word I couldn’t get away from. There are times where we feel so stripped down; I’ve really struggled lately with feelings of worthlessness & of being ignored, gaslit, & dismissed. It’s actually a lifelong issue. I guess I’m finally able to put words to the feeling, and in doing so, am finally able to identify and process how to get through it (maybe). I think when we talk about restoration, we look at physical and material things. Have you ever thought about it in regards to our mental and spiritual health?

What would life look like if we were mentally and spiritually restored and refreshed?

We sang the song, “Homecoming” by Cory Asbury, & it hit me like a brick in the head. What does it mean, to be restored?!? Is it a restoration of mental health? Peace…feeling acknowledged and valued…feeling like I matter? Is it a restoration of family? What would it be like, to hold hands with both of my kids? What would it be like, to see my Grandma again? To feel her kiss my cheek or call me “spider monkey?”

What will it feel like, to be whole?

We’re going to know–we’re GOING TO KNOW. We have that promise. Amos 9:14 says, “and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. ‘They will rebuild the ruined cities & live in them. They will plant vineyards & drink their wine; they will make gardens & eat their fruit’.” The Bible is full of verses about restoration.

Do you know how deconstruction ties in here?

Deconstruction seeks to actively undermine the authority of Scripture and in doing so, it steals every promise in the Word.

I don’t want to live like that.

Deconstruction puts the intellectualization of the Bible above the spiritual intention of the written love letter we have from Jesus.

I don’t want to live like that.

Deconstruction steals the restoration of what this world steals from us, and replaces it with the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.

I know what’s good. I know what’s evil.

And I choose the restoration that Love gives.

I choose the promise of our Homecoming.

I choose the promise of Jesus.

And when I don’t understand, I seek clarity. When I don’t get clarity, I seek peace. And when peace is evasive, I still trust in Him, because through it all, His Spirit still loves without fail.

Deconstruction will only serve to decimate the spiritual, but restoration will heal your soul & deliver the promises of eternal life…so that’s what I pick. I hope you do, too.

Leviticus, Media Mockery, & Why Are We Still Putting Up With This?!?

Sacrilegious is never funny.

Mocking the “god” of any other culture will get you eviscerated, cancelled, or worse…but mocking Jesus Christ makes you a social media star? Especially around the holiest of seasons, as we celebrate His death & resurrection? How is that allowed?

In studying Leviticus, the weight of salvation stands out heavier than ever before…When you think about the different sacrifices that were made: Burnt offering, Grain offering, Sin offering, Guilt offering, Ordination offering, Peace offering—when you think about the cost of such offerings, even in just the financial sense….When you think about the mental toll it takes, to be a priest and to slaughter animals at an endless rate, to wake and sleep in the surroundings of blood & incense….when you think about the continual efforts of the people, to monitor thoughts and actions, to regulate when a sacrifice needed to be made, and the never-ending list of sacrifices to be made….

And you think about how the Messiah ended it all in the holiest of afternoons….

He carries the weight of the sacrifice, then—2,000 years ago—and now, and forever.

He carries the burden of the continual accountability, the weight of guilt and shame, the oppression of never being able to kill enough to completely wipe the slate clean. He is ENOUGH. He wipes the slate clean with His own Blood, with His Death & Resurrection.

The Cross was never a scrawny white guy held up on two popsicle sticks by some thumbtacks. The Cross was about The Innocent…the very Son of the Most High God…Who was brutally murdered by a people that refused to recognize Redemption in any other presentation than the blood-covered altar of the Temple.

The Cross is about freedom…it’s about Eternity. It’s about drawing us into Him, about allowing us into the Holy of Holies, free and cleansed of all known and unknown sin, without an animal sacrifice and without having to go through another human being as our gateway to the Throne. The Cross bridges the gap between the Outer Courts to the Inner Courts, and puts us on a freeway to kneel and worship with the elders, praising God in a chorus that never stops, because it CAN’T stop, because HE IS WORTHY.

Our relationship with God is not something to be mocked, and it isn’t something to take casually. He’s not “Buddy Christ,” and although He is most definitely our best of friends, He is still SOVEREIGN, and He is HOLY. Time spent with Him is HOLY. This casual attitude of mocking Him…of allowing the news and the media, of allowing movies and music to take His imagery and to twist it in such abominable ways is inconceivable. Conversely, our perception of Satan and all that he brings to the table is also not to be mocked or taken casually, as spiritual matters are serious. Degrading them to a form of blasé entertainment is utter foolishness (which is exactly what Satan wants us to do—the less-seriously we take him, the less seriously we take Jesus, and he’s happy with that).

I caught myself rolling my eyes at recent media outlets that were celebrating a social media star who is blatantly glorifying Satan in his latest video. He’s proud of himself—he says this is how he celebrates his “freedom.” He’s in more chains than he will ever know, until he’s facing eternity…and I rolled my eyes. Like, how am I not weeping over this? How am I not grieving in my spirit over this? I’m so calloused to the media portrayal of spiritual matters that I am reduced to rolling my eyes like a bored teenager, as opposed to crying out to God for a nation that is spiritually bankrupt. I’m disappointed in myself–have I gotten so used to skimming headlines, that I fail to allow them to penetrate my convictions?? How have we fallen so far as a nation, that there isn’t a huge moral outcry to shut this kind of imagery and glorification down??

The further in I go into the Old Testament, the more my salvation means to me…the more I realize my state as a human being that will never be worthy on her own. I so desperately need my Jesus, and I need Him not just as my Best Friend, but as my Holiness. I want to be cloaked in His holiness, to have Him take out the things that make me forget Who He is, and replace them with whatever makes me grow closer to Him. I want the mockery that makes my eyes roll right now, to break my heart until I see His face. I want to understand WHY His sacrifice means so much, not just on the surface, but on a deeper level.

I’m so flawed. I’m such a dichotomy—my mouth needs its own separate redemption, I swear—but in my heart of hearts, I want Jesus, and I want Him to be the center of my life. It’s a never-ending journey, and I’m thankful that He lets us be on it…that He’s with us every step of the way.

Sacrilegious is NEVER funny…but even to those who would openly mock Him, Jesus says, “Come.” He responds to the haters with Love—He did it 2,000 years ago as He was dying on the Cross, and He still does it, today. He says, “Come, and be with Me in My Father’s House.” He invites us to love, and to be loved in a way we don’t deserve, but that He freely gives. He’s Jesus, and He loves you as you are….and He loves you to who He sees you becoming as you grow in Him.

Chaos and Christmas Cookies

Christmas seems to be such a time of heightened emotions and drama, right? Either we’re emotional because we’re happy-reminiscing, or we’re emotional because we’re sad reminiscing, or we’re freaking out because there’s too much to do, or we’re filled with abundant joy because of what we’re surrounded with (hyped-up kids). Or, we’re stuffing our fists in our mouths so that we don’t say the wrong thing at our family gatherings…or we’re on a sugar high because COOKIES, or we’re disappointed because no matter how hard we try, we will NEVER BE MARTHA FRICKIN’ STEWART, or we’re hiding in our bedrooms for 2 seconds of peace because of school vacations, or…

Peace.

When the angels came to the shepherds (who were no doubt freaking the heck out, because angels are NOT soft, cuddly lil’ things with wings and halos, NOT TO MENTION the fact that they just SUDDENLY appeared out of NOWHERE. In some translations, Luke 2 says they were “terrified,” and who wouldn’t be?!?!?), they made it a point to say, “Peace.”

Of all of the things that the angels could have said, particularly in regards to the mission they were on, don’t you find it so indicative of the loving nature of God, that they used the word, “Peace?” They wanted their announcement of our Savior to be met not with fear, but with rejoicing…not with dread, but with peace. He wanted us to greet His Son with Peace…that amazes me!

Yet, this season is often met with anything but…

And I am no exception.

I work in a University, which means that I am beyond blessed to have some time off in December and January. This also means that I have a ton of projects that are wrapping up at work, along with my own Christmas preparations. I have schedules to finish, papers to process, contracts to review, doctors to credential, and compliance training to complete. I’m swamped, and I can be very short on patience.

At home, there is cleaning, cooking, baking, groceries to shop for, presents to wrap, recipes to hunt down…laundry that still somehow manages to pile up (even though I swear, I’ve worn the same t-shirt through 3 days of baking…okay, that’s TMI). A few weeks ago, I had to make a run to the grocery store with my kiddo in tow. He’s usually pretty good in the store, so I thought, “Okay, this time, I’m not going to lift him into the cart. My back is hurting pretty badly, and I just don’t want to lift him. He’ll be fine.” And he was…for the first half of the store.

And then he lost his dang mind.

I have no idea what set him off, but he got plain ornery, as we say in my neck of the woods, and I just about spanked his rear in the baking aisle. I was NOT having it, so I hiked him into the cart, and told him I’d had enough. I needed to get some basic greeting cards for work. I saw this blue card that said, “Peace on Earth,” and “Goodwill to all mankind,” and I thought, “Hey, it doesn’t say ‘Merry Christmas!’ I can use these for work!!”

Um…

Do you see what I see, in the picture that heads up this blog?

I was so distracted by my shopping lists and my crazy kiddo, that I didn’t see the Manger in the middle of the card.

I finished my shopping and had my son stand in the corner while I bagged groceries. I’m sure I was the picture of Christmas peace, let me tell you. 🙂

mADEA PEACE BE STILL

We made it home; I got the stuff put away, and my kiddo straightened up his behavior before the TV remote got hidden for the remainder of the night.

A few days later, I was sitting in my office, writing out my cards, when suddenly, I looked at the picture again. There it was, looking right back at me–The Manger.

And I’d missed it.

At first, I laughed with a Jewish friend of mine–“Look what I missed!” She said, “Well, so much for inclusivity, right?” “Yeah!  LOL–Can I still use them?” She said she thought they were fine, so I went ahead with it. I even posted it on Instagram, laughing about my typical dippy-ness. Pretty quickly behind that, though, came a feeling of sadness: How, in the middle of all of this madness, could I have missed the very thing that Christmas is all about?

I felt the Lord say to me, “My story will be told, even when you don’t see how. Even when you overlook Me, I’m still here”  Ooof….yep, that got me.

I had to repent–even though it is such a small thing, it’s true that I had my eyes off of Jesus in the midst of the chaos of my life. The card may have said, “Peace on Earth,” but my stress levels said everything but. How did I get so caught up in this mess?!?

After Thanksgiving, our holiday decorations went up. This year, I gave Jericho the job of setting up the Nativity that I’d bought for his first Christmas. It’s unbreakable, so I felt like I could breathe a bit.  🙂  I set up the stepladder, and let him do what he wanted.

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I’m kind of your typical Type A person, and I have “my” way of doing things. It’s hard for me to turn loose of things and to let other people give things a shot (I think “Type A” is just a classier way of saying, “anal-retentive,” and I will totally cop to my being a control freak in certain situations). He set up the Nativity scene, and I inwardly cringed–everyone was facing the “wrong” way!!!!  But, I took some deep breaths, and I left it alone…he deserves to have decorations, too, so I got over myself….and then, the Type-A Grinch’s heart grew THREE SIZES that day!!!

grinch

Every time I take a look at the Nativity, I smile a little more, & I feel the Father send me a wink. Every character in this scene is solely focused on the Baby in the Manger.
They’ve turned their backs to the distraction, and they’re focused on the Promise that’s in front of them.

They weren’t so busy that they missed the Manger that was standing right in front of them, right under The Star.

They weren’t so caught up by what people would think…by deadlines and groceries and recipes and outfits and schedules…that they missed the fulfillment of the Promise of God.

My son set up this Nativity where every single character is captivated by the scene before them….captivated by the sight of a Savior that would eventually bring Peace on Earth.

I’m humbled.

I’m correcting my oversight, because a six-year old boy unintentionally pointed out the biggest spiritual lessons of Christmas, right under my nose. I may have missed the Manger, but he sure didn’t.

This past week, I’ve had questions about my faith brought up to the surface…broken places that I thought were healed, came up in a way that I had to lay them before God. We had some intense conversations this week, and I truly felt Him whisper into my heart a renewal of faith…an awakening of sorts…and a restored peace that I didn’t realize I was missing. Feelings of inadequacy came in like an earthquake, and I could see the cracks in my foundation; rather than tell me “you should know better!” or, “hasn’t it been long enough? Aren’t you past this?!?” I felt Jesus say, “It’s okay. I’m the same God now as I was 13 years ago; I was the same then that I was 1300 years ago. Things you see on this earth do not define Who I Am, and when I tell you that I Am enough, you can believe that it is, it was, and it will always be true. I felt Him echo those words about me…”Cassidy, you are ENOUGH. Trust in Who you know I Am.”

Chaos in the past…confusion in the present…fear of the future–these are all things that cause us to curl into a ball of static rejection and anxiety. They steal our peace, and they separate us from God and the joy that He gives. These are things that build armor around our hearts and minds, and cause us to feel alone in the dark…but that’s not where He calls us to be.

The shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem were out on night watch. It was dark, boring, and dangerous work; in a darkness like that, who could possibly predict what criminal or starving animal would approach, next? It was smelly, terrifying, and pitch-black…but then God came, and everything changed in an instant:

[a]Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. 10 The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 [b]For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

14 [c]“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:8-14, NABRE)

 

God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die on a Cross for our sins, and to be resurrected again three days later. He did all of this, so that He wouldn’t have to go through the suffering of losing a child ever again…He doesn’t want to lose a single one of us.

In this season, my hope is that we will all stop and see the Manger in a new way…My hope is that we can all take some time and solely focus on the gift that God gave us, in bridging the gap between sin and salvation with His Son, Jesus.

We are so grateful to the Lord for our son, for our families, and for our friends (that means YOU!). We’re thankful for our church and our pastors, and for the fact that they never stop their relentless pursuit of Jesus.

Have a blessed and wonderful Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, and of course, a wonderful Boxing Day, eh?!?  Celebrate the season with joy and wonder, and may the peace of God be on your household.

See you in 2020 (and yes, in my field, I’m “looking” forward to a year’s worth of terrible jokes)!!! Shalom, y’all!