She Laughed

Sarah Hiding Something in the Text Tent

Even great barriers to fulfillment of our potential might be redeemed to become catalysts for fulfillment; our infirmities and insecurities might even be transformed...  Dedicated to Gena Fleming, Catawba Sports Hall-of-Famer

 

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The Great Divorce

It's not about divorce at all - it's the story about a bus that takes those condemned to hell on a short tour of heaven.  One hellion escapes!  Great allegory! 

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

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The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

~

 

We have met the enemy and he is us. --Walter Kelly satirizing Commodore Perrys 1813 dispatch, We have met the enemy and he is ours.

What is the creatures skill or force?
The sprightly man, or warlike horse?
The piercing wit, the active limb?
All are too mean delights for him.

But saints are lovely in His sight,
He views His children with delight;
He sees their hope, He knows their fear,
And looks and loves His image there.

from Psalm 146 Isaac Watts, 1719

 Luke 10:22-24. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Then turning to the disciples he said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

John 14: 7. Since now you know me, you know my Father also. Here on you know Him and have seen Him.

Psalms 15 or Psalms 100, A Psalm of David

1. MAKE A joyful noise to Yahweh, all the lands!
2. Serve Yahweh with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
3. Know that Yahweh is the Elohim! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name!

5. For Yahweh is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Genesis 18: 1. Yahweh appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, 3. and said, Adonai, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5. while I fetch a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on since you have come to your servant. So they said, Do as you have said.

6. And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes. 7. And Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. 8. Then he took curds, and milk, and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

9. They said to him, Where is Sarah your wife? And he said, She is in the tent. 10. Yahweh said, I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son. And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure? 13. Yahweh said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh, and say, Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old? 14. Is anything too hard for Yahweh? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son.

15. But Sarah denied, saying, I did not laugh; for she was afraid. He said, No, but you did laugh.

The Message

We want to be ministers of the Good News and fulfill Yahwehs will in our personal world. Yet when we really get serious about our callings, we often find ourselves discouraged by the guilt our own self-defeating attitudes and unloving behaviors generate. Although its impossible to disappoint our heavenly Father, we disappoint ourselves as a matter of routine, and project that disappointment outward. We may blame the devil for it, or each other, but our own worst enemy, as the proverb goes, is most often ourselves.

The story of Sarahs initial unbelief in the oracle of Yahweh gives us hope that even our own doubt may serve in fulfilling such promises to us, but in unexpected ways. Its my hope that this message will encourage you who, like me, are serious about your service, yet beset by doubt, lack of strength or feelings of unworthiness.

 

She Laughs

The suns very hot, making Abrahams lot an unbearable plot. Its siesta Abrahams snoozing outside the tent in the shade of a date palm. Three sojourners approach malachim men as angels one is Yahweh. Abraham awakes with torpor, and to his surprise - what meets his eyes? Three visitors in disguise - and in the most miserable hour of the day! Nevertheless, with the gusto of true oriental hospitality, the wandering Aramean (Deuteronomy 26:5) greets them in the customary manner and bids them stay and pass the day in conversation. He offers them a seat, fetches water for their feet, promises a bite to eat.

{whisper} Sarah, Sarah, SARAH! He whispers her name through his teeth as he runs into the tent. Sarah - See! - You-know-whos here! Will you fix us some cheesesteaks? (This was before Moses prohibited cheesesteaks.) Dutifully, Sarah complies with a flurry, thankful no ones in much of a hurry.

Now Yahweh asks Abraham, the Father of Many Nations about Sarah, the Princess - Abraham! Where is she? Shes in the tent, Abraham replies. When I come back here next time, Sarah will have her son. Yahweh knows that Sarah, though still inside the tent, is hanging on every word. Yahweh plants a seed of hope in her mind as she eavesdrops.

Sarahs barren in an age when bearing children means everything. Even the passing reference to her yet open wound causes a tide of self- loathing to burst forth, spilling water from her eyes like rain from thunder. For a reason she doesnt reckon, shes been denied the pride of becoming a mother. And now, despite Yahwehs pronouncement in regards to her future fate, she knows its just too late.

In the pause after His word, Sarah expects her quiet sobbing to be heard as she brushes away the flood. Will I have a child when I am old and weak? she cackles. The sound of her voice is so pathetic that, though shes sad, shes old enough to find humor in it all. She laughs a little to hide her pain, as some do. Yahweh has really good ears. He overhears her complaint. But Yahweh speaks only indirectly to Sarah, knowing shes listening inside the tent. Abraham. Why did she laugh? She knows who I AM. Is anything too difficult for me? I decree that when I return, she will bear a son, you wait and see. Friends, is anything too difficult?

Sarah hears, of course. Humility aside, she defends her pride without repentance: I did not laugh, she says as she leaves the scorch of the tent. Now Lord and Lady are face to face. Their eyes meet; something strange begins. Yes you did laugh, he says to her directly. Yes I did, she doesnt say, but only thinks.

Sarah remains quiet, wanting more encouragement, more promise, more word, but Yahweh only smiles then winks. Breaking their gaze, she feels a little stunned and amazed at what has taken place in these few moments past. Abrahams god has spoken to her and now her mind has changed. Theres hope. She wants it to last. Satisfied, she returns to her tent. After all, is anything too hard for Yahweh? she muses. Then she laughs again.

 

The Maundy Thursday

Many years ago, a church planned a living tableau of DaVincis masterpiece, The Last Supper. A table like DaVincis was set up on the platform in the sanctuary. The pastor assigned men of the church to play the parts of the various disciples. The character playing Jesus was to serve the Last Supper to the congregation after the performance.

Since this Jesus had no speaking part, his actor wasnt required to attend rehearsals. So the rest of the disciples were very curious who would be Jesus, and the pastor refused to tell. He would say over and over again, Never mind, fellows! Jesus is coming! Wait and see! Jesus is coming! In mockery of the pastor, Jesus is coming became the church slogan that Lenten season. Everyone wondered who in the congregation would play Jesus. In fact, the pastors secret became such an enigma that some thought, Is it possible he knows something we dont? Is Jesus really coming? The secret actually brought some members to their knees.

The church was full on the evening of Maundy Thursday. After the crowd settled down and the cast of disciples took their respective places at DaVincis table up on the platform, Jesus came in and took his place in the middle. Of course, it wasnt the real Jesus, but a man who looked and acted so much like Jesus that Im sure I wasnt the only one who thought he might be the real McCoy.

And nobody recognized him as a businessman or a realtor or a pump jockey his face was only familiar from the many pictures of Jesus wed all seen here and there. He mightve just been Jesus for all we knew. And he never said one word the entire evening nor stepped out of character. And these managers, students, salesmen and mechanics, who were cast in what was to be but a performance, were so touched by the reality of this Jesus demeanor, appearance and perceived spirituality, that several wept openly at the table through the performance. How could we be so deceived by an impostor? Or was this Yahweh in one of his guises, putting in a public appearance as he did for Abraham and Sarah? Did we see HIM face to face?

I was a disciple at the table that night. Truly, when this Jesus addressed me with his gaze, I looked into His face. Funny. I felt like Sarah. Like there was hope in this man. And my heart recalled his promise as never before: Son,

John 14: 7. Since now you know me, you know my Father also. Here on in, you know Him and have seen Him.

Looking into the eyes of this longhaired, bearded, plain-looking man gave the image of Jesus joyful new meaning. I felt new anticipation and expectation. I laugh about it now, even as I admit my folly. After all, wasnt this man just a shoe salesman or a Taco Bell clerk or a carpenters helper? But I declare, in spite of it (or maybe because of it), Friends and Fellows, Jesus is coming! Just wait and see! Hes coming to you! In fact, youve probably already beheld his and his fathers face in the face of another someplace! Yes or no?

 

Transformation

So we know Sarah did bear her only son, as recorded in Genesis chapter 21. The fulfillment of Yahwehs promise was a greater persuader than even her experience of seeing Yahweh in person. But it might surprise you to know that she named her boy after the manifestation of her doubt Isaac means laughter. Elohim has brought laughter for me, she now joyfully cries. Everyone who hears [my sons name] will laugh with me. Everyone! Its as though someone planned that every time she spoke his name, she would be reminded of her doubt; but every time she looked at Isaacs face, she would remember the face of Yahweh and his promise fulfilled!

You see, the Father of Promise dares us to believe that even great barriers to the fulfillment of our potential in the Yahweh like Sarahs laughing unbelief, barrenness, unfruitfulness, doubt even our spiritual laziness and apathy might be redeemed. Our doubts become catalysts for fulfillment. We cant take two steps forward in faith until we take one step back in doubt! Our infirmities and insecurities are thus transformed into mighty armaments of power; the meek and the weak and the broken and the childless and the foolish and the ignorant and the handicapped inherit the earth, just as the descendants of a barren, used up old woman increased so as to bless all the nations of the earth (Genesis 22:17).

If we can but invest what little we have in such a grand enterprise as Heaven even a giggle or snicker of hope is something then we can surely echo the cry of the Sarah and so many others, He has made me glad. I shall rejoice for he has made me glad (Psalms 100:2)!

The Great Divorce

Theres a little book of amusing stories by C. S. Lewis entitled The Great Divorce. One of the stories tells of a busload of ghosts who earn a vacation out of Hell into Heaven with an angel as a tour guide. Although the angel advises these dark tourists that they can stay in Heaven (if they want) and never return to Hell, only a very few are interested in staying. You see, in Heaven, ghosts cant feast on the resentment, hatred, bitterness and mediocrity they so relish in the gray, smoky regions below. The field grass is too sharp for the feet of ghosts; the light too bright; the air too clean.

But one dark and oily ghost is so impressed by the site of the celestial city up yonder that he decides to stay. This ghost has this red lizard riding on his shoulder, twitching its tail, whispering, biting the ghosts greasy ear, salivating. The lizard brought the man to hell in the first place its the serpent of lust a parasitic pet that so enriched the ghosts life when he was in flesh and blood, but eventually led him to his current dwelling-place.

The lizard whispers something sweet into the ghosts ear that makes him change his mind. I thought I wanted to stay, but ... Well, thanks for your hospitality, he tells the angel. But its no good. I told this little chap, (that is, the lizard), that hed have to be quiet if he came - but he wont stop. Ill just have to go home. The angel offers help: Would you like me to make it quiet? Of course I would, replies the ghost quite pensively. Then Ill kill it! the angel threatens as he reaches forward for the lizard. Look out! Youre burning me! the ghost cries and retreats. But the righteous angel presses on.

After four or five pages of verbal gymnastics, the ghost finally gives in. He cries out in bitter anguish as, with great effort, the angel tears the parasite off his shoulder. The red lizard bites and writhes and foams and swears, but ends up broken-backed on heavens high ground.

Then a remarkable transformation takes place. The oily, dark ghost begins to solidify! He develops the solid shoulders, legs and hands of the man he once was, only much stronger and better. Soon the neck and head materialize. This new man is no longer a black shadow, but has become just a little lower than the angel: nearly as magnificent!

Immediately, we witness another transformation! In its struggle with death, that red lizard lust begins to grow larger and larger. Its hinder parts develop roundness and firmness. Its tail becomes a magnificent hank of hair, its body fills out and expands tremendously. In a very short time the metamorphosis is complete. The vile red viper has become a huge, strong, beautiful white stallion.

The new man who escaped hells bus now looks like a great knight in shining armor. He acknowledges the angel of Yahweh, mounts his powerful new stallion, waves farewell to the ghosts on the bus, then gallops off into Beulah toward the city of promise there, where the sun never sets. He cries as he rides off:  

Come up! Come up! Share my splendor
till all natures that were your enemies become backs for you to ride.
For the [hideous] strengths that once opposed you
shall be obedient fire in your blood and heavenly thunder in your voice.
Come up! Come up!

Backs To Ride

Did you pay attention to the knights cry? ...until all natures that were your enemies become backs for you to ride. Sarahs laughter of doubt and unbelief has been recalled over and over throughout the ages of religious history - whenever the name Isaac is been spoken. The promise that her laughter denied came true magnificently. And we, the descendants of Sarah, are as uncountable as the sands of the sea, even the stars of the sky.

Be encouraged, then, good fellows, as you bring forth children through your service. Yahweh is the god of the weak - and our Master Jesus is the fulfillment of his promise. Look into Jesus face and believe that the strengths that once opposed you shall be obedient fire in your blood and heavenly thunder in your voice.

And we can believe; for weve seen him and, like Sarah, hear him boast, Is anything too hard for Me?

A Few of my favorites - click any one for more:

Christ Carrying the Cross, Uffizi Gallery, Florence Giclee Print by Francesco Salviati

Christ in Clouds Poster by Danny Hahlbohm

Christ and Child Posters by Danny Hahlbohm

King Of Kings Prints

The Good Shepherd Posters

Jesus at Twelve Prints by J. M. Hoffman

La Passion Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now your children can learn Hebrew