Posted in books, devotional, Tekoa Manning, TM

Jumping for Joy

This blog comes from a chapter of a book called Jumping for Joy. I am working on it slowly. I pray it ministers to you.

In the late 1970’s and 1980’s, my mother took to sewing. She used to wear lovely maxi dresses, which she hand-stitched using McCall’s patterns and added adornments. My mother, Vicky, was beautiful and always looked much younger than her years. A lady who lived in the neighborhood had been watching my mom leave for church and other engagements in her long floral maxis dresses. One day, she came over and inquired about borrowing one of my mother’s gowns for a special occasion. My mother weighed about a hundred and thirty pounds, and the woman who stood before her weighed at least three hundred. She thought she could borrow one of my mom’s dresses because she, like us at times, kept passing by the mirror and seeing what she wanted to see reflecting back at her.

There is another story about my mother that I will never forget. One day she was invited to a Tupperware party. The party was hosted by a lady whose husband worked with my dad. My mother and his wife were good friends. They were Pentecostals; we were not. I do not think they wore headscarves or Tzitzit’s, but they had their own attire. Long hair, long dresses, no makeup, and a strict unspoken rule book. My mother showed up to the party with her eyeliner, mascara, bleach blonde hair, and a pair of jeans and a T-shirt that said, “Jesus Loves You.” Many of the women soon gathered in the kitchen, away from my mom. They whispered. They snickered. They made remarks, and my mother overheard, Jezebel, harlot, and sinner. Perhaps these women had memorized 1st Peter chapter 3, but they had missed the gentle spirit and the audience it was written to at that time.

 “Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (I Peter 3:3-4).

Finally, my mother stood in front of them as the Tupperware presentation was coming to a close, and she said, “If you really think I’m a Jezebel headed for hell, shouldn’t you have shown me love and told me about your God—my God—our God? Is not love the greatest gift? Won’t the world know we are Christian’s by our love?” The woman who had invited my mother came to console her, but you could have heard a pin drop in the room. It was a Harper Valley P.T. A- moment. If you’re not familiar with the Harper Valley P.T.A., pull up the old song on YouTube and listen. My mother, in tears, made her way home feeling like an outcast and judged wrongly. I remember this moment for she had taken me with her to the party. Walking home, with mascara running down her face, she told me that the Father looks on the heart. Men always judge the outward appearance. 

woman surrounded with bamboo sticks

 In both these stories, lessons were learned through mirrors being held up. This, too, is a process of transformation. Caterpillars go through transformation before becoming beautiful butterflies. We are to go from glory to glory. This process may last a long season, but when the butterfly burst forth in all its beauty and begins to fly, what a joyful day that is. The butterfly is no longer hidden in the dark cocoon–the developing room.

 “Butterflies are known for having the widest visual range of all wildlife. With a larger visual field than humans and excellent perception of fast-moving objects, their keen sight could be why the species is so abundant. All butterflies have the ability to distinguish ultraviolet and polarized light through their photoreceptors, the light detecting cells in color vision.” for more, click HERE.

Sometimes we learn the most hidden in the darkness and wrapped in the Father’s Wings. “The LORD has said that he would dwell in the thick darkness” (II Chronicles 6:1).

” And the people stood at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21). 

Sometimes joy arrives in the strangest of circumstances. It comes from those deemed outcasts. It takes a conversation with a homeless veteran to remind us that we have heat blowing through vents in our homes. It takes our car breaking down for us to realize the joy of transportation. At other times, it takes a person in a room that we do not want to be labeled as being seen with, like the woman with the alabaster box. The Pharisees rebuke Yeshua. “If this man (Yeshua) were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39, NASB). All the eyes in the room were on one woman who they deemed unworthy. The elites were so blind they could not see that the greatest prophet who ever lived was in their midst, but this woman had eyes to see.

person putting his feet on water

One night, years ago, before a conference with a pastor, a small group of us in ministry had gathered outside the sanctuary. We were all talking on couches when several others came and sat with us. Some of them had issues with mental health. One was convinced he was the anti-Christ. Many, like him, were coming to these meetings for prayer– and healing from mental disorders. One night, a woman, who made the ministry team uncomfortable due to her beady eyes, strange sense of humor, and continuous mirth at all the wrong moments, sat across the way from me. We’ll call her Brenda. Brenda began to talk, tease, and chatter to the persons next to her. Brenda rode a public transit bus there and had some form of disability.

I glanced at her backpack on wheels with its Jesus stickers and hearts and pondered her idiosyncrasies. She had never married or had children. One by one, I watched people scurry away. Suddenly, they were in need of using the restroom or began to gather into another area by the coffee machine, but Abba whispered to me at that moment—”see her.” “Look at her.” Tekoa, do you want to be with the so-called elite, or do you want to love my sheep? Will you isolate her too? Can you love My sheep with all the love and even more than you have for these you are looking up to—these who are impressed by Biblical knowledge—these who have asked you to speak on Thursday night– because, Tekoa, I am not impressed.” 

Heart conditions:

Me, out of everyone there, should have understood. I was the child who was forcefully pulled down the hallway by my sister and the principal in the first year of my schooling. Crying, gagging, and kicking as I went. I was the last one picked for sporting events in P.E. I was the shy pigeon-toed girl who sat at lunch in elementary school alone at times. Children were holding their noses at my smelly paper sack lunch with hard-boiled eggs that stunk. Young children, and later on, teenagers, were often making fun of me. I learned to throw my food away on the way to elementary school. I was ganged in Middle school by a group of girls who beat my head into an aluminum fence post so badly I couldn’t wash my hair for a week. I learned to disappear in a room. Now, I was watching adults do what was done to me. They were treating her as if she were a ghost, invisible, and without worth. I had done the same at times.

But that evening, I walked over and sat next to this woman created by my Father and began to make small talk. I eased into the chair and complimented her colorful stickers adorning her travel case. I began to ask her things and smile even though she made me uncomfortable. I looked deeper into her tiny eyes and imagined His eyes shining back at me. I tried to ignore that it was summer, and she was wearing thick tights the color of a 1990’s hunter green kitchen countertop or that her paisley mauve dress looked dated from 1950, or how she cracked 3rd-grade jokes, laughing hysterically. And then I began to ask her about her life—dreams—aspirations. Mostly, what I remember is this woman in her 40’s crying buckets of tears and her telling me about her pain—her heavenly Father (personal), her earthly father who died, and her tragic upbringing. And underneath the strange mirth used to mask fears and awkward spaces was a soul that needed to be loved. Oh, friends, this is what the Body Needs.

And at that moment, my mother, misunderstood at a Tupperware party, attired in pink lipstick and eyeliner, could have been sitting next to me in a room full of religious spirits. If we think it does not exist in our newfound Torah fellowship, our smiling Joel stadium, our small rural congregation, our shul, our synagogue—, we might need to find a mirror. Cliques happen. Outcast happen. The lady with the piercing blue eyes and the hunter green stockings unfolded the sad details of her life articulately. Oh, how much childlike love she had for Abba. I felt smaller than small. I tried to imagine all the ones He created and shaped on his Potter’s wheel that we ignore—angels unaware.

We hurt—we judge—or we think we know what could come forth from their heart and parted lips—the ones who fade into the background of our lives. The lepers are crying out in this season. Can you hear them? They scream, “Son of David have mercy on me!” while the crowd tries to shut their mouths. Have mercy they roar– as we hurry to the other side of the street—the room, or worse, we pretend we do not hear them or see them.

person holding eyeglasses with black frames

There was a Canaanite woman whose daughter was vexed with demons, and she was in great need, but what did his chosen men say at that time? “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us. She keeps laughing too loudly. She has dirty laundry. She wears too much make-up. She’s embarrassing. She lacks knowledge. She’s a Canaanite. I’m too tired.” The healthy, chosen disciples, who one day would ponder which side—the right or the left– they could sit on in His kingdom, had no compassion or empathy for a Canaanite woman with a daughter who was demon-possessed. It was not their problem. Who cares if her daughter screams all night—hisses—put holes in the walls—wears green stockings–not our problem? Send her away, we scream! Can you hear my voice echoing from amongst His talmidim (disciples?) Can you hear yours? We, like them, wait to do what’s right—what we know is right. We wait like Moses until our wives have to circumcise our sons to spare us from death. We wait until it’s dark to get an appointment with the King of All Kings. We wait until it’s the Day of Atonement to get on our faces and weep over our condition.

Sometimes people with titles who are well known get better treatment, and we make sure to respond to them quickly. Sometimes cliques happen, and the people in them do not even know that they have formed a group of elites—big dogs. We can walk in a room and feel loved, cherished, and wanted, or we can walk in a room and feel like a square peg amongst a group of circles. We can walk in a room with new eyesight and compassion, but we usually do not acquire this without being crushed, rejected, slandered, and unheard. When we recognize ourselves as the woman in hunter green stockings, blue eyeliner, crying out for our children to be delivered from their vexing’s, or as the man lying in the street who was beaten and bloody, we won’t receive what the Father has for our hands to do. The place that lacks—the place lacking an ounce of joy comes from our self-seeking, arrogance, and knowledge without humility. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Great joy comes from anointing the sick, listening to the outcast, and having empathy for those who suffer in silence. May we not be like the men who pointed at the woman with the alabaster oil who was anointing Yeshua. They proclaimed He was indeed not a prophet, for if He were, he would see just what kind of woman she was. Oh, friends, may we bow lowly at His Feet regardless of what those in the room are saying. May we minister to a broken world, and His broken Body for a King is coming. 

If this blog blessed you, you may like my devotional called Thirsting for Water. Click HERE.

Photos–my mother in black and white

Unsplash–glasses Nonsap Visuals

feet–Zee Zoran

Mirror-Kal Visuas

Posted in books, Five-Fold and Torah, Tekoa Manning, TM

Stones and Leadership Part VI

person picking a black wet stone

Stones were more than likely the weapon of choice in the beginning. Cain murders his brother, Abel. Abel’s blood cries out from the ground, along with the blood of many more.

We read of those angry at the words of Yeshua and they, too, pick up stones to cast at the Chief cornerstone.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” (John 8:58-59).

The Apostle Paul is stoned, and he sees the third heavens.

“But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead” (Acts 14:19).

After an attack on Ziglag, the wives and children of David and his men are taken captive along with all their belongings. The city is set on fire, and the Bible says the people wept until they could weep no more. Have you ever wept like that? The next thing we read is that the people are ready to stone David, their leader, over the tragedy.

Moreover, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered (marah, meaning bitter and disobedient), each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (I Samuel 30:6).

Moses is a man who killed an Egyptian beating his people. Did he, too, use a stone? Later the people he brought out of Egypt want to stone him because they are thirsting for water.

“So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.” (Exodus 17:4, NASB).

They wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb. These were the men who spoke life and believed that Adonai would give them the good land and destroy the giants.

But the entire congregation threatened to stone Joshua and Caleb. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites at the Tent of Meeting” (Numbers 14:10, BSB).

And one man named Stephen speaks truth so difficult for his audience that he is stoned to death and has a vision while being plummeted with rocks.

“When the council members heard Stephen’s speech, they were angry and furious. But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked toward heaven, where he saw our glorious God and Jesus standing at his right side. Then Stephen said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!”

 The council members shouted and covered their ears. At once, they all attacked Stephen and dragged him out of the city. Then they started throwing stones at him.” (Acts 7:54-58, CAV).

Stoning is a legal punishment in Iran, Pakistan, northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Mauritania, and Yemen. We shudder at the thought of such a death! How barbaric. At times, women are buried with only their heads out, and they are pelted with stones until a bloody mass of unrecognizable flesh is the only thing left. Of course, that blood speaks, and so do the souls under the altar, but how many people have we thrown stones at? A friend explained it to me by using a boomerang. We may throw them, but they will come right back at us.

 

woman wearing blood makeup

We envision Yeshua writing in the dust after they brought a woman forward with accusations of adultery. He calmly says, He who is without sin pick up the first stone. No man can. Not then and not now.

I have been tested in this area of stones, and I have picked up stones and thrown them at those I found guilty, yet they were innocent. Have you ever done such a thing?

This is a quote I have heard all my life: “There are two sides to every story.” Robert Evans said, “There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying.” I began to ponder what Cain’s side of the story was. What was King Saul’s side of the story as he hunted David every day? Contentions among leadership and fellow believers can teach us many things about ourselves. We react swiftly at times and pick up stones. Or we surmise a situation and think we know the truth about it when we don’t even know our own hearts.

Jeremiah explains that our hearts are deceitful and that we lack understanding.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else.

And is desperately sick;

Who can understand it?

“I, the Lord, search the heart,

I test the mind,

Even to give to each man according to his ways,

According to the [f]results of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

When we say there are two sides to every story, do we try and see our enemy’s side? Do we ask ourselves what part we had in it or what testing is being done? Take Joseph, for instance. A woman falsely accused him. But that woman was the very one that helped train him to oversee a nation during famine.

Deuteronomy 1:17 (CSB) “Do not show partiality when rendering judgment; listen to small and great alike. Do not be intimidated by anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too difficult for you, and I will hear it.”

Bring me any case.

I bring Cain and Abel. We read of no witnesses to the crime except YHVH, Elohim, and that is enough.

“A lone witness is not sufficient to establish any wrongdoing or sin against a man, regardless of what offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

16If a false witness testifies against someone, accusing him of a crime, 17both parties to the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD, before the priests and judges who are in office at that time.” (Deuteronomy 19:16-)

The scene is twin brothers in a field having a conversation.

The Father tells Cain something before he stones his brother to death.

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Mastering our sin nature takes great courage. Doing well is not always easy. David acted righteously in the face of death concerning Saul but later fell. When we go through intense battles, we scream out like David and say, ‘search me and know me!’ Show me any unclean thing in my heart. And He is faithful. We shudder at the thought of what lies hidden in the belly of the whale. If most of us were truthful, we really don’t want to see our condition. It’s like a mother who gets word that her child has been in a horrible car crash and is mangled and broken into pieces. She enters the scene and opens the hospital door in disbelief at her child’s condition. The Father wants us to look so we can become whole– healed. Bring out the things hidden and expose them to light. It’s hard to look at our bandage wounds oozing, our stiff necks in a brace, our right leg in a sling, our jaws wired shut, and yet, we must!

doctor performing operation

Ezra repented not just for himself but for a whole people.

The heart of the matter. What if we spent as much time on beautifying our insides as we do on our outward appearances?

Our beauty doesn’t come from a lack of wrinkles. Those lines are a photo of every experience imprinted on our souls. Inside every crease is a story. How quickly we forget that we are flowers. No one runs outside to a flower quickly fading and injects it or takes paint to brighten its colors that have faded in the sunlight. No one tries to wrap it next to a stick and make it stand at wilting. No, we let it die and go back to the earth from which it came. In this season of death, we often see what everyone else suffers from. We have a diagnosis and a prescription to give them, but what about us?

Cain was the first murderer. His victim was his own brother. It’s deeper and more tragic than that because now Abel’s seed is snuffed out from the earth. Cain had the opportunity to do what was right, and his whole being would have changed from anger and hostility to peace and joy, but he opted for a stone to throw at the one who had the favor of HaShem. I think we can be both Cain (Kayin) and Abel (Hevel). Do both have a story? Are there two sides? Three?

Perhaps Cain looked at his offering as good. Maybe he was shocked to find that Abba favored his brothers over his. He now goes out in the field and converses with his brother, but we don’t know what was said. The month of Elul lets us meditate on the King being in the field. He was right there in the field when the murder took place. He is close by when we do well and when we mess up.

I read an interesting article by Jeff Benner about these two men and the hidden meaning behind their names that might make you rethink what you know about the story. Two sides—three.

“In Hebrew, Cain is קין (qayin), and Abel is הבל (havel).

The word קין (qayin, from the root QN) means to acquire or possess something, which is why Eve (chavah in Hebrew) said: “I have gotten/acquired (qanah, also from the root QN) a man” (Gen 4:1). The word הבל (havel) means to be empty, often translated as vain or vanity in the sense of being empty of substance.

The Hebrew word for “name” is shem and literally means breath or character. In Hebrew thought, one’s name is reflective of one’s character, and the Hebraic meanings of the names of “Cain and Abel” are windows into their characters. Cain is a possessor, one who has substance, while Abel is empty of substance.

This may seem odd to us, because we have always assumed that Abel was the good guy and Cain the bad, but this is an oversimplification of the facts, as according to their names, a reflection of their character, Cain is what we would call “a man of character,” but Abel is “vain.” More Here

Have you ever been rewarded for bringing a good offering and then allowed vanity to creep into the point that you were boastful? Guilty! Raising my hand.

We don’t hear the conversation of these brothers. We weren’t there, and we don’t have the writings. We only have clues. Abel might have been like his name, vain—full of himself and puffed up with his favor from God over his offerings. He could have provoked Cain to the point of rage. I’m not justifying the blood on Cain’s hands, but we often only see one side of a story. The Father did not have Cain put to death. He even marks him with His tav. Cain builds a city, and he takes a wife, and his seed lives on.

Cain’s children sit around the dinner table and inquire, tell us of your brother Abel. What was he like? And what does he say at that moment? Does he describe his looks, his laughter, his shepherding skills, his passions, or his vanity and emptiness? Does he mention how his own hands became engulfed in rage, and the ground would not receive his brother’s blood but CRIED?

two people walking on brown grass field painting

Guess what David does when he is being pelted with stones?

“When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came. He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left. Thus Shimei said when he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow!  “The LORD has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!”

Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head.” But the king said, “What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the LORD has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?'” Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him.  “Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.” So David and his men went on the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed and cast stones and threw dust at him. The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary and he refreshed himself there” ( II Samuel 16:5-14, NASB).

stone on person's hand

David knows that he has gotten too big for his britches. He had grown accustomed to favor. He killed the lion, the bear, the giant, and conquered many territories. He had been given the throne, the crown, and the anointing. He sees a woman and decides to take her for himself and have her husband put to death. The Father will look the other way; he thinks to himself. He surmises that he is above the Torah, and yet he was to write it out.

When he [the king] sits upon his royal throne, he shall write for himself two copies of this Torah on a scroll. . . . It shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life” (Deuteronomy 17:18–19).
“Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).
What have you done?” replied the LORD. “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.…(4:10).
What have you done, Cain?

Whose baby lamb did you take David?

The Father will have His day of throwing stones. Stones play a big part in Revelations, even hailstones that weigh 100 pounds. (Revelation,16)

Revelation six tells of the sixth seal and a great earthquake. The sky splits open, and men request Stones to be thrown at them to hide them from the presence of He who sits on the throne.
15Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev 6:15-17).
Who is able to stand?

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17, NASB).

The more I walk this out, the more i need a Savior! May we all pick up soap and not stones.

Blessings,

Tekoa

Leadership Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

woman holding block