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Week Eleven :: God’s Wrath

Brandy Blogs the Bible

 

The Paraphrase (Numbers 8-20)

Chapter 8—God tells Moses to tell Aaron to set up the lamps and let there be light. Then God tells Moses how to set the Levites (the priests) apart from the rest of the tribe.

Chapter 9—God reminds the Israelites to celebrate (and remember!) the Passover. They ask what to do about unclean people and God instructs them to let everyone (clean, unclean and foreigners alike) participate. The last part of the chapter describes how God dwelt with the people, as a cloud during the day and as fire during the night. God showed them where he wanted them to go by actually leaving and going somewhere else—they were to follow.

Chapter 10—Mmmm. The two silver trumpets. Bad. Ass. The second part of the chapter records the first time the cloud of God actually lifts from their tabernacle and the order in which the tribes follow. In the last part of the chapter we get a little glimpse of a story—Moses pleading with his brother-in-law, Hobab, to stay with the Israelites because Hobab knows the desert. He finally agrees.

Chapter 11—The people are complaining about their hardships. So God, in anger, sends a fire to burn up the outskirts of the camp. And Moses complains to God, saying that this whole thing is just too much for him. God has him call 70 elders and God puts the Spirit into them and they prophesy (and it looks like there might have been some sort of scribal error—either they prophesied and “did not do so again” (11:25b) or “continued to do so” as described by the footnote). The fire doesn’t stop the people from complaining. This time it’s about food. They are sick of Manna. They want meat. So, God gives them quail, but with a fatal catch. “While the meat was still in their teeth (11:33) God strikes down all who eat the quail with a severe plague.

Chapter 12—Miriam AND Aaron start speaking out against Moses because his wife is a Cushite. God is not happy with them and strikes Miriam with a bad case of leprosy. Moses pleads with God to heal her, but God insists she endure the punishment for a week.

Chapter 13—12 leaders are picked to go explore the promised land. They go. And it’s beautiful. But its inhabitants scare these explorers. And all but two (Joshua and Caleb) “spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land” (13:32). Joshua and Caleb seem to grasp how dangerous this bad report could be and beg them to stop.

Chapter 14—Sigh. Too late. God is REALLY mad. He wants to kill them all. Moses talks him out of it, saying that it would give God a bad rep in Egypt. Interesting note: Moses asks God to forgive them. And God does. Plan B includes making them wander the desert for 40 years. Until all people 20 years+ who failed to trust God’s plan are dead. With the added detail that the children of the Israelites, whom the griping people said would be taken as plunder, will be able to enter Canaan. Shortly after that, some of the people take back what they said and decide to go up to the land anyway. Moses tells them they’re crazy, and that the Lord will not be with them. But they don’t listen. Yeah, you can probably guess what happens to them. It’s not pretty.

Chapter 15—A word about offerings—when you get to the promised land and when the nation unintentionally sins. Also, defiant sinning punishable by death (complete with a real live example—a man gathering wood on the Sabbath is stoned to death). (Small aside: God commands the Israelites to put tassels on the corner of their garments as a tangible reminder of who they are and to whom they belong.)

Chapter 16—Yikes! Korah, Dathan, and Abiram raise up a Levite rebellion against Moses. They, of course, die. Or rather, the earth swallows them up. Moses is very angry with them – but at the same time he seems to have pity on their followers—pleading with God not to kill everyone for the sins of these guys. God does kill their 250 followers. Finally Moses and Aaron scramble to make atonement for their sins so that more people won’t die.

Chapter 17—To further drive the point home that God decides who is in charge, God has the tribes line up 12 staffs—one for each tribe. Aaron’s staff sprouted, blossomed and produced almonds. I’m not sure I understand the significance of the nuts. At the very end of the chapter the Israelites lose it, exclaiming that they are all going to die. Which, in all fairness, is very true.

Chapter 18—This seems like a really good time to go over the priestly Levite duties. And so God does.

Chapter 19—God commands the Israelites to sacrifice a red heifer without defect. I’m not sure exactly why. I think it has something to do with cleansing. There is a lot of talk of clean and unclean.

Chapter 20—The Israelites are complaining that they have no water and that they are going to die. Moses and Aaron plead with God and God tells them to use their staff and speak to a rock to get water. They take the credit for getting the rock to bring forth water. As punishment, God tells them that Moses is not going to make it into the promised land (and eventually, he tells Aaron the same). Next the scene switches, Moses is trying to talk the leaders of Edom into letting them pass. Edom flat out refuses. The chapter wraps up with the death of Aaron, followed by a period of mourning.

My Own Scattered Thoughts

I love that God mandates feasting. And remembering. And that includes everyone. So freaking awesome.

I don’t love all the punishing. It’s weird, reading this through in the past, I’ve always struggled with judging the Israelites. But right now? I’m really struggling with judging God. So often it feels that the punishment does not fit the crime.

Like the guy who got stoned to death for working? Really? That’s nuts.

Jesus was a Sabbath breaker. For the first time I really feel for the those high up churchy guys (the pharisees, sadducees, etc). I mean, COME ON, if the penalty for working on the Sabbath was stoning, I’d be concerned, too.

It has me wondering . . . was this their interpretation of God’s wrath? I have more thoughts on this . . . but they aren’t fleshed out enough to go deeper, yet. I’ll just plant this seed and come back and water it later.

 

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here. I write here every weekday to share resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process!

Every Thursday, I blog through the Bible—trying to get through the whole thing in the next two years. If you found this post interesting and helpful and you’d like to continue to follow along as I go through, you can read the intro to this project, along with week one, the detour we took into original sin, week two, week threeweek fourweek fiveweek sixweek sevenweek eightweek nine and week tenNext week, read Numbers 21-31.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. Nearly every Sunday, I write a love letter to all the people on that list, sharing stuff I don’t share with the world. I’ve even been known to give away entire eCourses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about me, you can read all my gory details here. I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

All Our Best Secrets

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She writes novels. I rock out spiritual nonfiction. Her words break hearts wide open. I teach the art of soulful copywriting—the kind that works without having to sell yourself to the skeevy sales gods.

Together, we make one wildly dynamic team. And now, we’re using our talents to help you with yours.

What’s your Thing? The words pulsating deep in your core? It’s time. You gotta get that shit out on paper. 

I have a feeling. 2015 is YOUR year. This is where you find your sweet spot and break out of the rut you’ve been in for far too long. We’ve got you. And you’ve got this.

Sign up for our VIP list here and prepare yourself for the mountain of FREE goodies we’ve got coming your way.

We’re sharing all our best secrets—but only to the ones on the list. We’ve got some seriously sweet deals coming your way. If you’re feeling the burn of those words ready to burst forth, get on it. We don’t do spam. And you won’t regret it.

 

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write here every weekday to share resources, love, and challenges for spiritual entrepreneurs and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. Nearly every Sunday (although I’m taking a minor break while I sort out how best to offer my subscribers true value), I write a love letter to all the people on that list, sharing stuff I don’t share with the world. I’ve even been known to give away entire eCourses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about me, you can read all my gory details here. I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

A Powerful Exercise to Actualize Your Dreams

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I spend a lot of time wanting. Dreaming. And that’s not all bad. But sometimes it’s important to take a moment to think of the things I already have—especially the ones I used to long for. It’s easy to forget.

Last night I made a list. Because some of my dreams feel like they’re taking forever and honestly I’m frustrated. I’m closer to throwing in the towel than I ever have been before.

And maybe I will. I don’t know yet. For now, I’m continuing to plod along. Continuing to trust that there’s a reason I’ve been working my bum off for peanuts for almost four years.

When I was in the throes of addiction, I used to pray to want to want to stop smoking. I remember thinking I’d never be able to quit. But I did it.

Shortly after I got clean, things with my daughter’s father got especially difficult. I started having to worry about her health and safety. Eventually, I took very specific steps to keep her safe and away from those who might hurt her. Today, in all her 12-year-old angst, I know she is safe and she is loved.

My first year sober, I didn’t have money to buy her a Christmas present. At the time, I was working as the main housekeeper at a mega-church. Someone there heard my story and simply stuffed baskets and boxes with gifts for not just her—but also me.

My parents went to Hawaii about a year after that. When they got home, my dad told me about this couple they’d met who were there on their honeymoon. They were so in love. He said he hoped I could experience that someday. And I went home and I cried because I’d forgotten what that kind of love looked like. I couldn’t imagine being in a healthy, non-abusive romantic relationship.

And then I met Jermaine.

Anyone who knows him knows what a remarkable person he is. Thoughtful, smart, kind, and funny. Together, we make magic.

I longed for a second child. I wanted the chance to do it all over again. The chance not to make the many mistakes I’d made with my precious daughter. I prayed and cried for two and a half years before we got pregnant with Brooklyn. Even in the chaos of new Army life, we were fortunate and healthy enough to have a home birth. I had time to do research on cloth diapering and natural parenting. I breastfed for two+ years! I got my do-over, and both my kids are amazing.

Jermaine lost his job nine months after we got married. He was unemployed for a year and a half. Joining the Army has been an experience, and not always a great one. But it’s given us a tremendous leg up. A new respect for each other. Amazing health coverage. And ridiculous job security.

But I’ve been missing Maryland and my friends and my church since we first left in 2011. I used to visualize us returning. And this past May, we did! In our dream apartment, to boot.

And I could go on. It’s astonishing—the things I thought were impossible that are now everyday realities.

I have a hunch I’m not alone—so this one is for the dreamers. Especially the down-trodden ones. What used to be impossible that is now a Thing? Make a list. In your head or on paper. Or in a comment below. I cannot wait to hear it. May it bless you with renewed Hope.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write here every weekday to share resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. Nearly every Sunday (although I’m taking a minor break while I sort out how best to offer my subscribers true value), I write a love letter to all the people on that list, sharing stuff I don’t share with the world. I’ve even been known to give away entire eCourses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about me, you can read all my gory details here. I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

Immortal Diamond :: Your Thisness

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Chapter One :: What is “The True Self”

Whew. What a doozy. Crazy to come back to this after my break. And I know we’re just getting started.

(Premature P.S. You can check out my posts on the Invitation and the Preface of Immortal Diamond if you’re new to this series and you’d like to follow along.)

Richard Rohr starts out talking about how elusive the True Self is. I find this somewhat comforting, since, honestly, even though this is my second read-through, I still can’t fully wrap my brain around the concept. But I remember the first time I read the book, a couple of things really jumped out at me. They did the second round, too. Here are the quotes that made me choke on my coffee a little:

“Outer authority told us we were indeed special (that’s the only way to get started), but maturing inner authority allows us to see that everyone is special and unique, although it usually takes the maturity of the second half of life to see this.”

Fascinating. And why I think it’s so important to tell your kids they’re special. The last part of the quote gave me pause. I’m not in the second half of my life yet (hopefully). Where does that leave me? Later he eludes to the idea that we can access our True Self at any age. I believe this is true. And I believe we do have the opportunity to get wiser with age. But . . . when does this maturation begin? And what of the fact that Jesus died so young? And that we used to live much shorter lives? I guess “usually” is probably the key word in that quote.

“The gate of heaven is first of all in one concrete place, better if carried with you, and best when found everywhere. That is the progression of the spiritual life.”

Yowsers.

“Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but uncovering the name we have always had.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about looking for signs and clues and, dare I say, miracles this Christmas season. Searching for tangible symbols of untangible concepts like Hope and Joy and Shalom. This quote speaks to that. We are looking for who we already are—not some stranger we have yet to become.

“Some who use the language of integral theory or “spiral dynamics” call it the “mean green” level: these are the people who are just smart enough to dismiss everybody below them as stupid and everybody above them as falsely spiritual. A little bit of enlightenment is a very dangerous thing. I have seen it in myself, in many clergy, and especially in the arrogance of many academics, early feminists, and loners who can never trustfully belong to any group and seem to believe that they have the only correct ideas. Their “smartness” makes them also mean and arrogant, and we intuitively know this should not be true.”

I have seen it, too. This will probably only make sense if you’ve heard of spiral dynamics, but when Rob Bell first introduced me to the idea in his 2Days conference, he shared each phase one by one and when he got past green I had this visceral reaction of, “OH. I’m not there. I’m still green. I am not ready for the peace and non-judgment that comes after.

Since then, I’m grateful to say that I think I have spiraled a little further down that rabbit hole. And, as I self-identify as a liberal and a feminist, when I see meanness and disdain in my fellow fighters of the good fight, it sets my teeth on edge a bit.

“God lets women be raped and raped women conceive, God lets tyrants succeed, and God lets me make my own mistakes again and again. He does not enforce his own commandments. God’s total allowing of everything has in fact become humanity’s major complaint . . . If we were truly being honest, God is both a scandal and a supreme disappointment to most of us . . . I would go so far as to define God as a “deep allowing” to the point of scandalous “cooperation with evil,” both natural disasters and human evils. To allow yourself to be grabbed and held by such a divine wholeness is a dark and dangerous risk, and yet this is exactly what we mean by “salvation.” We are allowing the Great Allower to allow us, even at our worst.” We gradually learn to share in the divine freedom and must forgive God for being far too generous.”

This is a brutal passage. And yet, when people ask about the “problem of evil,” this feels like the only sensible place to start. God is a lunatic. God allows far more than we believe God should. And we have no idea what to do with that. Except that it includes us—at our worst—too. Also, this:

And if God so gratuitously and graciously includes you here and now in this world, why would such a God change God’s mind in the next world? Love is the one eternal thing and takes away your foundational fear of death. This is very good stuff.”

I believe that we all have profoundly exquisite reasons for the evil we do. Every one of us. I believe this lifetime is a gift in which we have the opportunity to work out, with fear and trembling, why we do the things we do and how we might come to authentic, loving change. And I am anticipating with great joy the day we get to come together—united—for the grand do-over, when each of us falls into that Who which we truly are. That is what I call the restoration of shalom. 

“Dionysius the Areopagite, a sixth-century mystical theologian, said that we start the spiritual path thinking we are pulling on a chain that is attached to heaven. Only midway in the journey do we realize that the chain we thought we were pulling is instead pulling us—toward an alluring brilliance.”

Indeed.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write here every weekday to share resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. Nearly every Sunday (although I’m taking a minor break while I sort out how best to offer my subscribers true value), I write a love letter to all the people on that list, sharing stuff I don’t share with the world. I’ve even been known to give away entire eCourses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about me, you can read all my gory details here. I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

A Moment of Silence

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This was originally posted in The Shalom Experiment. But because I feel compelled to pause from blogging every day this week, also, I am posting it here, too. And inviting you to join me for whatever rest you need.

Welcome to rest week. May it be balm for your soul.

I started following my monthly cycle closely at the beginning of this year and I’ve realized that I get mildly depressed just as my period ends every month. The little research I’ve done tells me it might have something to do with low estrogen and progesterone. I’m feeling it now. I slept for 13 hours last night and probably could have gone longer. I have no interest in working my dream today.

Between that and the horrific news of the torture and death of an innocent little boy at the hands of his “parents”, I desperately need this pause.

When stuff like that happens, even if it’s not our loved ones, sometimes the only thing to do is stop and mourn. Contemplating the broken pieces of our world. Eventually it will be time to get up again do that thing we’re called to do to make the world a better place. But for now, we can rest.

One of my favorite things about the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) is the way God built sabbath into the very fabric of ancient life. I have all kinds of thoughts on productivity. I believe—especially in our 20s and 30s and 40s—that some of us are supposed to be busy and do not need to be shamed into slowing down or simplifying.

But I also believe in radical rest.

I believe sometimes we get to plan it and sometimes we don’t.

For some of us this week, there will be too much going on to fully stop and breathe in peace and quiet. But if you can, I invite you to do it—or to plan for it soon. And if you can’t, I invite you to carve out a moment for shalom this week—even if it’s just an hour. Even if it’s just five minutes. Take the time you need to do what feels restful to you. For me, right now, that looks more like curling up in the fetal position and sobbing. It may look like joy and gratitude for you.

Whatever it is, that’s okay. You are loved. Simply for being. And you are enough. Amen.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write here every weekday to share resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. I’ve even been known to give away entire eCourses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about me, you can read all my gory details here. I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

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