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Blog: God-in-a-Box—Your Inbox


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We hope this becomes a dependency. Strange thing for a therapist to say. But we are dependent on God for life and peace and joy. Spending time with Him every day (imagining these vignettes) will enhance your life and growth as nothing else can.


Misinformation about God is rampant out there today. This is good stuff--agreeing with the best interpretation you can put on Scripture.


  Below, Love's Playbook, Arla's new series, is the first interpretive version of the Bible -- it's God's love story like you've never read it--written to keep you reading! (Images are Amazon linked )


By Arla, Jan 15 2021 02:00AM

When King Solomon's temple was being built, the stones were prepared for building at the quarry. No tools were to be heard on site. The stones were brought and fit seamlessly together in their places.

One unusually large stone was brought to the site that didn't seem to fit anywhere. It became annoying to the builders. It seemed always in the way, and they stumbled over it. It lay in the baking sun, the contracting frost, and the beating rain.

Then when the builders were looking for the stone to use as the cornerstone, to hold the weight of the entire building, they tried many stones that broke apart when they were put through various tests of atmospheric pressure and weight.

Finally someone noticed the huge rejected stone that had been laying around so long. The builders put it through one last test--severe pressure. It passed, was put in, and found to fit perfectly!

This story had become part of Jewish tradition, a prophecy of Messiah; and now Jesus refers to it, applying it to himself. He didn't fit their concept, wasn't what they wanted in a Messiah, and yet his suffering passed the test of extreme pressure, enough to redeem Adam's guilt and that of the whole broken world--conquering evil and the whole dark side.

Jesus is the Cornerstone for those wanting new life. Anyone who builds a future on him will never be disappointed. Just think of that! Never disappointed!

Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11, Luke 25:17-18, Psalm 118:22-23, Isaiah 28:16, 1Peter 2:6-7

By Arla, Jan 13 2021 02:00PM

Jesus has the Pharisees' attention, They're angry. But knowing his death is a few days away, he speaks boldly, trying with everything he has to open the eyes and hearts of the leaders of his nation. This is for them.

A few Pharisees were baptized by John, but for the most part, the leaders rejected that he had come from God.* (However, the tax collectors and prostitutes responded and received John's baptism.)

"Listen to another parable," says Jesus, "A vineyard owner sends servants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants beat and kill messenger after messenger. The owner can't imagine that they would harm his son, so finally, sure they will reverence him, he sends him. Somehow the tenants reason that if they kill the heir, they will get the vineyard, so they kill him too."

Then Jesus asks, "What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do when he comes?"

Jesus is addressing everyone, but the Pharisees, drawn-in, answer, "He will destroy those terrible men and rent out his vineyard to responsible tenants!" They don't realize until too late that he is talking about them, and they have just condemned themselves. Unwittingly, hearts crack open.

Now with tenderness Jesus faces them, "Haven't you read, 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone?' I know you have."**

He is referring to a metaphor of Messiah that they know well; the cornerstone prophecy in Psalms and Isaiah that became an actual occurrence in the history of building Solomon's temple. Any honest heart had to get it.

Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19 *Luke 7:30 **Psalm 118:22-23, Isaiah 28:16

By Arla, Jan 13 2021 02:00AM

Tuesday morning, after spending the night on Olivet again, Jesus and the disciples walk to the temple passing through the orchard and see the withered fig tree. Amazed, they comment, and Jesus gets to explain his "strange act." Giving up on the Jews, accepting their rejection, is extremely hard for him whose nature is to bless and heal.*

In refusing to give, they have become incapable of giving--or truly receiving. Pretentious self-focus is destroying them--creating closed systems.**

The Sanhedrin plots to draw Jesus into declaring oneness with God. By their law this is blasphemy and carries a death sentence.

They find him teaching in the temple and ask, "What gives you the right to act as you do?"

Jesus, knowing their intent, asks them a question, "Did John's authority to baptize come from God or men?"

After talking among themselves, they know they would condemn themselves with either answer, so they opt for, "We don't know."

"Then I won't tell you about my authority either." Jesus doesn't take their bait. He knows they want to get him for claiming oneness with God. So he asks them why they hadn't accepted John, and follows with a question on obedience.

"A man had two sons and he told both of them to go work in the field. The first said 'No,' but changed his mind and went. The second said, 'I will, sir' but didn't go. Which one honored his father?"

"The first," they answer quickly.

Jesus shocks them, "Your righteous pretense is like the second son's. The tax collectors and prostitutes are recognizing and entering God's kingdom ahead of you."

Matthew 21:23-32, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8 *Isaiah 28:21, Micah 7:18, Ezekiel 33:11 **Hosea 13:5,6,9, Jeremiah 6:27-30

By Arla, Jan 11 2021 07:00PM

A crowd all but runs from the temple, meeting others who are looking for Jesus. Hearing the exiters' account, some turn back afraid, but others press on to see the one they've come to as their last hope.


Many had stayed in the temple also, hearts thrilling at the power of his majesty, so seldom shown like this.


Jesus heals the sick and dying, and takes the children on his lap receiving their grateful kisses. Everyone, especially the children, shouts praises to God which come alive, bouncing off of marble walls and floors.


What a different scene the priests and rulers witness as they slowly return! They fear Jesus will take the throne of David, but they find people rejoicing in new health and ability, their praises ringing. For a time they stare, stopped by the wonder, unable to move.


The priests recover themselves, and press forward, shushing the still-exuberant children; the sound of their unrestrained voices, their dancing, running feet, offends them. But their words have no effect at all, so they speak to Jesus.


"Do you hear this? Stop them!" they say to him.


"Haven't you read?" asks Jesus, "Out of the mouth of babes You have perfected praise," He quotes David. Prophecy is being fulfilled!* They know the prophecy, and he knows they know it.

The celebration of praise calms into little ones falling asleep in Jesus arms as he teaches the people seated around him. 

Matthew 21:14-,  Mark 11:18-,  Luke 19:47-   *Psalm 8


By Arla, Jan 11 2021 02:00AM

From the fig orchard, Jesus and disciples arrive at the temple Monday morning, and find worse mayhem than when he cleaned out the greed mongers three years earlier--a veritable cattle yard.

It's Passover week and the city is filled with travelers. Sellers are bickering over the high prices of animals for sacrifice, combined with priests arguing over exchange rates for temple coins. Animal cries add a din of sound and confusion. These dignitaries of the temple were so controlled by greed they were like thieves.

Jesus stops and looks, thinking how little his sacrifice will be understood by these who have multiplied sacrifices with no meaning, no symbolism. A literal blood bath for what? The very symbols pointing to him were a means of making money.

But instead of tears now, divine anger flashes through, and once again every eye is drawn to him. He seems larger than life, his displeasure seems like consuming fire. The spreading silence is eerie.

Once again his voice rings like a trumpet, "It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves. Get these things out of here!" As he turns their tablesover, traders, priests, and rulers flee.

Since the last time they had run from him, they had wondered why, embarrassed that they hadn't stood up to him; thinking it couldn't happen again. Yet now they feel more fear than before. They can't leave fast enough, merchants driving their cattle before them, the priests running beside them.

Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46

By Arla, Jan 8 2021 02:00AM

Jesus acts out a parable. Maybe it just happens. More likely Ruach set it up--its message is that important.

The fig tree along their way is falsely advertising fruit because figs come on before the leaves. A tree full of leaves means ripe figs. Jesus, hungry and needing food, sees none, and says to the tree, "May no one eat fruit from you again." God hates pretense.

It was a barren tree--an accurate symbol of the nation God chose to be blessed with his message of saving love and forgiveness. The tree had put its energy into beautiful leaves instead of making fruit. Israel wanted to look good rather than know God and make Him look good--the whole reason they'd been chosen and honored as His ambassadors of Love. God needed true representatives because He had been slandered.

God had put Himself on trial before the universe. But they thought they were on trial, that God's focus was on them. They taught that their goodness would bring God honor--a subtle twist on God's goodness brings us honor. So instead of honoring God's love and saving goodness, by meeting peoples' needs, they focused on themselves. They honored themselves.

When their Messiah came, they didn't comprehend their need. They didn't think they needed a savior, except from the Romans... So they perceived him as an enemy, a heretic.

God's love is life-giving energy that either melts your heart or hardens it in resistance-- just as sun hardens clay but melts butter; there is nothing more He can do or give.

Cutting your life-line, makes death your only option. You destroy yourself.*

Mark 11:12-14, Matthew 21:18-19, *Hosea 13:9

By Arla, Jan 7 2021 02:00AM

As Jesus' procession enters Jerusalem, the priests and rulers react. They're afraid the people will make Jesus king, so they stir up the Roman soldiers telling them it's insurrection.

However, when the soldiers go to Jesus, he quiets the crowd, and calmly tells the soldiers that his kingdom isn't one like theirs, and that soon he will return to his Father, and it will be too late for the Jews to accept their Messiah. He speaks with such power, sadness, and dignity that the Roman officers are moved like never before, and feel more inclined to reverence him than arrest him.

They turn on the priests and blame them for the disturbance. There is so much commotion, Jesus and his disciples pass unnoticed to the temple where it's empty and quiet. Sadly Jesus looks around at the empty temple knowing its fate, and then they leave and return to Bethany--the disciples confused and disappointed.

When the people look for him to place him on the throne, they can't find him.

Jesus spends the entire night in prayer.

In the morning he goes back to the temple, and on the way walks through a fig orchard. It isn't fig season and all the trees are bare, raising no expectations; except for one fully leafed out: it promises to have fruit. Jesus is hungry and hopeful. But there's not a fig to be found. Its pretense is offensive, especially with such need, and thinking of Israel, Jesus says, "Your chance to bear fruit is over."

Mark 11:11-13 Matthew 21:17-19

By Arla, Jan 6 2021 02:00AM


As the joyful procession from Bethany reaches the crest of Mount Olivet, about to descend into Jerusalem, Jesus stops.

Breathtaking is the temple in the golden afternoon sun, white marble glistening like snow, gold-topped pillars glittering--a sight inspiring pride in the people, elevating their spirits more, and yet Jesus is bent over on the colt, sobbing!

Those closest wonder, Whatever can be wrong? We are ready to crown him king and he is weeping as if brokenhearted!

Sorrow overwhelms Jesus as he looks at the beautiful symbol of what Israel might have been. How blessed their future could be if they accepted their Messiah. He knows that today is their last chance to accept him. Entering Jerusalem as king, will start a rapid progression to his death in six days.

And now, overcome with grief, he thinks of the contrast between what might have been and what will happen to Israel because of their pride. Spirit shows him the suffering of the city under siege, the temple destroyed, the city plowed, thousands of crosses covering Calvary. He briefly describes it for those closest, and sobs, "How can I give you up? If only you knew Me! If you would just recognize your Messiah, I could protect you from your enemies..."*

He collects himself, and they move on down the slope to Jerusalem, people shouting and singing the prophecies, seemingly unmindful of his pain.

Priests come and object, "Don't you hear this disturbance?"

"It is God's time to be heard," Jesus replies. "If they are silent, the very stones will cry out."

Matthew 21:9-11, Luke 19:37-44, John 12:17-19, Zechariah 9:9, *Hosea 11:8

By Arla, Jan 5 2021 02:00AM


It's Sunday, the day after Simon's feast, and many of the people from Jerusalem who had come to Bethany to see Jesus, accompany him now. He had sent two disciples to borrow a donkey and its colt, and now with excitement they put their cloaks on the young donkey's back for Jesus to ride. Finally he is going to enter the capital and proclaim himself king! is in everyone's minds.


 Five hundred years before Jesus, Zechariah prophesied that Messiah would enter Jerusalem riding the never-ridden foal of a donkey.*


As soon as he's seated on the colt, in the tradition of the kings of Israel, a shout of triumph rings out. Lazarus leads the donkey, while the people honor Jesus by putting garments in his path or cutting palm and olive branches to wave in the air or lay as a carpet before him.

Even nature seems in a rejoicing mood. New leaves are on the trees. Spring's blossoms waft delicate perfume everywhere. New life and joy fill the air. Crowds, on their way to Jerusalem for Passover, join the procession through the green countryside.


"Hosanna to the Son of David" bursts out and echoes from surrounding hills as people hear and come shouting and singing from everywhere, even Jerusalem. His entourage swells continually as they progress. Those healed by Jesus are eager to join this celebration.


As they approach Jerusalem, the priests blow the trumpet for the evening service but few respond, and in terror the rabbis say, "The whole world has gone after him!"


Matthew 21:1-11,  Mark 11:1-10,  Luke 19:29-38   *Zechariah 9:9

By Arla, Jan 4 2021 02:00AM

Simon thinks Mary's passionate display of affection is disgusting--that Jesus shouldn't allow it. He doesn't know God's kindness, tenderness and mercy with sinners, even though Jesus had saved him from a living death.

Jesus knows what Simon is thinking and reveals to him, alone, that he knows his past with his responsibility toward Mary.

"Simon, I have a story for you," says Jesus. "A certain creditor had two debtors: one owed him five hundred dollars and the other fifty. Since neither had ability to pay, he forgave them both. Tell me, which one will love him most?"

"I suppose the one forgiven the most." Simon pretends composure, realizing that Jesus knows...

"You're right. You didn't wash my feet, but she has and dried them with her hair. You didn't greet me with a kiss, but she has kissed my feet many times. Her sins, though great, are forgiven because she loves much."

Simon breathes, grateful that Jesus hasn't exposed him. He sees clearly now. He had thought himself more righteous than Mary, but Jesus has given new perspective. Convicted by kindness, Simon's hard heart melts, and he becomes a true follower.

Jesus has freed Mary from demons seven times, but He knows the circumstances of her life, and sees her pure desire. The worse you have been, the more you need Jesus. He joyfully accepts all who come to him for restoration.

It was Mary who sat at Jesus' feet, anointed Jesus, stood by Jesus' cross. Mary was first at his tomb, and was honored as first to see Jesus resurrected.

Luke 7:39-50

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