The Guilt Offering

At a church staff retreat recently, we came together to worship and pray for one another.  During one of the worship songs, I closed my eyes (and kept them closed) until, during one of the songs, I heard the Lord whisper to me very simply, “I am the guilt offering.” He always quietly startles me like this but I kept my eyes closed and a picture formed so very clearly in my mind‘s eye.  I saw him on the road to Golgotha.  I was there and so was he, we were in the same moment.  He looked right into my eyes and I could see him bleeding, weighted down by the cross he was carrying, slowly inching along, but his head turned towards me and he said one more simple sentence…”Rhodie, I got this.”  That’s all he wanted me to know and he was gone.

I came home that night and eventually was able to use the computer to google this Old Testament offering.  I am much more familiar with the sin offering the Israelites practiced.  Jesus is frequently referred to as the sin offering, the sin bearer as all that expands on his shed blood washing away our sins.  But I have to say that I really didn’t know much about the guilt offering.  Maybe you don’t either, so here it is:
    The guilt offering was a mandatory atonement for an intentional or unintentional violation requiring restitution, the confession of a sin, and forgiveness of a sin or cleansing from defilement. It required not only a ram, but also a twenty percent fine to the wronged party.  The difference between this and the sin offering was that the guilt offering was compulsory, in cases where restitution was necessary…It was not easy to distinguish between the sin offering and the guilt offering…Both were to atone for sins committed knowingly or through ignorance.  Yet, the sin offering dealt with the root of sin, even as the guilt offering dealt with the fruit of sin…The sin offering emphasized the sin itself, whereas the guilt offering emphasized the practice and harmful effects of the sin. 

This offering had to do with sinning against what was forbidden by God, intentionally or unintentionally, as well as violations against one’s neighbor in relationship to money or property rights, using deception with a neighbor about something entrusted to one’s care, something stolen, cheating a neighbor, finding lost property and lying about it, swearing falsely or extortion.  That person committing these actions was to render a full restitution as well as adding a fifth of the value (or a twenty percent fine) to it.  There are a few other applications of the guilt offering in Leviticus, but this pretty much sums it up.

At my first reflection, I started to get scared, thinking for sure I (always about me) would never be able to please the Lord in my humanity.  Then I realized this was so far from what Jesus was trying to tell me or where he was trying to focus my attention.  What He said to me was, he’s got this….He IS this offering and this one is finished, too.  All offerings are finished in him, but this was the one he wanted me to know about specifically. 

I am walking myself into more reflection regarding these words, but at this moment, I am reminded that Jesus truly is my Savior, my guilt offering to God.  I am completely overwhelmed by his obedience in completing this act of sacrifice on my behalf.  I also appreciate that in the ways of God in the Old Testament, there was a framework that defined the way in which people were meant to relate to each other.  It’s as if God kept weaving into our falseness these threads that, when tightened, could help us to straighten up into the image of God that was meant to be present in us.  Fortunately for us, these efforts were also pointers to a deeper and greater plan. 

Please stay tuned…I am not done with this yet.

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The Will of Jesus

The will of mankind is a will formed by the Creator
To be the way freedom would be exercised before
It became the very threat to that freedom .

An ability to choose is best if love will be real and
Not just a puppet response or a mechanical leaning
Into something formed by another.

And there he was in the Garden, struggling with his
Will, a human being and a divine mystery, dripping
Blood and tears in a cosmic battle.

The angel was dispatched to be there with him, and
That is how we know this was real and not an easy
Path of mindless obedience but true choice.

An angel tended to this man and he must have told
That story to them all, the disciples, after the cross
And after the shock, after the holes.

Human life is such that there can be deep, deep pain
And grief, like sink holes that swallow up the earth
And leave nothing but emptiness in a soul.

Sometimes we need angels too, lots of them, to move
About the earth, tending to all the pain and sorrow of
Men and women whose wills are lifeless.

Overcome, we succumb to numbness and wonder if
Our own battle has done us in or ordered  the days
To be filled with despair and hopelessness.

My friend, your angel is not so far as the one who
Dispatched him in the first place and we know now
That another comes to carry you on.

He lifts you up as he did his cross, he carries you on
His back like he did those beams and he holds you
Within his love, freely given forever.

He surrendered His will, He entered the journey so that
All your doubts, all your fears and all that earth might
Destroy of any life, now can become the forever life.

His will chose death so that you might have more.
Now your will can chose Him.

Good Friday

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Palm Sunday

Hosanna to God in the Highest.  He comes. riding upon a donkey to undo any doubt of his intentional humility.

O Lord, hold this fragile creature of the earth close to your heart of love today.
Help me to unafraid of the love poured out
so scandalously before by eyes.  I have seen the
 willing obedience of thine only Son to give himself
 to complete the offering of grace.








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Sometimes motion seems to justify our madness

Moving constantly to capture our life and control all

Our fears, compulsions and power in a way that will

Propel progress forward no matter if good or bad.


 We text, we tweet, we send emails, we Google to find

Information that will keep us present to the moments

Exploding all over the world, whether we care about

Them or not, as if we can do anything at all to change what is.


The motion makes us feel productive and we identify

Accomplishment with nothing deeper because that

Would require space unplanned, unspoken, unfilled,

And what would we do with ourselves if still and silent?


Heaven are you there?  Heaven can you hear me?  Help!

My soul is connected to wires and I have confused the digital

with Life itself thinking that if I am plugged in, I am living

When in fact, I only exist by reason of the convenient machines.


If I disconnect, I might realize that my inner being is so

Very thirsty and I am tired of being driven by deadlines and

Messages from so many sources whose compassion and

Interests flounder without the touch of a real person nearby.


I will let go, I will let myself be if only for the sake of regaining

A say in what will shape my heart and mind as I search for

a meaningful life apart from these props that seem to hold me

captive to a reality that has made me nothing but a slave.


Quiet now, and I will practice a space of time where all is but a

Breath to take, an eye to see, a creation to behold and freedom

Can grow apart from the tentacles of technology which will always

Try to trump the earthy humanity I know I am made of and can become.





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Verdict in Steubenville Rape Trial

Two Ohio high school football players have been found guilty of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in a case that roiled a small city and stirred reaction from activists online. Judge Thomas Lipps ruled Sunday in juvenile court that Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond are guilty of attacking the girl after an alcohol-fueled party last August. The 17-year-old Mays and 16-year-old Richmond were charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in a car and then in a house. Judge Tom Lipps ordered Richmond held in a juvenile detention facility for at least one year and Mays at least two years. The juvenile system could hold them until age 21. Both were required to register as juvenile sex offenders.

Mays and Richmond both apologized tearfully after being found guilty. The two high school football players accused of rape in Steubenville, Ohio sobbed after the judge delivered a guilty verdict. NBC’s Ron Allen reports. “I’d like to apologize to her family, [the] community. No pics should have been sent. That’s all sir,” said Mays. “I’d like to apologize to you people. I had no intentions to do anything, I’m sorry to put you through this — I’m sorry, I didn’t… ” said Richmond as he broke down crying.

Afterwards, the mother of the victim’s mother, who is not being named, gave a statement to the media, saying:
“It did not matter what school you went to, what city you lived in, or what sport you’ve played. Human compassion is not taught by a teacher coach or parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of this. You displayed not only a lack of this compassion but a lack of any moral code. Your decisions that night affected countless lives including those most dear to you. You were your own accuser through social media you chose to publish your criminal conduct on. This does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grow, and move on. “I have pity for you both. I hope you fear the Lord, repent for your actions and pray hard for his forgiveness,” she concluded.
                                                                      from google article, breaking news today

The news reporter covering this story made an comment about the culture in this town.  He said that there was alcohol flowing, little parental supervision, and a male dominated system where the “football team ruled” everything. 

This continues to reflect something that is more and more apparent in news every day not only in our country, but around the world. The male dominated Catholic structure hid sexual predators for years until that was exposed.  This weekend, another gang rape on a Swiss female tourist occurred while she was cycling with her husband in India where there is a definite skewed view of women/girls that is hard to hear about.  The middle east remains a place of fear for many women and girls, evidenced by the attempt to murder a young 11 year old Pakistani girl who was able to finally speak out after being saved from injuries inflicted on her by men almost driven to hysteria spewing out false accusations about her. 

All this is points to something so very deep and so very evil. It is the most wicked distortion of God’s intent at creation gone so very wrong.  Surely sin has much to do it, but I think also there is an very powerful presence that continues to delight in holding both men and women hostage in this distortion.  Both suffer.  Both become so much less than they are meant to be.  Both live beneath their dignity and equality before God. 

I was teaching my 4th grade girls class this weekend at church and even there, I saw it.  Competition, instead of complimentary differences.  “We are better”, the girls yelled. “No we are better”, the boys replied….it can get ugly fast.  As I walked with one of my girls to the classroom, I kept saying to her, you are different but equal, different but equal….not better, not worse…..different but equal.

May God be merciful and give us the grace to make this so with one another, at all times, in all situations, in all relationships.  That sounds like more than compassion to me…..that sounds like radical love and respect.  One man showed this way to us already…we killed him for it but He fooled us…He came back and really made it so with his risen life as the final proof that he meant what he said and how he lived.   Let’s all try to follow his lead.





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Movie Reflections

I went to see the movie, Girl Rising, today at the Gateway Theater.  Wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was stories of young girls in different “developing” countries whose treatment of women is in the pre-historic era compared to the United States.  The movie is extremely well done, well written and moving.  Education is the key.  Education is the need. I understand that when it comes to poverty and how women are treated.  I had a bit of my own growing up and I have to admit, my dream was to go to college, to learn, to expand my horizons.  I got that opportunity. These girls deserve the same.  “Globally, 66 million girls are not enrolled in school.”

It is just still hard to see so much abject poverty for so many as visually portrayed in the movie.  I get overwhelmed by it.  I heard a statistic this week that 80% of all the wall street investments are owned by 10% of the population in the U.S.  Wow, that is just hard to hear.  So let me go off on a bit of a tangent here and say that I hope this film gets shown at Harvard, Stanford, Yale…all the “ivy-leagues” where the money flows.  Put that together with the top 20% and honestly, this movie better be shown there.  I start to wonder if somehow, some way, these folks might rethink what all the money they amass or will amass is for.

Honestly, this movie got me asking again what the heck the American dream is about?  I mean, maybe it’s time for a new dream….maybe those top 20%, along with all the rest of us trying to make ends meet, could pull together and maybe, just maybe, we really could change the world or at least do some amazingly good for some really amazingly sweet, beautiful, strong, courageous, determined, hopeful young girls.

Let me say, I  am not against wealth, or amassing it.  My question is, how do you keep all that money from stealing your soul, or shrinking your heart so small it becomes a nano heart. We all watch the movie stars, sports figures, corporate bosses…all those who have risen to the top like the cream of the crop, but where are they in this picture?  America is the best experiment on earth, but how far out on a limb can we run with this American dream thing until we are too far out for our own good and that limb starts to bend with all the wealth in the hands of few?  Yes, I know they earned it, but again, what did they earn it for?  Is it bad to raise the “purpose” question?

When I watch movies like this, it is hard on me.  I start to feel guilty.  I wonder how I can go home and do the same old, same old, stuff.  I think about how very small my life really is in terms of influencing anything or anyone.  And oh my….all I can say is how I need those 20% so badly and where are you!?  On the golf course?  On some island paradise?  Buying more clothes, building bigger houses, sailing fancier yachts?

I guess all I want to ask is that you rethink the purpose of your wealth.  Maybe, just maybe, you could move it towards something beyond what money can buy…maybe you could actually contribute some of that wealth to making the dreams of millions of young girls a reality.

That would be about another movie I would call…. Humanity Rising.

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(UNESCO, 2012)

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My Mother’s Birthday

I come from a very dysfunctional family.   Nothing about it has been easy, but I would like to acknowledge that despite my mother’s issues, somehow at 83 years old this week, she has found a way to get through it all.  She calls me up tonight and sounds as if she is about 12 years old.  She shares her day, her thoughts….usually that can last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and half, and usually it is one-sided, non-stop sharing until finally all that must have been rattling around in her brain, her heart and her soul has been emptied out and she says I love you….good-bye.  Her voice is melodic, hitting high tones and low tones, and it seems to have buoyancy.  I have also heard it when that is not the case, but tonight it was definitely up tempo.

She has been through so much.  She grew up in St. Clairsville, Ohio when it was a coal mining town in the 1930’s.  There was nothing except what we call poverty for her, but it was normal life.  She went to school without shoes once and her girlfriend let her borrow a pair to wear to class.  She’s told me she had a vision of Jesus on a hill in the town and that is where they built the Catholic church.  Her father died in a terrible mining accident, as did many other men, and was laid out in his casket in their living room for 2 days.  Her sister’s husband was also killed and she became the babysitter for her children even though she had a scholarship in theater at a college in Ohio.  She was also a cheerleader but all she really wanted was to be an actress.  She had 9 siblings.  Two of her brothers went off to fight in World War II and neither of them came back.  

One day she got a bus to escape the poverty and the deadend future she thought she had staying in that town.  Her family punished her for that by not speaking to her for a long time, but she rode that bus to a new place, got a job, made some friends and eventually met my father, who was 10 years older than her (he was 32, she was 22), got married and immediately had me, my sister and then my brother…one right after the other.

Things just didn’t work between them, they fought a lot, and eventually, got divorced when I was beginning 10th grade.  The divorce was cataclysmic…we lost our house and had to move before school started.  Ironically, we moved with my mother back to St. Clairsville.  I guess my mother thought she would try to go home and start over.  My one sister stayed behind with my father and by that time, I had another sister, quite younger.   She came along with me and my brother.  We lived in a mobile trailor in a hollow outside of town for that year.  We got through it, but my mother finally decided to call it quits and we drove back to town and moved in with my father.  He had a one bedroom efficiency apartment where we all lived for a while.  Don’t ask me how.  That was the year I went to a Young Life summer camp in Colorado and gave my life to Jesus.  It was life changing for me.

Much more happened after this for my mother.  My brother went into the Navy at 18 and drowned in a freakish way even though he had been on the swim team at the YMCA.  It all eventually led her to testify at hearing in Washington, D.C. with other families who had lost their children in the same freakish way.  She even had his body exhumed after burial to be sure about it.  She married again but to this day, I do not know why.  It was a horrible second marriage which spilled over onto us in ways I wish hadn’t and still does.  There was an affair too in between with my orthodontist who made outlandish promises to my mother and then never followed through on any of them.  She had a major heart attack at 70 and survived.  Now she is very thin and taking a ton of meds.

She has struggled with so much, so very much.  Her personality has been deeply affected by it all. I ran across the term somewhere, disordered personality.  I think that is an accurate term at times for her, but then there are these moments like tonight.  She sounded so young on the phone. I think of what she has lived through.  I think of it all and I just cry.  

Sometimes life just isn’t easy.  Sometimes it is just downright painful.  But tonight, as I remember my mother’s birthday this week, I want to thank her for making her journey as best she could with what she had to work with, what she didn’t know was lacking and what she wished for.  She had dreams just like I did.  But you know what, dreams are not all they are cracked up to be…sometimes reality, events and people have a way of doing things to those dreams. 

And that brings me back to what I really wanted to say about all this.  It really is amazing to me that she is still here.  Her voice tonight was like a child’s.

Happy Birthday Mom, whoever you are now and however old you are tonight. 

Happy Birthday to you.

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