I’m thinking that by this time, this guy Asaph was old; he’d seen a lot. As he pours out his heart to God, you can hear his pain and frustration and confusion. I love his raw yet respectful honesty before God. I also love how these verses so exquisitely illustrate what Satan tries to do in our lives today, and I mean the lives of Christians, dedicated believers in Jesus. After all, our hearts are now the Continue reading “Not My Poetry (but I still claim it!)”
I really like my comfort zone. In fact, I tend to snuggle in with my favorite blankie and stuffed toy (it’s name was Pinkie, BTW, a big fuzzy stuffed dog of said color that I remember my big brother swinging around the room to irritate me—which worked.) Only now my favorite toys are a bit more expensive (a house, a couple of cars, old though they be…) and I frequently wrap myself in my favorite “blankie” (my marriage, my family and friends, my health, such as it is….) It’s not a perfect mountaintop, but it’s the one I live on, if you get my metaphorical drift, and I’m thankful for it.
Of course, when you’re married to a science teacher like my husband, the metaphorical tends to become the concrete. He likes to point out practical things like, “Yep, those mountains were brought about by earthquakes, two Teutonic plates vying for the same space, and….”
You get it.
In this instance, however, the point is well taken in that sometimes God has to shake us up to get us off the mountaintop and out of our comfort zone, since in reality, we are called into the war for His kingdom. But we’re in good company:
“When we were at Mount Sinai, the LORD our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on. Go to the hill country…Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.’”
Interestingly, God could have provided everything His people needed right there on that particular mountain. (You know, because He’s God.) But also because He’s God, He knew that was not the best for them, it was not His fulfillment of the promise for them, and God is not One to settle for anything less than the best in, for, and through them. And us. For His kingdom.
A few other things had to take place, and much later, the psalmist put it like this:
“You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver…We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.”
Unlike other kingdom conflicts happening on our current timeline, the Christian conflict is a spiritual one for our culture, our children, and even our own hearts and minds. It’s uncomfortable (to put it mildly), but it is the place where God promises not only His peace, but most importantly, His presence—His Truth in the midst of turmoil, His koinonia in the midst of conflict.
Given my ‘druthers, I’d sometimes rather hang out on the mountain than join the fight in the valley, but reader beware: because of the Father’s love, if a little shaking doesn’t do it, He may turn the mountain into a volcano.
Deut 1:6-8; Psalm 66: 10,12 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
“The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.”
Did you know that middle school kids lie? Now I realize that may be an astounding revelation to some, so don’t choke on your Coke. One of the wonderful teachers I’ve worked with for years cracks me up; she encourages the kids to “come up with something better than THAT” when they feed her an obvious falsification about why they don’t have their homework. (She’s been around a while…)
Of course, kids aren’t the only ones skilled in what my brother-in-law refers to as “a flexible sense of integrity.” For example—
The story of Hezekiah is fascinating. Here the king of the formidable Assyrian nation comes knocking on Judah’s door demanding submission, or else. Reading the accusations, there are several things the Assyrian head of state gets wrong:
- He says that the God of the Hebrews Himself told him to attack and subdue Judah, (2 Kings 18:25). Okay, that’s been done before so the idea isn’t completely foreign; however…,
- In the paragraph preceding that part of his tirade, he asserts that Yahweh is pretty ticked off with Hezekiah for destroying all the other alters of worship expect the one in Jerusalem, (2 Kings 18:22). Guess the king of Assyria hadn’t done his background homework, because those other alters were one of the very things that made God quite upset with His people, and tearing them down was a definite plus in the Jews’ ledger sheet.
- Then this would-be tourist proceeds to lump Yahweh into the list of “all the other gods” who were unable to stand before the mighty Assyrian nation, (2 Kings 18:33-35). That was certainly an epic fail. Not only was this a colossal insult, but also an incongruity in his argument—why would God tell the Assyrians to destroy His people if He couldn’t Himself stand up to the instrument of His own choosing?
There’s more to be gleaned from this account of Hezekiah’s dealings with Assyria, but here’s one of the points worth mentioning:
Liars have to keep lying, and generally someone is going to catch their slip, whether it’s a gap in logically reasoning, a contradiction, whatever. You have to have a certain level of talent to deceive consistently, (granted, there are quite a few talented people around today.)
Satan, however, is the best, as he has been at it quite some time now with amazing proficiency.
“When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
And his lies are not merely to inconvenience, but like the king of Assyria, Satan has much bolder plans—
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.”
Satan’s lies are aimed at the heart, the very place God says we are to guard since “the wellsprings of life” come from that very spiritual place. And what is at the heart of every Christian, but our intimacy with our Father Himself? Satan will try every which way to convince us that we are rejected by God, not accepted into the family of God, or at the very best, a doormat for the more “important” saints. Or that God, Himself, is mad at us.
The list goes on, but eventually his logic does break down, because it’s no match for the Cross.
Or as Wally Fry puts it so well at Truth in Palmyra:
“Don’t let Satan set the ground rules”
John 8:44; John10:10 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
We had a break-in a year ago. Well, not really a break-in. More like a stumble-in. Bob and I were watching TV on the couch one evening when we heard a noise in the kitchen. Some poor soul just ran right in after…, well, it’s a long story. All was taken care of, police, ambulance, and thank the Lord for good neighbors.
I say it wasn’t a break-in since we hadn’t locked our back door. (Duh.) Even though we both grew up in a big city, we tend to take for granted the relative safety of our wonderful small Midwestern town. So, really, our fault. Lesson learned, but like Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story…
I’ve been plowing about in the Old Testament books of Chronicles. Unfortunately, they have acquired a reputation that puts them decidedly among what some call the “white pages” of the Bible, i.e., the edges of the pages are white because they are seldom touched. The past few years I’ve been trying to discipline my reading Continue reading “Who’s minding the gate?”
Yea! I met a new blogger! If you haven’t already met him, let me have the pleasure of introducing you to Mr. Rusty Foerger, proprietor of the blogs Curriculum of the Spiritual Life and More Enigma Than Dogma AND the author of this beautiful poem. Personally, how can anyone deny the existence of God with such a thing as poetry (Or art in general, for that matter, thank you Mr. Chesterton.) Enjoy this contemplative “selah” moment.
WHAT YOUR FEET MEAN TO ME
You say I am doing a beautiful thing for you.
It’s just like you to say that.
All I am doing is washing your feet with my tears;
They come from a fractured place –
A place of stain and shame;
Now they flow out to clean your feet.
Thank you for not stepping on me with your feet
Or trampling over me;
Or hurrying past me to the next big thing,
Or merely to a better thing.
Thank you for letting your feet be nailed in place – in my place.
Thank you for not kicking me with your legs
Or jumping past me: the undesirable, the unlovable.
Thank you for not holding me down with your arms
Or holding me back with your grip.
Thank you for not raping me with your body,
Or stripping me with your eyes
Or looking past me with your gaze.
Thank you for not abusing me with your lips
Or spitting on me with your mouth.
Thank you for not thinking the worst of me,
not thinking of me at all.
Thank you for walking up to me with these feet, these beautiful feet:
For holding me – for holding me up with your arms.
Thank you for listening to me
When I babble on
When I pray
When I lament
When I sing,
Thank you for seeing me – for seeing into me.
Thank you for being able to overlook my sin
And for being willing to do that.
Thank you for talking to me,
For speaking such fantastic words:
Words like honey
Words like light
Words like rock
Words like flight
Words that sing
Words that ring.
Thank you for forming them into living sound:
Songs of joy
Hymns of truth
Feelings of comfort
Trumps of exaltation!
Pronouncements of peace
Words of wisdom
Psalms of beauty
Proclamations of release!
Thank you for shaping words into keys
To unlock yet another chain, to take off yet another yoke.
Thank you for thinking of me – the best of me.
For such beautiful thoughts, such loving thoughts –
With such a capacity, as if each star you flung into space
Was another bright idea you put into place.
Thank you for Your imagination – the truth of who I am to You.
No one else could find it in themselves to create this truth –
To the contradiction of overwhelming evidence.
While tears had long emptied into a careless street of users
Now each one poured out like a 1000 years, a 1000 pounds, a 1000 moments of darkness.
Now each tear is precious to me, to remind me or what it means to touch your feet.
You say I am doing a beautiful thing for you.
And it’s just like you to say that.
All I am doing is washing your feet with my tears
that come from a fractured place –
Split open by the spring of Your own relentlessness
And made to worship the One I love!
This is what your feet mean to me.
Copyright: Easter 2004; R.H. Foerger
I never quite understood the whole streaking phenom from a few decades ago. Chalk it up to cultural weirdness, although I’m sure the psychologists would have a few other differential diagnoses. Or maybe it was just a fashion statement…?
Personally, I have three fashionista rules: cleanliness, comfort, and COVERAGE. Really keen on that last one.
Anyway, here’s another one of those little obscure passages that leaves me scratching my noggin trying to figure out why God put it in the Bible. This is right after Peter, James, and John kept falling asleep in the garden while Jesus was sweating blood praying about His imminent crucifixion. Judas has now singled Jesus out, the guards have seized Him, and the rabble is Continue reading “Spiritual streakers”
My birthday is smack-dab (great vocabulary word, BTW) in the middle of Spring. This past year, I asked for one thing. Just one.
And lots of it. I have been working on putting a new garden in, and since we live within the city limits, it’s not like on one of the nearby farms where you have dirt to spare (as well as other biologicals that enhance the soil, if you get my drift…) And to boot, the dirt in my yard is not particularly conducive to growing vegetables and such, which calls for a little more intentionality and strategy when putting in a garden, at least if I have high hopes of producing nutritious edibles.
I let my desire be known to my husband and progeny. I even held off buying dirt, hoping that the truck from one of our local home and garden stores was going to show up with bags and bags, but alas, it was not to be. Bob did not consider “dirt” to be an appropriate birthday gift for his wife since, to him, it smacked of “work”….(sigh).
So I bought myself a gift—dirt. Yes, I did. Twenty 2-cubic-foot bags, in fact. (That’ll teach ‘im, right?? Nah, probably not.) And when it’s delivered, either from the store or
in my old suburban, I hadn’t decided which yet, I would empty most or all of it into the new garden plot and “start to begin to commence” planting.
At least, that was the plan.
Of course, there are lots of other things that can be done with dirt. Like playing in it, building mud pies and such. It’s a bit messier than a sandbox, but quite do-able. Naturally, cats and dogs find dirt most helpful also (as with sandboxes). Worms also appreciate the dirt, which in turn makes the robins appreciate it also.
But that’s not why I’m spending a pretty penny (several thousand pennies, truth be known), on good soil. The purpose of this birthday gift to myself is to grow things!
So why do we do we tend to have a similarly skewed attitude with the gifts that God gives us?
“So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.”
Just a thought: whether it’s a bags of dirt, a new trowel or shovel, or fresh gloves, you don’t buy them to admire them, but to USE them for their intended purpose—to grow and produce, not to play around making a mess to simply get dirty.
Although I certainly do enough of that in the process….
The wonderful gifts God gives us—relationships, talents, time, health, experiences, forgiveness, supernatural or natural—all are for the building and nourishing of His church. Or as Bob likes to say, they’re tools, not toys.
So just a thought: what kind of steward are you with God’s gifts? Best not to get your hands dirty unless you plan on getting some work done.
Okay, I did it again. Bit off more than I can chew, that is. For years I’ve wanted some raised gardens in the one full sun spot of my little yard. I’ve dreamed and planned…and waited.
At this writing, it’s my school’s Spring Break (March), and since the city won’t allow burning off my leftover leaves due to overly dry conditions, I decided the time is right for this new plot. (Does that mean Bob can blame the city for my over-zealous project?)
Did you know that railroad ties generally weigh around 200 pounds? Each? I have the aching muscles and bruises to prove it. Of course, I’ve used railroad ties before, just not this many, and a little more “terra-forming” (as my husband puts it) was Continue reading “A quick gardening project–HA!”
From Elihu’s Corner. Triple AMENs to this!