T-i-m-b-e-r!!!!

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Before writing this, I just mowed and trimmed the yard.  Instead of a “rider” we have a push mower, (well, alright, gas powered, not the kind your great-grandfather used, which was the REAL push mower).  And I was having issues with my trimmer, (okay, it’s also gas powered, not the hand clippers I used as a kid…)  And it was Missouri-summer HOT and HUMID! 

Whine, whine, whine.

That’s kind of what a couple of the Hebrew tribes sounded like when they came to Joshua as the nation of Israel was settling into the long-awaited Promised Land—

“The descendants of Joseph came to Joshua and asked, ‘Why have you given us only one portion of land as our homeland when the LORD has blessed us with so many people?’  Joshua replied, ‘If there are so many of you, and if the hill country of Ephraim is not large enough for you, clear out land for yourselves in the forest…’   The descendants of Joseph responded, ‘It’s true that the hill country is not large enough for us. But all the Canaanites in the lowlands have iron chariots,…They are too strong for us.’”

At first, it does sound a little like whining, but to their credit, these leaders had made a proper assessment of their current situation and resources; they were being honest. 

“Then Joshua said to…the descendants of Joseph, ‘Since you are so large and strong, you will be given more than one portion.  The forests of the hill country will be yours as well. Clear as much of the land as you wish, and take possession of its farthest corners.’”

Bringing that honesty to the Lord (via Joshua, since we’re talking Old Testament), the people were initially given the direction they needed…

 …but they were going to have to work hard for it. Then check out what Joshua says next (this is so cool)—

“And you will drive out the Canaanites from the valleys, too, even though they are strong and have iron chariots.”

Bringing that honesty to the Lord, they were then given the needed encouragement to make it happen.

God has allotted certain things to us, which includes our deliverance from the clutches of sin.  He wants that abundant life to flow from us to others (as I have to remind myself, it’s not just about “me”).  Because of Christ, I have too much in me to be penned in by my puny circumstances, not when God has forested hills and open valleys for me to expand into. 

…but I’m going to have to work hard for it.

I’m expected and designed to work hard.  Spiritual battle is not fun.  Clearing out the wood from the hills (past experiences, regrets, and my own “personal demons”) and the iron chariots from the valleys (Satan’s demons, since they like to hang around my warning-sign-304370_1280garbage), can be a daunting business.  Messy, too.  Definitely not a one-man job, but neither was it for the tribe of Israelites who needed to expand. 

So I should sharpen my axe and stop whining.

Joshua 17: 14  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.

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In other words…

Buck

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
 He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.

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.

Phyllis Diller, my heroine

 

I tend a bit to the Phyllis Diller end of the housework continuum:

phyllis-diller-housework

I like a clean and orderly home, naturally, but it needs to reach a critical mass before I’m overly motivated.  If I don’t dust the furniture, it will only gather more dust and so much the better in which to write Bob a love note.  On the other hand, if I’m not out in my garden watering and such, my green babies might DIE! 

Now really, which is more important??

So it’s pretty amazing what Continue reading “Phyllis Diller, my heroine”

The Fringe Counts!

picmonkey dogMy dog, Buckley (otherwise nicknamed the Mighty Wonder Buck—my husband is into superheroes and such things) loves to play tug-o-war….with anything.  Sticks, his flying disc, that colorful rope thing tied in big knots, shoes (if I let him, which I don’t). 

The challenge is that this particular game of his tends to wear out the playthings, because as affable and loving and gentle in nature as Buck is, his teeth are impressive. Thankfully, it doesn’t occur to him that he could rip my hand off.

So after a while, playing tug-o-war with his rope becomes tug-o-fringe.  This, however, does not deter him in the least.  In fact, the ratty old rope—or what’s left of it—is generally the first toy he pulls out of his box to entice me to join him in some all-out contest of strength. (Just for the record, the one with the opposable thumbs generally wins.)

The Buck is not intimidated by his worn-out things—to him they are still functional without a second thought.  It occurs to me that God is not intimidated Continue reading “The Fringe Counts!”

Not My Poetry (but I still claim it!)

quillI’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!)”

Them’s fightin’ words!

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I 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.

In other words…

IMG_20160131_115645993

“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.”

Daniel 9:23  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Liar, liar, pants on fire (#2)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Did 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:

  1. 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…,
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

lies
Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/tsandwick/realies/

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:

satan liar

“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.

Who’s minding the gate?

IMG_20150103_172451138We 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?”

What Your Feet Mean to Me

quillYea!  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,
Or worse:
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