It’s Complicated…(Part 2)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280After yesterday’s post, now the plot thickens…with blood.

And lots of it.

Like, Stephen King and Nightmare on Elm Street all rolled into one.  Here’s a brief recap:

Hebrew man and half-wife (concubine) traveling through town in area of the Israeli tribe of Benjamin; brought in to spend the night with nice man who knows better than to let them stay out at night in the town square.  We found out why in the next few verses because… Continue reading “It’s Complicated…(Part 2)”

It’s Complicated…(Part 1)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’m not into overt government control, but anarchy doesn’t appeal to me either; I’m much, MUCH too familiar with human nature to rely on our own ability to play nice together.  That’s why this statement from the Old Testament book of Judges is really quite chilling—

“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

No king, including Yahweh God anymore, evidently. What used to be a theocracy was no longer, so do-your-own-thing was the rule of the day. Here are just a few examples: Continue reading “It’s Complicated…(Part 1)”

Hollywood, and other surprises

usa-2661636_1920When it comes to Hollywood, I would never make it in “The Industry”.  For starters, Southern Cal has two seasons: sunny dry heat, and fire.  And here in the Midwest, we may have our tornadoes, but at least there’s some warning.  Earthquakes, on the other hand… Continue reading “Hollywood, and other surprises”

Just hangin’ around

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I have a bit of a problem with the movie-star mentality that the church often has with popular preachers and teachers.  Driving around in a big city, seeing their faces splashed up on bulletin boards advertising this or that upcoming event just somehow makes me feel…I dunno…like closing my eyes and letting out a big sigh.

Not that I don’t have my faves, people from whom I get some of the benefit of their personal relationship with our common Father and Savior.  But the operative word there is “common”, meaning I have the same access with the same responsibility to hear from God myself, as opposed to settling for allowing all my understanding to derive from their hard work.  That’s just mental and spiritual laziness.  Continue reading “Just hangin’ around”

Cheers

wood 2People you want to get in good with when you are new on a job:

  1. Secretariesplumber-2523231_1920
  2. Custodians

Why?

(a) they have secret eyes and ears everywhere,

(b) they have keys and access to everything,

(c) they can fix anything, including “red tape”.

I suspect this very sagacious advice has not changed much over the millennia, as I see in this continuing story about Jesus and the wedding at Cana, (see yesterday’s post.) Continue reading “Cheers”

Here comes the bride!

IMG_20150103_172451138Planning weddings has become a multi-gazillion dollar business.  I fancy you could send their kids to college with some of the hoopla that society calls weddings these days!  I mean, c’mon, if half as much time, effort, and financial resources went into preparing for the marriage as it does in preparing for the wedding, well…the statistics would read a whole lot differently.

So there’s my soapbox.

Evidently, however, our 21st century Western culture is not alone in this absurdity.  Take another look at 1st century Judaism—

“The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.  The wine supply ran out during the festivities…

One source I looked at said that wedding celebrations typically lasted five to seven days, and the whole village would be invited!  Okay, they’ve topped us on that one.  I don’t know how much wine costs back then, but over a week, it would’ve certainly driven up the bill.

“…so Jesus’ mother told him, ‘They have no more wine.’”

 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

I love, love, love Mary’s concern for the bride and her family.  True empathy.  It could be that she has already married off daughters of her own, and can feel the coming embarrassment if something isn’t done, and quickly.  Very possibly, her own husband, Joseph, is dead by this time, so she turns to her nearest benefactor, her oldest son Son.  (How convenient.)

Her next remark is brilliant—

But his mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

Seemingly having just been given a bit of a brush off, albeit polite, she proceeds to clear the way for something extraordinary should God decide, in His wisdom, to do something…extraordinary.

Which, as we know, He did.

I don’t know if the bride and groom, or their parents, ever found out.  (Yet another example of how God comes to the rescue for us when we’re not even aware we’re in danger, but that’s another whole lesson, I suppose.)  However, the disciples knew what happened, and it made a decisive impact.

people-2576936_1920Which leaves me with another impression—shall I ask God for something and not “clear the path” for Him to do what only God can do?  Should I not also listen for His voice in response to my request rather than go on wringing my hands?

I think not.  I prefer Mary’s tack, doing what I can do at present to allow for future heavenly intervention.  Then, listen.  Carefully, and creatively.

(To be continued tomorrow….)

John 2:1-5 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.

Make mine a double-dip

I just heard the local ice cream truck go down my street singing out its familiar tune to announce its confectionary delights.  This is not altogether unusual…except that it’s December!

Now, that’s what I call optimistic.

Or on second thought, maybe not.  We are a people addicted to pleasure in general, sugar in particular, and c’mon, some things are just never out of season.  I mean, if I can buy strawberries at the local Walmart in winter, why not ice cream?  In fact, why not strawberries on the ice cream? 

Thus, I applaud the ice cream truck in December.

There are other things that seem unusual, unexpected, but are nonetheless always welcome.  Continue reading “Make mine a double-dip”

Sticks and stones really do hurt

wood 2Believe it or not, they come in all colors, shapes and sizes, even genders and age groups.  They’re pretty universal.  And they’re getting quite a bit of well-deserved press these days.

Bullies, that is.  We even had to watch a mandated presentation at work about bullying and related topics of abuse that can happen in (and out of) the school environment.  After all, it is the responsibility of every adult to endeavor to make the school a safe place for the children. 

Of course, one would think that concept was also universal, but alas… Continue reading “Sticks and stones really do hurt”

Humble versus Insecure—and the value of “But, Lord…!”

cat-1106968_1920 (1)To begin with, Moses was humble; Saul was insecure. 

Moses had his insecurities, for sure.  There are at least five (count ‘em, five!) “but, Lords…!” in that whole discussion about who was going to do the talking to Pharaoh.  However, Moses was humble enough to be honest with God about them, and in so doing, God provided for him in the very midst of those insecurities.  In fact, we see Moses’ character develop into quite an assertive leader.  And it started with humble honesty.

King Saul, on the other hand, had a crippling fear of man; that is, he was ruled, not by what God thought, but by what the people thought, or what he thought the people thought.  We see this several times throughout Saul’s tenure, but an interesting thing happens after one particular battle which was quite successful, at least in Saul’s eyes… Continue reading “Humble versus Insecure—and the value of “But, Lord…!””

Order in da courtroom, here come da judge.

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280When a someone speaks berating and unbecomingly in your office, in front of others…especially when they’re wrong, since they didn’t properly fill out their paperwork.

When you’ve spent ridiculous amounts of time trying to help expedite a Medicaid mess for a someone, and they walk into your office upset with you…because of a misunderstanding.

When a person treats you with distain and disrespect, then expects you (expects, mind you) to help them when they need it.

calvin3
Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson

(Thankfully, God’s sense of justice does not match my sense of justice.)  

Okay, these are First World problems. No, not even problems.  These are inconveniences.  Irritations.  Now for some quality perspective.

worldvision
Akure with her 4-year-old daughter Ikeno and 2-year-old son Lochuch, who are trying to suck the marrow from donkey bones. The family’s last cow died in the night. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Especially when the hunger is exacerbated by government graft, not merely lack of rain…

Here’s another bit of perspective buried pretty deeply in an Old Testament story.  Now, the Hebrew culture at the time allowed for polygamy, (which is a whole separate theologically and socially relevant discussion way beyond my early morning brain cells or word count.)  The judge Gideon, of the “famous fleeces”, had a bunch of wives and, correspondingly, a tassel of kids. 

He also had a concubine, sort of a live-in, not-quite-a-wife, it’s-complicated kind of relationship, but it got really complicated when the one son she had, Abimelech, decided to stir up trouble in a massive power play by getting all of his half-brothers murdered.

All, that is, but one.

Jotham made a summarily bold move, (okay, from a hilltop, but still…), by confronting the men who allowed this to happen. 

“For he [Gideon] fought for you and risked his life when he rescued you from the Midianites. But today you have revolted against my father and his descendants, killing his seventy sons on one stone. And you have chosen his slave woman’s son, Abimelech, to be your king just because he is your relative.”

“Jotham continued, ‘Now make sure you have acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelech your king, and that you have done right by Gideon and all of his descendants. Have you treated him with the honor he deserves for all he accomplished?…’” 

Then he went home, wherever that was now, since his previous place of residene had become a blood bath.

“After Abimelech had ruled over Israel for three years, God…”

Jotham had to wait…for three years. (Which is short compared to some.)  He did NOT take matters into his own hands.  His hands were too small anyway, whereas God’s hands are always big enough.  God made good on the situation, as He always does, in His time and in His way.

Still, I empathize with Calvin in the Watterson’s cartoon.  But in my more rational, wizened moments, I am thankful for the sure “goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life”—‘cuz I know I need it as much as the next guy. I am called to mercy this side of the Cross, not revenge, not offense. 

I am also called to smell pretty:

“Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.”

Everywhere, every situation, every encounter, every irritating people, perhaps the one in the next pew. 

Or even with, (especially with?) my own fallibilities and mistakes. 

lightningThank God for the lightning bolts that haven’t come my way.

Judges 9:17-19, 22,23; 2 Corinthians 2:14 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.