Time to eat

bread-1643951_1920Here’s an obscure little paragraph of a story that I find interesting buried away in the Old Testament: 

“One day a man from Baal-shalishah brought the man of God a sack of fresh grain and twenty loaves of barley bread made from the first grain of his harvest. Elisha said, ‘Give it to the people so they can eat.

‘What?’ his servant exclaimed. ‘Feed a hundred people with only this?’

But Elisha repeated, ‘Give it to the people so they can eat, for this is what the Lord says: Everyone will eat, and there will even be some left over!’ And when they gave it to the people, there was plenty for all and some left over, just as the Lord had promised.”

Sound familiar?  Fast forward a few chapters and several hundred years, and we see Jesus likewise feeding a crowd, the whole famous “loaves and fishes” picnic on the side of a hill. Continue reading “Time to eat”

Advertisements

Can I skip church today?

country-church-2413911_1920This Sunday morning, we have a guest speaker coming to our little church.  I say “little” to distinguish our congregation from the mega-churches in big cities—nothing against those, as they must have their own special challenges. 

No, the assembly Bob and I attend is quite small, living in the rural community that we do, and as such there is ample opportunity to “get involved” since you don’t usually have to be an expert at anything to be included on a team or committee.  Bob and I are on the worship team—he plays bass and I play guitar and sing, (well, at least I try to.)  Every week with only a few exceptions here and there. 

For the past 20+ years.

Which means that people sort of get used to us to be there, I suppose.  But today… Continue reading “Can I skip church today?”

Proper use of the bulldozer.

wood 2Bulldozer—now there’s a fun word!  I did a little digging (pun intended), and evidently bulldozer is a very American term, no surprise that.  Its origin is summarily inelegant, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the helpful heavy machinery we count on today.

Not long after the American Civil War and Honest Abe’s Emancipation Proclamation, racial prejudice continued (duh) in the form of intimidation tactics, which included administering a “bull’s dose” with a whip on the backs of black Americans who would not vote for a certain party.  The thugs eventually were referred to as “bull dosers” or “bull dozers”, those who cleared a path for their own ideology. (1) Continue reading “Proper use of the bulldozer.”

Famous But’s of the Bible

baby-boy-2137395_1920I really relate to Moses’ reaction when God told him to go confront Pharaoh.  It wasn’t just a matter of “let me sleep on it”.  Moses’ response was an immediate “But, Lord…!”  In fact, one translation records around five ‘buts’ in the same conversation!

I’m so thankful God is patient.

Contrast that with a follower of the up and coming Christian religion.  His name was Ananias.  News might not have traveled quite as quickly as it does now, but we can tell something had reached Ananias’ ears concerning a man named Saul, and his treatment of the people of The Way. 

“Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.”

So there Ananias is, minding his own business, when God taps our erstwhile hero on the shoulder to deliver a personal invitation to this rabid Pharisee…

“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem!  And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

Only one, “but, Lord”.  Impressive.  God, in His mercy, pats His servant on the back with a few words of encouragement.

“So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me…”

Ananias calls this infamous malcontent “brother” based solely on God’s recommendation, completely against everything he has heard about the man up to this point.  Equally impressive, and some lessons are to be observed:

approved-1966719_1280Acceptance does not mean approval.

I’m well entrenched in the “Show Me” state of Missouri.  Unfortunately, however, “showing fruits in keeping with repentance” and “study to show yourself approved rightly handling the gospel of truth” tend to be concepts that the 21st century American church like to keep on the back shelf. 

On the other hand, Saul, (who changed his name to Paul after his conversion), stayed with the believers and risked his own life in the synagogue to the point that they had to help him escape his former bosses by lowering him in a basket over the town wall!  Paul was loved and accepted into the family, but trust came from proving his character by his observable behaviors and decisions.

shield-31869_1280Courage to act. 

I can only imagine that Ananias needed more than a little courage to put his faith into practice.  Sure, he had experienced a clear and specific vision from God, but if he is anything like me (like most of us?) there had to be that sneaky little voice from back in Genesis saying “Hath God really said…?”  And it’s a good thing for all of us that Ananias obeyed, Paul writing more than half the New Testament and all.

anchor-2536643_1920A strong link. 

Interestingly, we don’t hear anything about Ananias in the rest of the Bible, not even from Paul in any of his writings.  Ananias was ‘merely’ a link between the old and the new.  Now, if it had been someone in our 21st century what-about-me culture, he might be tempted to compete for a place in the spotlight.  But that’s not what God had in mind for this faithful disciple. 

We tend to think of a wrecking ball as doing the big demolition, but it would be impotent without the strong links of chain that hold it up.  Paul was a great wrecking ball against Satan’s kingdom, but he needed each link of the chain to do that work effectively.

Minding my own business and staying out of trouble.  I rather like that plan, until God taps my shoulder and points in a different direction way out of my comfort zone.

How many “but, Lords” will He get from me?

Acts 13:1,13-14,17  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…

hallway-21154_1920

“When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.”

**P.S. Check out where this quotation came from on Kris Vallottan’s blog!!

Isaiah 43:2  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Getting back to work

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280One indisputable characteristic about the Old Testament prophets—they were weird.  I don’t say that disparagingly, but c’mon, they were not always the kind of people you’d invite to a office picnic.  Calling down fire from heaven, tying themselves in knots, and all that. 

Of course, they were good to have around when something needed fixed.

Case in point, the prophet Elisha has been persuaded to come with some of his students to build a new meeting place.  In the course of events, there was a problem:

Continue reading “Getting back to work”

In other words…

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”

Proverbs 31:8-9  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.

To eat, or not to eat?

IMG_20150103_172451138Although my cooking prowess (or lack thereof) has not yet reached legendary status, there are nonetheless a few stories that can be told within my family.  Pizza, however, is one of my favorites. Not to cook, but to eat, and so I’ve become quite good at doing both, if I do say so myself (and I do.)

I am, currently at this writing, happily anticipating a brand new kitchen.  The contractor comes tomorrow to go over the final game plan, which includes knocking out a wall, etc.  His wife, who helps run the business, is well-versed in kitchens, and made the comment that even though I don’t like cooking at present, perhaps I will enjoy it when I get a new kitchen environment…. Continue reading “To eat, or not to eat?”

Just another story…

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280When people say the Bible is boring, I have to question if we’re reading the same book.  Okay, so I get a bit bogged down in Leviticus when they’re talking about how to deal with infectious skin diseases, but truthfully, some of the accounts sound like a script straight out of Hollywood.

For example, the well-known story about the widow and her son barely scraping by during (one of) the terrible famines, a consequence brought about by the prophet Elijah at Yahweh’s behest, another attempt to get His people’s attention. God sends His man to this particular household, to a widow and her son, to ask for, guess what—food!  The response he gets is expected.

“But she said, ‘I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.’”

Elijah convinces her that, if she provides him with food and water, God would continue to miraculously multiply her supply to sustain her through the crisis.

What did she have to lose?

“So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days.” 

In Act Two, as if the famine wasn’t enough stress, this kind lady’s only son gets sick and dies.  She confronts the prophet, who has become a boarder during this time.  This widow is now overwhelmed with grief.  Her boy is dead, which back then had more implications than just the loss of a loved one.  Her future just got a whole lot more impoverished, both emotionally, and financially.

“Then she said to Elijah, ‘O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?’”

I love Elijah’s reply.  There’s no “oops”.  He doesn’t wring his hands.  In fact, there isn’t even a note of surprise or worry. 

“But Elijah replied, ‘Give me your son.’”

Once again, what did the mother have to lose?  Elijah takes the lifeless body up to his own room and prays. 

“The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived!  Then the woman told Elijah, ‘Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the LORD truly speaks through you.’”

Which I find to be an interesting reaction from this mother.  Wasn’t the first miracle of the ever-flowing oil and grain enough to convince her of God’s presence working through His prophet? 

Different miracles

The first miracle was a life-sustaining one.  It had to do with maintenance. And it wasn’t like they had a five-course meal everyday, either.  Just enough oil and grain to keep them going, to sustain the life they had until the famine had passed.   

The second miracle was a life-giving one.  That which was dead has been resurrected.  Where life had been extinguished, life had been reborn.    

This gives me pause…

What do I have to lose?

God knows the level of my faith and intimacy with Him.  He also knows how fickle human beings like me (like you?) can be, allowing complacency to set in as what we once wondered at becomes normalcy and therefore taken for granted.  And He knows what is needed to take our faith and intimacy with Him to the next level, to jump start us out of that spiritual malaise. 

In other words, He not only knows how to maintain my dreams, even my faith, but also how to resurrect them and give them new life.

Of course, the first step is to hand it over to Him.

1 Kings 17:12; Hebrews 7:25 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.

Why Ants Stay Busy, a poem

A poem by my wonderful bloggish friend (you’ll love this one!)—

Why Ants Stay Busy, by Oneta Hayes

Ant Father: “‘Mountain must move’ Big Man said today.”

Ant Mother: “Did he mean us?  The place we stay.”

Ant Father: “He said this mountain is in his way –

And off he went to get the spray.”

 

Down the hole scurried Ant Father and Mother

Taking with them every sister and brother

They shouted warning to one another

“Go lower, slide, hide, take cover.”

 

The fury was great, soft dirt did blow

The mountain they build was rendered low

The mud came rolling in a mighty flow

Only a tiny light continued to glow.

 

“Now it’s all over,” they said with a grin

“Everybody get to work, let’s do it again.”

They scurried and hurried and made such a din.

They loved their life’s work – annoying men!

By Oneta Hayes at Sweet Aroma

OH, the wisdom of humor!!  But here’s the thing.  Ever notice how, when you get rid of one ant hill, others pop up?  I mean, it’s not a one-time deal, slaying ants.  Ants just keep doing what they do, building ant hills, because that’s how they’re wired. 

In other words, that’s what they are created to do.  It doesn’t matter how many times they get sprayed or squished.  They keep working together to build, because it has to be built.  Period. 

They make me look like such a whiner.  Certainly, there are B-I-G boots stomping around: illness, depression, financial concerns, relational disappointments, and the list goes on.  One or two knockdowns and I might be ready to throw in the towel. 

But in reality, that’s not the way God created me.  Nope, not by a longshot.  He has made me (and is re-making me) to build, (a) regardless of who steps on me, and (b) in community with other builders.  Both are important factors for success.

I like how King Solomon puts it:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…

Of course, the New Testament version reads more like this:

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

hiking-shoes-3057428_1920Which means the size of the boot doesn’t matter.  I’ll just continue my life’s work—annoying Satan.

Ecclesiastes 9:10; Philippians 4:13  Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.