Just do it!

I can only imagine how many trips to the bank the folks who came up with that Nike slogan have made.  That, and their very recognizable “swoosh” mark, created by Carolyn Davidson, then a graphic design student at Portland State U.  Phil Knight, the company’s co-founder, wanted a design to convey speed and motion.  With this in mind, Mr. Knight chose this representation of Nike’s wing. And, of course, with Nike being the Greek goddess of victory, that must have seemed appropriate to the branding department. 

I also think their phrase “Just Do It” is brilliant.  I see plenty of young competitors in my school nurse’s office with minor bump and bruises due to their budding athletic experience.  I have to remind myself that at this stage, these kids are on the steep end of the learning curve when it comes to sore muscles and growling coaches.  For most of them, it’s a matter of ice, NSAIDs, maybe a little taping, no whining allowed, back to class. Continue reading “Just do it!”

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Archie Bunker rides again?

Does anyone out there remember William F. Buckley?  I enjoyed just listening to him, even if I didn’t understand all the multisyllabic words he used!

“The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.”   

See?  My word processor automatically underlines “usurpatory” in red, which means even my computer doesn’t understand the word!  But here’s one that’s pretty clear:

I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.”  Continue reading “Archie Bunker rides again?”

“Told you so!”

Now, there’s a phrase we typically enjoy saying, but  we universally hate hearing!

I love the way Paul does it, however.  Here’s a quick backstory:

Falsely accused by his own countrymen, Paul has played his “I’m a Roman citizen” card and appealed to the Supreme Court, (i.e., Caesar), which gives him a one-way all expenses paid trip to the capitol.  This meant a voyage by sea, which could be tricky based on the time of year.  Putting in at one less-than-luxurious small town port, the sailors think they can make it to the next spot before the weather turns bad. Continue reading ““Told you so!””

Your turf, or mine?

I love the description of the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem under Nehemiah’s close eye.  We read phrases like “next to him”, and “beside him” throughout the narrative as each family group takes responsibility for a part of the reconstruction.

Obviously, Nehemiah couldn’t accomplish the project on his own; it may have been his vision, but the people’s participation was not only expected, but necessary.  There’s a lesson for the church right there—pastors can’t do it all; in fact, not even most of the work in building God’s kingdom. Continue reading “Your turf, or mine?”

FOMO

Here’s a new one on me: FOMO, which stands for Fear Of Missing Out.  In a social context, I think it means that staying home to read a book may lead to a missed opportunity at a good party.

Typically, I’m more of a bookworm myself…

Nevertheless, people-connection is important for several reasons, albeit in varying amounts for different people.  Here’s the story of a big event back in the Old Testament—the first real Passover in a L-O-N-G time.  King Hezekiah has chucked his family culture of worshiping idols and made the decision to follow after God “wholeheartedly”.  As the party is gearing up, he sends out invitations with an interesting response:

“The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them.  However, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.”

Hezekiah was offering them more than a good time, (which it was, BTW, and lasted two weeks minimum!)  He was summoning the people back to truth, to know and worship the one true God, and such invitations usually have mixed reactions.  Here’s what I see:

Truth is not compulsory.  These people were invited, not threatened.  Likewise, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman; He forces Himself on no one.  This is a tenant of God’s truth: coerced Christianity is an oxymoron, and historically, a tragic mistake.

Truth invites open derision.  Not a mere polite, “no, thank you”.  I should expect my fair share of it.  After all, Jesus Himself was crucified.

Truth will have a minority following.  I’m certainly not against large churches, as long as the people are taught truth.  But, related to point #1 above, since truth is offensive, it always leaves the door unlocked for those who choose to leave… 

…because following truth takes humility.  Humility is seeing myself as God see me, which is usually not how I see myself.  Humility brings me into a right relationship with my Creator.  As such, true humility is a gift.

Now here’s an interesting postscript:

“At the same time, God’s hand was on the people in the land of Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the LORD.”

If that doesn’t demonstrate the importance of being a part of an active church fellowship, I don’t know what does!  Contrast the reaction of the people in Judah, the hub of God’s activity, the ground zero of His spiritual explosion, with the reaction of the people on the fringe who were far removed from this fellowship. 

So, here’s my last point:

Accepting truth is one thing, but stewarding that truth in my life is different matter.  We are created to need each other—encouragement, correction, support.  That whole “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves” takes on practical perspective.  In fact, the rest of the chapter is a fine example of healthy spiritual momentum, and the social part it plays in our lives.

card-1800383_1920Too bad the people who were left out of the party didn’t have a little more FOMO, because this was a gig they didn’t need to miss.

Thankfully, the invitation is still open for us.

2 Chronicles 30: 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.

Big Stick Faith

tr-bigstick-cartoon
William Allen Rogers’s 1904 cartoon (Wikipedia)

Former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt is famous for the phrase, “walk softly, and carry a big stick”.  It’s that idea of unarguable authority, and conveys the message that it would be in the opposing party’s best interest to rethink their own intentions before proceeding further. 

Which is something I see clearly in Judah’s good King Hezekiah and his encounter with the big political enemy of his day, Assyria.  It’s important to note that, in the middle of a longstanding family history of spiritual genocide, Hezekiah opts to follow God instead.  This decision, however, doesn’t exclude him (and his people) from the problems of the day, one of the biggest being the bully, King Sennacherib. Continue reading “Big Stick Faith”

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”

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”

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.

Love notes, and other uses for dust.

cartoon-2516951_1920As a teenager, I learned the basics of cleaning house.  Mom “made” us do our own laundry (thanks, Mom, so very, very much!!), and we were responsible for keeping our own rooms clean(-ish).  Dusting was part of it, and if you ran out of Pledge, then a damp rag would suffice.  

They say “practice makes perfect”, so leave us say I am a less-than-perfect housekeeper, much less. Whoever comes to visit should leave the white gloves at home.  Never quite sure what you’ll find under the bed either, and a flat dusty surface is for writing love notes,…isn’t it?

My not-quite-Heloise skill doesn’t make me less appreciative of God’s perfection, however.  Case in point, I love this description of the Baal vs. Yahweh encounter.  The prophets of Baal do all they can, and more so, to get their god to light the sacrificial fire on their alter, yet have nothing to show for it but raw hamburger. Continue reading “Love notes, and other uses for dust.”