S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280It’s that time of year when the grocery stores are stocking up on their 20+ pound turkeys.  I’ve already cooked up one and stored most of it in the freezer.  We usually head back to Indiana for Thanksgiving with family, and my sister-in-law puts on the feast of the year.  It’s one of those meals where you have to pace yourself, especially if you want that pumpkin pie (with R-E-A-L whipped cream) at the end of the day. 

It tends to be the typical “your eyes are too big for your stomach”, so it’s a learning process I suppose. Continue reading “S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G”

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ASSUME nothing

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’ve used this media file before, (that’s what we call it now, I suppose, at least it sounds more impressive that “picture”.) 

post
http://www.amazon.com

Media file wasn’t a phrase when Norman Rockwell was around, or if it was, it certainly wasn’t digital.  Just about everything is digital now-a-days.  I still haven’t quite figured out what that means, as opposed to analog, I mean.  Continue reading “ASSUME nothing”

Take me, break me, make me

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Now here’s a character I really relate to—Saul.  No, not the apostle, unfortunately.  His story turned out pretty well, considering he wrote over half the New Testament and all. 

I’m talking about the Old Testament Saul, and the making of the erstwhile monarch of Israel.  It’s not like he asked for the position, after all, and despite all the positive social markers, he had a serious fear-of-man-self-preservation complex going on.

Thus, I can relate.

Here’s what’s going on:

The prophet Samuel has told Saul to wait for him seven days at Gilgal.   Samuel will arrive, present the offerings to God, and then Saul and his army will go wipe out the enemy de jour. This was a clear mandate, unmistakable in its direction and timing.  No discussion needed.

But there was a problem.  Samuel didn’t show up.  And on top of that:

“The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore!”

Which, granted, would be a bit intimidating.  It certainly was for Saul’s men, who suddenly must have heard their wives calling them home for lunch or something. Consequently, Saul’s army began thinning out, and fast.  The king made a decision:

“So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. 

Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived.”

Oops.

Needless to say, Saul’s explanation was less than effective, and Samuel’s edict was unfortunate, as was the rest of Saul’s reign.

“’How foolish!’ Samuel exclaimed. ‘You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. Had you kept it, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart.’”

Saul didn’t know it, but God had had him uniquely positioned for a serious breakthrough.  But Saul blew it.

Whereas our modern-day markets and media value tangible results, heavenly success is measured in terms of obedience.  If Saul had remembered his history, he could have leaned on the exciting story of Gideon and his paltry three-hundred, or even Moses at the Red Sea before the onslaught of Egyptian chariots.  Instead, the first king of Israel decided to interpret his situation by his own (very limited) appraisal. 

Sadly, his assessment left out one incredibly big Resource.

Because our God specializes in seemingly no-win situations.  He will bring me to a breaking point where I have a clear choice between obedience or expediency. When that happens, it can mean that sometimes—or many times—He will actually let me be broken, shattered, shards on the floor.  Careful where you step.  Part of the dream is over there; a piece of my heart is in that corner.  Where’d I put the broom?

What I desperately need to remember in those periods, (and they do come), is that obedience proceeds breakthrough.  That is, God will do the breaking, then I have to walk through it.   This gets a bit uncomfortable for a time; nevertheless, I am never alone.  Ever.

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.”

There’s that word “through” again.  (Selah…)

I also need to remember that the condition of my heart in obedience before God is more important to Him than the size of my “army”…or church…or bank account…or any relationship.  My focus needs to be, and stay, on the clear directive.

Because God will show up; He always does. 

1 Samuel 13:5,9-10,13-14; Psalm 23:4 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

“What we have here is a failure to communicate…”

Ever know someone with “a chip on their shoulder”?  One story has that phrase originating from the idea of two boys picking a fight with each other, the one putting a wood chip on his shoulder and daring the other to knock the chip off, thus initiating the knock-down-drag-out. 

The problem with chips on shoulders is that they tend to fall off on their own, starting fights when none were intended.  For example: Continue reading ““What we have here is a failure to communicate…””

Just For the Record

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Bob will confirm that I’m not very proficient at keep track of things.  To parody the old phrase, he says that I have “places for things, and everything in their places.”  Same with finances, and although I’ve improved immensely over the years, I do still generally pray prior to any attempt at balancing my checkbook.  (It rattles Bob’s cage a bit if I do anything with his. I just don’t tell him about it until after the fact; it prevents anxiety.)

All this makes it even more incredible that I’m in nursing since we have to keep track of EVERYTHING, like when someone sneezes, and what color it was. 

Okay, right, that was gross without warning, (so is nursing), and mild hyperbole, (depending).  But you get my drift.  I tell people that there is mass deforestation when I return to work as a school nurse in the late summer with all the required record-keeping and paper work that transpires.  At least now with computers and email, some of that can be mitigated, but even so, documentation in some form continues. 

Continue reading “Just For the Record”

When limitations become lamentations

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Biting off more that you can chew—now there’s a good American idiom!  And it pretty well describes one of my ongoing challenges, physically, professionally, relationally.  If enough is good, more is better, and saving for a rainy day (another fine old saying from who knows when) can turn into moth-eaten clothing or mouse-eaten…well, mice eat all kinds of disgusting things.

Not that I’m into wanton spending either.  I have to be careful, especially with time commitments; Bob says I tend to “give away the store”.  It’s also sometimes difficult for me to share responsibilities, you know, just easier to get it done myself.

However, there is an important fulcrum that I miss when I start playing the psychological game commonly known as “Turf Wars”.  This easily could have happened here as Joshua was slicing up the hard-fought for land of the Israelites:

“This was the homeland allocated to the clans of the tribe of Simeon. Their allocation of land came from part of what had been given to Judah because Judah’s territory was too large for them. So the tribe of Simeon received an allocation within the territory of Judah.”

Boundaries are good.  Actually, good is too generic a term; boundaries are crucial, without which there is no clear definition, identification, or even personality.  In personal terms, when I set my own (emotional, mental, physical, etc.) boundaries, I become increasingly in control—and therefore accountable—for what comes in and out of my personhood.  That sounds nice and psychological, because it is.  I didn’t come up with it; Dr. Henry Cloud did in his book about (guess what) boundaries.

What I see in Old Testament land distribution by Joshua applies also today: 

Judah’s plot was too big, meaning they couldn’t manage it all, which in turn meant large portions would be overrun by wild animals and unwanted non-Israelites again.  This would cause (a) the need for additional clean out, (with potential loss of life, and certainly loss of time—horribly inefficient from a managerial standpoint), and/or (b) the re-infiltration of pagan religious thought, which could trigger a gross backsliding of the Judean tribe, (again, not a pretty picture, based on what did eventually happen to the whole of the nation.)

So God had a good idea, as is His habit.  And Joshua listened, and obeyed.

Unfortunately, what happens oftentimes today, a large load is given to a particular saint, or group of saints, maybe one particular church.  God may bless him/her/them with a favor or outpouring or mission field, whatever. Open doors, open hearts, (open pockets).  YEA!  Go for it! 

THEN, once it gets overwhelming, rather than ask for help or receive the help that God graciously sends, (and He can creatively send it in oh-so-many ways), we choose to see that as an intrusion into “my/our” territory. 

We allow our “turf wars” to severely limit the progress of God’s kingdom on earth, AND free up unused territory otherwise slotted for His Kingdom for another, complete with a wild beast that likes to “kill, steal, and destroy.” 

All because we were too proud and short-sighted to allow the territory to be fully occupied by God’s people…

…even if they weren’t in my immediate “tribe”.

Joshua 19:8-9 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.

Dressed for success (or survival)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280When our post-modern (whatever that means) cultural philosophy asserts that humankind is morally evolving, I like to review statements like this…

“But when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to deception to save themselves.”

…which could easily be a sound byte from CNN or FoxNews, whichever slant on reality you prefer.

The context of this fascinating OT story is that the reputation of people of Israel as a strong and conquering nation of some strong and conquering God was moving relentlessly through the land, unstoppable.  Their fight or flight options were not pleasant, so these Gibeonites decided to think outside the box… Continue reading “Dressed for success (or survival)”

Not For Sale: Grapes, Figs, and Pomegranates

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280My father-in-law used to decry what he considered his loss of memory after a cardiac surgery, in that he noticed he could no longer do some kind of complex mathematical computations in his head.  Pity.  I still have use my fingers for some single-digit addition, so I’d better never have heart trouble.

Needless to say, memory is not one of my strong suits.  But compared to the Hebrews embarking on their Continue reading “Not For Sale: Grapes, Figs, and Pomegranates”

How much more?

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’m intrigued by the story of the people of Gibeon who, seeing destruction on the horizon in the form of the relentlessly advancing Israeli nation coming out of the desert, decide to don some thrift-store thread bares and make like they’ve come from afar.  In so doing, Joshua, the Hebrew leader, thinks these are actually NOT people slated for destruction (per God’s instruction) but just neighboring folks, so he makes a binding oath to leave them alone.

Oops.

After the gig is up, and Joshua realizes he’s been duped, (and that it’s too late to reneg…being God’s reputation and all), the Gibeonites become their servants, which means they are now under Israeli protection as well. Continue reading “How much more?”

The little old woman who lived in a middle school.

Dawncartoon[1] (1)Being a school nurse to several hundred middle-schoolers, I sometimes feel like “the little old woman who lived in a shoe; she had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.”  Sometimes they grace my office with horrific things like hangnails, and chapped lips, and trampoline injuries from three days ago.  Other times there are more significant issues to be dealt with, parents to be contacted, an occasional ambulance.  Or an arm around the shoulder to dry a tear (hormones flow freely) or a high five on a test score.  It’s just all part of being the person in the building in charge of the bandaids and Tylenol.  (The DEA, however, frowns upon stocking Valium for faculty and staff.)

So I do appreciate Moses’ leadership in the Old Testament.  He had to have Continue reading “The little old woman who lived in a middle school.”