Go around…again?!?

secret-3037639_1920I love, LOVE to hear my dad’s stories about then he was in Navy!  Back when Bill Haley and his Comets were getting ready to Rock Around the Clock, Dad was off on some semi-covert operation overseas serving his country, doing the things that Uncle Sam thinks invincible 19-year-olds can do. 

I’m thinking that, at the time of Dad’s tour, we weren’t technically at war with anyone, but we all know what that means.  Realistically, we’re always at war with someone, even if it’s under the radar, especially for those of us back home.  There are always enemies, and it behooves us to keep some operations covert, I suppose. Continue reading “Go around…again?!?”

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Stone, wraps, and other impediments.

I wonder if Martha gets a bit of bum rap.  She’s the calculating one, knows what needs to be done and does it herself if necessary.  The list-maker, the bean counter.  Martha was the chief cook and bottle washer when Jesus came to visit her and her siblings.  She alone was the one who received a gentle rebuke from the Lord when she demanded that her sister, Mary, come and help her in the kitchen instead of sitting with the Master, listening and absorbing.

I bet Martha as the older one, the one who helped her little sister growing up to put on her clothes and lace up her sandals.  You know how older sibs are called upon in a family.  Insert all of that on Martha’s shoulders.

Now Mary, it’s possible that Mary is same woman mentioned in another of the Gospels as the “unclean” prostitute who broke the jar and anointed Jesus in an act of repentance for her now-former lifestyle. The jury is out on that one, but for argument’s sake…

In this context, I can perceive Martha’s frustration, helping to sacrificially raise her younger sister only to have her go off and ruin the family name.  Perhaps this is why no spouse is mentioned for Martha— in that culture once the family is disgraced, who wanted to marry into that?  If this is case, like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal, I get it.

Then their beloved brother dies. 

Interestingly, when Jesus finally decides to make an entrance, Mary is the one who stays behind, but it’s good ole’ practical Martha who goes out to faithfully meet the Master.  Of course, the first words out of her mouth are, guess what, cause and effect:

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

Problem defined, problem solved.  That’s Martha.  If Plan A didn’t transpire, she always had a Plan B.  It wasn’t, however, quite what she expected:

 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

How often do I ask God for a miracle, only with the proviso that He does it my way.  Good grief, don’t open the tomb!  Don’t expose the decay and don’t make the smell of death public.  No, I like to keep things private.

I forget there was nothing private about Jesus dying on a cross—for me.

There is something about the things we keep hidden which allows them to fester and multiply.  I’ll try to deal with it on my own. If my first plan is tanked, then I’ll think of the next step, but by all means, let’s keep stench under control.

window-806899_1920Except life doesn’t actually work that way.  The only way Lazarus was going to walk out of that tomb was to roll away the stone and let him breathe God’s fresh air.

How’s your air quality today?

John 11:21,21,39 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.

Welcome to Crete

sign-303895_1280

I have opinions.  Some are strong ones, like Purdue should win the NCAA tournament this year, (just kidding, but that would be nice.)  Some a bit more ambivalent, you know, mashed potatoes with or without gravy, (unless, of course, it’s Thanksgiving.)

And, like everyone else, I also have my own sense of timing.  I’ve come to the opinion that this faculty is a product of both nature and nurture.  I have recently decided there must be a part of the brain that controls one’s awareness of time, and since Bob’s very nurturing family typically ran late, perhaps this furthers my DNA connection.

I also have opinions about how I like to spend my time.  Actually, the word I should italicize is “my”, which, as a Christian, is usually a theological typo.  As obsessive as I can be about getting out the door “on time”, when it comes to God’s plans, I have a tendency to either drag my feet or ring my hands impatiently, both of which waste His time!

Enter one of the intriguing characters of the New Testament, Titus.  In Heaven, I want to talk with this guy; he’s kind of a personal hero of mine.  A non-Jewish convert to the new religion of Christianity, Titus became a trusted friend and faithful co-worker of Paul.  We read of him overseeing financial transactions, going on missionary excursions with the apostle, as well as being sent into a sticky situation in one of the churches in Corinth.

But my personal favorite is his assignment in Crete.  Paul himself writes this to his younger cohort:

“I left you on the island of Crete…”

Wow!  Paul had intentionally chosen Titus for the task—now that’s an impressive project!  Not bad in one’s C.V. for future ministry options; that is, until we read a bit further down the page with Paul’s travel guide description:

“Even one of their own men, a prophet from Crete, has said about them, ‘The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.’”

And then, as if to underline that statement, Paul adds: 

“This is true.” 

Great.  Just great.  Not exactly a K-LOVE cruise with your favorite artists.  Even though Titus was himself a Greek, he had been with Paul, a very learned scholar with high standards of moral living.  Perhaps not a good initial fit for the younger man.  Why did Paul leave Titus there?  To complain?  To despair?

“…so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you.” 

Titus was not without resources.  He had been instructed, prepared, and now the Holy Spirit was strategically placing him for reasons of His own choosing which, I can only surmise, had to do with Paul’s earlier statement:

“…at just the right time he has revealed this message…”

Not only had God now revealed his reconciling message of Jesus to the world, but the time was right for those “lying and lazy” Cretans to hear it also.  God had been working.  Preparing hearts.  Using circumstances.  Arranging and developing and “calling those things that are not as though they were.”  (I love that one.) 

Thankfully, God is still working.  Preparing hearts and using circumstances.  In loved ones, in the government, in the most unlikely and personally uncomfortable situations and scenarios.  We all have our own “Cretian calling”, (sometimes within our own hearts.)

And God is not obligated to ask me about my opinion or sense of timing. 

Titus 1:12,13, 2  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.

Packin’ heat

I have some friends who, when they go to church, carry their concealed firearm.  One of them is with the local sheriff’s department.  The other is a pastor in another town.

I looked up where the term “arms” as a reference to weaponry comes from:

“Arms, meaning those things used during fighting, comes from the Latin arma, which had largely the same meaning and came from the root ar- meaning ‘to fit together’. Since the 14th century arms has referred to weapons. When new weapons came along that used gunpowder, they were referred to as fire-arms.”  (a quote from Doug Rice on https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-etymology-of-the-word-firearm)

 Huh.  I just kinda thought it looked like fire coming out of your arm…?  Shows what I know. Continue reading “Packin’ heat”

Where’s a screen writer when you need one?

Have you noticed that it seems like quite a few flicks coming out of southern Cal studios are based on true events?  Maybe the “Industry” kingpins (holding the purse strings) have realized that it’s profitable for art to imitate life rather than the other way around.

Clearly, there’s enough drama, intrigue, and corresponding courage in life and history to keep the screen writers busy.  Here’s one I haven’t seen written yet. Continue reading “Where’s a screen writer when you need one?”

Planning…

You know that whole “knock, and the door will be open to you” thing that Jesus talked about?  I’m wondering how many times we stand on that same threshold with the door finally open, but are too scared to step over.

Which makes this story of Nehemiah so informative to me.

The land of the Hebrews, God chosen people, lay in utter ruin and desolation, as predicted.  The people, those who survived, are in exile, servants of the foreign king.  Nehemiah lands the job of cupbearer of this pagan king himself, not particularly a posh position, since at any time the royal loses his cool, Nehemiah could lose his head. Continue reading “Planning…”

Meet you at the Dung Gate (bring your own shovel)

tap-2978478_1920We have what’s called “Third Stage” water treatment in our small town. (I don’t know what stages one and two represent, and possibly would prefer not to.)  Suffice it to say that living next to the water treatment plant isn’t a choice area due to the sulfur-like fragrance that wafts in once in a while.  (Who likes eating their morning Wheaties when everything smells like rotten eggs?)

Evidently, the water was A LOT worse before we moved here, before the water treatment plant started doing its thing.  I’m sure the natives who remembered the old water were grateful.

I tend to shy away from nasty things, except that being a nurse has probably strengthened my olfactory resolve a bit.  Nevertheless, given a choice… Continue reading “Meet you at the Dung Gate (bring your own shovel)”

“Are we there yet?!?”

When people say, “life is a journey”, they’ve obviously never been on family vacations.  Or maybe that’s where the analogy originated!

If you’ve ever traveled with children, (that’s children, plural), you are experienced in a challenge unknown and unappreciated by your adult counterparts.  This was particularly true in the days prior to the techno-burst of unlimited data on tablets to keep the little balls of energy wirelessly entertained while they are strapped for hours in a seatbelt.

Of course they don’t like the seatbelt!  Nevertheless, it’s your responsibility to get them wherever in one piece, despite the potential assault on your own sanity.

   “Jimmy has his elbow in my space!”

   “I’m hungry again!”

   “Beatrice say she has to go to the bathroom!”

   “Nope, never mind, she okay now.”

trip-307920_1280And the ever-popular…

   “ARE WE THERE YET???”

Triple-A should have an app.

So, when the Old Testament priest named Ezra undertook the monumental task of transporting men, women, and children, plus a hoard of silver and gold, back to Jerusalem after the 70-year exile, no wonder he prayed…a lot. Continue reading ““Are we there yet?!?””

Strategy–don’t leave home without it.

I’m not much of a strategic person, at least not naturally.  I sure appreciate those who are, though.  On that continuum, I probably tend more toward the “see problem, fix problem” rather than “anticipate problem and prevent it” end of the scale.

At least, I’ll say there’s room for some personal improvement. Continue reading “Strategy–don’t leave home without it.”

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!”