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!”

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”