“Combining” us together (excuse me, couldn’t help it…)

This is a combine:

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This is a header:

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Actually, that’s only one kind of header; different headers are needed for different jobs.  It’s a far cry from the old back-breaking scythe of past centuries.  Not that modern farming is a walk in the park, since I’m talking about the folks that put in 14-16 hour days to put bread on our tables. 

My friend (who farms) told me recently of a little 2-year-old boy whose mom (another farming family) picked up a toy combine at a garage sale.  Obviously, it was used, and was missing the header, but the boy was so young, mom didn’t think this would be a problem.  Kids that age have great imaginations anyway, right?

Until she gave it to her son, and he remarked, “Where’s the header?  How do you expect me to get any work done without the header?!?”

In my defense, I’m from the ‘burbs, and my milk and bread came from the grocery store.  So evidently, a combine is not as effective (like, at all?) without its header.  Missing pieces in farming equipment mean no more bread on my table, and imaginary bread doesn’t fill the stomach very well.

All this brings to my mind what the Apostle Paul talks about when he compares the Body of Christ to an actual human body.  It’s that crucial idea that we need each other to be fully productive.  If the hand says to the foot “I don’t need you”, then the hand probably isn’t going anywhere!  Finally, Paul makes this simple but essential conclusion:

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

That word, together, is highlighted in my brain.  Even if I’m just a little screw that helps hold the header in place, when I take my part away, (perhaps due to offense, neglect of my health, complacency, whatever), the harvest is at risk.  Of course, this also applies to those around me, the one in the next pew whose part seems dirty and squeaky and maybe even a little rusty.  I need—no, I am accountable, to allow the Lord of the Harvest to put my piece in place with all the other pieces.

So we can get some actual work done, without just pretending.  Even a two-year-old could tell the difference.

1 Corinthians 12:27  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…

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“We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.”

[This puts a different spin on loving the church: I love God’s people by obeying Him, which brings up the idea that the BEST thing I can do to love others is to draw closer to the Lord myself.  So, what does that say about my love for the church when I neglect my time with God and His Word?]

1 John 5:2 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.

Let’s be offended. 

wood 2Yes, let’s.  At least, most of us would be after reading this in a letter, even from a beloved teacher: Continue reading “Let’s be offended. “

In other words…

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A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.”

Ephesians 6:10-13  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.

Bumper cars…in my driveway.

wood 2We’re a Chevy Suburban-sized family.  At 6-foot-2, my husband is the runt of the four boys in his family, my brother is 6-6, and I’m around 5-12 (hmmm…)  All this to say that our three girls didn’t have much of a gene pool to draw from when it came to physical stature.  So when our daughters were in school, I went on the mega-search for a mini-van.  Thankfully, I didn’t find one to suit my husband, and instead found an old, reconditioned Sub (complete with glass-pacs for an impressive announcement when one hit the brakes on hill), and voila!  We fit!

Now, having that many kids, and with Bob and I being a dual-working couple, we also had a second smaller vehicle. If you’ve never been the owner of a Sub, suffice it to say that the running boards are really not optional, unless of course you want your shorter friends and family to pole vault into their seat.  It’s pretty nice to sit that high up off the road; however, one of the drawbacks is not being able to see a lower vehicle behind the car quite as easily.

That, unfortunately, was not my excuse.

Backing the Sub out of the garage one evening, I somehow was not cognizant of our smaller car behind me.  It made itself known as my tonnage of steel encountered it, albeit slowly.  ARGH!  Naturally, my next move was to pull forward.

Another feature of the disparity in size is that the bumpers of the cars don’t quite match up.  This means that, since one bumper is obviously higher than the other, once impacted they have more of a tendency to lock together…

The good news is that the main function of the little car was still intact, even though it had to spend a little time in the body shop.  In other words, the bumper performed its intended purpose—to protect the rest of the car.  It’s an apt example of that built in “margin for error” that my dad always tried to teach me.

I’m thinking God sort of had that concept in mind when He said this:

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble… A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Granted, even within the body of Christ, relationships get messy.  We bump into each other, and sometimes even tear parts away.  Though it seems like a paradox, that’s even more reason why we actually need each other—to buffer the hurts of life.  And when we have the support system intact, the intended function of our individual gifts and the corporate operation of the church can go on as He intends…

…even if it means spending a little time in “The Shop” for repairs once in awhile.

Ecclesiastes 4:9,10,12   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.

AND, he cleans bathrooms…!!

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It’s kinda hard to argue with your husband when he’s cleaning the bathroom because, well…HE’S CLEANING THE BATHROOM!!  Granted, for you younger women who implemented the non-traditional delegation of labor from day one of the honeymoon, this may not seem like a big deal.  But for those of us who grew up during the revered years of the reigning queen of domesticity (“June Cleaver”), just trust me…it’s a big deal.

To score Bob a few more points in the annuls of wifedom, his comment to me several years ago was, “It’s my goal in life for you to never clean another bathroom.” 

And after my subsequent recovery…

(Just kidding.)

But he wasn’t, and I should be so worthy of such lofty goals!?!  So, our little tête-à-tête had to do with an ingredient I had Continue reading “AND, he cleans bathrooms…!!”

God’s alternate reality and the eyes of a grandchild

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Our youngest daughter and family live in Norway.  I’ve never been to Norway, never particularly had it on my list of places to visit until, of course, we found out that their first baby was going to be born. 

Bob and I have found that grandchildren have a certain unequaled pull.

They have sent us beautiful photos of Scandinavian countryside—what a marvelous place on the globe with their fjords and waterfalls, and not a little snow.  Naturally, none of that can hold a candle to the little bundle and her parents that will outshine it all.  And as much as I love pictures and video chats, it’s never the same as being there for myself, as with our first grandchild, when we could caress that little one ourselves and gaze into her occasionally waking and alert eyes. 

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So I kinda “get” what the writer of this psalm is thinking when he penned this:

Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.
    Walk around and count the many towers.
Take note of the fortified walls,
    and tour all the citadels,
that you may describe them
    to future generations.

For that is what God is like…

I don’t think this is merely talking about taking a trip to the Holy Land, as cool as that would be with all the ancient ruins and history and such.  This is an invitation to the world to come see God’s reality, and it is to be reflected in the church.  Not the church building, for that is as impermanent as those now ancient ruins of Jerusalem were about to become in the day this psalm was written.  Instead, we are to “take note” for ourselves the Universe of God, not just the visible one He created, but the eternal one.

And it seems that the only effective way to take note of it is to go there, personally, experiencing the relationship with God and seeing/experiencing the church as He means for it to be.  (Read: not as it is frequently portrayed by His children still under construction.)  Which is a challenge for all who claim to discount Christ because of His people’s imperfections.  No, each individual is called to come and “tour all the citadels” for themselves.  It takes time and effort and not a little reallocation of resources…

…but after the long plane ride, there is Someone even more beautiful than a grandchild waiting to gaze into your eyes.

Psalm 48:12-14  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.

Seeing is believing…

wood 2…well, not always.  In fact, I don’t even know where that cockamamie concept originated.  Especially now with the various photo-editing applications and other wonders of the virtual world that continue to invade our reality.  So when pictures show up on my email or on other forms of communication, I tend to be a bit more skeptical than I would have in the past.

In fact, right now the whole concept of “Fake News” is making a comeback.  At least, I call it a comeback.  Fake News has been around forever, starting in a Garden a long time ago, and it comes in many forms, being woven quite effectively into our modern living:

Propaganda was an effective tool to discourage the Allies in World War 2. 

Most people my age have probably heard the phrase, “there are lies, there are d**n lies, and there are statistics.”

Of course, then there are the white lies.  Which is like having a white carpet in a house with three children and two dogs…

There’s the infamous statement, “Just kidding”.  Orson Wells tried that back in the 1930’s with a recital of a World of the Worlds enactment on radio, and that went over quite well. 

Like Solomon said, truly there is nothing new under the sun…

But that doesn’t mean I just abandon my five senses as any source of honest interpretation.  It does mean, however, that I need a little discernment.  Or a lot.  Words are cheap, but observable behaviors and definable outcomes have a place in what’s really going on behind the scenes.

Or better yet, what’s going on within the heart.

 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.”

It behooves me to be reminded that God Almighty sees it all as it really is, no spiritual photo-editing in Heaven.  The first order question, then, is what does He see in my life?  In His church?  And whatever He sees, and however He sees it, IS worthy to be believed.

Revelation 2:19  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.

Another “Color Purple”

See the nice National Weather Service Map.

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See the nice purple color covering a large section in the middle of the nice map.  The purple crayon is the pretty one the nice people at the National Weather Service use for Ice Storm Warning. 

However, many Midwestern-ers don’t consider that very nice.  At all.

In fact, by last night, with roads still clear, many schools cancelled classes for today in anticipation of the pending storm—(of that you won’t hear me complaining, but that’s beside the point.)  Also in preparation of potential power outages, frozen pipes, and downright scary road conditions, the local Walmart seemed a bit busier after work yesterday.  I know this because I was there with the rest of my neighbors.

The big chain store was ready with a Continue reading “Another “Color Purple””

Check the connection.

wood 2The other morning at church we were doing a “fewer-piece” worship set; I say “we” because it was just me and the piano player, which is a bit unusual for our congregation.  During practice I called back to the sound booth that I couldn’t hear Dan in the stage monitor.  Then I thought to check his mic, and (typical for me) it wasn’t turned on.  It was plugged in, but still not connected to the power source.  Duh.  (We have patient sound people.)

Kind of like attending church, if you think about it.

I’m all about being a part of a local church, whatever that may look like to different assemblies.  Some sit in pews, some under trees.  Some worship with guitars and djembes, some with organs and pianos.  The point has to do with spiritual Continue reading “Check the connection.”