Calvin, meet Job.

calvin-hobbes-low-self-esteem
From Calvin and Hobbes (my FAVORITE!!) by Watterson

Ever have “one of those days…”?  Of course, you have!  I don’t even need to explain that phrase, “one of those days”.  Your descriptive list could probably rival mine. 

However, many times (more than I care to admit), “one of those days” originates in my own perspective, or possibly a consequence of my own past decisions.  (Ouch.) 

But then there are those days when what life throws at me has nothing to do with anything I’ve done, and I tend to feel “victimized”.  It tends to sound like this: Continue reading “Calvin, meet Job.”

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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)”

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.

On second thought…

wood 2People who assert that humankind has morally evolved over time must not read the same books I do.  Political intrigue and sharp dissent are nothing new, and unfortunately they find their way into the Church as well. 

Again, not that that’s anything new. 

What I find fascinating, however, is how God uses even our relational disputes to His kingdom advantage.  Case in point:

“After some time Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.’  Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark.  But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work.  Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus.”

Barnabas and Paul were this new religion’s dynamic duo, so their split must have caused no little concern to the higher-ups.  (Thankfully, there was no Facebook or Twitter at that time; one can only imagine…)

Barnabas, who’s name means Son of Encouragement, was well aware of John Mark’s action, his decision to walk away.  It may have even been a true turning-his-back-on-God time of life for the younger man.  Paul didn’t have the emotional energy for such a man, whereas Barnabas was willing to extend a second chance.

So glad he did, too, because John Mark is better know today as Saint Mark, the writer of the gospel bearing his name, and believed to be not only the earliest biography of Jesus, possibly providing information for Matthew and Luke, but is also considered to be the memoirs of Peter.

Evidently, God had a plan for this “backslider”.

In addition, it’s highly possible that Paul learned a lesson from this.  We can see that, as an older man now bearing many scars from persecution and currently in prison for his faith, he finds himself in a similar situation with a runaway slave named Onesimus:

“I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. Onesimus[c] hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.

It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever.  He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.

So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.  If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me.”

Wow.  Talk about an attitude adjustment!  Like Barnabas, who saw something worth taking another chance in John Mark, Paul sees fit to give this fugitive a blank check with his own reputation. 

However, one stimulating speculation is that this runaway-slave-converted-disciple went on later to become the same Onesimus that history records as the first Bishop of Ephesus.  And this was at a time when Ephesus was an important publishing clearinghouse, gathering and copying and distributing (thus preserving) the writings of the early church, such as the letters of—you guessed it—Paul.

softball-1511264_1920Take home? God can use even our disagreements, (or as my pastor says, “God is more powerful than my stupid”), and second (and third and fourth…) chances can have powerful consequences.

For we are ALL to be sons (and daughters) of Encouragement.

Acts 15:36-39; Philemon 1:10-12,15-17 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.

Say, what??

windsor-castle-1253197_1920Bob has been a little concerned about my hearing.  Of course, when it comes to watching our beloved British shows on TV, we both have to turn up the volume, if you get my drift.  Our very entrenched Midwest American minds don’t always pick up the subtleties of our Anglo-neighbors, and we end up asking each other—

“What did he just say?”

“I dunno…turn it up.”

Neither of us want to miss any of the important plot developments for lack of communication, y’know.

Which is absolutely what could have happened here, but thankfully somebody was listening closely: Continue reading “Say, what??”

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”

Ties that bind…or strangle.

IMG_20150103_172451138Several years ago, I read a study synopsis from a well respected site indicating that the most influential power in a child’s life was his parents. (Golly-gee-whiz, I wonder how many man-hours and tax dollars went into that one.)  Of course, ask any of the teachers in my middle school, and they could have told you that.  Better yet, I have a Book that pretty well spells it out from years of experience and Wisdom. 

Needless to say, there are some forces in the Universe that are inherently powerful, for good or evil, and parenthood is certainly at the top of that list.  It’s not that parents can take credit for all the choice their kids make (positive or negative), but their influence is still credibly incredible in some capacity throughout a person’s life. 

So it takes some real courage when a child, even an adult “child”, has to back up and re-evaluate patterns of thinking and doing that Continue reading “Ties that bind…or strangle.”

Running

quill

Here’s a piece by my bloggish buddy, Squid.  Oh, that all of God’s children were so resilient as this never-say-die little toddler!! If you haven’t met Squid, I highly recommend her to you! 

Running

I watched you cry today.

Your little feet were carrying you as fast as they could, when, 

BAM!  

Forehead, meet wall.

The waterworks came with a loud scream.

Mommy was back on duty, and sister-recreation time was over…

Or so I thought.

Less than a minute later, you’re back to

Running.  

With tears in your eyes 

But a smile on your face, 

We resumed the game as if nothing had ever happened.

But when we took a break, 

The sniffles returned, and you crawled into my lap, looking for security.  

A few moments of R&R…

And we’re back!

To running

-Squid

When you know that you don’t know, but you want to know…y’know??

wood 2I remembering growing up and seeing those asinine tabloids in the check-out lines at the grocery store.  I suppose they continue to make money, since I see them touting the same nonsense about who-knows-what alien got who-cares-what Hollywood starlet pregnant. 

Clearly, enquiring minds still want to know.

What is it about human nature that makes secrets so enticing?  Maybe the upside is the curiosity for the unknown which has also put us on the moon and brought us the cure for smallpox and polio, so okay, I’ll grant us grant.  But, boy howdy, there sure is a downside!  It’s the stuff of James Bond 007 as well as the local beauty shop gossip. Continue reading “When you know that you don’t know, but you want to know…y’know??”

God of the bathrooms

wood 2Bob likes reading mythology, old and new, and even makes up some of his own.  One of the classic old standbys, of course, is the hero in the Odyssey.  Here’s my crib note version based on what’s left of my memory from required reading in high school and watching some old Hollywood interpretation on TV:

Odysseus has been away from the home castle for quite a long stretch; I can’t remember why, but “the rosy fingers of dawn” is mentioned several times.  That, plus the fact that he and his very macho comrades go through all kinds of fantastic adventures with all kinds of out of this world creatures (today, I believe they are referred to as “meta-humans” in the Comicon universe).  Continue reading “God of the bathrooms”