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.

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Getting back to work

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280One indisputable characteristic about the Old Testament prophets—they were weird.  I don’t say that disparagingly, but c’mon, they were not always the kind of people you’d invite to a office picnic.  Calling down fire from heaven, tying themselves in knots, and all that. 

Of course, they were good to have around when something needed fixed.

Case in point, the prophet Elisha has been persuaded to come with some of his students to build a new meeting place.  In the course of events, there was a problem:

Continue reading “Getting back to work”

Why Ants Stay Busy, a poem

A poem by my wonderful bloggish friend (you’ll love this one!)—

Why Ants Stay Busy, by Oneta Hayes

Ant Father: “‘Mountain must move’ Big Man said today.”

Ant Mother: “Did he mean us?  The place we stay.”

Ant Father: “He said this mountain is in his way –

And off he went to get the spray.”

 

Down the hole scurried Ant Father and Mother

Taking with them every sister and brother

They shouted warning to one another

“Go lower, slide, hide, take cover.”

 

The fury was great, soft dirt did blow

The mountain they build was rendered low

The mud came rolling in a mighty flow

Only a tiny light continued to glow.

 

“Now it’s all over,” they said with a grin

“Everybody get to work, let’s do it again.”

They scurried and hurried and made such a din.

They loved their life’s work – annoying men!

By Oneta Hayes at Sweet Aroma

OH, the wisdom of humor!!  But here’s the thing.  Ever notice how, when you get rid of one ant hill, others pop up?  I mean, it’s not a one-time deal, slaying ants.  Ants just keep doing what they do, building ant hills, because that’s how they’re wired. 

In other words, that’s what they are created to do.  It doesn’t matter how many times they get sprayed or squished.  They keep working together to build, because it has to be built.  Period. 

They make me look like such a whiner.  Certainly, there are B-I-G boots stomping around: illness, depression, financial concerns, relational disappointments, and the list goes on.  One or two knockdowns and I might be ready to throw in the towel. 

But in reality, that’s not the way God created me.  Nope, not by a longshot.  He has made me (and is re-making me) to build, (a) regardless of who steps on me, and (b) in community with other builders.  Both are important factors for success.

I like how King Solomon puts it:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…

Of course, the New Testament version reads more like this:

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

hiking-shoes-3057428_1920Which means the size of the boot doesn’t matter.  I’ll just continue my life’s work—annoying Satan.

Ecclesiastes 9:10; Philippians 4:13  Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. 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??”

Frogs, and other useful tools

IMG_20150103_172451138I rather like frogs; actually, I really quite fancy them.  (No, not to eat!) 

Along with the crickets, they sing me to sleep at night, and keep serenading me in the pre-dawn mornings on the patio before work.  Bob, my biology-professor husband, likes them also, but has a much more practical bent toward them.  Whereas I always want to catch them, pick them up, look at them eyeball-to-eyeball, the prof always says, “leave it alone, it’s a scared little creature”. 

How does he know if it’s scared? (Turtles, on the other hand, right, I know what they do…)  Besides, as far as I’m concerned, one of a frog’s life functions is to let me pick it up.  So there. Continue reading “Frogs, and other useful tools”

It’s Complicated…(Part 1)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’m not into overt government control, but anarchy doesn’t appeal to me either; I’m much, MUCH too familiar with human nature to rely on our own ability to play nice together.  That’s why this statement from the Old Testament book of Judges is really quite chilling—

“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

No king, including Yahweh God anymore, evidently. What used to be a theocracy was no longer, so do-your-own-thing was the rule of the day. Here are just a few examples: Continue reading “It’s Complicated…(Part 1)”

Humble versus Insecure—and the value of “But, Lord…!”

cat-1106968_1920 (1)To begin with, Moses was humble; Saul was insecure. 

Moses had his insecurities, for sure.  There are at least five (count ‘em, five!) “but, Lords…!” in that whole discussion about who was going to do the talking to Pharaoh.  However, Moses was humble enough to be honest with God about them, and in so doing, God provided for him in the very midst of those insecurities.  In fact, we see Moses’ character develop into quite an assertive leader.  And it started with humble honesty.

King Saul, on the other hand, had a crippling fear of man; that is, he was ruled, not by what God thought, but by what the people thought, or what he thought the people thought.  We see this several times throughout Saul’s tenure, but an interesting thing happens after one particular battle which was quite successful, at least in Saul’s eyes… Continue reading “Humble versus Insecure—and the value of “But, Lord…!””

Let’s Hear It for Southpaws!

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Let’s face it, folks, left-handed people bear a burden, although I think it’s gotten better over the decades. According to that impeccable repository of information, (i.e., Wikipedia), approximately 10-percent of our society worldwide are southpaws.  Machines ranging from scissors to power saws were generally produced with right-handed people in mind, and in the past, even in education if a child showed a preference to his left hand, he would be “encouraged” to use his right instead.  Continue reading “Let’s Hear It for Southpaws!”

Not just the click of a button

translate-110777_1920I am horribly monolingual. 

Bob and I spent six years living in married student housing at Indiana University/Bloomington while he was working on his degree, with three little girls in tow, and thus we were surrounded by many cultures.  My dad used to say we lived in a mini-UN.  Our eldest had a map of the globe on her wall, and since our kids attended the university elementary school, we realized that she knew children from every continent save one (Antartica—does anyone actually live there?  BRRRrrrr!) Continue reading “Not just the click of a button”