Going my way? (Better not.)

singer-63055_1920.jpgThe days of the Crooners were a bit before my time, but I still love the old movies with them as the stars.  Of the best well known, Frank Sinatra probably had one of the longest careers among them.  One of his (many) hit songs was “I Did It My Way”. 

Now if that’s not the American motif, I don’t know what is. 

Not to dis Old Blue Eyes, but really, we all have that one in us.  Even the Most Beautiful Three Year Old On The Planet, (our eldest granddaughter), showcases her opinion of her opinion…regularly.  Actually, the Most Fabulous Infant In The Universe, (our other granddaughter), already does the same thing….loudly. 

Certainly, I see it in myself—uncomfortably so, I am quick to add.  It rears its ugly head (and it can get pretty ugly) in all sorts of relationships: with my children, friends, Bob…God.  Even with myself.  (Think about that one for a minute—all sorts of repercussions there.)

Culturally, this attitude of “doing it my way” spills over into our theology as well.  Truth is often defined by opinion, rather like one who prefers ice cream over Brussel sprouts.  (After all, I know which one I would choose.)  Even if I accept the Christian definition of truth, it’s still an easy trap to try and “earn” God’s acceptance by my own goodness, rather than that of Jesus alone.  Which means I’m still trying to do it my way.

However, even in the Old Testament, God was setting us up for this.  Here the Hebrews were (still) getting ready to head into the Promised Land.  But to live there, they are told~~

 “Your pattern of worship will change….you must bring everything I command you— your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, your sacred offerings, and your offerings to fulfill a vow— to the designated place of worship, the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored.”

BINGO.  They couldn’t do it “their way” anymore.  If they wanted to live in God’s presence, they had to do it God’s way. 

New Testament interpretation: Jesus is God’s way.  Period.  Not crystals.  Not Buddha.  Not Mohammed.  Not reductionism.  Not capitalism.

Not even the Republican Party.  (Wow.  I might take some heat for that one…)

The only way to live and move and have our true being in God’s salvific presence is in Jesus alone.  It’s one of the many things I so appreciate about Jesus—His directness.

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’”

This is in no way an intolerant statement, at least not anymore than in saying that “my begonias are red and not lavender” is an intolerant statement.  Or the rain is wet, and not dry.

Or that Frankie-baby had unbelievably blue eyes…(swoon.)

Deuteronomy 12:8,11; John 14:6  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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Hand me the wrench…no the other one.

garden lastMy brother and I were just reminiscing about coming home from school and seeing our grandfather in the heat of the day, stripped to the waist and sporting a bandana to catch the sweat dripping from his forehead, (and what was left of his grey hair), out mowing the lawn.  He and Grandma had been visiting our family, and he was not one to merely luxuriate when there was work to be done. 

And why not?  I mean, c’mon, he was only in his 70’s…

spidermanOwning property is a never-ending lifestyle, to be sure, and if you’re like Bob and I, whose only claim to fame is the ability to change a light bulb, then it becomes even more challenging.  I did try to hang wallpaper—once. (For the record, of the two of us, I tend to be the one who tries to “fix” something first, whereas my husband with all the letters behind his name doesn’t even bother….just call the plumber.)

The truth is, they—the carpenters, the plumbers, the electricians and the lot—they know that they’re doing.  I’ve seen them at work.  It’s really impressive, you know, where there was no wall, now there’s a wall, with windows and lights and paint.  Or maybe new carpet.  Or a vaulted ceiling.  And, once the tools are put away and the dust has cleared, if I do as I’m instructed to take care of it, it should all last a long time. 

Wow! 

Here the Hebrew nation is about the kick up some serious dust as they go into the Promised Land.  Moses is recapping their past few decades:

“But you have seen the LORD perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes!  Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter.”

I see an interesting sequence here. 

To begin with, this is addressed specifically to people who had first hand experience.  They had witnessed God’s provision and His “mighty deeds”.  With that knowledge came responsibility—

The responsibility, then, was obedience to the One who had allowed them to witness those miracles.  In other words, the experience of His presence was an act of grace that not everyone (up to that point in time) had been privy to.  And every act of grace carries with it the weight of personal responsibility.

Lastly, obedience to God, although a worthy end in itself, was also a means to an additional provision: strength.  Like taking care of my property, it takes a certain amount of vigor to maintain (dare I say “conquer”?) the challenges of home ownership; I can only imagine what it must have been like going into the Promised Land.  So I find that the people’s strength to conquer and maintain was uniquely tied to their obedience to God. 

Hmmmm….

Okay, time to do some never-ending work in the garden.  (At least I can to that much without having to call in a plumber.)

Deuteronomy 11:7,8  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.

No paper or plastic

IMG_20150103_172451138When Bob and I were engaged to be married, I decided to register for stoneware and stainless rather than fine china and silver.  Some may have called that “common”; I prefer to call it practical.  Even so, for years I would store my special dishes in the corner hutch and bring them out only for special occasions; c’mon, ladies, you know how we do. 

Finally, after about 35+ years of collecting dust, I decided this was actually kinda dumb.  Why not use the good stuff on a daily basis?!  Are we not worth it? Good grief, it’s dishwasher safe anyway! (Unlike the fine china of the 70’s, I might add.)

SoooOO000ooo….not too long ago, out of the hutch and into the kitchen it came to be lovingly used along with the stainless Continue reading “No paper or plastic”

No strings attached

wood 2I know of a professor who years ago had a colleague saying that he “tried Christianity for a while” but that it didn’t give him what he wanted, so he went off in search of an alternative.  Buddha or something. 

I’m learning to never be intimidated by people with lots of letters behind their names. They are really smart, no contest that, but Continue reading “No strings attached”

Things that don’t make sense…

wood 2Things that don’t make sense:

  1. Why flight attendants give instructions on how to use the inflatable life jacket on a flight from Kansas City to to Los Angeles. It seems these items would be much benefit flying over Kansas wheat fields or the Rockies. Granted, my geography isn’t so good, but maybe they know something I don’t?  (Corollary: why don’t we get parachutes instead?)
  2. Why “flammable” and “inflammable” mean the same thing. (As if the English language isn’t confusing enough, even for those of us who grew up with it.)
  3. Why a black hat stands for the bad guy and a white hat stands Continue reading “Things that don’t make sense…”

Here, There, Everywhere

IMG_20150103_172451138Still being a bit of a novice at this grandparenting thing, I’m told that grandchildren generally chose their own monikers for their grandparents, something easy to say, at times comical and endearing little things that stick like glue: Mimi, Nana, Papoo…so I was curious what the first of this new generation was going to choose for us.

Our oldest daughter, however, took that into her own hands, and has done a fabulous job preparing her little one to know us as (are you ready for this one?) Continue reading “Here, There, Everywhere”

That’s what doorbells are for.

IMG_20150103_172451138Best dating story: Bob and I were coming home from an evening out.  As I was still in college, I lived with my parents in the summer, and my dad, as a stickler for protecting his family, always had the door locked if I got home late enough and they had gone to bed.  Naturally, I also always had a key to get in when my soon-to-be finance would deposit me at the front step.

The key, however, only fit the main entrance, not the outer screen door…

What happened next was almost something out of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.  Bob, being the practical science-guy he is, couldn’t understand why I didn’t just ring the door bell, (which, to this day, seems like the most sagacious option), but in deference to my objections, he pulled his little Pinto (remember those?) around to the driveway and helped me go from the big wooden storage box, to the top of his car, and onto the garage roof which led to my own second story window.  Thankfully, I had left the window open, but DRAT!  There was that locked screen window (what is it with screens??) that I had to poke my fingers through to raise, hoping that the family dog wasn’t currently my room ready to sound the intruder alarm.

Having successfully deposited his future bride safely, albeit not conveniently, within her home, Bob took off and I went to bed, thinking I would relate the incident to my folks…someday.  Until I got up that morning and they asked me how I had gotten in last night, as Dad noticed he had locked the screen door, and Mom was wondering what my shoes were doing in the garage.

At what point in a young person’s life does she realize that her parents are not stupid?

Now, Dad is a fixer; property is something that must be improved and/or maintained, so my screen window didn’t stay impaled for long, allowing for mosquitoes, bees, and other pests equal access to my room, (geewhiz, hadn’t thought of that one).  And thankfully, I didn’t dent Bob’s car, pull off the guttering or slip and break my neck scampering up the shingles.  In retrospect (sigh) I should have just rung the doorbell!

Which is kinda the point the writer of Hebrews is making when he says:

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

I wonder how much wasted time, energy, and (gulp!) destruction I have caused by not first coming boldly to my Father’s presence.  What fears have stolen my peace, what anxieties have poked holes in my power, and what kind of hellacious peril I have put myself (and others) in due to my lack of faith in God’s most holy acceptance of me because of His Son!

Bob
And he STILL takes me on dates: roses and camo. What more could a girl want??

After all, I’m one of the family.  If I’m feeling locked out, I just have to ring the bell.

Hebrews 4:16  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.

Are we there yet?

wood 2Bob and I saw the movie, Arrival, on the big screen when it, well, arrived (…smile).  He’s a real heady sci-fi fan; that is, explosions in space are fine, but he prefers the more cerebral plots, and this flick definitely filled the bill.  If you haven’t seen it, no spoiler here.  Suffice it to say that the Earthlings must be very intentional and persistent in learning to communicate with this obviously advanced race of beings, even in the face of fear, opposition, and unrecognized danger from outside sources who misunderstand.

Bob loved it; I walked out with a migraine, but that wasn’t the movie’s fault. Despite the headache, I was still thinking about the Continue reading “Are we there yet?”

That “essence of new car”

wood 2Don’t you just love that new car smell?  Or walking into a new house that still has that fresh clean fragrance of, well, prior to kids, dogs, and cats?  Not that I’ve ever had a new car or a new house; I’m a definite “second-hand Rose” (or third, or fourth…), but there is something about newness that makes you want to keep it that way as long as possible.

Until it’s no longer new, that is. 

There’s a truism that says “familiarity breeds confidence”.  The problem is that confidence can degrade into neglect, whether it’s a house or car, or a relationship, or even my own Continue reading “That “essence of new car””

Them’s fightin’ words!

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I really like my comfort zone.  In fact, I tend to snuggle in with my favorite blankie and stuffed toy (it’s name was Pinkie, BTW, a big fuzzy stuffed dog of said color that I remember my big brother swinging around the room to irritate me—which worked.)  Only now my favorite toys are a bit more expensive (a house, a couple of cars, old though they be…) and I frequently wrap myself in my favorite “blankie” (my marriage, my family and friends, my health, such as it is….)  It’s not a perfect mountaintop, but it’s the one I live on, if you get my metaphorical drift, and I’m thankful for it.

Of course, when you’re married to a science teacher like my husband, the metaphorical tends to become the concrete.  He likes to point out practical things like, “Yep, those mountains were brought about by earthquakes, two Teutonic plates vying for the same space, and….” 

You get it.

In this instance, however, the point is well taken in that sometimes God has to shake us up to get us off the mountaintop and out of our comfort zone, since in reality, we are called into the war for His kingdom.  But we’re in good company:

 “When we were at Mount Sinai, the LORD our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on. Go to the hill country…Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.’”

Interestingly, God could have provided everything His people needed right there on that particular mountain.  (You know, because He’s God.)  But also because He’s God, He knew that was not the best for them, it was not His fulfillment of the promise for them, and God is not One to settle for anything less than the best in, for, and through them.  And us.  For His kingdom. 

A few other things had to take place, and much later, the psalmist put it like this:

“You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver…We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.”

Unlike other kingdom conflicts happening on our current timeline, the Christian conflict is a spiritual one for our culture, our children, and even our own hearts and minds.  It’s uncomfortable (to put it mildly), but it is the place where God promises not only His peace, but most importantly, His presence—His Truth in the midst of turmoil, His koinonia in the midst of conflict. 

Given my ‘druthers, I’d sometimes rather hang out on the mountain than join the fight in the valley, but reader beware: because of the Father’s love, if a little shaking doesn’t do it, He may turn the mountain into a volcano.

Deut 1:6-8; Psalm 66: 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.