How much more?

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’m intrigued by the story of the people of Gibeon who, seeing destruction on the horizon in the form of the relentlessly advancing Israeli nation coming out of the desert, decide to don some thrift-store thread bares and make like they’ve come from afar.  In so doing, Joshua, the Hebrew leader, thinks these are actually NOT people slated for destruction (per God’s instruction) but just neighboring folks, so he makes a binding oath to leave them alone.

Oops.

After the gig is up, and Joshua realizes he’s been duped, (and that it’s too late to reneg…being God’s reputation and all), the Gibeonites become their servants, which means they are now under Israeli protection as well. Continue reading “How much more?”

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Umbrella or sun hat??

wood 2I have one daughter living on the Scandinavian coast.  Weather report: cold, cloudy, wet. 

I have another living in Southern Cal.  Weather report: hot, sunny, dry. 

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.  Sounds like a fairly consistent gig for the weather man. Continue reading “Umbrella or sun hat??”

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.

Ayn Rand meets Moses

IMG_20150103_172451138Bob reads to me while I sit in my great-grandmother’s rocking chair and crochet, complete with the dog on the rug—seriously, we look like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, only in blue jeans. 

Our most recent book (at this writing) is Ayn Rand’s tome entitled Atlas Shrugged.  Not for the faint of heart, mind you, and not something you’ll find in the religious section of Barnes and Noble, but with some very timely and important ideas on economic integrity, possibly more applicable now than when it was written.

In her novel, she refers to the conflict between the “producers”, those who put their hand to the plow and make stuff, and the “looters”, those who somehow feel entitled to live off the hard work of the producers without significant contribution of their own, simply because they feel they need it.  Of course, “need” is precariously defined to the destruction of those who produce.

Sound familiar?

My disclaimer: I’m not an economist.  Anyway, that’s not the thought I want to convey here. 

Context: the Hebrew nation is (still) about to step into the Promised Land, and Moses is (still) giving them last minute instructions.  Check this out:

 “When the LORD your God goes ahead of you and destroys the nations and you drive them out and live in their land,…”

I see a definite partnership with God here—the Almighty will destroy the enemy while at the same time the Hebrews are to clean house (“drive them out”, which is dirty work as well) and occupy.  The Promised Land was just that—land that was promised, but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to have to work for it.  And hard. Sweat, blood, sacrifice, mistakes, and try again.  (Read about it, it’s pretty dramatic, and makes me feel better about myself…)

Interestingly, when I compare that to my personal salvation, and that 21st century idea that turning my life over to Jesus is “all there is to it”, uh, I don’t think that’s what God has in mind:

“But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’”

…and:

“He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

…and:

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

…to quote only a few.

Do we earn our salvation?  Of course not!  Do we partner with God to change into the likeness of all He purposes for us to be after He saves us—absolutely!  And it calls for blood, sweat, and tears, hard work, mistakes, and (oftentimes) self-forgiveness. 

historically-1093192_1920Because I don’t want to be a “looter” of God’s amazing grace, but a “producer” in His kingdom on Earth. 

Hand to plow, and keep it there.

Deuteronomy 12:29; James 2:18; 2 Peter 3:9; Romans 12:2  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.

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.

Teach your (siblings’) children well

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280If you really want to get back at your older siblings for all those mean things they did to you as kids growing up, what one thing should you teach their own pre-school children?  No, it’s not where daddy keeps his favorite fishing tackle, or how pretty mommy’s new lipstick looks on the freshly painted patio deck, or even how to safely use a blow torch, as fun as all that would be.  The grueling, tortuous payback is much easier than that…

Simply teach their little cherubs the word “Why?”

And then encourage them to use it, frequently.  Which is not so far-fetched when you consider that we humans are a naturally inquisitive lot to begin with anyway.  Why, what for, how come, and the other various derivatives are simply part of our internal vernacular, both positively, from our curiosity, (giving us, for example, “E=mc2”) and negatively, from our wounded sense of inconvenience, (“how come I have to study this stoopid stupid geometry?!”)

Either way, we keep asking. 

In this instance, God anticipated our “why”.  (He did, after all, make us this way.)  The Hebrew people all but have their toes on the boarder of the Promised Land as God is using Moses for a few preliminary instructions:

 “In the future your children will ask you, ‘What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the LORD our God has commanded us to obey?’”

Not that the Creator needs to explain to the created, so the fact that He anticipates their inquiry shows gracious condescension.  He reminds them that they were brought out of their brutal slavery in Egypt so that God could bless them with an abundant goodness (which was already prepared for them, BTW).  Then we read this, which is in the same paragraph, as in almost the same breath—

“For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the LORD our God has given us.’”

Am I hearing this right?  God’s saying, “I pulled you out of a very bad place and I’m putting you in a very good place.  Here’s the stuff you need to do to maintain that, and thus I will consider you as in right standing with Me.”

In other words, being counted as righteous is NOT the same as intrinsic righteousness.  Nope, that issue was decided a L-O-N-G time ago.  I find it interesting, then, when our culture tries to damn the very God Who attempted every which way to communicate and connect with the people who rejected Him to begin with; as if we expect Him to change Himself to fit our image instead of the other way around.

Oh wait…He did that too, only not in the way we expected.  (He does that a lot.)

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.”

Of course, that was the plan all along, which makes that plan even more beautiful.  And so now instead of being counted as righteous because of the things I do (which never worked anyway—the first half of the Book bears testament to that arrangement, again, no surprise to the Author), I am counted as righteous because of what Jesus has done for me. 

If you’ve never seen it, great, here it is.  If you haven’t seen it recently, let’s marvel in a super review:

“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”

Back to the original question, why?  Only one answer suffices:

Deuteronomy 6: 20, 25; John 1:14; Romans 3: 21-26  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.

Definitely graphic, but not novel.

IWAA7I love birds.  Not like Audubons love birds, but Bob and I do own a cheap pair of field glasses and a nice Peterson’s Guide.  Here in southern MO, we live in a fly-over zone, and also near a conservation area, so we’re just geeky enough to enjoy a “date” seeing how many avians we can identify.  Our day is made if we are visited by a bald eagle or a close up view of a gaggle of something. 

Listening to Jesus, one would think that His Father was pretty keen Continue reading “Definitely graphic, but not novel.”

Ye Olde Blogge, or, “Oh, it’s you again…”

BloggeThis month I’ve been blogging for two years, and having a ball doing it, meeting terrific people and being encouraged in my own journey with God.  I’ve recently met yet another very cool person via the blogosphere who is just starting out and asking me for advice. (Yes, asking ME!!  Seriously?!?)

So I confidently sent her the WordPress Blogging U. link, and also told her that in addition to those several and free courses, (emphasis on the word “free”), we are abundantly provided with tutorials to browse on our own, trying things out here and there and at our chosen pace.

At least, that’s what I did.  And I’m happy that I still can, especially as the company upgrades and changes “the look” I have grown accustom to when I first started.  Plus, I know there are some improvements I need to make in the look and ease of the site, some strategies I’d like to try.  But here is one of the most interesting take-aways I’ve gleaned from the experience, especially starting out as I did from the ground level, just slightly above “this is where you turn on the computer”:

animated-arrow-image-0113Persistence is priceless.

If the look I wanted didn’t happen the first time, then let’s give it another go.  Let’s see what’s available, or insert this particular widget, or drag and click on this button.  Then there’s always the option of (gasp!) reading the directions, again,…and again.  Or asking questions.  And funny thing, shock of shocks—it works!! Of course, I’ve never been one terribly intimidated by the trial and error process anyway, and really, the security of the free world does not depend on the quality of my website…

Which translates into the intangible reality of our relationship with God.  The prophet Hosea knew this.  After exposing the error of the people’s idolatry (and accompanying observable behaviors) which was to be followed by the long-forecasted consequences, he then calls them to this hope:

“…Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn…”

God is not intimidated by our trial and error, even with Him. Reference King David! Simon Peter! Moses! One thing these guys had in common was that they never gave up.  It was never a question of God showing up; it was, rather, up to them to keep at it, even in the face of personal confusion or temporary moral defeat.   

Because, when it come to a quality relationship with the Almighty God, persistence is priceless, and really, the security of someone else’s eternity may actually depend on it.

Hosea 6:3 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.

Reaching the top shelf

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credit: http://worldofweirdthings.com/tag/intelligent-design/

Limitations can just be so darn frustrating!  I remember trying to buy clothes when I was a 5-foot-12-inch teenager in a world of where 5’8″ was “tall”.   My stature is one of the reasons I would choose to sit rather than stand in a group of women for a conversation, since standing typically means the discussion will be about six inches below my ears.  It’s a bit isolating….

But then, who do complete strangers turn to when they need something off the top shelf at Walmart, right? 

To put that in perspective, I once read an account of Continue reading “Reaching the top shelf”

I Have ANOTHER question (#3)

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Leviticus 20:10 “If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the man and the woman who have committed adultery must be put to death.”

So why were David and Bathsheba not stoned for their adultery?  In fact, this punishment was not even mentioned in the rebuke from God through Nathan the prophet.  Of course, the child died and there were other terrible consequences that effected many people.  Can we legitimately infer anything about why God didn’t have Nathan follow through with the original consequence?  And more importantly, does anyone else see the grace of God working alongside the law (truth) of God?

Giving shout-outs for some specific insightful bloggers, but also invite any others who might have some thoughts to weigh in on this one:

Beyond the Map

Cookie Crumbs to Live By

From the Inside Out

I Sing Because I’m Free

Learning to Be Full of Grace and Truth

Patrick Hawthorne

Pneumythology

Salvageable

Tolle Lege

The Recovering Legalist

Truth in Palmyra

Virtual Vitamins

(And if you haven’t checked out these sites, I recommend you do!)

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.