On second thought, perhaps not.

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Too bad life doesn’t give us rewinds, at least not in the sense that we can actually go back and change history.  That’s the stuff of fantasy sci-fi like my husband writes about.  Which is probably a good thing, actually.  If I could go back in an attempt to correct my mistakes (of which there are many) I would probably just muck things up even worse.  So, in that sense, being stuck in the present must be part of God’s good grace.

Having said that, if you’re old enough to be reading this, then it’s safe to say you’re in the burgeoning company of folks that, at sometime in our lives, have breathed out the words,

“Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time….” Continue reading “On second thought, perhaps not.”

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Spiritual speed traps

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280In, lo, these many years of driving, I had never had even one point against my license, despite what my husband refers to a my “lead foot”. There is in our small town, however, a place drivers affectionate refer to as a “speed trap”—you know, the limit is 30mph, but in a few yards it goes up to 45, and in between the road gently slopes downward…

bodyworn-794099_1920The officer was nice. Nonetheless, I was a several dollars poorer and a few “points” wiser. 

The idea is that I was responsible for what I didn’t know, but should have known.  I didn’t know I was going ____mph over the speed limit.  I didn’t know there was an officer just biding his time.  Both of these bits of information would have been helpful in preventing my mishap, but no matter.  I still had to “pay the man.”

Which makes King Josiah’s response so much the better in my mind.

After a long and sordid line of (mostly) wicked rulers over God’s people, Josiah had a interesting idea—let’s follow our God.  In fixing up the temple, one of the workers found the Book, the Law where their God explains the conditions of the covenant with the people. 

Now, the king was already on the right track in terms of his heart-attitude, and being raised in a very ungodly and confusing family/social environment, he was doing what he could with what he had.  But when presented with this additional info, his reaction was, well, possibly a bit better than mine when I was pulled over…

“When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair.”

One of our family catch-phrases is “what am I supposed to do with this information.”  It’s really a good test to see if there is something the other person is expecting from me, or if he/she is simply, you know, just talking.  This seems to be exactly what Josiah did, and he discovered, in no uncertain terms, that God wasn’t just talking.

Someone once said that the Holy Spirit speaks to those whose hearts are positioned to act upon His instructions.  So when Josiah heard God speak, he took one of the offensive idols and…

“…he burned it. Then he ground the ashes of the pole to dust…”

Pretty definitive statement, that.  And it wasn’t the only culture shift that was made as Josiah “turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength”.  Love it.  The kingdom of Judah was responsible for what they had neglected to know (even though it had been available), but God blessed them for the changes, (formidable ones, difficult ones), that were accomplished.

It would behoove us to follow his example.

2 Kings 22:11; 2 Kings 23:6   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.

I gotta question…

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What’s up with Psalm 109?  Here is this guy who is obviously being treated unfairly (welcome to life) and he’s asking God to not merely rescue him, but to lay it on thick to his enemy and their families. Seems a bit harsh. I’m addressing this specifically to some folks whose opins I respect, but welcome any other comments.  (Be nice.) If you feel your comment is too lengthy for this platform, please feel free to leave a link if you already have thoughts on this somewhere in your blog.  No obligation and not offended if you don’t have time.

Much obliged.

(PS, if you haven’t checked out these blog sites, please do.  Good stuff.)

To:

From the Inside Out

Truth in Palmyra

Learning to be Full of Grace and Truth

The Recovering Legalist

Mustard Seed Budget

Sweet Aroma

Domain for Truth

The True Light

So shut up, already!

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The “you-meant-it-for-evil-but-God-meant-it-for-good” concept is so beautifully embodied in the story of Joseph.  Sold into slavery because of his brothers’ offense and jealousy, the young man Joseph goes through some pretty incredible adventures to eventually become the Number Two chariot in Egypt.  It is a foreshadowing of what God was planning to do through Jesus.  The Romans and the Jewish leaders meant it for evil, but God’s plan always trumps man’s.

 Always.

Many years later, his own brothers come knocking at his door wanting to buy food due to the terrible famine, and, not recognizing Continue reading “So shut up, already!”

Read your history book, er…stone.

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At some point into King Saul’s tenure, things were not looking too good for the Hebrew nation, which, BTW, was nothing new up to that point in their embattled but miraculous history.   Come to think of it, it has been typical of their existence ever since.  

The good news was that the prophet of the Lord, Samuel, the same guy who had in recent memory anointed Saul as king over God’s nation of Israel, said that his plan was to show up in town seven days hence, and that Saul was to wait for him there.  The bad news was that the very powerful enemy (one of several) was now r-e-a-l-l-y ticked off at the still-fledgling nation, and was mustering an army against them.  As might be expected, Saul’s men were getting more than a little nervous, and began breaking ranks, slipping away into the hills and surrounding places, which was understandably a bit disconcerting for the king of Israel, (who struggled with his own self-image issues anyway—can anyone relate?) 

But wait!  There was even worse news!  Samuel, whose job it was to offer prayers and sacrifices to the God of Israel and bless them for success in battle, hadn’t shown up like he said he would!  He was late, or maybe he just wasn’t coming after all!

Hardly…

God’s sense of timing is not like ours.  To quote a good friend, Jon McKinney, “God is rarely early, but He’s never late.” This was a test, this was only a test. Unfortunately, Saul bombed it.

In fact, most of this life is a test as well.  In this episode, God was exposing an inherit flaw in Saul’s character—Saul was more concerned about himself, his safety, his victory and honor among the people (remember that old inferiority complex?) than he was about trusting God and honoring Him through patient obedience.  If only Saul had remembered his history lesson about his predecessor named Gideon (see earlier blog on that one, or better yet, read it in the Bible, Judges, chapter 7), he would have realized that God does not depend on numbers, but on our faith and His own grace and power. 

And how do I respond when my circumstances are telling me that God is somehow late, or worse, that He is breaking His promise?  Part of our faith is demonstrated by how we interpret our circumstances in light of our relationship with God.  Part of our love for God is revealed by desiring to honor Him through our obedience in the midst of those circumstances.  It’s not about “my” victory, but about His ability; not “my” reputation, but His.

Thx for readin’—dawnlizjones

How ’bout some jelly on that #manna?

The Old Testament records the travel plans of the newly reorganized and very fussy nation of Israel on their way to the place that had been long promised to them as a special homeland.  Sometimes I’m tempted to think, “For crying out loud, people!”  (Which they did, frequently.)  I mean, after all, God had done some pretty amazing things from the beginning of this project, what with plagues and parting the Red Sea, Charlton Heston notwithstanding.  There was plenty of water from a rock to satisfy a couple million people or so, and enough quail to feed an army.

And then there was this thing called manna.  I think the jury is still out as to what this stuff really was, which is kind of a moot point, since it was obviously enough to keep them nutritionally sustained over time.  Kind of like the limbis bread of the wood elves in the Lord of the Rings.  (Yes, I own the trilogy of movies, directors cut and all that,… but I digress.)

I readily claim that I’m not a picky eater, and neither is Bob.  But admittedly we do enjoy some, albeit limited, variety in our palate.  I joke that I could live on pizza, but the reality is that even my homemade pizza would probably get a bit old over time.  So in a somewhat shaky defense of the Hebrew people, my very human side can relate to a diet of everyday manna bread and water, even though it made them very healthy indeed.  (I can only imagine the mothers of the five-year-olds….)

However, it seems that the people never quite learned how to address their grievances judiciously to the God that was so obviously trying to help them.  It wasn’t that they were hungry or thirsty.  They were just bored.  Bored with the desert, bored with constantly moving,….bored with bread, and more bread, and only bread.

Put that thought on hold to check out how their future king, David, managed his frustrations and fears and disappointing circumstances with God.  Here’s just a snipet of one of his many recorded communiques with his Lord:

Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me. My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?
 You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call;
This I know, that God is for me.
 In God, whose word I praise,
In the Lord, whose word I praise,
 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?  (see Psalm 56, NASB)

Now David wasn’t just having a bad day.  This was written in the context of his true enemies (and he had many) capturing him in his own wanderings prior to his providential promise of ascending to the throne.  David had no problem “pouring out his complaint to the Lord”, it’s just that he knew how to do it properly.  It’s not about using the right words; it’s all about having the right heart.  David didn’t mince words with God; he didn’t candy coat the problem or his own emotional response to it.  But even in the muck and the mire of dealing with life, he maintained that God was with him, God was in control, and no matter how long it took, he would continue to trust God for the outcome.

Deep breath.  Back to the Israelites.  They just hadn’t grown up enough to understand and appreciate with Whom they were dealing.  Unfortunately, as it has been said, desperate times call for desperate measures.  God sent in “the snakes” to do a severe work of judgment.  And then, in typical fashion, He also provides a way of healing once bitten.

  • I find it interesting that God uses snakes to do the dirty work, since Satan was described as a snake in the garden after deceiving Mother Eve. The original sin was pride, thinking that we should be allowed to “be like God” (which, really, we already were, being made “in His image”, all that.)  Like Eve, the Hebrews thought they were “entitled” to more than manna, more than what God deemed healthy for them for that point in the journey.  Hmmm….
  • The account goes on to say that the people became impatient (Oh!  That word!!) with the long journey and complained about the manna, i.e., God’s provision.  Not complained in the sense of David’s pouring out his honest frustrations to God “Whom he knew would do what is best, and trusted Him with his life, regardless of current circumstances” kind of complaining.  This was more of a “how dare you invite us out here and feed us nothing but bread” category, and the snakes were happy to accommodate.  There is a very important warning here: when I complain to God with a victimhood mentality, with a feeling that I am entitled to more than I have (instead of a humble “I know what I really deserve” kind of thinking) there are definite “snakes” just waiting for a piece of me.  Their names are Bitterness, Resentment, Jealousy, and Offense, and they have many, many sibling slitherers close behind that are just as poisonous to my soul
  • Interestingly, once the people asked for forgiveness, God didn’t just remove the snakes. They were still lurking around, waiting and watching.  But God gave the people a pole to look upon should they be bitten, and having gazed upon the pole, they would be healed.  Similarly, if, through unresolved heart issues, we allow ourselves to be bitten, we really have only one option for true healing, and that is to gaze upon the One Who was raised up on a cross for us. 

So yeah….shut up and pass the quail.