The welcome mat was threadbare

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“Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God.  God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.”

Many of us know the backstory, even if it’s just from Charlton Heston’s iconic portrayal, or even Disney’s animated version.  The people of Israel had been rescued from a catastrophic famine by the Hebrew patriarch Joseph who had become the Number Two chariot in Egypt.  God had sovereignly brought the “nation” of Israel (only about seventy people at that time) all the way from the Promised Land to be provided for during the remaining five years of crop failure. 

The only problem was that the remaining five years was over….400 years ago.

Fast forward to the current story.  The Continue reading “The welcome mat was threadbare”

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.

Fireworks optional

carpediemI will admit it here, I watch the TV show “Agent Carter”.  And what a heroine she is, flawed but keeps on swinging (literally) and the bad guys are just no match.  There is a part in a recent installment where the uncontainable “Zero Matter”, some ancient force that manifests itself as swirling black ink, infects one of the other good guys, but because it is so powerful an entity, the Zero Matter explodes through his body.  (No gore, since the guy is inexplicably okay, thanks to Hollywood…)

Not so in the real world of uncontainable forces; just ask Hiroshima, Japan.  I’m not a bomb expert, but I think there’s something about juxtaposing a few disagreeable components inside a metal container, and when the prescribed reaction takes place, the metal container no longer exists, at least in its original form. 

Uncontainable force is something the Israelites knew a little about also.

“The LORD said to Moses, “Warn your brother, Aaron, not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; if he does, he will die. For the Ark’s cover— the place of atonement— is there, and I myself am present in the cloud above the atonement cover.”

Without racking up my word count on Old Testament types and shadows, suffice it to say the Bible is pretty clear that God is uncontainable.  So, in a sense, He is speaking metaphorically here, trying to get a point across on a level they can understand.  (He has to do that with me all the time.)  I used to think this had more to do with God being angry at our presumption upon His presence.  Now, however, I think the point He was trying to make had more to do with protection; i.e., humankind, in our fallen state, no longer had the capacity to “be” with this Definition of Life they called “Yahweh”. 

Too much life??  Yes.  Uncontainable Life, beyond our imagination.  Life that created the Universe.  Life that instills the human soul within the human womb.

There was a time when I lamented that I didn’t “feel” God enough, and His response was that if He allowed to me to “feel” Him fully, I would be flat on my face and no good for anybody.  Incapacitated.  Even in our redeemed state, on this side of eternity we are not capable to fully appreciate His presence; there is only One man who could:

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ…”

I write this by way of encouragement for all my fellow “non-emotional” semi-introverts who bemoan a seeming lack of demonstrative response.  Our heart-passion for God is shown in the decisions of the will, not in the level of enthusiasm or the number of tears.

But then there’s Heaven….

 

Leviticus 16:2; Colossians 1:19  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.

Bring on the livestock

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Our pastor is very open about both his successes and, shall we say, learning experiences.  I really appreciate that, since my “learning experiences” sometimes tend to seemingly outweigh the successes, if you get my meaning.  One story that he tells is about the time he went to visit a friend and missionary in Haiti, Jay Threadgill.  Dr. Threadgill has been in Haiti for over twenty years, and Pastor Lawrence has gone down there several times to be “on site” with this incredible ministry. 

Among his many other accomplishments, Pastor L. also plays the trumpet.  In preparing for this particular visit, he felt that God was telling him to take his trumpet along.  Well, you know, it’s just another thing to lug around on the airplane, it’s hot and sweaty down there, who knows if he would even have the occasion to use it, blah, blah, blah.  Nope, that wasn’t God speaking…

Until he got down there.  And, yes, talk about missing a real opportunity—oops.  A little more than the “I coulda had a V-8” variety.

We are bent to compromise our giving to God, a.k.a. sacrifices, due to personal convenience.  We are experts at being “practical” and thereby missing out on situations that may never pass our way again. 

Moses may have recognized this concept when, standing before Pharaoh, he refused to budge from what God was telling him to do.  After the beginning of what was to be epic hardship for the nation of Egypt as they position themselves between Yahweh and His people, the king offers a compromise (more than once) by amending what Moses says they are to do. 

Moses says the Hebrew nation as a whole is to go into the wilderness to worship God together.  Despite a few warning shots across the bow, Pharaoh still thinks he’s in control, and bargains—y’all can go, but leave the cows.

Moses’ reply:

“All our livestock must go with us, too; not a hoof can be left behind. We must choose our sacrifices for the LORD our God from among these animals. And we won’t know how we are to worship the LORD until we get there.”

Once again, what a profound principle is embedded in a obscure little sentence! 

Everything I have I must be emotionally and practically positioned to sacrifice to God.  And here’s the kicker: I won’t know until I get to “that place” in my life what and how to sacrifice it

In other words, when I come to Christ, I bring it all.  Not just the “good” stuff, but ALL the stuff.  My future, my present, and yes, even my past.  The things that are pretty, and the (many) things that are not.  The unwanted and shamed and broken pieces, as well as the best of the best. 

Nothing stays back “in Egypt”.   

Otherwise, it will likely be used for the wrong side.

 

Ex 10:26 Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 3751-3753). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Frog legs for dinner…again?

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Call me weird (and it’s okay, probably others already have) but I LOVE frogs and lizards and snakes and turtles.  I’ve been known to find fascinating specimens in our yard during early morning gardening, and taken it in to visit my husband who is still in bed. 

As I said…weird.

frog-540812_1280But definitely one of my favorites would be the croaking/jumping beastie.  They come in all sizes and colors, and they sing me to sleep on summer nights.  I don’t know the difference between frogs and toads, and I don’t particularly care; that’s my biology-teacher husband’s department.  But it’s just always a treasure to find them and hold them, to which Bob (the soft-hearted nature-loving guy that he is) always says, “put him down, he’s a scared little creature!”

That said, I will qualify my love of all things herpetologic by adding that I Continue reading “Frog legs for dinner…again?”

Open your hand, and…voila!

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280My husband is not a lumberjack, but he’s not afraid of hard work either.  I think I’ve told this story before, in a bit more detail perhaps, but it’s still one of my faves:

One of our notorious Midwest storms had blown through, and in its wake we had an intimidatingly sizable branch in our side yard.  All Bob had was an axe, and so out he went to get started.  Not long into what he expected to be hours of work, a friend “just happened” to drive by and invited Bob to use his new chainsaw.  Whew! 

Still, it was quite a bit of timber now piled up, but—low and behold!—here comes some young men with a flat bed, and $30 later our yard was cleaned up.

But it all started with Bob’s axe in hand.

Segway to the scene described below: God is talking to a very hesitant hero-to-be, gearing him up for the important adventure of Continue reading “Open your hand, and…voila!”

Animated Truth from The Bible Project (very cool!)

MUCHO thanks to SlimJim at The Domain for Truth site for posting this vid!  This is probably one of the easiest and best explanations of the this part of God’s character I’ve ever heard.  Seriously check out the The Bible Project and the resources they have!  

Please (and thank you)

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Children.  Don’t we just love ‘em? 

Sigh. 

This weekend we had the incredible privilege of seeing our full brood at a wedding, and that included personal time in the halls of the reception venue alone with the World’s Most Adorable Granddaughter, (A.K.A., WMAG), so that her parents could enjoy a few minutes together on the dance floor.  (A rarity, as only those with toddlers can appreciate.)

Needless to say, I had a ball!

Of course, then those little angels grow up and make decisions that are not always quite so angelic at times.  They give their parents cause to worry, and cry, and pray, and cry and pray some more.  You know, like we did to our folks…

Based on what I read, God Continue reading “Please (and thank you)”