Proper egg placement

IMG_20150103_172451138There’s just something fun about seeing kids hunt for their Easter eggs.  Of course, you sometimes have to separate the different age groups, since the two-year-olds need their eggs right where they can see them easily, and the eight-year-olds need them hidden with somewhat more ingenuity—like in places Mom finds a week later…but not with her eyes.

easter-13646_640 (1)

I remember doing the coloring egg thing with my kids, although I’m not sure how often that still goes on.  There’s so much fake stuff out there which makes it quite bit easier, plastic eggs and such.  If you trip and drop them, they don’t tend to break as easily, (and they don’t smell if they go unclaimed, a definite plus.) Continue reading “Proper egg placement”

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Famous But’s of the Bible

baby-boy-2137395_1920I really relate to Moses’ reaction when God told him to go confront Pharaoh.  It wasn’t just a matter of “let me sleep on it”.  Moses’ response was an immediate “But, Lord…!”  In fact, one translation records around five ‘buts’ in the same conversation!

I’m so thankful God is patient.

Contrast that with a follower of the up and coming Christian religion.  His name was Ananias.  News might not have traveled quite as quickly as it does now, but we can tell something had reached Ananias’ ears concerning a man named Saul, and his treatment of the people of The Way. 

“Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.”

So there Ananias is, minding his own business, when God taps our erstwhile hero on the shoulder to deliver a personal invitation to this rabid Pharisee…

“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem!  And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

Only one, “but, Lord”.  Impressive.  God, in His mercy, pats His servant on the back with a few words of encouragement.

“So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me…”

Ananias calls this infamous malcontent “brother” based solely on God’s recommendation, completely against everything he has heard about the man up to this point.  Equally impressive, and some lessons are to be observed:

approved-1966719_1280Acceptance does not mean approval.

I’m well entrenched in the “Show Me” state of Missouri.  Unfortunately, however, “showing fruits in keeping with repentance” and “study to show yourself approved rightly handling the gospel of truth” tend to be concepts that the 21st century American church like to keep on the back shelf. 

On the other hand, Saul, (who changed his name to Paul after his conversion), stayed with the believers and risked his own life in the synagogue to the point that they had to help him escape his former bosses by lowering him in a basket over the town wall!  Paul was loved and accepted into the family, but trust came from proving his character by his observable behaviors and decisions.

shield-31869_1280Courage to act. 

I can only imagine that Ananias needed more than a little courage to put his faith into practice.  Sure, he had experienced a clear and specific vision from God, but if he is anything like me (like most of us?) there had to be that sneaky little voice from back in Genesis saying “Hath God really said…?”  And it’s a good thing for all of us that Ananias obeyed, Paul writing more than half the New Testament and all.

anchor-2536643_1920A strong link. 

Interestingly, we don’t hear anything about Ananias in the rest of the Bible, not even from Paul in any of his writings.  Ananias was ‘merely’ a link between the old and the new.  Now, if it had been someone in our 21st century what-about-me culture, he might be tempted to compete for a place in the spotlight.  But that’s not what God had in mind for this faithful disciple. 

We tend to think of a wrecking ball as doing the big demolition, but it would be impotent without the strong links of chain that hold it up.  Paul was a great wrecking ball against Satan’s kingdom, but he needed each link of the chain to do that work effectively.

Minding my own business and staying out of trouble.  I rather like that plan, until God taps my shoulder and points in a different direction way out of my comfort zone.

How many “but, Lords” will He get from me?

Acts 13:1,13-14,17  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.

To eat, or not to eat?

IMG_20150103_172451138Although my cooking prowess (or lack thereof) has not yet reached legendary status, there are nonetheless a few stories that can be told within my family.  Pizza, however, is one of my favorites. Not to cook, but to eat, and so I’ve become quite good at doing both, if I do say so myself (and I do.)

I am, currently at this writing, happily anticipating a brand new kitchen.  The contractor comes tomorrow to go over the final game plan, which includes knocking out a wall, etc.  His wife, who helps run the business, is well-versed in kitchens, and made the comment that even though I don’t like cooking at present, perhaps I will enjoy it when I get a new kitchen environment…. Continue reading “To eat, or not to eat?”

Jericho, and other ruins

IMG_20150103_172451138When I was a teenager, I was part of an organization called Young Life.  We used to sing a song, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came a-tumbling down, dooby-down, dooby-down, doo-wah”.  (Okay, so it was the 70’s.)

It was a fun song, and planted a little church history in our brains, I suppose.  The account is of the well-known story of the Israelites walking around the walls of this pagan city out of obedience to God, and on the seventh day, with a fair amount of trumpet blowing, the walls came a-tumbling down.  The city was captured and utterly destroyed, except for the family of one woman, a prostitute who had risked everything to help the Israeli spies. Continue reading “Jericho, and other ruins”

Take me, break me, make me

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Now here’s a character I really relate to—Saul.  No, not the apostle, unfortunately.  His story turned out pretty well, considering he wrote over half the New Testament and all. 

I’m talking about the Old Testament Saul, and the making of the erstwhile monarch of Israel.  It’s not like he asked for the position, after all, and despite all the positive social markers, he had a serious fear-of-man-self-preservation complex going on.

Thus, I can relate.

Here’s what’s going on:

The prophet Samuel has told Saul to wait for him seven days at Gilgal.   Samuel will arrive, present the offerings to God, and then Saul and his army will go wipe out the enemy de jour. This was a clear mandate, unmistakable in its direction and timing.  No discussion needed.

But there was a problem.  Samuel didn’t show up.  And on top of that:

“The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore!”

Which, granted, would be a bit intimidating.  It certainly was for Saul’s men, who suddenly must have heard their wives calling them home for lunch or something. Consequently, Saul’s army began thinning out, and fast.  The king made a decision:

“So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. 

Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived.”

Oops.

Needless to say, Saul’s explanation was less than effective, and Samuel’s edict was unfortunate, as was the rest of Saul’s reign.

“’How foolish!’ Samuel exclaimed. ‘You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. Had you kept it, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart.’”

Saul didn’t know it, but God had had him uniquely positioned for a serious breakthrough.  But Saul blew it.

Whereas our modern-day markets and media value tangible results, heavenly success is measured in terms of obedience.  If Saul had remembered his history, he could have leaned on the exciting story of Gideon and his paltry three-hundred, or even Moses at the Red Sea before the onslaught of Egyptian chariots.  Instead, the first king of Israel decided to interpret his situation by his own (very limited) appraisal. 

Sadly, his assessment left out one incredibly big Resource.

Because our God specializes in seemingly no-win situations.  He will bring me to a breaking point where I have a clear choice between obedience or expediency. When that happens, it can mean that sometimes—or many times—He will actually let me be broken, shattered, shards on the floor.  Careful where you step.  Part of the dream is over there; a piece of my heart is in that corner.  Where’d I put the broom?

What I desperately need to remember in those periods, (and they do come), is that obedience proceeds breakthrough.  That is, God will do the breaking, then I have to walk through it.   This gets a bit uncomfortable for a time; nevertheless, I am never alone.  Ever.

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.”

There’s that word “through” again.  (Selah…)

I also need to remember that the condition of my heart in obedience before God is more important to Him than the size of my “army”…or church…or bank account…or any relationship.  My focus needs to be, and stay, on the clear directive.

Because God will show up; He always does. 

1 Samuel 13:5,9-10,13-14; Psalm 23:4 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

Rear-view mirror grace

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280One of the (many) things I love about the Bible is the unadulterated openness of the ungodliness of some of God’s most godly people.  I really love it.  It gives me hope.  It also makes me appreciate the honesty of God as well as His patient love and affection.  Some choose to see only His anger and frustration.  Well, heck, if I had been the parent of these kids for several millennia…well, best not to go there.

Here’s another good example.  Many of us Continue reading “Rear-view mirror grace”

The closing

wood 2In January of this year, the gavel at Wall Street fell for the first time on 20,000.  20,000 what, I’m not quite sure; I just know that it was the historic high water mark of the Dow Exchange to that point. 

Now, I have lived through more than one recession, and my parents through “the” Depression.  Our personal investments are modest, but I suppose we have done our middle-income capitalist part of moving the American economy forward through our adult years.  One thing I do know is that once you invest, at least wisely and conservatively, it is important to leave it there; that is, it will need to weather some ups and downs.  Constantly pulling it out and plugging it in somewhere else, similar to the relationships showcased in the grocery store tabloids, is not typically considered wise investing.

Alright, I know this is not a perfect analogy, but it does help me to understand this other concept that comes from the Old Testament prophet, Malachi.  God is lamenting over His people (again) concerning their unfaithfulness, and since at this juncture they don’t even recognize how they have been disloyal, which is even scarier, God has to spell it out for them:

 “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands…?’”

It’s those words, “what have we gained” that really get me.  They (like me) miss the whole point when I look at my temporal ledger sheet instead of my eternal one.  OUCH.  Our culture’s mantra “he who dies with the most stuff wins” tries to infiltrate my thinking in very pernicious ways, and I’m not just talking about material stuff here.  In other words, I’ll be the first in line to protect my reputation, my relationships, my home, hearth, job, etc.  But, (and here’s the rub) what if God calls me to an act of obedience that puts even those things in direct opposition to His expressed purpose?

In the first century church, Paul puts it this way:

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” 

Those are tough, tough words.  But intelligent investing can be costly and takes sacrifice.  It takes diligence and wisdom and counsel and (here’s a fun one) patience persistence in the face of those who choose to buy on credit and go into moral debt.  And our culture is deep, deep into moral debt.  Just turn on the news.  

The same Old Testament prophet goes on to say this… 

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.”

newspaper-1834656_1920And when it comes to smart investing, it’s the end result that counts.

Malachi 3:14; Philippians 3:8; Malachi 4:2   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.