Buckle in, God’s got a plan

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I was always one of the tallest kids in class.  Back in high school I used to joke that the main reason I was on the girls’ basketball team was so that I could get off the traveling bus first just to intimidate the opposition.  Despite what they may have initially seen, in reality they didn’t have much to worry about.  My lack of athletic prowess may have been caused by hidden orthopedic challenges (no longer hidden, I might add!), latent asthma (ibid.), or simply a lack of interest and/or talent.  Like my 6’5” brother once observed, tall people rarely have to jump…for anything.

Nevertheless, what we see with our eyes can be scary, because we have a way of interpreting it through the lens of past experience, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, it’s a safety mechanism.  If there’s a motorcycle coming down the road, past experience says it behooves me to move.  Unless, of course, I’m an 18-wheeler with the right-of-way, then I expect the burden of wisdom to rest with the motorcycle.

With this in mind, I suppose I can have a little compassion on Continue reading “Buckle in, God’s got a plan”

Where’d THAT come from?

IMG_20150103_172451138Today our sweet 2-year-old granddaughter turns THREE!!  I continue to store up memories that only grandchildren can bestow.  Her memory, however, is a bit different:

For example, our dear one won’t remember the day she received her wonderful cartoon bed as a gift from her parents.  Her dad found it especially for Christmas, modeled after a favorite anime character, and it is as soft and comfortable and cute as can be.  At two and a half, however, her brain is so busy forming a gazillion neuro-pathways that it’s a little Continue reading “Where’d THAT come from?”

The Shack Out Back

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Heeding the call to stop concentrating exclusively on their own interests and start looking after God’s, the tide begins to change beneficially for the returning Hebrew exiles.  But there must have been a discouraging note for some of the old-timers who remembered the good ole’ days of their beloved Solomon’s Temple, now summarily destroyed.  As always, God realized this bent in our human psyche:

“Does anyone remember this house— this Temple— in its former splendor? How, in comparison, does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all!  

But now the LORD says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.  My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.”

All this began to happen when the people obeyed God in the very tangible way of laying the foundation to the new temple.   Here’s what I glean from it:

  1. God still speaks to me, and tells me to be strong.
  2. I am not the only one “left in the land”, and I am not alone in this struggle. Granted, I may have to work to see who else is under the rock and rubble with me, but I am most certainly not alone.
  3. I have a directive—get to work.
  4. I can do this because God is with me, and He is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, a formidable ally indeed.
  5. I have the power of God’s Spirit.
  6. God is the same God—He’s brought me “out of Egypt” before, and He’ll do it again. His character and calling do not change.  (Yessss!)

In this life, things tend to crumble, and not merely bank accounts.  Relationships and families, dreams and plans, health and vitality,…and churches.  There’s just no sense sitting around pining over the dust of Solomon’s Temple when God’s calling me to build something new.  Stop comparing.  Stop waiting.  And above all, stop whining.

jackhammerAnd get to work.

Haggai 2:3-5  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.

Let’s call on “Pain & Distress” this time

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I wear a ring I bought back in high school (1970’s, just to be clear) that bears the ichthus (fish) symbol of the first century Christians.  One time, someone pointed out my ring and asked if I were a Pisces. 

Sigh.

Obviously, I’m not an astrological kind of person.  As a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom, I certainly don’t believe that being born under any kind of sign or pronouncement necessitates my destiny. 

So I like really like this little piece about a Continue reading “Let’s call on “Pain & Distress” this time”

Cramped quarters

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280The story of the Old Testament prophet, Jonah, is an intriguing one, and is not without a mild undercurrent of a Providential sense of humor.  Not to poke fun at Jonah’s dire straits, but he did, after all, open himself wide to at least some form of discipline.  Interestingly, as the story unfolds, Jonah never denies that he worships the God of the Hebrew people; he just persistently argues with Him, at least concerning God’s intended task for His wayward prophet.  I have to wonder what brought the man to this extreme—maybe someone from Nineveh had harmed his family somehow, causing a hatred so intense that it created a prejudice toward the whole town (along the lines of the comment about Jesus: “can anything good come out of Nazareth”.)  Maybe Jonah considered God to be unjust in His patient treatment of anyone “not Jewish”. 

Or maybe he was just having a bad day…?

Regardless, a massive storm blows up to buffet the ship carrying Continue reading “Cramped quarters”

Beware of fly-by’s

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280One thing that can’t be disputed about relationship with God in the Old Testament times—it was messy.  A lot of blood was involved: bulls, goats, pigeons,…prophets.

In one of the most historically and spiritually significant Old Testament sacrifices, Abram (not yet having his name changed to Abraham) slices in half several specimens of the animal kingdom in preparation for a special covenant with this Most High God whom very few people are even aware of any more, much less worship.  This is going to be unlike any other offering Abram has participated in, and I suspect Continue reading “Beware of fly-by’s”

Waste not; want not

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I seriously love trees.  In fact, forested landscapes are on the top of the list of my favorites.  I remember the thrill of exploring the woods as a youngster at Girl Scout camp, and conquering that amazing (although not altogether safe) tree house in our neighborhood. At this writing (July), the leaves are fully out and lush green, and our eldest just did a preschool unit on trees with our two-year-old granddaughter.  The sooner she learns that trees are our friends, the better!

God evidently thinks so, too.  As the recently Continue reading “Waste not; want not”

If A, then B…or not.

wood 2Bob says my head is a scary place to visit.  Truth be told, he does occasionally admit that that’s one of the reasons he married me 35+ years ago.  To this day, he says that I’m “irregular”.  In the common sense, it’s both a blessing…and a curse.

I tried teaching myself logic from an authentically academic book.  Not the term “logic” that is generously used in everyday usage, although that idea harkens back to the true definition, I suppose.  One of the few things I got out of this autodidactic exercise, (besides that fact that I probably wasn’t going to learn this without a qualified teacher…), is that false premises lead to faulty conclusions.  In other words, Continue reading “If A, then B…or not.”

God’s “love language*”

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280In the part of the Christian pool that I tend to swim in, corporate and private worship takes on many different forms.  Personally, I not one to dance, but I don’t begrudge those who find that particular expression of worship fulfilling.  I do like singing, as well as “dinging, shaking, and otherwise banging” on various instruments.  And generally, those swimming around with me don’t begrudge me that, either.

I was very, very blessed to grow up in a deeply authentic denominational church with a L-O-N-G history of evangelical mission-oriented Continue reading “God’s “love language*””

You mean it’s not about me? (Again?)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Recently, I read that the average length of a pastorate is four years; I don’t know if that means they leave the professional ministry, or they just move around a lot (or both).  Years ago, I saw that the average stay for a youth pastor is even less than that.  So much for continuity and relationship-building. 

And this is certainly not a criticism of those decisions to move or leave.  To be sure, there can be a plethora of reasons for this sad statistic in the American church, (not the least of which is the sheep-fold’s obstinacy toward the shepherd…)

Here’s a good example of another shepherd who Continue reading “You mean it’s not about me? (Again?)”