Archie Bunker rides again?

Does anyone out there remember William F. Buckley?  I enjoyed just listening to him, even if I didn’t understand all the multisyllabic words he used!

“The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.”   

See?  My word processor automatically underlines “usurpatory” in red, which means even my computer doesn’t understand the word!  But here’s one that’s pretty clear:

I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.”  Continue reading “Archie Bunker rides again?”

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Don’t forget the trash

Here’s a progression of leadership that I find interesting, not that you have to be recognized “leader” in this sense to make the lessons noteworthy.  This is, however, a true countercultural mindset that I personally find very informative and challenging.

And David realized that the LORD had confirmed him as king over Israel and had greatly blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

In other words, one of the main reasons God blesses me is for the sake of His people.  (Wait…you mean it’s not about me??) Continue reading “Don’t forget the trash”

FOMO

Here’s a new one on me: FOMO, which stands for Fear Of Missing Out.  In a social context, I think it means that staying home to read a book may lead to a missed opportunity at a good party.

Typically, I’m more of a bookworm myself…

Nevertheless, people-connection is important for several reasons, albeit in varying amounts for different people.  Here’s the story of a big event back in the Old Testament—the first real Passover in a L-O-N-G time.  King Hezekiah has chucked his family culture of worshiping idols and made the decision to follow after God “wholeheartedly”.  As the party is gearing up, he sends out invitations with an interesting response:

“The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them.  However, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.”

Hezekiah was offering them more than a good time, (which it was, BTW, and lasted two weeks minimum!)  He was summoning the people back to truth, to know and worship the one true God, and such invitations usually have mixed reactions.  Here’s what I see:

Truth is not compulsory.  These people were invited, not threatened.  Likewise, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman; He forces Himself on no one.  This is a tenant of God’s truth: coerced Christianity is an oxymoron, and historically, a tragic mistake.

Truth invites open derision.  Not a mere polite, “no, thank you”.  I should expect my fair share of it.  After all, Jesus Himself was crucified.

Truth will have a minority following.  I’m certainly not against large churches, as long as the people are taught truth.  But, related to point #1 above, since truth is offensive, it always leaves the door unlocked for those who choose to leave… 

…because following truth takes humility.  Humility is seeing myself as God see me, which is usually not how I see myself.  Humility brings me into a right relationship with my Creator.  As such, true humility is a gift.

Now here’s an interesting postscript:

“At the same time, God’s hand was on the people in the land of Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the LORD.”

If that doesn’t demonstrate the importance of being a part of an active church fellowship, I don’t know what does!  Contrast the reaction of the people in Judah, the hub of God’s activity, the ground zero of His spiritual explosion, with the reaction of the people on the fringe who were far removed from this fellowship. 

So, here’s my last point:

Accepting truth is one thing, but stewarding that truth in my life is different matter.  We are created to need each other—encouragement, correction, support.  That whole “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves” takes on practical perspective.  In fact, the rest of the chapter is a fine example of healthy spiritual momentum, and the social part it plays in our lives.

card-1800383_1920Too bad the people who were left out of the party didn’t have a little more FOMO, because this was a gig they didn’t need to miss.

Thankfully, the invitation is still open for us.

2 Chronicles 30: 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.

Big Stick Faith

tr-bigstick-cartoon
William Allen Rogers’s 1904 cartoon (Wikipedia)

Former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt is famous for the phrase, “walk softly, and carry a big stick”.  It’s that idea of unarguable authority, and conveys the message that it would be in the opposing party’s best interest to rethink their own intentions before proceeding further. 

Which is something I see clearly in Judah’s good King Hezekiah and his encounter with the big political enemy of his day, Assyria.  It’s important to note that, in the middle of a longstanding family history of spiritual genocide, Hezekiah opts to follow God instead.  This decision, however, doesn’t exclude him (and his people) from the problems of the day, one of the biggest being the bully, King Sennacherib. Continue reading “Big Stick Faith”

Time to eat

bread-1643951_1920Here’s an obscure little paragraph of a story that I find interesting buried away in the Old Testament: 

“One day a man from Baal-shalishah brought the man of God a sack of fresh grain and twenty loaves of barley bread made from the first grain of his harvest. Elisha said, ‘Give it to the people so they can eat.

‘What?’ his servant exclaimed. ‘Feed a hundred people with only this?’

But Elisha repeated, ‘Give it to the people so they can eat, for this is what the Lord says: Everyone will eat, and there will even be some left over!’ And when they gave it to the people, there was plenty for all and some left over, just as the Lord had promised.”

Sound familiar?  Fast forward a few chapters and several hundred years, and we see Jesus likewise feeding a crowd, the whole famous “loaves and fishes” picnic on the side of a hill. Continue reading “Time to eat”

Getting back to work

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280One indisputable characteristic about the Old Testament prophets—they were weird.  I don’t say that disparagingly, but c’mon, they were not always the kind of people you’d invite to a office picnic.  Calling down fire from heaven, tying themselves in knots, and all that. 

Of course, they were good to have around when something needed fixed.

Case in point, the prophet Elisha has been persuaded to come with some of his students to build a new meeting place.  In the course of events, there was a problem:

Continue reading “Getting back to work”

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”

Love notes, and other uses for dust.

cartoon-2516951_1920As a teenager, I learned the basics of cleaning house.  Mom “made” us do our own laundry (thanks, Mom, so very, very much!!), and we were responsible for keeping our own rooms clean(-ish).  Dusting was part of it, and if you ran out of Pledge, then a damp rag would suffice.  

They say “practice makes perfect”, so leave us say I am a less-than-perfect housekeeper, much less. Whoever comes to visit should leave the white gloves at home.  Never quite sure what you’ll find under the bed either, and a flat dusty surface is for writing love notes,…isn’t it?

My not-quite-Heloise skill doesn’t make me less appreciative of God’s perfection, however.  Case in point, I love this description of the Baal vs. Yahweh encounter.  The prophets of Baal do all they can, and more so, to get their god to light the sacrificial fire on their alter, yet have nothing to show for it but raw hamburger. Continue reading “Love notes, and other uses for dust.”

Applied wisdom

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’ve heard the phrase, “patience of Job”, which seems a bit overstated, at least on a cursory first reading of the account.  Not that I would have done any better, and most probably a lot worse.  The idea is that, despite all his suffering, he never let go of God.  Okay, I get that.

Then there’s this one: “wisdom of Solomon”.  As the account reads, God had given Solomon a blank check, and instead of riches and fame, he humbly asked for wisdom.  God was pretty happy about that, and gave the new king riches and fame in addition to the wisdom.  That’s pretty neat. Continue reading “Applied wisdom”