Ties that bind…or strangle.

IMG_20150103_172451138Several years ago, I read a study synopsis from a well respected site indicating that the most influential power in a child’s life was his parents. (Golly-gee-whiz, I wonder how many man-hours and tax dollars went into that one.)  Of course, ask any of the teachers in my middle school, and they could have told you that.  Better yet, I have a Book that pretty well spells it out from years of experience and Wisdom. 

Needless to say, there are some forces in the Universe that are inherently powerful, for good or evil, and parenthood is certainly at the top of that list.  It’s not that parents can take credit for all the choice their kids make (positive or negative), but their influence is still credibly incredible in some capacity throughout a person’s life. 

So it takes some real courage when a child, even an adult “child”, has to back up and re-evaluate patterns of thinking and doing that Continue reading “Ties that bind…or strangle.”

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Up, Up, and Away!

wood 2At this writing, Bob and I are waking up in a Portland airport hotel after scooping our kinder from Norway and waiting on the New Yorker to arrive after which we will travel a little more to meet additional loved ones for a week of high fives, and plenty of family-based jocularity.  I missed a really great photo-op as we cruised right past Mount Hood, but here’s a reasonable facsimile:

Mount Hood
KOMOnew.com

In typical fashion, being the only early riser in the whole extended clan, (thus the name “Dawn”, I suppose), I am sitting out on some backside patio before the hotel’s breakfast is even ready, listening to the birds compete with the jet planes roaring off in the not-so-far distance.  I’m impressed by the sound of their immense power, with just two puny little humans at the helm.  Wow.

Now, granted, those two puny little humans had to go to school and learn some pretty impressive things, like to properly engage that immense power.  Otherwise, that plane, as pretty as it looks, is just not going anywhere.

Or worse, yet, it might go somewhere it shouldn’t… 

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From: my aesthetic @intradasting

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves…For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.”

One of the challenges for Christians in my culture (translated: for me) is the misunderstanding of the power that resides within us/me.  I look in the Bible and see things, powerful things, and I have to wonder, “Am I really living all that God has for me?” 

(Oh!  There goes another one into the wild blue yonder!!  Man, those engines are huge.)

Or am I just shaking my head and thinking, “Yep, that’s a nice plane”, but never bothering to go to school and learn to fly for myself?

The thing is, God says the power, His power, the power His Son died for, is already in all of His children.  Fueled up, ready to go.  Many times, however, I stay grounded, not only by ignorance, but also by fear, self-contempt and blame, offense, and the list goes on. 

This doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me any less—no way.  It’s just that He calls me to more.  And He needs me for more.  Others need me for more:

 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up…”

…or throttles the plane.

2 Corinthians 4:7, 20; Hebrews 12:1 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.

Superheroes loading the dishwasher

wood 2By now, some of my readers know that my husband’s blog, Pneumythology, (the name of which I came up with, BTW, just sayin’…or I guess you can blame me, whichever), has much to do with equating mythology with everyday life.  As such, he writes and reviews about graphic novels, superhero movies, and so the upcoming Wonder Wonder flick is high on the summer watch list in my house.  I’m sure there will plenty of pyrotechnics and the zinging of bullets and explosions of unrealistic proportions. pow-158867_1280

Then there’s real life.  He really does clean the bathroom and load the dishwasher.  (#he’smineyoucan’thavehim)

However, in the midst of the mundane, we both actually believe in a mythology, not in the sense of make-believe fairy tales, as in Greek and Roman trying-to-make-sense-of-nature stories.  I mean the epic, the there’s-got-to-be-more-than-I-see life, a reality the supersedes my sensate tangibles and my abilities to understand.  And, occasionally, “it” pokes through the fabric of even our ordinary humanity…

Evidently, this happened more than occasionally to Moses.

 “But when you heard the voice from the heart of the darkness, while the mountain was blazing with fire, all your tribal leaders and elders came to me. They said, ‘Look, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the heart of the fire. Today we have seen that God can speak to us humans, and yet we live! But now, why should we risk death again? If the LORD our God speaks to us again, we will certainly die and be consumed by this awesome fire. Can any living thing hear the voice of the living God from the heart of the fire as we did and yet survive?  Go yourself and listen to what the LORD our God says. Then come and tell us everything he tells you, and we will listen and obey.’

And if you’ve read the rest of the story, we all know how long that lasted. 

Yet, God seemed okay with this plan.  Unfortunately, the people’s historic track record with this kind of communication/obedience pattern fell pretty short.  Second-party information can sometimes be just that—information.  Head knowledge instead of heart knowledge.  “What”, instead of “how” and “why”.  Information bereft of application.  Experience without wisdom.  And all that boils down to legalism or license, both of which are deadly as poison.

Enter the new covenant, with the Holy Spirit, A.K.A., the Paraclete, translated for us as Helper.  And, boy, do we need help, especially with the application part.  At least the Hebrew people, quaking in their sandals at the foot of the mountain, had a glimpse of the power and awesomeness that they were dealing with (and probably more than a few had to clean themselves off when arriving back at their tents.)  We, unfortunately, are generally not graced with that sense of awe, but instead with a smug arrogance of self-sufficiency, even without our Christian context. Got the marching orders, thanks Lord, I’ll take it from here! (Ouch.)

We really don’t know What (Who) we’re dealing with here.  But part of the good news is—we can.

“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

And part of the important news is, as a disciple of Jesus—I must. 

Because as Peter Parker’s uncle told the young and upcoming superhero Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Not bad wisdom for a myth.

Deuteronomy 5: 23-27; John 14:21 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.

What’s in YOUR wallet?

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It kind of sounds like paper money is rapidly becoming an antiquated art form; even though we still use it here in the US, my daughter in Norway informs me that nobody really uses paper (including checks) over there; “money” is either in the form of plastic or is digitalized via e-devices. 

Sigh.  Yet another piece of skillful beauty succumbs to society’s need for efficiency, (similar to the LP record jackets giving way to small CD covers only to fall prey to artless MP3 players.)  I suppose those in-the-know have decided that such a form of monetary movement is somehow more secure, which in my opinion is debatable.  But as usual, I was not consulted.

Not only is the craftsmanship of our paper money exquisite, but through the years, different features have been added to make it increasingly difficult for counterfeiters, unarguably artisans in their own right, to succeed in their objective.  Case in point: did you know that if you hold up a magnifying glass (since my multifocals are obviously not sufficiently empowered…) to the rim of the main Continue reading “What’s in YOUR wallet?”

Keys have power

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I have a tendency toward what my husband calls “giving away the store”.  I don’t know if it’s just a social insecurity in me to be thought of as “Really Nice” (whatever that is), or an honestly enthusiastic approach to people and projects, or just too much caffeine.  But it gets me into trouble.

Evidently, I’m in good company.  Not that it makes my personality flaw any easier, but perhaps I can hold the mirror to my face for a closer inspection:

Backstory—King Hezekiah had experienced a divinely miraculous delivery from a formidable enemy nation, after which God had also spared his life from a mortal illness.  Breathing a huge sigh of relief, he sorta let Continue reading “Keys have power”

However…

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Acts 1: 6   So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” 7   He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8   But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere— in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” *

I just love these guys.  Here they had walked with Jesus for three years, just witnessed the greatest turning point of human history in the Resurrection, and they’re still hung up on the restoration of Israel when God had something much bigger, broader, and encompassing for them. 

Typical.  For all of us.  We get stuck on one mind set, one outcome, maybe even one failure (or series thereof…).  In doing so, we don’t merely put the God of the Universe in a box, but ourselves as well, because in reality, rarely does God use a period; it’s usually a comma.  In all of that, there are just some things that “are not for you to know.  But….”

I like it when God say “but….”

The marriage failed, but……

The job was given to someone else, but….

He died of cancer despite our prayers, but…. 

Not only did the disciples NOT see the restoration of Israel, they actually saw the total destruction of the temple and the dispersion of their beloved country, family, and friends.  Even so, Jesus told them, God’s plan was bigger.  And full of power and plans they had not yet conceived of .  Same with us.  When things go sour, it’s easy to get discouraged.  However, that’s when we r-e-a-l-l-y need to listen to Jesus say–

“But…”

  • Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt) (Kindle Locations 18202-18206). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Read your history book, er…stone.

ancient-754011_1280

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