I just finished repairing and reinstalling one of my bird feeders, and this morning I stopped in my tracks when I saw a bright red cardinal enjoying his breakfast with a smaller white-striped bird I didn’t recognize.
Then I saw him feeding the little guy—ah, what a good parent! Daddy even aggressively chased off a sparrow from the breakfast table so his growing kiddo could eat privately. (Poor sparrow. He was just trying to quietly go about his morning also…)
It was fascinating to watch, this avian culture! But I just wanted to be sure I was identifying it all accurately. Thus, I turned to that incontestable resource—the internet—and guess what? It wasn’t a juvenile cardinal Daddy was feeding; it was a juvenile cow bird!Continue reading “Bird-brained behavior”
Clearly, Bob and I are not financial moguls. Our newest car is an ’04 (or is it an ’03? When it’s that old, who cares?) But it runs, and it’s paid for, so that. I say we’re the Joneses that no one tries to keep up with.
Bob’s parents were likewise not investment wizards. Frugal and responsible, yes, but they were not big names on Wall Street.
However, Bob’s grandfather worked many years for a particular company in which he was able to acquire personal stock. This “stock” continued to “split” (whatever that means), and through the long time of continued reinvestment, grew somewhat impressively.
To see his grandparents’ home, one wouldn’t think much of their investment strategy, the financial legacy of which was passed down to their two children and was then passed down to Bob and his brothers on the death of his parents.
My (also very frugal) husband has chosen to invest this share, with the intent of not only passing it down to our children, but with the hopes to adding to it for them as well.
Which means our newest car is still an ’04…
Nevertheless, we both have and continue to realize the benefits of a financial inheritance in ways we’re probably not even aware of to this day, including while growing up. Likewise, we have both been reaping the even more important benefits of a spiritual legacy passed down to us through both of our families.
“The priests will not have any property or possession of land, for I alone am their special possession.”
What a countercultural statement for back in the day! Land acquisition was all that! Property was your security, your status, and a major part of the financial legacy to hand down to your family. What I hear God saying here is that knowing Him is a far more necessary and sufficient inheritance than anything else. Then this:
“I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”
Jesus is talking here about a kingdom harvest of souls for God, but I’m thinking the principle applies to the spiritual pass-down in our lives as well. And what do I do with it? I can squander the spiritual and physical resources I have, which are largely due to blessings of our parents’ godly obedience. Or I can invest them for further growth (the dividends of which never fluctuate with the cultural moral tide) to be passed down to my children and beyond.
My own dear parents have discussed with us some investments which they someday intend to leave with “no strings attached”. In my usual levity I quipped something like,
“So, you mean I can go buy that bright red Ferrari?”
“Well, if that’s how you want to use it,” was the sincere reply.
Nah. The ’04 is fine.
(For some practical and encouraging info on passing down the spiritual blessing to your children, you might find this interesting:)
I’m really so thankful our house didn’t burn down.
When we were buying this place back in the early 90’s, it passed inspection, whatever that means. I think it had to do with certain standards or “codes” to which components of the structure must adhere, like the construction, the plumbing…the electricity. The data sheet from the realtor indicated the age of the house to be “50+”. It’s the “plus” that should have had me asking a few more questions.
You know what is said about hindsight.
One of the shortcomings of professional standards is that they evolve, improve (theoretically anyway), many times without telling any of the rest of us. Translation: now that our house is close to 80+ years, it probably would NOT have passed inspection. I didn’t know that. Continue reading “Gut and re-do”
Bob and I are still on this jigsaw puzzle binge. Our middle daughter, now living in New York, loves these crazy things, so for her birthday this year we are sending her a jigsaw puzzle each month, only with a bit of a twist. Once she completes the picture, she is to turn the puzzle over and there will be a message “from someone who loves her”. Which means Bob and I have to put the puzzles together first, roll them up carefully, and send them out to friends and family who write/draw on the blank sides, roll them up again and send them back to me in the same tube.
If a picture paints a thousand words, then this one is a whole tome in itself~~
This photo from World War 2 is iconic and, in my mind, is one of the most important comments on war in general. The picture, by W. Eugene Smith, is of an American Marine finding a desperate infant still astonishingly breathing among the dead in Saipan. They passed the baby from soldier to soldier until the child arrived at the top of the hill. I wish I could find out whatever happened to the child, but have not been able to do so as yet. Perhaps the child’s history is now lost to us.Continue reading “The sacred Garbage Man”
The Israelite judge, Jephthah, is generally known for the weird story about his daughter, poor kid.
But I think we generally miss the importance of this guy’s backstory and how God may have used it to his (and His) advantage.
Back in those days, having sons was pretty well tantamount to status (as opposed to having daughters; now where they thought the baby boys came from, gets me…) And although even our secular Western culture has fairly well done away with that mindset, they (and us) still deal with the “world’s oldest profession”.
So while Jephthah’s dad, Gilead, had several socially legitimate sons, little Jephthah was not one of them, and was treated accordingly.
“…and when these half brothers grew up, they chased Jephthah off the land. ‘You will not get any of our father’s inheritance,” they said, ‘for you are the son of a prostitute.’ So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Soon he had a band of worthless rebels following him.”
Because, back then, with those kinds of credentials, that’s about all the following you’re going to get. I can only imagine what hardship he must have suffered going from the house of his father (probably bullied while he was growing up anyway, but at least provided for) to ousted into the “real world”, possibly as a teenager. Homeless. Despised. Without family or connections. Or money.
As usual, the plot thickens—
“At about this time, the Ammonites began their war against Israel. When the Ammonites attacked, the elders of Gilead sent for Jephthah in the land of Tob. The elders said, ‘Come and be our commander! Help us fight the Ammonites!’ But Jephthah said to them, ‘Aren’t you the ones who hated me and drove me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now when you’re in trouble?’”
Run off the farm, rather than living in the lap of luxury, Jephthah has been hardened by life’s boot camp, and is now evidently the one most suited for rescuing those same brothers with soft, un-callused hands.
And rescue he does, like the rushing in of the cavalry.
The point is this. People do us injustices. We have to suffer the consequences of others’ stupidity, prejudices, unkindness, or just low-down thoughtlessness. I’m bullied, kicked out of the club, whether physically or emotionally. Bereft. Alone. (At least it feels that way.)
But God has other plans, and this is just part of the Divine Boot Camp. Plans for rescue, not vengeance, for redemption, and restoration, and it may be for the very ones who turned me out.
Jephthah’s hands and muscles may have become just as soft as his brothers had he stay in his dad’s house all that time. Instead, he became the hero.
Which is God’s training for all of us, to be heroes in one way or another.
If you really want to get back at your older siblings for all those mean things they did to you as kids growing up, what one thing should you teach their own pre-school children? No, it’s not where daddy keeps his favorite fishing tackle, or how pretty mommy’s new lipstick looks on the freshly painted patio deck, or even how to safely use a blow torch, as fun as all that would be. The grueling, tortuous payback is much easier than that…
Simply teach their little cherubs the word “Why?”
And then encourage them to use it, frequently. Which is not so far-fetched when you consider that we humans are a naturally inquisitive lot to begin with anyway. Why, what for, how come, and the other various derivatives are simply part of our internal vernacular, both positively, from our curiosity, (giving us, for example, “E=mc2”) and negatively, from our wounded sense of inconvenience, (“how come I have to study this stoopid stupid geometry?!”)
Either way, we keep asking.
In this instance, God anticipated our “why”. (He did, after all, make us this way.) The Hebrew people all but have their toes on the boarder of the Promised Land as God is using Moses for a few preliminary instructions:
“In the future your children will ask you, ‘What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the LORD our God has commanded us to obey?’”
Not that the Creator needs to explain to the created, so the fact that He anticipates their inquiry shows gracious condescension. He reminds them that they were brought out of their brutal slavery in Egypt so that God could bless them with an abundant goodness (which was already prepared for them, BTW). Then we read this, which is in the same paragraph, as in almost the same breath—
“For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the LORD our God has given us.’”
Am I hearing this right? God’s saying, “I pulled you out of a very bad place and I’m putting you in a very good place. Here’s the stuff you need to do to maintain that, and thus I will consider you as in right standing with Me.”
In other words, being counted as righteous is NOT the same as intrinsic righteousness. Nope, that issue was decided a L-O-N-G time ago. I find it interesting, then, when our culture tries to damn the very God Who attempted every which way to communicate and connect with the people who rejected Him to begin with; as if we expect Him to change Himself to fit our image instead of the other way around.
Oh wait…He did that too, only not in the way we expected. (He does that a lot.)
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.”
Of course, that was the plan all along, which makes that plan even more beautiful. And so now instead of being counted as righteous because of the things I do (which never worked anyway—the first half of the Book bears testament to that arrangement, again, no surprise to the Author), I am counted as righteous because of what Jesus has done for me.
If you’ve never seen it, great, here it is. If you haven’t seen it recently, let’s marvel in a super review:
“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”
Back to the original question, why? Only one answer suffices:
We’ve all heard of those scientific trials where one patient gets an experimental medication and the other gets the imitation in the form of a sugar pill, AKA, placebo. Of course, what the doctors are looking for is what effects, if any, (good or bad!) take place in the ones with the “real thing”. The guinea pigs patients are not aware of who is getting what. Naturally, some of the side effects of the authentic medicine can put the recipients through some uncomfortable experiences, but it can be worth it in the long run if you are out of all other options!