Run, run, run-away

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280The 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.  

man-2257145_1920Jephthah’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. 

Judges 11:2-7 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.

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Teach your (siblings’) children well

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280If 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:

Deuteronomy 6: 20, 25; John 1:14; Romans 3: 21-26  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.

In other words…

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“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

2 Corinthians 5:17  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.

I’ll pass on the placebo

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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!

That’s what comes to mind as I Continue reading “I’ll pass on the placebo”

A Little House

quillA great poem by Kathy Boecher at A Time To Share!  Not only does it speak to me because of my house (I’ll let the percolate in your imagination–even This Old House experts might be challenged here…) but mostly because of the redemption message that is deeply embedded yet thinly veiled for those who know the grace of our Lord Jesus.  And, as always, the fab painting is by her talented husband, Paul.  

red house

Original art painted plein air by Paul T. Boecher©

A LITTLE HOUSE

A little house stands all alone, no people left inside,

There once was life within that house and laughter did abide,

The windows are now boarded up, the grass is overgrown,

The roof is battered, walls need paint, some love needs to be sown,

A fixer upper, yes indeed, but still a strong foundation,

Where walls can once again be filled with strong determination.

KATHY BOECHER©.

Redemption

 

 

quillThis terrific offering is from one of my bloggin’ buddies, Kathy Boecher at A Time To Share, and as an added bonus (at no extra cost!) the artwork is by her very talented husband, Paul Boecher!  I’m scheduling this for summertime; it’s a good reminder between the two important holidays of Christmas and Easter.  Check out Kathy’s site for more good stuff!

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(Original art by Paul T. Boecher©)

REDEMPTION

Through the cobwebs of existence – through the darkness of our strife –

Through the dankness of our sinfulness and wickedness of life

Through the cobwebs of existence – through the darkness of our strife –

Through the dankness of our sinfulness and wickedness of life

Through the deepest, darkest pits of hell and the helplessness we feel –

Comes a single beam of light from heaven our sinful hearts to heal.

The light grows stronger as we move to get a closer glance,

But as we reach to touch it, we’re enveloped in a trance.

It’s just within our reach we think, but no matter how we try,

We can’t escape the darkness that consumes us from all sides.

Just when we think that all is lost and relinquish every hope,

The light erases darkness and through it we can cope.

This little light from Bethlehem became a brilliant Star

That came to earth to save the world from sin’s most deadly scar.

He came in darkness of the night, but His brilliance cannot hide.

We are redeemed by His great might.  He’s always at our side.

KATHY BOECHER©