Umbrella or sun hat??

wood 2I have one daughter living on the Scandinavian coast.  Weather report: cold, cloudy, wet. 

I have another living in Southern Cal.  Weather report: hot, sunny, dry. 

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.  Sounds like a fairly consistent gig for the weather man. Continue reading “Umbrella or sun hat??”

Advertisements

Ayn Rand meets Moses

IMG_20150103_172451138Bob reads to me while I sit in my great-grandmother’s rocking chair and crochet, complete with the dog on the rug—seriously, we look like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, only in blue jeans. 

Our most recent book (at this writing) is Ayn Rand’s tome entitled Atlas Shrugged.  Not for the faint of heart, mind you, and not something you’ll find in the religious section of Barnes and Noble, but with some very timely and important ideas on economic integrity, possibly more applicable now than when it was written.

In her novel, she refers to the conflict between the “producers”, those who put their hand to the plow and make stuff, and the “looters”, those who somehow feel entitled to live off the hard work of the producers without significant contribution of their own, simply because they feel they need it.  Of course, “need” is precariously defined to the destruction of those who produce.

Sound familiar?

My disclaimer: I’m not an economist.  Anyway, that’s not the thought I want to convey here. 

Context: the Hebrew nation is (still) about to step into the Promised Land, and Moses is (still) giving them last minute instructions.  Check this out:

 “When the LORD your God goes ahead of you and destroys the nations and you drive them out and live in their land,…”

I see a definite partnership with God here—the Almighty will destroy the enemy while at the same time the Hebrews are to clean house (“drive them out”, which is dirty work as well) and occupy.  The Promised Land was just that—land that was promised, but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to have to work for it.  And hard. Sweat, blood, sacrifice, mistakes, and try again.  (Read about it, it’s pretty dramatic, and makes me feel better about myself…)

Interestingly, when I compare that to my personal salvation, and that 21st century idea that turning my life over to Jesus is “all there is to it”, uh, I don’t think that’s what God has in mind:

“But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’”

…and:

“He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

…and:

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

…to quote only a few.

Do we earn our salvation?  Of course not!  Do we partner with God to change into the likeness of all He purposes for us to be after He saves us—absolutely!  And it calls for blood, sweat, and tears, hard work, mistakes, and (oftentimes) self-forgiveness. 

historically-1093192_1920Because I don’t want to be a “looter” of God’s amazing grace, but a “producer” in His kingdom on Earth. 

Hand to plow, and keep it there.

Deuteronomy 12:29; James 2:18; 2 Peter 3:9; Romans 12:2  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’d like to buy the world a Coke” just won’t cut it

BloggeRegardless of what you may have thought of either American presidential candidate in the very divisive 2016 election, one thing can surely be said of both of them: neither shied away from confrontation!  I supposed when you get to that level of office, confrontation management (of some form…) is a prerequisite. 

Yet another reason you’ll never be voting for yours truly.  Ever.

Confrontation is not high on my list of intrinsic qualities.  There’s a definite art to it.  Granted, some may seem to use only the sledge hammer approach when a gentle tap is all that’s required.  Then there’s me.  I’m like, “can’t we all just be nice and get along?”  But the reality is, no, we can’t.  And in this world unfortunately, nor should we.  Much to the chagrin of the 1970’s Coca-Cola commercial, we cannot all hold hands and teach the world to sing in Continue reading ““I’d like to buy the world a Coke” just won’t cut it”

Chocolate: a little something for everyone, (HO! Yeah…)

Get out the chocolate Easter eggs!  Anyone remember this little slogan from Hershey’s chocolate?

I’m fascinated how the Bible has something for everyone.  For the artists, the adventurers, those who love the ancient equivalent of chick-flicks, and (gulp!) yes, even horror stories! This is a tome that communicates both in the concrete and the abstract, through definite laws and regulations, as well as metaphor and poetry and song.  

So here’s a nugget for those of us who are treasure hunters, looking for veins of gold in the pages that most of us are tempted to just skim over.  For me, one of those Continue reading “Chocolate: a little something for everyone, (HO! Yeah…)”

In other words…

group-457336_1920

“You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it!”

Ezekiel 33:32 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.

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?)”

Gardener’s Soufflé (in December!)

garden lastI’m writing this on my patio while eating some leftover pizza (in December!) after a particularly good turn at composting this morning. Based on some reading and good advice from one of my sons-in-law, I am trying the layering technique: 

I used my phone for these snapshots, which will probably not wind up on Instagram as that service seems to be for photos of more socially acceptable topics than what I use in my compost layering, thanks to my neighbor’s horse down the street.  I even scheduled a time to show up.

Incidentally, while warming up the pizza, I noticed my phone was no longer in my jacket’s pocket.  Considering what I had just been working with, this could potentially be mildly unpleasant.  So I took Bob’s phone outside to call mine, and I followed the ring tone, (conjuring up images of Jurassic Park 3-The Lost World…)

Yes, there it was, thankfully not Continue reading “Gardener’s Soufflé (in December!)”

…and party on, and on, and…

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280There’s nothing like a good party.  We had Christmas caroling parties for the girls, including D.Y.I. tree ornaments, stringing popcorn, games, and of course, singing around the neighborhood.  One activity had to do with picking up a nickel out of a mound of flour—with your teeth.  It turned into a riotous flour fight in my front room, (I loved it, but found flour in the floor boards for years.)

There is just something about celebration that draws people; good stuff is happening and they want to be a part of it. As a bit of an introvert, even I know that exuberant celebration is good for the soul and can encourage and inspire us to even greater things.  

And if anyone knew how to party, is was God’s people.

Backstory: The family of God was in disarray.  Israel and Judah were Continue reading “…and party on, and on, and…”

Spiritual speed traps

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280In, lo, these many years of driving, I had never had even one point against my license, despite what my husband refers to a my “lead foot”. There is in our small town, however, a place drivers affectionate refer to as a “speed trap”—you know, the limit is 30mph, but in a few yards it goes up to 45, and in between the road gently slopes downward…

bodyworn-794099_1920The officer was nice. Nonetheless, I was a several dollars poorer and a few “points” wiser. 

The idea is that I was responsible for what I didn’t know, but should have known.  I didn’t know I was going ____mph over the speed limit.  I didn’t know there was an officer just biding his time.  Both of these bits of information would have been helpful in preventing my mishap, but no matter.  I still had to “pay the man.”

Which makes King Josiah’s response so much the better in my mind.

After a long and sordid line of (mostly) wicked rulers over God’s people, Josiah had a interesting idea—let’s follow our God.  In fixing up the temple, one of the workers found the Book, the Law where their God explains the conditions of the covenant with the people. 

Now, the king was already on the right track in terms of his heart-attitude, and being raised in a very ungodly and confusing family/social environment, he was doing what he could with what he had.  But when presented with this additional info, his reaction was, well, possibly a bit better than mine when I was pulled over…

“When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair.”

One of our family catch-phrases is “what am I supposed to do with this information.”  It’s really a good test to see if there is something the other person is expecting from me, or if he/she is simply, you know, just talking.  This seems to be exactly what Josiah did, and he discovered, in no uncertain terms, that God wasn’t just talking.

Someone once said that the Holy Spirit speaks to those whose hearts are positioned to act upon His instructions.  So when Josiah heard God speak, he took one of the offensive idols and…

“…he burned it. Then he ground the ashes of the pole to dust…”

Pretty definitive statement, that.  And it wasn’t the only culture shift that was made as Josiah “turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength”.  Love it.  The kingdom of Judah was responsible for what they had neglected to know (even though it had been available), but God blessed them for the changes, (formidable ones, difficult ones), that were accomplished.

It would behoove us to follow his example.

2 Kings 22:11; 2 Kings 23:6   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.

Slip, slidin’ away.

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Anyone who happens to be in my age bracket might recognize that title as the tag line from from a song by the inimitable Paul Simon.  It reads almost like a modern-day psalm of lament, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re already having a bad day, but Simon makes a good point in that, although we can influence our situations, ultimately we are not in charge.

Of course, that’s not a popular thought, regardless of one’s faith-affiliation or lack thereof.  We want to be in charge, desperately want it.  Especially when our circumstances threaten to dissolve into further chaos around us unless we “take action”.

King Saul, the first king of Israel, was very much like that.  He was told in no uncertain terms that he was to wait for Samuel, but like many of us, waiting was not his forte. 

“…but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away.   So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. 10   Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived…”

Oops.  The king had fired up the grill a little too soon.

This was just one in a series of epic fails for Saul’s leadership.  Not that I can boast much better.  It can just be so dang hard to be patient when what I see as “success” is so different from God see’s as success—which is, foremost, OBEDIENCE.  Faithful, patient obedience, which speaks volumes of how much we trust Him for whatever outcome He determines, even if everyone else heads for the door.

In fact, that can be easily become one of the mottos in our decision-making:

demonstrator-154201_1280

Never a good way to lead, and definitely not the way of the cross.  I specifically remember a time as the leader on our church worship team, when God told me to repent (great word) of leading by appeasement.  Make everyone happy as much as possible.  Then try to keep them that way.  Good recipe for a mental health break down, let me tell ya.

Not that we shouldn’t let others share an opinion, offer suggestions, or even voice some serious concerns about potential consequences.  But as one poster once asserted—“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!” 

And the main thing is loving my Lord by trusting obedience, leaving the result of that obedience in His hands.  Because as someone once said: God is rarely early, but He’s never late.

I don’t want to fire up the grill too soon before the Main Guest arrives.

1 Samuel 13:8-10  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.