…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:

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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.

In other words…

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“Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing…. They turned their pleasant land into a desert.”

Zech 7: 11, 14  Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 42639-42640). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Now,…just who was Deborah?

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I get somewhat intrigued by what we would normally consider “obscure” comments in the Bible.  I’m of the inerrant/infallible school of theology, not that I don’t have plenty of questions for the other side of eternity.  Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop me from trusting the Author for what’s in the Book, even if some of its contents keeps me scratching my forehead. 

So here’s one of those parts to the story of the patriarch Jacob and his burgeoning family that I find interesting:

“Soon after this, Rebekah’s old nurse, Deborah, died. She was buried beneath the oak tree in the valley below Bethel. Ever since, the tree has been called Allon-bacuth (which means ‘oak of weeping’).”

I was curious why God put a little honorarium to this Continue reading “Now,…just who was Deborah?”

Seeking Wisdom

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This prayer was penned (typed? keyboarded? whichever…) by Dan Ledwith, and I highly recommend visiting his site, Learning to be Full of Grace and Truth.  And who doesn’t need more of God’s amazing grace and eternal truth?  I hope this offering encourages more than a mere participatory “amen”.

God Most High,

We confess to You Father because You have revealed Yourself to us.
You have shown us Your glory.
You have given us a sense of Your holiness.
You have opened our eyes to the light of Your Son Jesus Christ.
In that light we see that in ourselves we are all dark, and there is no light in us at all.
How can we confess enough?
How can we repent when we are unaware of all we need to repent of?

But You promise it is by grace, we have been saved.
Your love and grace and forgiveness are not conditioned upon any work that we do or don’t do.
Your grace moves us to confess to the best of our ability,
and covers what we do not or cannot see.
How wonderful is that grace!
How deep it goes!
How far it travels!
How joyous when it comes!

For where Your grace is there is
forgiveness,
freedom,
life,
and joy.

Where Your grace goes
holiness follows,
pride falls,
fear fees,
and love grows.

Father, we know that we are not enough, and that in Jesus we will always have enough.
So we ask for faith enough to trust You in our needs.
Some struggle with finances,
others with loss,
others with illness,
others with anxiety.
Give us faith that assures us that You are always with us and always working, even when we do don’t discern it.

We ask for discernment, that we may know Your will and hear Your voice.

We ask for discretion, that we may grow in humility and meekness.
That we may in grace hold our tongues,
be slow to anger,
and loathe to judge.

We ask for direction, that we may know what You want us doing both as individuals and as a church;
that we may understand our gifts and calling and place in Your kingdom so that we can be faithful servants,
doing the work that You have called us to do,
helping the people you have called us to help,
serving where you want us to serve,
praying how you want us to pray,
and living how You want us to live.

Work through us Lord, that we might love, nurture, and equip one another so that we can grow to maturity in Christ.

To see the other Sacred Springboards, click HERE.

Red Ink

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Red ink.  The bane of literary students, or any student for that matter.  You know what it means: misstake, eRr0r, wrong answer, ruuunnnn-on sentence (that was one of my specialties, still is, for all that.)  My husband is a teacher, and with some of his exams he allows what I call a do-over (he calls it a “revision”, which sounds much more professorial.) The red ink, or whatever he uses, shows the mistakes which, as disappointing and uncomfortable as it may be at the time, is actually a good thing.  The student then gets another chance.

This is what happened with the people in Nehemiah’s day.  Having returned from their seventy-year exile to their home in Jerusalem, they were now being instructed from God’s book of the Law, some of them undoubtedly for the first time.  Their collective reaction is quite compelling: Continue reading “Red Ink”

A Flash What?

(full read at dawnlizjones.wordpress.com)  At this writing, I am 54 years old, soon to be 55 in fact—old enough to remember when 55 was the national speed limit on the interstate, yes, indeed!  Google was a semi-mathematical term that had lots of zeroes behind it, a mouse was something you would set a trap for, and a text was required reading from a book.  You remember…a book, a rectangular collection of paper pages held between two hard or soft covers, generally with a title on the front and a copyright date on the inside, and sometimes you had to lick your index finger to advance to the next page when they would stick together.  And they smelled good, too, when you stuck your nose into the center binding—they just had that “bookish” fragrance. 

Well, anyway, now I read most of my “books” on a screen, I write most of what I write on a screen, I communicate more frequently on a screen.  I wonder if that’s an indication that we, as a society, are “screening” ourselves from real life and from each other.  Bad pun, I know, just a thought.

Several years ago, my brother, the Purdue engineer, introduced me to an amazing advance in computer technology called the “flash drive”, yet another compound word that didn’t exist when I was in school.  I believe it was over the phone (phone: n– a hand-held device plugged into the wall enabling a person to give and receive audio-only transmission) that he guided me on how to plug it in and pull it up for use.  You mean no more floppy discs (those went the way of 8-track tapes, and I won’t even try to define that one…)?  So now all my writing is on a flash drive, but unfortunately I had been neglecting to do something called a back-up.  This brings me up to date in my missive.

Yesterday, after a small yet significant time of putting some thoughts on, er …paper/screen, I pulled out the desk drawer where I ALWAYS keep my flash drive.  Always.  I tend not to be like my husband, meticulous in where he keeps his things.  In fact, in describing my organizational style, Bob parodies the old saying in that I have places for everything and everything in their places.  I have not yet fully conquered this challenge, but since I am still breathing, there is hope.

Usually, I simply need to pull out the drawer and, without even looking in, put my hand in and bring out the flash drive, since it is connected to a lanyard.  This time, however, my fingers did not immediately find its prize, so I stood up to look inside, and, incredulously, it was missing.  Oh rat!  Of course, the realization hit me that much, if not most, of the contents had not been backed up, due to my procrastination.

A quick investigation throughout the house revealed no familiar flash drive.  Good grief!  I even emptied out the vacuum cleaner in the hopes I had swept it up the day before!  I checked the patio where I like to repose and compose at the same time.  I did a double-take into the same drawer somewhat irrationally thinking I may have overlooked it. (It also came to mind that I had found the Parmesan cheese dispenser in the microwave the other day, so who knows where I might have put the flash drive!)  

Probably the two words that come most to mind from that experience are “neglect” and “test”.

  • I felt I had neglected to honor what God had given me. My writing may never be read by another person, never hit the stands or be sold in a store.  That is not the point.  God does not assess value the way so-called rational mankind does.  I felt one time, many years ago, that He told something like this: “If what I say is important to you, write it down.”    I think that perhaps that was more than an invitation.  We are to do whatever the thing in front of us is being revealed for us to do.  The outcome is in God’s hands, and is frequently not what we had anticipated anyway.  God does not call us to the world’s definition of success, but to His, which is faithfulness.  I had not been faithful with what I had been given.  Then I wonder what other things we so easily neglect, things given for which we literally show contempt to God for these great and useful gifts—of friendship, family, health, time, and all the other resources which are readily taken for granted and/or misused for our own purposes. OUCH.

 

  • I was in the midst of a test—how was I going to respond to this disappointment, not only of losing what was so valuable to me, but also to my own fallibility? And sometimes the latter is more difficult than the former.  Repentance was first.  Repentance is ALWAYS first.  It’s one of those “don’t leave home without it” activities.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that repentance is actually one of the most important gifts of God that we neglect—it takes humility and change, neither of which necessarily come cheap.  Secondly, I was being asked to trust.  God knew this was going to happen (He always does….) and the outcome was in His most capable hand.  This is where the rubber of Romans 8:28 hits my personal road.

I’m happy to report that it wasn’t long after that, only maybe half an hour, that the thought came to me from “somewhere” (yeah, right) that I had been wearing a coat that morning when I was writing outside.  I have a real habit of leaving important items in my coat pockets.  And sure enough, there was my flash drive on its lanyard, along with some other important hand-written notes (yes, written, with an old-fashioned implement called a pen, on white stuff made from a tree, called paper) that I hadn’t even noticed was missing yet.  Needless to say, in keeping with my repentance, I bought a new flash drive that day and backed everything up. 

Admittedly, it took longer than for a Purdue engineer, but I eventually got it figured out

–dawnlizjones