Hand me the wrench…no the other one.

garden lastMy brother and I were just reminiscing about coming home from school and seeing our grandfather in the heat of the day, stripped to the waist and sporting a bandana to catch the sweat dripping from his forehead, (and what was left of his grey hair), out mowing the lawn.  He and Grandma had been visiting our family, and he was not one to merely luxuriate when there was work to be done. 

And why not?  I mean, c’mon, he was only in his 70’s…

spidermanOwning property is a never-ending lifestyle, to be sure, and if you’re like Bob and I, whose only claim to fame is the ability to change a light bulb, then it becomes even more challenging.  I did try to hang wallpaper—once. (For the record, of the two of us, I tend to be the one who tries to “fix” something first, whereas my husband with all the letters behind his name doesn’t even bother….just call the plumber.)

The truth is, they—the carpenters, the plumbers, the electricians and the lot—they know that they’re doing.  I’ve seen them at work.  It’s really impressive, you know, where there was no wall, now there’s a wall, with windows and lights and paint.  Or maybe new carpet.  Or a vaulted ceiling.  And, once the tools are put away and the dust has cleared, if I do as I’m instructed to take care of it, it should all last a long time. 

Wow! 

Here the Hebrew nation is about the kick up some serious dust as they go into the Promised Land.  Moses is recapping their past few decades:

“But you have seen the LORD perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes!  Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter.”

I see an interesting sequence here. 

To begin with, this is addressed specifically to people who had first hand experience.  They had witnessed God’s provision and His “mighty deeds”.  With that knowledge came responsibility—

The responsibility, then, was obedience to the One who had allowed them to witness those miracles.  In other words, the experience of His presence was an act of grace that not everyone (up to that point in time) had been privy to.  And every act of grace carries with it the weight of personal responsibility.

Lastly, obedience to God, although a worthy end in itself, was also a means to an additional provision: strength.  Like taking care of my property, it takes a certain amount of vigor to maintain (dare I say “conquer”?) the challenges of home ownership; I can only imagine what it must have been like going into the Promised Land.  So I find that the people’s strength to conquer and maintain was uniquely tied to their obedience to God. 

Hmmmm….

Okay, time to do some never-ending work in the garden.  (At least I can to that much without having to call in a plumber.)

Deuteronomy 11:7,8  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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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.

Let’s be offended. 

wood 2Yes, let’s.  At least, most of us would be after reading this in a letter, even from a beloved teacher: Continue reading “Let’s be offended. “

The Buck Stops here

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’m from Indiana, and the debate is still open as to where the term “Hoosier” comes from.  No matter, since for more than a couple of decades we have lived in the “Show Me” state of Missouri, a mindset which suits me fairly well.

It’s not that I choose to be somewhat skeptical; it just comes naturally. 

One of the other things that Missouri has going for its reputation is Harry S. Truman.  This famous photograph is also something I can relate to:

truman_pass-the-buck
credit: wikipedia

That’s just one of many things I love about Harry.  And I’m not even a Democrat.

The opposite was true about our first parents (not that they were Democrats, either.)  Adam was probably pretty content hanging out in Eden, until some Continue reading “The Buck Stops here”

Mirror, mirror…

IMG_20150106_175751214 (2)Today, I am 57.  I’m reaching that age where you look in the mirror and think, “who is that old woman?!”  I will confess that I’m still working on this adulthood thing.  I’d say most of my grownup life I’ve been pretty responsible.  Being in charge of a 40-bed wing of a big city hospital at the sagacious age of 20 tends to bring that out in you, that is, if you (and your patients) are going to survive.  And believe me, there were times it could seem like an emotional and mental warzone.

Unfortunately, being responsible is not the same as being mature.  Maturity, I am still learning, is a matter of jurisdiction over one’s own heart, and it will Continue reading “Mirror, mirror…”