Pass me the brush

paint1It’s done!!  We were able to get the caution strip painted by the Daycare/Preschool’s new parking area BEFORE the doors opened on Monday morning.  We had already had a couple of people trip up on the overhanging lip to the sidewalk, so this really needed to be done.

Others in the church had helped lay the concrete.  They had also researched and provided what was needed for the paint job. I guess I was the erstwhile crew-chief for this part, so I got there early to sweep and tape, when another church member showed up to help.  As he started on one end and I on the other, I yelled down to him that I had never painted concrete before, so if he had any suggestions…

“Just start painting!”

Hmmm..I liked that.  Do the best you can with what you have and keep the main directive in mind, i.e., prevent injury with a warning stripe before the kids come on Monday. 

And we had some pretty good help, I want you to know!

Okay, so it wasn’t perfect, but it’s not like we were asked to do brain surgery.  There may need to be a few touch ups later.  But mission accomplished, and actually quite well, if I do say so myself!

Nehemiah also had a task that laid heavily on his heart—rebuild the protective wall around Jerusalem. Importantly, he also had a clear directive from God AND confirmation to match the weight of the task before him AND he had done his research, which was actually ongoing, as the narrative continues.  (Slightly more than painting a church caution strip.)

Once construction started, there was immediate backlash:

Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices?  Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap— and charred ones at that?”

I find this to be such a perfect picture of how our enemy, our truest enemy that is—Satan, reacts when we begin the task God has given us to do.  Note, however, it is (1) a directive from God, and (2) it has been confirmed to the level of the task’s weight, and (3) the pre-project research had been done (“counting the cost” and all that). 

Then I just have to start “painting”.  God is more than able to touch up a few strokes of misplaced color along the way.

Nehemiah 4:1,2 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.

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Let’s have a fight!

argument-3312463_1280Like many people, I’m not intrinsically adept at confrontation.  That’s a nice way of saying that I tend to avoid it like the Black Plague, whereas my dear husband of 30-plus years (emphasis on the “plus”) has no problem with it.  I have always struggled being overly concerned with what people think of me.  Bob…well, let’s just say, not so much.  So, one can easily imagine how, once the honeymoon period wears off (five days???) and real life kicks in, communication patterns with regard to expectations can be…challenging. 

During one of our relatively few “disagreements”, I was doing my typical backing down routine, when my counterpart surprisingly said, “Now wait a minute!  Don’t you give up so easily!  Just because I’m louder doesn’t mean I’m right.”

He’s so good for me.

Learning to argue is a definite skill set for any relationship.  Setting boundaries, no name-calling, dealing with my own ego and emo, learning healthy compromise, being motivated by love rather than the innate desire to “be right”…the human psyche isn’t born with these things; they have to be intentional in any relationship.

Except one. Continue reading “Let’s have a fight!”

To eat, or not to eat?

IMG_20150103_172451138Although my cooking prowess (or lack thereof) has not yet reached legendary status, there are nonetheless a few stories that can be told within my family.  Pizza, however, is one of my favorites. Not to cook, but to eat, and so I’ve become quite good at doing both, if I do say so myself (and I do.)

I am, currently at this writing, happily anticipating a brand new kitchen.  The contractor comes tomorrow to go over the final game plan, which includes knocking out a wall, etc.  His wife, who helps run the business, is well-versed in kitchens, and made the comment that even though I don’t like cooking at present, perhaps I will enjoy it when I get a new kitchen environment…. Continue reading “To eat, or not to eat?”

In other words…

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A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.”

Ephesians 6:10-13  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.

…and turning to the white pages (or, beyond John 3:16)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280For those of us who have had the privilege to be exposed to the Bible most of our lives, we’ve probably memorized John’s verse that still shows up at football games (John 3:16), and highlighted passages like Paul’s definition of love (1 Corinthians 13).  After bravely skimming over Leviticus’ regulations on infectious skin diseases, we may have even ventured into the Old Testament faves like David and Goliath, and Isaiah’s “unto us a Child is born”.

But then there’s Ezekiel…(sigh). 

Zeke and I go way back.  Can I just say here at Continue reading “…and turning to the white pages (or, beyond John 3:16)”

Chasms are optional; instructions are not

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I have to admit, I’m a real Chronicles of Narnia fan.  I never read them until doing so with my children.  The movies don’t do justice to the books, with the possible exception of the first one.  The special effects are, well,… effective, to say the least, but something is lost on the silver screen as the series progresses.  But then, I’m not an industry professional so who cares?

There is one scene, however, in Movie #2 or #3 that comes to mind; it’s the one where the kids are futilely wandering lost through a forested area when Lucy sees King Aslan across a chasm and bids her to follow.  Naturally, no one else sees him and neither do they believe Lucy’s “vision”.  To make matters more definite, there is no discernible way to get across the chasm, even if Aslan were there.

Lucy gives in the others’ opinions of the situation, which causes problems and a later (gentle but definite) rebuke from the lion, i.e., if he bids her come, she is to come regardless of what the others may think, and regardless of there not being an immediate and obvious path.  Lessons, lessons…

Close that book and open another:

Israel’s rebellious king has recently set up new gods with all the trappings.  In keeping with historic trend, the Lord Yahweh sends His notice of displeasure through a “man of God” who arrives on the scene with some pretty miraculous confirmation.  The king, a bit shaken, asks the man to come dine with him; however, the invitation is thus declined:

“For the LORD gave me this command: ‘You must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came.’”

Pretty clear instructions, and so far everything God told this man has panned out. No need to doubt the message’s veracity on this point either.

Until another so-called prophet lies to him, saying “an angel” appeared instructing the man of God was to return with him and eat at his house.

Why did this convince the man of God??  I’m sure he was probably temptingly hungry, and that didn’t help, but does God change His mind?  What evidence did this liar have for Plan B?  Spoiler alert—it didn’t end well for the man of God.

Not that I would have done any better, left to my own accord.  And certainly the Lord also says there is wisdom “in a multitude of counselors.”  I readily admit I need the help of others to sometimes discern God’s will in a situation (it’s part of that koinonia thing).  But on the other hand, there are some commands that God gets through pretty clearly even to me; nevertheless, Satan will try to bring his own pack of lies into the muddle, sometimes through those whom we love and trust.

Like Lucy’s family, for example.  “Did you REALLY see him?”

Sounds suspiciously like an old serpent in a Garden long ago, “Hath God REALLY said…?”

1 Kings 13:9  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.

A, B, C, or all of the above.

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’ve had a history of being a black/white, good/bad, either/or kind of person.  Give me a true/false or multiple choice test, and I’m okay.  But asking me to pull an answer out of my gray matter without any prompts is a bit more of a challenge. 

Life, however, tends not to extend itself to us in either/or definitions.  And humans, being the limited thinkers we are, tend not to appreciate that.  Dare that we would think there may be options of which we are unaware!!

Here’s just one example: either (A) God is not all-powerful to end the world’s suffering, or (B) He is not all-loving as He says He is.

Joshua, of Jericho fame, ran into that intellectual wall (pardon the pun).

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”

“ Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.”

Now, here was something Joshua hadn’t even considered, and I can only imagine it gave him pause (if not a heart attack, as I hear angels can be pretty scary…)

The point is not to try answering all the questions, because when one is attended to, invariably another will surface.  Satan has many of them; he’s been at this for years.  Not that God doesn’t invite our questions and concerns, but there comes a point in every disciple’s life when the unanswered questions must give way to a trusting relationship with the God whom we can “know sufficiently but not exhaustively.” 

In other words, God is not defined by our multiple choice answers.  He defines Himself to us.

Joshua 5:1, 14  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.

Liar, liar, pants on fire (#2)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Did you know that middle school kids lie?  Now I realize that may be an astounding revelation to some, so don’t choke on your Coke.  One of the wonderful teachers I’ve worked with for years cracks me up; she encourages the kids to “come up with something better than THAT” when they feed her an obvious falsification about why they don’t have their homework.  (She’s been around a while…)

Of course, kids aren’t the only ones skilled in what my brother-in-law refers to as “a flexible sense of integrity.”  For example—

The story of Hezekiah is fascinating.  Here the king of the formidable Assyrian nation comes knocking on Judah’s door demanding submission, or else.  Reading the accusations, there are several things the Assyrian head of state gets wrong:

  1. He says that the God of the Hebrews Himself told him to attack and subdue Judah, (2 Kings 18:25). Okay, that’s been done before so the idea isn’t completely foreign; however…,
  2. In the paragraph preceding that part of his tirade, he asserts that Yahweh is pretty ticked off with Hezekiah for destroying all the other alters of worship expect the one in Jerusalem, (2 Kings 18:22).   Guess the king of Assyria hadn’t done his background homework, because those other alters were one of the very things that made God quite upset with His people, and tearing them down was a definite plus in the Jews’ ledger sheet.
  3. Then this would-be tourist proceeds to lump Yahweh into the list of “all the other gods” who were unable to stand before the mighty Assyrian nation, (2 Kings 18:33-35). That was certainly an epic fail.  Not only was this a colossal insult, but also an incongruity in his argument—why would God tell the Assyrians to destroy His people if He couldn’t Himself stand up to the instrument of His own choosing?

There’s more to be gleaned from this account of Hezekiah’s dealings with Assyria, but here’s one of the points worth mentioning:

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Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/tsandwick/realies/

Liars have to keep lying, and generally someone is going to catch their slip, whether it’s a gap in logically reasoning, a contradiction, whatever.  You have to have a certain level of talent to deceive consistently, (granted, there are quite a few talented people around today.) 

Satan, however, is the best, as he has been at it quite some time now with amazing proficiency.

“When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

And his lies are not merely to inconvenience, but like the king of Assyria, Satan has much bolder plans—

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.”

Satan’s lies are aimed at the heart, the very place God says we are to guard since “the wellsprings of life” come from that very spiritual place. And what is at the heart of every Christian, but our intimacy with our Father Himself?  Satan will try every which way to convince us that we are rejected by God, not accepted into the family of God, or at the very best, a doormat for the more “important” saints.  Or that God, Himself, is mad at us. 

The list goes on, but eventually his logic does break down, because it’s no match for the Cross. 

Or as Wally Fry puts it so well at Truth in Palmyra:

satan liar

“Don’t let Satan set the ground rules”

John 8:44; John10:10  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.

Clean-up crew on board

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I love the imagery and symbolism in the Bible.

Well, okay, some of it (lots of it) is more than a bit gruesome and could rival anything coming out of Hollywood.  I mean, why spend eight bucks at the theatre when you can read about the concubine who was cut up into twelve pieces and subsequently Fed-Ex’d (via chariot?) to each tribe of Israel? 

And some people regard the Bible as outdated, irrelevant milktoast.  Go figure.

But that’s not the stuff I’m talking about. 

When read as a cohesive whole, the entire picture of the Bible is painted on the canvas of war.  Kings rising and Continue reading “Clean-up crew on board”