Time to eat

bread-1643951_1920Here’s an obscure little paragraph of a story that I find interesting buried away in the Old Testament: 

“One day a man from Baal-shalishah brought the man of God a sack of fresh grain and twenty loaves of barley bread made from the first grain of his harvest. Elisha said, ‘Give it to the people so they can eat.

‘What?’ his servant exclaimed. ‘Feed a hundred people with only this?’

But Elisha repeated, ‘Give it to the people so they can eat, for this is what the Lord says: Everyone will eat, and there will even be some left over!’ And when they gave it to the people, there was plenty for all and some left over, just as the Lord had promised.”

Sound familiar?  Fast forward a few chapters and several hundred years, and we see Jesus likewise feeding a crowd, the whole famous “loaves and fishes” picnic on the side of a hill. Continue reading “Time to eat”

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Can I skip church today?

country-church-2413911_1920This Sunday morning, we have a guest speaker coming to our little church.  I say “little” to distinguish our congregation from the mega-churches in big cities—nothing against those, as they must have their own special challenges. 

No, the assembly Bob and I attend is quite small, living in the rural community that we do, and as such there is ample opportunity to “get involved” since you don’t usually have to be an expert at anything to be included on a team or committee.  Bob and I are on the worship team—he plays bass and I play guitar and sing, (well, at least I try to.)  Every week with only a few exceptions here and there. 

For the past 20+ years.

Which means that people sort of get used to us to be there, I suppose.  But today… Continue reading “Can I skip church today?”

How shall I worship You today?

wood 2

How shall I worship You today?

            To bandage another skinned knee—

            Or listen to the story of the dead bird on the driveway…again?

How shall I worship You today?

            By having the emotional courage to change another diaper,

            Cook another meal, or fold another load of laundry?

How shall I worship You today?

             In holding the wrinkled hand with so little time left,

             Or by changing the tire on my neighbor’s car?

How shall I worship You today?

            By living and loving in the moment, instead of in the past—

            Or by patiently trusting You for the future?

Show me how You want me to worship You today.

 

 

Seeing is believing…

wood 2…well, not always.  In fact, I don’t even know where that cockamamie concept originated.  Especially now with the various photo-editing applications and other wonders of the virtual world that continue to invade our reality.  So when pictures show up on my email or on other forms of communication, I tend to be a bit more skeptical than I would have in the past.

In fact, right now the whole concept of “Fake News” is making a comeback.  At least, I call it a comeback.  Fake News has been around forever, starting in a Garden a long time ago, and it comes in many forms, being woven quite effectively into our modern living:

Propaganda was an effective tool to discourage the Allies in World War 2. 

Most people my age have probably heard the phrase, “there are lies, there are d**n lies, and there are statistics.”

Of course, then there are the white lies.  Which is like having a white carpet in a house with three children and two dogs…

There’s the infamous statement, “Just kidding”.  Orson Wells tried that back in the 1930’s with a recital of a World of the Worlds enactment on radio, and that went over quite well. 

Like Solomon said, truly there is nothing new under the sun…

But that doesn’t mean I just abandon my five senses as any source of honest interpretation.  It does mean, however, that I need a little discernment.  Or a lot.  Words are cheap, but observable behaviors and definable outcomes have a place in what’s really going on behind the scenes.

Or better yet, what’s going on within the heart.

 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.”

It behooves me to be reminded that God Almighty sees it all as it really is, no spiritual photo-editing in Heaven.  The first order question, then, is what does He see in my life?  In His church?  And whatever He sees, and however He sees it, IS worthy to be believed.

Revelation 2:19  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.

What Your Feet Mean to Me

quillYea!  I met a new blogger!  If you haven’t already met him, let me have the pleasure of introducing you to Mr. Rusty Foerger, proprietor of the blogs Curriculum of the Spiritual Life and More Enigma Than Dogma AND the author of this beautiful poem.  Personally, how can anyone deny the existence of God with such a thing as poetry (Or art in general, for that matter, thank you Mr. Chesterton.)  Enjoy this contemplative “selah” moment.

WHAT YOUR FEET MEAN TO ME

You say I am doing a beautiful thing for you.
It’s just like you to say that.
All I am doing is washing your feet with my tears;
They come from a fractured place –
A place of stain and shame;
Now they flow out to clean your feet.

Thank you for not stepping on me with your feet
Or trampling over me;
Or hurrying past me to the next big thing,
Or merely to a better thing.

Thank you for letting your feet be nailed in place – in my place.

Thank you for not kicking me with your legs
Or jumping past me: the undesirable, the unlovable.

Thank you for not holding me down with your arms
Or holding me back with your grip.

Thank you for not raping me with your body,
Or stripping me with your eyes
Or looking past me with your gaze.

Thank you for not abusing me with your lips
Or spitting on me with your mouth.

Thank you for not thinking the worst of me,
Or worse:
not thinking of me at all.

Thank you for walking up to me with these feet, these beautiful feet:
For holding me – for holding me up with your arms.

Thank you for listening to me
When I babble on
When I pray
When I lament
When I sing,

Thank you for seeing me – for seeing into me.
Thank you for being able to overlook my sin
And for being willing to do that.

Thank you for talking to me,
For speaking such fantastic words:
Words like honey
Words like light
Words like rock
Words like flight
Words that sing
Words that ring.

Thank you for forming them into living sound:
Songs of joy
Hymns of truth
Feelings of comfort
Trumps of exaltation!
Pronouncements of peace
Words of wisdom
Psalms of beauty
Proclamations of release!

Thank you for shaping words into keys
To unlock yet another chain, to take off yet another yoke.

Thank you for thinking of me – the best of me.
For such beautiful thoughts, such loving thoughts –
With such a capacity, as if each star you flung into space
Was another bright idea you put into place.

Thank you for Your imagination – the truth of who I am to You.
No one else could find it in themselves to create this truth –
To the contradiction of overwhelming evidence.

While tears had long emptied into a careless street of users
Now each one poured out like a 1000 years, a 1000 pounds, a 1000 moments of darkness.
Now each tear is precious to me, to remind me or what it means to touch your feet.

You say I am doing a beautiful thing for you.
And it’s just like you to say that.
All I am doing is washing your feet with my tears
that come from a fractured place –
Split open by the spring of Your own relentlessness
And made to worship the One I love!

This is what your feet mean to me.

Copyright: Easter 2004; R.H. Foerger

Temperature’s rising…it’s the flu.

IMG_20150103_172451138flumap

This is the time of year, in my job as a school nurse, that I like to see where we are with the annual spread of the influenza.  Missouri has just recently been upgraded to “local” instead of “sporadic”, which is not bad considering it’s February (at this writing).

Understand, this is just about the true flu, not the stomach flu, not strep throat, not “just a cold”.  This is the one, if you’re smart (in my not-so-humble opinion), you get a vaccine for, especially if you work every day among all those walking petri dishes known as school children.

I once had a middle schooler tell me that it was okay with him if he got the flu, presumably so that he could stay home from school. 

Yet another evidence that the prepubescent frontal lobe is not yet fully formed.

The influenza is bad, like, r-e-a-l-l-y bad.  High fever, cough, aches, you feel like you’re gonna die, and sometimes wish you could.  And in fact, people still do, die that is, from the true flu.  So, despite what my sweet middle schoolers might think, I’m quite pleased about “The Map” for this time of year where I live.

I can only imagine and try to appreciate what was happening to Simon Peter’s wife with her mother being so very ill (and probably highly contagious) when Jesus came for a visit. 

“Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.”

Right.  No “don’t worry, Mom, we’ll just have leftovers, you go and rest.” No “here, Mom, let us take care of the dishes, you put your feet up.” I am fascinated by the woman’s response.  There seemingly was no sense of victimhood entitlement, no pity party, not even an inkling of self indulgence.  What was her response to this healing (or we could fill in “deliverance, provision” or any number of God’s other good, good gifts to us)?

Service.  Paying it forward by serving others was her way of paying it back to the One who cared for her the most.  Instead, we often find (including in ourselves, the church) an unhealthy sense of ownership, of what I feel is “due” me for all the hardship I’ve endured.  Or there’s the temptation to hoard my good fortune (truly a misnomer) for fear of losing it again. 

I don’t think Jesus was terribly concerned about where or what He was going to eat that evening.  But I do think He was interested in what that dear woman would do with the gift He had just handed to her.

We are blessed so that we can serve.  And serving is contagious also, but for a Christian, there is no vaccine.

Mark 1:30, 31   Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 5792-5794). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.