I didn’t sign up for this…(sez who??)

I have a habit of biting off more than I can chew.

Now, that’s an analogy that needs no explanation; it’s just part of our vernacular, which probably means that there are a WHOLE BUNCH of us that do it.  Frequently.  Constantly chewing and rarely swallowing between bites.

Like signing up for a 50-mile two-day bike hike when I was in high school with no serious preparation, wishing in mid-stride I could fall off and ride the rest of the way in the S.A.G. (Support And Gear) vehicle.  “SAG” is aptly named for another reason… Continue reading “I didn’t sign up for this…(sez who??)”

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More than first day jitters

wood 2This week I had my last “first” day of the kiddos returning to school.  As if that isn’t enough to make a school nurse’s hair stand on end, add to it that I work at public middle school, where hormones run rampant and drama is just a part of life.  Everything from “do you have any Super Glue for my broken [plastic, garishly painted, glamor] fingernail” to where-did-I-put-my-multi-page-child-abuse-form,…it tends to land in my office. 

I have a well-worn path to the Counseling Center, (not always just for the students, mind you.)  God bless them…lots. Continue reading “More than first day jitters”

And the beat goes on…

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I get all kinds of requests for money, you know, you make one donation and the scent of blood is sensed for miles.  Some of the requests are causes with which I would agree, some not so much.  But even the ones I would tend to support, well, let’s face it, there’s only so much to go around.

Which really isn’t the point.  The real issue is the fact that it’s not “my” money anyway.  Sure, it’s in my name, my account with my beneficiaries and all that.  It goes to pay my bills, my taxes, and my retirement (such as it is).  It puts food on my table and gas in my car.  It’s not that I haven’t worked hard for it all; sure I have.  And yes, some of that hard work has taken a toll I’d care not to admit, but there it is. 

Still, the truth is, it’s not mine.

Not any more.  Because I actually belong to a larger government than any on this planet—the kingdom of God, (which is, I might add, far more just than the IRS…just saying.)

Yes, it’s easy to get to a point in life Continue reading “And the beat goes on…”

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)”

Just an encouragement~~

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Ever feel like you can never get on top of a problem? Here it is again, rearing its ugly and persistent head, and the thought comes,

“You’ll never win.”

Well, then, you’re in R-E-A-L-L-Y good company. 

Once again, God’s people were being assailed by a foreign entity, this time Assyria (you could substitute any number of names on the evil entity, like anger, depression, loneliness, whatever, they all fit quite well into the same storyline.)

This time, the enemy used a few interesting tactics worth looking at; thankfully, we get to listen in:

“Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you.  Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’

“Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards.

“Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power?  What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?”

Warfare always involves strategy.  Here, the enemy—

  1. Spoke in the language of the people (Satan knows just how to communicate his message to us most effectively, sometimes even using those close to us.)
  2. Offers what seems to be a better option than what God clearly wants, (a neatly disguised slant on the serpent’s original “hath God truly said?” from back in the Garden…)
  3. Comparisons (generally a slippery slope)
  4. Mixes truth with misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or outright lies.

I rather like the king’s initial response:

But the people were silent and did not utter a word because Hezekiah had commanded them, ‘Do not answer him.’”

Lots more could be/has been said about our counter-strategy, but I’ll end instead with this encouragement~~

Isaiah 36: 13-21  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.

T-i-m-b-e-r!!!!

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Before writing this, I just mowed and trimmed the yard.  Instead of a “rider” we have a push mower, (well, alright, gas powered, not the kind your great-grandfather used, which was the REAL push mower).  And I was having issues with my trimmer, (okay, it’s also gas powered, not the hand clippers I used as a kid…)  And it was Missouri-summer HOT and HUMID! 

Whine, whine, whine.

That’s kind of what a couple of the Hebrew tribes sounded like when they came to Joshua as the nation of Israel was settling into the long-awaited Promised Land—

“The descendants of Joseph came to Joshua and asked, ‘Why have you given us only one portion of land as our homeland when the LORD has blessed us with so many people?’  Joshua replied, ‘If there are so many of you, and if the hill country of Ephraim is not large enough for you, clear out land for yourselves in the forest…’   The descendants of Joseph responded, ‘It’s true that the hill country is not large enough for us. But all the Canaanites in the lowlands have iron chariots,…They are too strong for us.’”

At first, it does sound a little like whining, but to their credit, these leaders had made a proper assessment of their current situation and resources; they were being honest. 

“Then Joshua said to…the descendants of Joseph, ‘Since you are so large and strong, you will be given more than one portion.  The forests of the hill country will be yours as well. Clear as much of the land as you wish, and take possession of its farthest corners.’”

Bringing that honesty to the Lord (via Joshua, since we’re talking Old Testament), the people were initially given the direction they needed…

 …but they were going to have to work hard for it. Then check out what Joshua says next (this is so cool)—

“And you will drive out the Canaanites from the valleys, too, even though they are strong and have iron chariots.”

Bringing that honesty to the Lord, they were then given the needed encouragement to make it happen.

God has allotted certain things to us, which includes our deliverance from the clutches of sin.  He wants that abundant life to flow from us to others (as I have to remind myself, it’s not just about “me”).  Because of Christ, I have too much in me to be penned in by my puny circumstances, not when God has forested hills and open valleys for me to expand into. 

…but I’m going to have to work hard for it.

I’m expected and designed to work hard.  Spiritual battle is not fun.  Clearing out the wood from the hills (past experiences, regrets, and my own “personal demons”) and the iron chariots from the valleys (Satan’s demons, since they like to hang around my warning-sign-304370_1280garbage), can be a daunting business.  Messy, too.  Definitely not a one-man job, but neither was it for the tribe of Israelites who needed to expand. 

So I should sharpen my axe and stop whining.

Joshua 17: 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.

Them’s fightin’ words!

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I really like my comfort zone.  In fact, I tend to snuggle in with my favorite blankie and stuffed toy (it’s name was Pinkie, BTW, a big fuzzy stuffed dog of said color that I remember my big brother swinging around the room to irritate me—which worked.)  Only now my favorite toys are a bit more expensive (a house, a couple of cars, old though they be…) and I frequently wrap myself in my favorite “blankie” (my marriage, my family and friends, my health, such as it is….)  It’s not a perfect mountaintop, but it’s the one I live on, if you get my metaphorical drift, and I’m thankful for it.

Of course, when you’re married to a science teacher like my husband, the metaphorical tends to become the concrete.  He likes to point out practical things like, “Yep, those mountains were brought about by earthquakes, two Teutonic plates vying for the same space, and….” 

You get it.

In this instance, however, the point is well taken in that sometimes God has to shake us up to get us off the mountaintop and out of our comfort zone, since in reality, we are called into the war for His kingdom.  But we’re in good company:

 “When we were at Mount Sinai, the LORD our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on. Go to the hill country…Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.’”

Interestingly, God could have provided everything His people needed right there on that particular mountain.  (You know, because He’s God.)  But also because He’s God, He knew that was not the best for them, it was not His fulfillment of the promise for them, and God is not One to settle for anything less than the best in, for, and through them.  And us.  For His kingdom. 

A few other things had to take place, and much later, the psalmist put it like this:

“You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver…We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.”

Unlike other kingdom conflicts happening on our current timeline, the Christian conflict is a spiritual one for our culture, our children, and even our own hearts and minds.  It’s uncomfortable (to put it mildly), but it is the place where God promises not only His peace, but most importantly, His presence—His Truth in the midst of turmoil, His koinonia in the midst of conflict. 

Given my ‘druthers, I’d sometimes rather hang out on the mountain than join the fight in the valley, but reader beware: because of the Father’s love, if a little shaking doesn’t do it, He may turn the mountain into a volcano.

Deut 1:6-8; Psalm 66: 10,12  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”

Gettin’ a little crowded in there

babyrobins 4Don’t you think it’s about time for these guys to start finding their own food??  I don’t think mom and dad are going to be able to keep sustaining them (and themselves) much longer, and they’re outgrowing the nest by more than a bit.  Dependence is a comfortable thing, however, and self-sufficiency is hard work, and somewhat dangerous at times.  Just look at what happened to the Israelites during the prophet Samuel’s time—

Backstory: because of the enemy occupation, there were no blacksmiths allowed in Israel.  To sharpen anything, God’s (wayward) people had to go the non-Israelite smithies to simply file an axe or other daily implements.  (As if my kitchen knives weren’t dull enough…)  This was a really smart ploy of the enemy—they were basically in control of the weaponry, which decidedly put the people of Yahweh at an uncomfortable disadvantage.

“So on the day of the battle none of the people of Israel had a sword or spear, except for Saul and Jonathan.”

Unfortunately, our Enemy employs the same tactic today when I allow myself to become dependent on church leadership and the pastoral staff/worship team/Sunday school teachers for my personal spiritual sustenance and the responsibility I have for the effect of the Gospel in my family and community.

Okay, that was a run-on sentence, and back in high school my comp teacher, Mrs. Rose, used to give my red ink for that.  So I’ll break it down.

Point #1:  Any church philosophy that encourages the people to become solely dependent on the leadership team is from the enemy camp.

When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?  After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News.

Point #2: Church leadership is not to keep us in the nest, but to prepare us to fly on our own.  That doesn’t preclude church affiliation (mustn’t take the analogy too far) as it is obvious God expects us to keep up our teamwork and fellowship.  There is, however, a specific call for the church to BE the church, not merely GO to church.

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” 

Even “dumb animals” like robins know when it’s time to grow up and feed themselves.

Or maybe they’re not so dumb after all…?

 

Samuel 13:22; I Corinthians 3: 4,5; Ephesian 4:11,12  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.