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Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 Lessons

Here's what I've learned in 2005. Some of these things I have learned before.

1) God is good.

2) Every Man is depraved. (Ladies, this means us too) This unpacks itself in "new" ways each day. Just look, just inquire within!

3) How to die to myself. This is one that must be relearned often, because I grew up in the 70's and we are very selfish. Well, it might be because I was born of Adam, and we tend to be very selfish; but those of us born of Adam and raised in the 70's were not taught to inhibit our tendencies as were other generations and Southerners. Also each time God gives me to put others first, it feels different, so it has not become routine; I can still justify seeking my own way in my depraved heart (see #2).

4) I cannot save anyone. I knew that, but each new realization feels freshly learned.

5) The foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has no where to lay his head. So what am I doing in my comfort zone? I have learned to take little baby steps out of my comfort zone, and trying not to look back at others who remained, lest my feet slip, and I fall. I still cling to many security blankets, but they are rubbish and I seek to set them ablaze!

6) Just because I can say something, doesn't mean I should. I think this has to do with #3, but more to do with taming the tongue and guarding my, I think all that flows from the abundance of the heart, which is deceiptful above all things and desparately wicked and filled with pride and seeks itself. (As you can see, I have a lot to learn.)

7) I haven't learned how to serve others selflessly, but I have learned that that is what I should seek.

8) I haven't learned not to fear man, but I have learned to hate that fear, and to recognize and re-proportion it. I nearly had a heart attack one day when I struggled within myself about inviting someone to Christmas service at church. I failed, and when they walked away, I started breathing again and my heart started pumping again. God is so merciful and patient with me; a heart attack would have been appropriate.

9) I have learned that a religion that does not touch every aspect of your life is as useless as a necklace. If it doesn't change the way I think about absolutely everything, and the way I behave, and the way I treat others, then it might as well be a television show that I can turn on or off. Therefore, I have become less afraid of politics. Previously, political discussions were frightening to me because they were based on social and economic issues and rhetoric and dogma. These things felt like shakey ground. This year I learned about not answering a fool according to his folly. If my religion, my God is anything, then He will shape my response to this world and its issues. Politicians, everyone of them, have agendas and each issue needs to be, separately, sifted through God's Word. I have always resisted clinging to labels like Conservative, Liberal, Republican, Democrat. Now I have a firm foundation to stand on, because I can place this aspect of life in these United States on that Foundation as well.

10) It aint no big deal to set yourself on fire, and why would you for anyone but for Jesus. To set yourself on fire is to make a fool, a spectical of yourself, even to your own demise. But you see, to fear appearing the fool is to fear man more than God (Matthew 10:27-29).* To fear your own demise as a result of serving Christ is to go into hell whole (Matthew 5:29-30).** Recently someone told me about Jim Elliott. I haven't read his story, but I intend to. I was told that when he and his group were going back into the hostile tribe in the jungle, they were faced with the decision of whether to take guns with them for their protection. They decided not to, leaving them on the ship (it was a plane). The reason? They were ready to face eternity, and the people they were going to were not. Wow...isn't that what Jesus was talking about when he said, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:25-26) Casper Ten Boom, when offered immediate release from the Nazis told them that if they released him, he would immediately go out and find someone who needed to be saved, and save them from the death camps. He was ablaze, and not hiding it under a bushel, either.

What have you learned in 2005?

*27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny[a]? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. (Matthew 10:27-29)

**29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)

Friday, December 30, 2005

Sword Drill!

Does anyone know what a sword drill is? I have done them several times, and no one jumps in with the answer!

Here is an example from my November post on Job 1&2:

"Sword Drill!
Who said that even if the crops fail and (yada yada yada) yet will I praise Him!(?)"

A month and a half later, I stumble upon the answer on another blog (linked in the title of this post). See especially her post on Contentment from December 7, 2005.


Habakkuk 3: 17-19 Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places.

No wonder you all didn't recognize it! Thanks, Anne!

I love this verse. I was thinking it was at the end of Job, but I didn't find it there. I searched key words like crops and praise, to no avail. Who would have thought to look for olives and figs and exalt?

So often I am content when things are going my way, when I feel like I have blessing flowing from heaven. My kids are acting right and the pay checks are steady and the bills are paid. What if all that were cut off? Then would I exalt in the Lord, the God of my salvation? Would I, like Job, accept evil from the Hand of God along with the good?

Oh, God, create in me a clean heart that I would find joy in your blessings now, and consider the trials of this life nothing compared to the glory to come. I love you.
In The Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Mrs. Abraham: She is our mother

Now we in this discussion of Women, are moving from the fictional to the real; from television and movies to the Biblical account of women who exemplify the same points either good or bad.

Galatians 4:28-31
28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." 31 Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

I Peter 3:5&6
5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Sarai married her half brother and left the city of her youth to go with her father and husband to a strange land, settling in Haran. At the age of 65 she was barren and on the road again, this time under her husband's leading to a land promised by God. She is following her husband to a promised land, the barren mother of a vast nation.

(You must realize at this point that if God were not sovereign, something in this plan would have gone wrong. This is way too intricate a plan to depend on the fickle cooperation of human beings to bring it to fruition.)

At her age, with the hope in God making her beautiful, she was taken into an Egyptian heram, as a sheep to the slaughter, not opening her mouth, apparently. There is no mention of a feminist uprising. There is no hen-pecking, nagging or "I told you so." Trusting God, she obeyed her husband; trusting God, she faced the consequences; trusting God, she fell under His protection and was returned safely to her husband.

At the age of 75 she took matters in her own hands. Yes, God promised Abraham a son. Maybe she had to "take a step of faith" and give up her selfish pride and let another woman bear that son for him. At the age of 75 in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the drudgery of day-after-day, can you blame her? She looks around and sees other women doing it. It is afterall, her gift to her husband, the Lord will honour her good intentions, won't He?

Was it jealousy or position that made Sarai mistreat Hagar when Hagar was pregnant? Yes, she was provoked, but it seems unbecoming to be abusive.

Why did Abraham give up authority over this matter in taking Hagar to bed (Gen.16:2) in allowing Sarah to mistreat her (Gen.16:6)? Sarah, however didn't act outside of his authority. She inquired of him and he told her "whatever you think is right."

When Sarah was 89 or 90, she was still beautiful (due to her hope in God, according to I Peter) and was taken again to wife a king. Again, trusting God, she obeyed her husband; trusting God, she faced the consequences; trusting God, she fell under His protection and was returned safely to her husband.

It seems in retrospect that Sarah was speaking for God when she told Abraham that the slave's child would not share in the inheritance with her child. Again, she was provoked by the mocking of the boy, was this providential?

In this story, we see Sarah's gentle and quiet spirit. Well, no we don't, but the absence of nagging and loudness would indicate such. If anyone had anything to be loud and whiney about, it was Sarah, I mean, I like camping, but come on! She is so unobtrusive that we need to look closely to see what the New Testatment writers see in her. It is in the abasence of loud that we see her quiet. It is in the absence of pride that we see her humility. It is in the absence of insistence that we see her submission.

What of the times that she put her foot down? Hagar turned out to be a bad idea. From the time she came into the house, a gift from the offending Pharoah, her presence was providencial bad news. If Sarah had not made this faulty intervening decision, then the miracle of God's providence of a child would not shine so bright. If Ishmael had not been born, we would not see the gracious providence of God for those who come from man's folly. If not for the slave woman's son, would we see the wonderful picture of the miracle of salvation as pictured in this alagory in the flesh?

Sarah was a strong woman of God. To say that she was a doormat or any other derogatory term would be just foolishness. It would indicate that the situation was looked at only superficially and with selfish eyes.

Sarah displayed the strength and gentleness, meekness and service that Jesus talked about in taking up your cross daily. She definitely died to herself and looked to the needs of others. She did not live and easy life and faced unknowns that would drive me crazy (although, my future is unknown, I just don't realize it!).

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mrs. Bunker: the rock that held the family together

Edith Bunker was ready, and anxious to do anything for her husband. It was her calling, and she accepted it with joy. She was cheerful and early in the long run of this show, she did not seem to notice when she was despitefully used.

This was a show that either reflected its time or shaped its time, I'm not sure which. (I can say that I, as a micro example of the times, was influenced by television on multiple levels) Television is a very strong indoctinal tool, let no one deceive you.

All in the Family was first seen in January of 1971 and immediately changed the face of television. Not only was this the number one television series from 1971 through 1976, but it also signified an avalanche of other situation comedies that dealt with controversial subjects in realistic ways. Including, Chico & the Man, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good Times and Sanford & Son

The series centered around the Bunker family who lived in a home located at 704 Houser Street in Queens, New York. Archie Bunker was the main character, and what a character he was. He was televisons most famous bigot, crass and down right rude. Yet he was loveable, with a soft side just beneath the surface. Edith Bunker was his somewhat dizzy wife whom he called "Dingbat". Edith put up with Archie and had qualities about her that made her one of television's most unforgetable characters. Also living in the Bunker household were Archie and Edith's daughter, Gloria, and her husband Mike, or "Meathead" as Archie called him.

The stories revolved around many controversial topics including, rape, sex, homosexuality, death, and other topics that were relevant to the 1970's, especially political strife and inflation. Archie Bunker was probably the first character in a situation comedy to use racist remarks referring to blacks and other minorities, yet another first for television.

And, also:

Television was changed forever the night of Jan. 12, 1971, with the premiere episode of "All in the Family." The show's central character, Archie Bunker, was a working-class family man who held bigoted, conservative views of the world. His viewpoints clash with nearly everyone he comes into contact with especially his liberal son-in-law Mike Stivic (or, as Archie delights in calling him, "Meathead"). The two disagree about nearly everything politics, minorities, sex, religion, economics, war, gun control, crime, free speech, women's rights, morality, philosophy and (so it seemed) life in general. Archie's daughter, Gloria, often (but not always) sided with Mike, while his saintly wife, Edith, was the rock that held the family together. Edith was as friendly, reserved, considerate and open-minded as Archie was bigoted, loud, rude and closed-minded; however, the love and faithfulness between them was undeniable. ( )

As an aside, Archie Bunker was a characature. If they don't know you personally, this is how they see you. Watch yourself, Archie closely guarded his own traditions and beliefs. We however are all about God. Archie made his stand on the sand of his own opinions while we make our stand on the firm foundation, the Rock that saves us. We may agree with some things that Archie said, or that President Bush said or that C.S. Lewis said, but we don't stand on it. We must stand only on the Word of God, and He will make out feet stand firm.

Those around Edith saw how she was treated and tried to get her to stand up for herself at times. If I remember corrctly, toward the end of the show, she began to resent her position and her role in the family. She began to become wise in this age, and therefore unhappy.

I Peter 3:5&6
5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

I Corinthian 1:26-31
26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

I have come to understand my own mother in a new light. Not the light of the enlightened '70s, but in the light of God's ways, and so I see her wisdom. She was the rock that held my family together, and that rock was in the bottom of a strong-flowing stream. She held firm, though and her family is still together. Of course our culture has eroded us somewhat, but I pray that God would bless my Mom and bring all of her children to faith in His Son.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Mrs. Barone: The complete package

"Everybody Loves Raymond" including me! It was my favorite show on TV for a couple of years. I am not going to grumble here about its long-running success coming to an end, but I would like to look at why a show like this would be a success.

Everybody Loves Raymond" revolves around Ray Barone, a successful sportswriter living on Long Island with his wife, Debra, 12-year-old daughter, Ally, and 8-year-old twin sons, Geoffrey and Michael. That's the good news.

The bad news? Ray's meddling parents, Frank and Marie, live directly across the street and embrace the motto "Su casa es mi casa," infiltrating their son's home to an extent unparalleled in television history. Frank's favorite expression, "Holy Crap," is shouted at regular intervals, and Marie's "cooking advice" is less than appreciated by Debra. Brother Robert, a divorced policeman, is constantly moving in and out of his parents' house, and loves to drop over and resent Ray's successful career and happy family life. Ray and Debra just wish someone would knock once in a while

Well, that's not the only bad news, and not everybody loves Raymond. Remember Mrs. Incredible? Isn't she incredibly like Debra? Debra does not respect her husband. She tells him what to do, or assumes he knows and is always disappointed with the results. She discredits his accomplishments and abilities in front of everyone, and loudly.

Who would Ray be if Debra supported him? Who would her children become if they could trust and follow their dad? What could Debra, a decidedly strong woman, learn and accomplish if she could let go of her self-sufficiency long enough to learn from her mother-in-law?

That just wouldn't be funny, would it? Peace in the home...not funny. Imagine, in prime time: A woman who is a lover of her husband and kids, a keeper of and a worker at home and who learns from an older woman, while practicing hospitality. Boring!

What is funny? A woman who stays at home with her children (how did that get on prime time?) demanding that the world revolve around her, degrading her weak and trembling husband, while he stammeringly tries to apease her and his mother while looking only to his own interests.

I think this tv show was funny. I enjoyed it thoroughly and without reserve until I noticed these patterns of personal interaction... (What's next: Monk?)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Mrs. Incredible, Mrs. Barone, Mrs. Bunker, Mrs. Abraham, Mrs. Isaac & Mrs. Xerxes

More to come.

Mrs. Incredible: the typical modern-day mom?

Mrs. Incredible

Helen Parr (aka: Elastigirl, Mrs. Incredible):
"Coming to her husband's rescue when the chips are down is the family's lithe matriarch, Helen, who was formerly the ultraflexible Elastigirl. This character was created in part as a celebration of the typical modern-day mom who, says Bird, "has
to stretch in hundreds of different ways each day." To get to the core of Helen's mix of maternalism and stoic strength, Brad Bird trusted the finely honed instincts of Academy Award® winner Holly Hunter."

Well, she was a strong woman, and an independent one. One website stated that she has "deep insecurities regarding her marriage." I wouldn't have said that, but it is a good start for a discussion.

"The Incredibles" is an incredibly cute movie. I like it. When we went to the theater to see it, as we were leaving, discussing it, I remember saying that the movie beat the hype about it, and that is unusual.

I don't think I have watched it again, since seeing it in the theater...maybe once. I watched it again last week, alone. I noticed it the first time, but at a different level I think. If I were to pick one word to describe Mrs. Incredible, it would have to be "angry." From the time she first appears in the movie until the end, her character is dominated by anger.

Where does it come from? It comes from being continually compelled to prove herself. When she first comes on the scene, she has to prove that it was she, and not the man-hero who caught the villain. She is critical and demanding in their marriage and child rearing. She could have been a single parent, with an assistant available in the evening; an incompetant assistant at that.

If she were really confident of her gifts and value, she would be free to use those gifts to save the oppressed and raise her children and serve her husband without needing to have others say, "You da man!" Needing that other-approval is what caused her anger.

There was a scene where the kids got in a quibble at the dinner table. The husband was distracted, and she was trying to control the situation. She was unable to, but her anger was directed at her husband. This reveals what is supported throughout the movie. She has a deepseated disdain for her husband. She does not respect him and will not support him. This comes from pride, again. She's all that, and he is not, but she sees him as competition...crazy.

So, why waste my time with this? Well a couple of reasons:

This, for some reason revealed to me a side of myself. Am I critical of my husband's every move and idea? Why is that? ...crazy.

God, thank you for revealing this sin of pride and selfishness to me. Strengthen me in my prayers for my husband. He is your man in this family. Give me the grace to show him that. Help me to put myself aside and trust You with him. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Also, this movie is being watched by little girls every day. Some children watch their favorite movie repeatedly, daily. What indoctrination! It is a very strong message of "maternalism and stoic strength."

Oh be careful little eyes what you see...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

And They Brought the Word of the Lord

At the risk of loosing you before we get started, and becasue the Word of the Lord is perfect and my best ideas are like dung, we will start with a good portion of Holy Scripture, which is something I should do a lot more. Examine your heart in this matter. What is your respnse to the Word of God? We must determine this before we begin to look around at how others respond to His Word. What you're looking for is a biblical response. Do you respond like the Bible either commands, or demonstrates is pleasing to God? After that, with fear and trembling, we can look around and, seeing a brother in error, or idolatry masked as Christianity, then we can say something; indeed, we must say something!

1 all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.
2 So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand.
3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.
5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. (Nehemiah 8:1-5)

Woe is me, I am undone! I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips:

1 On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads.
2 Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. 3 They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God. (Nehemiah 9:1-3)

More to the point:
I considered cutting this down a bit, but it is too good, too pure.

1 Then the king (King Josiah) called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.
2 He went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD.
3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD -to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel.
5 He did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts.
6 He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.
7 He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes, which were in the temple of the LORD and where women did weaving for Asherah.
8 Josiah brought all the priests from the towns of Judah and desecrated the high places, from Geba to Beersheba, where the priests had burned incense. He broke down the shrines [a] at the gates—at the entrance to the Gate of Joshua, the city governor, which is on the left of the city gate.
9 Although the priests of the high places did not serve at the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, they ate unleavened bread with their fellow priests.
10 He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice his son or daughter in [b] the fire to Molech.
11 He removed from the entrance to the temple of the LORD the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melech. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.
12 He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz, and the altars Manasseh had built in the two courts of the temple of the LORD. He removed them from there, smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley.
13 The king also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption—the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molech [c] the detestable god of the people of Ammon.
14 Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones.
15 Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also.
16 Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things.
17 The king asked, "What is that tombstone I see?" The men of the city said, "It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it."
18 "Leave it alone," he said. "Don't let anyone disturb his bones." So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria.
19 Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed and defiled all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria that had provoked the LORD to anger.
20 Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
21 The king gave this order to all the people: "Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant."
22 Not since the days of the judges who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed.
23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the LORD in Jerusalem.
24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the LORD.
25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.
26 Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger.
27 So the LORD said, "I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, 'There shall my Name be.'" (II Kings 23:1-27)

In case you're skimming, and want to get to what I'm on about, this is where you should start... and stop. That would be just too pitiful. In case you are here for the word of God, this is where it stops.

In both Nehemiah passages and the II Kings passage, the response to the reading of God's Law was change. Conviction of sin leading to repentance leading to changed behaviour. Oh, to be going along in life thinking you're doing OK, thinking you're doing what you've been taught is right, and to suddenly hear from God's Law that that is so wrong. It would twist our American brains, wouldn't it? It would be like going along thinking that women are most (or only) honorable when they are independent, and self-sufficient, and to be successfully so, a woman is at her best when she is sexually spontaneous, reproductively responsible, and just plain mouthy. Then you read things like Colossians 3, I Peter 2&3, and Titus 2:4&5 which twists your mind and demands a response.

The Word of God is never neutral. It demands a response.

I can imagine a couple of responses:

1) You read that and decide that what you're doing is, if you approach it from a little different angle, you end up in the same place, maybe facing in a different direction. I have heard the Romans mandate against homosexuality "interpreted" as meaning that grown men should not do it with young men or boys and that they shouldn't rape anyone. (See Romans 1:16-32) This response is wrong, unbiblical. It is a twisting of God's word around your behavior, not the twisting of your mind, heart and behaviour around God's word.

2) Upon examining the perfect Word of God, you decide that you understand what it says, and reject it, forthright. "Each man did what was right in his own eyes." You either don't believe it, or don't care. (See Jeremiah 36:8-32) This response is also displeasing to God. We see again and again in Scripture, God judging and punishing persons and people for this rejection of Him and His law. We also have specific commands in Scripture against this response.

3) You fall on your face with a broken heart and throw yourself at the mercy of a righteous and holy Judge. You see those things in your life under a different light and begin chopping great chunks of your former "righteousness" off. You chop off your right hand (quit your job or leave the country club or stop sleeping with your significant other); you pluck out your right eye (cancel cable, stop using the internet, cut up your credit cards); chop off your right leg (quit the track team, trade in that SUV, start riding public transportation) rather than enter hell whole. (Matthew 5:29-30)

What brought this up? What am I on about?

Last Thursday, I went to Planned Parenthood. This is the place where God refines me. This is the purging place of my sin.

Last Thursday, I had to go to the bank before I could get there, and by the time I was there, the large (third Thursday) group of Catholics were grouped on the sidewalk doing their rosary. The friars were conspicuously absent in the biting wind and falling snow. They did not part to let me pass by them on the sidewalk. That was OK. I took my place at the curb and opened my Bible. You know that I struggle with my purpose there, and my activity there. Sometimes I see it with clarity, and sometimes, not.

At one point I noticed a young woman walking northward on the other side of the street. She paused and chided us for being disruptive. She said we should just go home, no one wants to see us, we should leave them in peace. Then she went on mumbling and shaking her head.

The Catholics eventually broke up and as they did so, a mother of about 6 or 7 called to me, thanking me for bringing the Word of God here.

That was really very sweet. She was sincere, but they baffle me! Greater thinkers than I can expound on the error or heresy of the Catholic church, but I can say this: I would never dare to go into battle without the Word of God. I wouldn't dare go there standing on the words or traditions of man...never.

Oh, God, teach me your ways, and establish your truth within me. Let me not stray to the left or to the right and make my feet firm. In Christ Name, Amen.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Jetliner accident kills one

Amazing. Tragedy strikes, and what is your response...what is my response?

Last Thursday, when we were getting heavy snows here in Indiana, a Boeing 737 slid off the end of a runway, through a fence and a neighborhood and hit several cars, but killed only one small boy.

I can so feel for the mother and others left behind by this tragedy. I am thankful for the fifteen and nearly 17 years we have had with our daughters.

The Bible tells us that God knows the number of our days before a single one has come to be. (Ps 139:16) Not forgetting or trivializing the grief that is being suffered by the parents of this child, this surgical-like removal of this child from this earth as opposed to say, the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers where we can reason in our hearts that some of those people were simply caught up in the last day of someone who was near them. This incident is the same as the other. That boys days were known to his creator, and when they were all gone, an airplane was used to remove him from the bonds of earth. In the same way, each of the victims of the 9/11 attack had lived each day that was ordained for him. When they were done, an airplane was used to remove them from the bonds of earth.

When I read this story, I was so much in awe of my God. I was amazed! This is such affirmation of what the Bible tells us about God. There was no note in the paper as to the faith or lack of faith of this youngster. Whether this young one is in the arms of his savior, I must entrust that to God. He is trustworthy. All His judgements are just, for everything He tells us is true. His loving kindness endures forever. Oh, to hold this boy's mother and tell her that God is, and that He loves her; that what He says is true and that He above all can be trusted.

I must give my children to God everyday. I must hold lightly to them, and to my own life here. I will rejoice in my savior all day long.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What's Going On?

Planned Parenthood...Thursdays...Thanksgiving.

What to be thankful for? Empty parking lot and closed doors. Child-proof building. Safety. Peace.

What about last Thursday. It was the week after Thanksgiving and when I got there, there were just a couple of cars in the parking lot and the windows were dark, and there seemed to be no security. A couple of catholic women came along and visited on the sidewalk for a bit. Shortly after I stepped out of the van onto the sidewalk, a black car pulled out of the parking lot and drove away. It had a light by the driver's door like those that police cars have. A few minutes later, it pulled back in and parked right next to me. I continued in prayer and scripture and after my time was up, I waved at the car and saw a hand in the windsheild wave back at me. No other people went in or came out of the building while I was there.

This Thursday, there was a little more activity, and the usual security car was there, but no escorts were visible. I am not there early enough to see the early activity, and there was absolutely no one to one.

It was very cold. It is "dead week" at the university and next week is finals. There was a storm getting ready to move into the area. I don't know if any of this has anything to do with it. After last week's stillness, there was speculation that the appointed day for abortions had been changed. I don't think so any more. The security car was there today, and some people were coming and going, although I didn't see couple coming. There was a middle eastern looking couple...He came and parked and went in to get her. They came out together and went away. A Coca-Cola delivery truck came, parking in front of the building where Carole usually has her sign and delivered a very small amount of Coke to the building.

I had to struggle with my purpose there. Why was I there last week? Last week the catholics got in their car, to wait for more of them, and when no more showed up, they left. Why was I there?

Why was I there this week? There were no people there this week to speak against the killing of babies. No signs, no rosaries, no other people. Why was I there?

I was there to shine a light in a dark world. I am there to say, "There is a God and He has something to say about this." I am there to pray that God will purify His people and burden them with boldness to testify to His truth.

I was not alone, but I will admit that I was lonely, and cold. Loneliness tends to clarify your thoughts, though.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Job 4&5: Eliphaz/Ignaorance/Joseph Smith/Mohammed

"What think ye?" What kind of question is that? It is a bold and self-promoting question. What think ye? Is that important?

Eliphaz flows with so much thought, speculation, and proverb that in one paragraph his flow of reason may turn upon itself (ie: 5:1-7). I cannot answer every point he make, and I'm not sure it would be the thing to do unless any particular point becomes a stumbling block to someone.

A couple of things stand out to me. Maybe someone who is wiser than I can continue this discussion to everyone's benefit.

Where is your hope?
Eliphaz answers Job's lament of suffering. (Job 4:2-6) As John Bunyan's Ignorance hoped that his good thoughts and ways saved him, Eliphaz points out Job's good works. He states boldly that Job's hope ought to be in his good works. "Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?" (v.6) After pointing out Job's righteousness and urging Job to cling to it for hope, he then points out that the innocent never perish; this in the face of what Job has suffered. I'm just not sure where he is going with this, and it might be that he had not (in the seven days of silence) thought it out thoroughly.

Test the spirits.

Job 5:12-21 kind of makes me think of Joseph Smith and Mohammed. Who was it that visited Joseph Smith? Who visited Mohammed? I do not think that they were lying. I think they saw someone, but who (this is my theory...not to be confused with knowledge)? Was Eliphaz also visited by a spirit? It was not a spirit of truth. Was he just saying that he was visited by a spirit to give his words more weight?

Clouds without rain

In Job 4:17-21 Eliphaz goes on with his intellectual theology. This is very palatable stuff. but it seems to be irrelevant to the situation at best.

Rather than expose my ignorance, I will stop for now. I will, as time permits look into commentaries and I hope someone will also add comments to help me to understand better.

Please keep in mind that I have never dug into Job 3 - 37 and I am commenting based on my knowledge that God answered in later chapters.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Job 3: The Slough of Despond

I know that God is sovereign, and that He is just and holy and merciful. I KNOW who He is and that what He has revealed to us in His word is true.... And yet, sometimes, I don't feel like it and, following my feelings, rather than my faith therefore, I don't act like it or talk like it. This is a failing on my part, not God's. Sometimes my faith is weak, and sometimes, my focus/purpose is in the wrong place.

Job had, in faith, made statements and rebukes that were right on target in Job 1 & 2. How then can he, in Chapter 3 go to such depths of despair?

Deep, desparate despair: "May those who curse days, curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan." (3:8)

Deep, dark despair: "May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn." (3:9)

Previous-Joy/Comfort-consuming despair: "Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed?" (3:12)

Hope-eclipsing despair: "There (in the ground/grave) the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest." (3:17)

In this depth of despair, this godly man queried: "Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?"

In this query, our society lives. This is why I am afraid of this book. This is precisely why I have avoided it. I hear in the words of Scripture what I hear on the streets of my world.

I know, though that God has included Job's despair in the canon of Scripture for our good; for I know that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (I Timothy 3:16&17)

So, if it rubbs me the wrong way, I must be wrong, and rather than shy away, I should dig deeper and ask God to help me understand, or change my heart.

Matthew Henry writes: "The afflicted and tempted Christian knows something of this heaviness; when he has been looking too much at the things that are seen, some chastisement of his heavenly Father will give him a taste of this digust of life, and a glance at these dark regions of despair. Nor is there any help until God shall restore to him the joys of his salvation. Blessed be God, the earth is full of his goodness, though full of man's wickedness. This life may be made tolerable if we attend to our duty. We look for eternal mercy, if willing to receive Christ as our Saviour." (

Thanks be to God for His unfathomable and everlasting goodness to us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Job 1&2

How much greater are the thoughts and ways of God, they are beyond finding out! How He condescended to reveal Himself to man! How He condescended to become man and to die for man!

How could an ant understand a man? He cannot. We, of course did not make ants, and have no fluency in their language, but if we did, could the ant understand our motives and powers? I don't think so...Better analogy, could the stone understand us?

In Job, chapters one and two, God reveals something of heavenly activity that so much reveals my own motives and limitations, which I project upon God wrongly. When I look at these chapters, I see Satan baiting God, and God falling for it. I see the bully taunting and the weakling falling for the trap and doing what the bully wanted all along. I am looking through my own eyes.

Forgive me, Father, for I am but a worm, and do not understand you fully. Thank you for revealing more than this of you so that, although we will not know You fully until we are in Your presense, we can understand enough to trust in your goodness, your strength and your all-sufficiency even when we don't quite understand what you're on about. I know that while Satan meant it for evil, you meant it for good. I know that you ordained this test for your servant, Job, and that it was you who sustained him through it. I know that You allowed and received Satan in your throne room and indeed even invited -no, you must have summoned him- knowing what he would ask.

You made the vessel, Job. You created him for your purpose and glory. He was what you made him and was sustained by the faith that you created in him. It was hard for him, like going through a fire.

I, and others, sometimes think of the children and the servants who were killed for the pleasure of Satan and the proving of Job. We worms struggle with this, seeing only the life lived on this soil. Some of us think that it is a sign of your weakness, or just a cruel streak.

Forgive me, Father, for I am but a worm, and do not understand you fully. Thank you for revealing more than this of you so that, we can understand enough to trust in your goodness, your strength and your perfect will. I can understand from what You have revealed, if my feeble mind can remember, that while you made the vessel Job, you also made his children and servants. They were none of them without sin, and Job even made atonement for them, realizing that they probably did sin in their revelry. These vessels cannot say to the Potter, why have you made me thus, and why has my usefulness ended, for surely I was soon to become great; you didn't give me a chance to become the lovely vase I was meaning to be? You have revealed that you know the number of our days, even before one of them has come to be. For a vessel such as Job, that would be more than comforting (is there an English word for this?), but for other vessels made for more common purposes, this would be alarming and such a vessel would fill up with resentment.

Job 1:21
I have always heard the saying, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away."

I think that what Job recognized was that it is the Lord's to give, and the Lord's to retrieve or receive.

Job 2:9-10
This is the response to suffering that our culture holds for itself and for those it sees in the throws of suffering. "Curse God and die." It would be better to end it all than to go on in this state. Many think thus for the benefit of others that they see or know. Some think it for themselves and take their own lives. This, in some cases is thought by observers as the gallant exit.

We have forgotten, let us not forget, what Job, through walking so close to God, knowing Him and, therefore trusting Him, knew so well. In his pain and helplessness, he recognized his life partner as a foolish woman. God has revealed that a fool says in his heart there is no God. Mrs. Job did not say it aloud, but her counsel to her husband in his suffering revealed what she believed in her heart. Job turned to his wife, his helpmate in sickness and in health, and asked, "Shall we accept good from God, and not evil?"

In our time and circumstances, we think we need to say things like, "Sweetheart, what did God have to do with this, we live in a fallen world!"

Sword Drill!
Who said that even if the crops fail and (yada yada yada) yet will I praise Him!(?)

We do not need to answer a fool according to his folly. We know the one who is the beginning of wisdom, and would do well to fear Him, and not man, who can only shun us and call us fools, for He makes foolish the wisdom of the wise, and in our weakness His strength is revealed.

For what we are about to receive from your gracious and loving hand, make our hearts forever grateful. Make our feet to stand.
For Your sake and in the name of Jesus, your Son

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Sower?

There was a land-owner who owned the land as far as the eye can see, no matter where you went. He gave his servant a large, abundantly full sack of seed, and told him to go out and sow it.

The servant took the large, abundantly full sack of seed and went out-into the back yard. Although the master owned the land as far as the eye can see, the servant had come to think of the back yard as his own.

He set the large, abundantly full sack of seed down and dug up a plot of ground. He made it square, about 10 by 10, just right. He dug up the soil and removed the sod. He tilled and added mulch and manure until the organic content was just right. He worked the soil until it was a pleasure to turn. Then he smoothed it all out, just right. Finally, he made rows, straight and even. Each row was 12 inches from the last one, so he would have room to go between and pull weeds as the plants grew. He stepped back and surveyed his work with satisfaction.

At last he turned around and opened the large, abundantly full sack of seed. He reached in with his left hand and pulled out a handfull of seed and went to the first row. He planted 2-3 seeds per inch all along the row, covering the seed with the rich soil and tamping it down as he went. When he finished with the first row, he went on to the next and planted in the same way. He worked diligently in this manner, row after row, returning to the large, abundantly full sack of seed when his hand became empty.

When all ten rows were properly sown, he closed the large, still abundantly full sack of seed, and stepped back. He surveyed his work with great satisfaction.

He noticed that the sky was clear so he watered the plot. As the days and weeks went by he watered the plot, aerated the soil, weeded the rows, and surveyed his work with great satisfaction.

He put up a scarecrow to keep the birds away from the seed. He built a fence around to keep rabbits from eating the young plants. He even cut down a nearby tree because he noticed that it shaded his plot from the sun in the early afternoon.

As the weeks went by some of the seed rotted because of mildew or fungus in the soil. Some were left exposed by the rain or watering hose and were eaten by birds who were not fooled by the scarecrow. Some grew, but maybe their roots found the rocks that the servant had missed, or they were crowded by a weed that sprang up as quickly as they did; and they remained small and weak, and were scorched by the sun in the early afternoons. Some of the seed grew, strong and straight. These plants produced much fruit --40, 60, 100 times the little that was sown.

"This is what was written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:46&47)

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

The Apostles respond in obedience, even when persecuted:

"The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy of suffering digrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." (Acts 5:41-42)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Walkin' in the Sunshine Singa Little Sunshine Song (dududoo dududutodoo)

For some reason, I have a tendency to go through life seeing only what is in front of my face. Some might call it tunnel vision; some would call it self-centeredness. I suppose that is an accurate label, but it is too kind.

I have a tendency to learn slowly, and I am not much of a multi-tasker. Thursday mornings at Planned Parenthood have been a learning experience for me. God has taught me a plither of things, some of which I have already commented on. In His light, we see light. I have been walking in the sunshine of His light on Thursdays. I have treasured my time with Him. The iniquity of the world in which we live can drive us further under His wings, even as He sends us out as light to shine His light on it.

I cannot attempt to comment on what has happened yet. I will just tell about it. There are ramifications of my actions. Have I set myself on fire? Do I have singleness of heart?

When I got to Planned Parenthood this morning, Ms. Starbucks wasn't there, so I didn't have to decide whether to offer a cup of hot coffee in Jesus' name. I parked way down the street and a short slim man, dressed in a double breasted suit walked toward my van smoking a cigarette and blowing smoke up in the air in a strange gesture. He caught my attention because of the way he was dressed. I thought he might be a flashy lawyer; definitely dressed to impress. The way he blew his smoke straight up, tilting his head to do so also struck me as odd. For a paranoid moment, I thought he might give me a hard time for parking there. He walked past, but immediately behind my van, I saw him waiting for a break in traffic to cross the street. After crossing the street, he proceeded back the way he came, and passed Planned Parenthood on the opposite side of the street.

Thinking I was now safe, I put him out of my mind and walked up the side walk to PP. I probably would have forgotten all about him, but Carole told me that she thought we had a pimp bring a girl in. (So now I have had two surprises at PP: There are Catholics in Bedford, and there are pimps in Bloomington!)

It seemed like a day for visiting. Carole said that 13 women had gone in for abortions. The Catholics took forever to get to the rosery. There were no friars. Carole and I talked for some time and when she was helping someone put up a sign or something, I turned and found Glen walking my way. I was glad to see him. I had not prayed or read Scripture. I felt like this was a social gathering. Glen and Carole and I talked for a while and then a fellow faithful protester came along and we talked some more.

In a surreal moment, I found myself looking into Ms. Starbuck's eyes as she hung out of a pickup's driver's side window and threw a mess of hangers on the ground at our feet. I couldn't make out what she said exactly as she sped away, but I knew what she meant. I have heard another woman talk about pregnant girls in the old days using hangers.

In a moment, she redirected our conversation and thoughts. I felt ashamed that I was there for one purpose and was caught lacking. This was a vivid reminder of why we were here. It is however another Sanballatian tactic (Nehemiah 2:19 & 6:1-7). The man who was talking to us immediately discredited the implied claim by recalling how he heard someone (who's name I forget) state that the statistics of women dying in illegal abortion clinics were simply made up (just as Nehemiah did in 6:8).

Carole brought this incident to the attention of the security guard, who said that he could do nothing about it. We picked up the hangers, and Carole was going to see if Backstreet Mission could use them. Then Glen and I joined together to read Psalm 10 from the curb and to pray before I had to get back to work.

You will see on my sidebar that Glen is my hero. This was his second time at Planned Parenthood. Last week he asked me to pray for him that God would give him strength to go regularly. He works second shift and gets home anywhere between 1 and 4 am. He was very tired last night. He slept hardly at all Tuesday night. I set his alarm with the understanding that he might need to reset it. So you see my heart was warmed when I saw my hero coming up the sidewalk to join me there.

It took me a couple of months to tell anyone that I was going to Planned Parenthood on Thursdays. I am a coward! A chicken. Glen is my hero! He told me today what his older daughters think of us for going to protest at Planned Parenthood. I (the fool) asked him how they knew! He told them! He tells people all kinds of things! He is pretty transparent. I think that is the way to be.

I want to be like that.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Here am I; Send me!

'Before I left, I waved at her and hollered, "See you next week!" She hollered back, "See YOU next week."' (See "Rocky vs. Li Quan" post below)

When I go to PP, I usually come down Second, cross College (Southbound) and proceed to Walnut and turn left (Northbound). Then I go around the block to Third, turn left, proceed to College and turn left again. I used to go around the block a couple of times to get in closer, but that was when I would sneak in as the real protesters were leaving. Now I park on the left side of the road in front of Signs Now or a health food store.

Last Thursday, anticipating whether the counter-protester was there and determined to go to her with a hot cup of coffee (butterflies...butterflies!), I turned instead north on Rogers to Third and then East to College.

[It is quite chilly, I thought, and she will like a cup of coffee. As a matter of fact I think everyone would like a cup of coffee!]

Headed South on College, I was in the right lane with PP on the left.

I would swing past and then go to the place formerly known as Bigfoot on the corner of Fifth and Rogers. There I would get a couple of cups of coffee and share them with her. I would wait for God to give me words.

What would He have me talk to her about? What did Jesus talk to the woman at the well about? He kept the conversation on the essential--the eternal. She wanted to talk about water, He talked about Living Water. She wanted to talk about where to worship, He talked about worshipping in Spirit and in Truth and that Salvation does come from the Jews.

How did Nehemiah answer the scoffers? This is God's work, these are God's people, and you have no part in it. The end.

What did God tell Ezekiel to tell the Isrealites? Tell them this is what the Lord God said whether they listen or fail to listen.

What is my issue with her? When it is boiled down, it is that she has no regard for what God says. That I know.

Side issue: {What I don't know is, why is she so adament? When I lived according to the ways of the prince of this world, I didn't care whether someone got an abortion or not, but this passion, has some root.}

Side issue: {What is her issue with me? Does she think that killing unborn babies will become illegal? Why is this issue so close to her heart?}

I saw the men in robes, and the women with beads on the left in front of PP. (What is my issue with them?) I saw the signs telling and showing the gruesome realities of this day in Bloomington. I did not see the long blond hair I sought either on the left or on the right side of the road. She wasn't there.

I drove around the block again, not stopping for coffee. I pulled up in front of Signs Now, (no, it was even further down the street, because it was the third Thursday) and walked the rest of the way to the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood. Carole greeted me with a hug and filled me in on the day's doings. Fifteen women had gone in, she said. For abortions? Yes. I asked about the Starbuck girl and she said that she never came.

I cannot tell you...I worked that out and was ready to...what? I'm not sure, but I was available... Here am I, send me! It was exhausting. I was disappointed.

Has God prepared my heart to be ready to set myself on fire for Him? Has He prepared me to be the fool for Him?

Here am I. Send me!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What's It All About, Alfie?

Galations 6:8-10
8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

I struggle with my motivation in almost everything I do. The Bible says, "10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you." (I Peter 4:10-12) And also, " 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (I Corinthians 10:31)

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. (I Peter 2:11 - 15)

Sword Drill: Where does it say that it is He who enables us to will and to do His good pleasure (mixing quotes?) Where do we get the idea that He burdens our hearts and then enables us to accomplish those things that He has called us unto?

So, if I go to Lady Starbucks with a cup of coffee, is it for my own self image? Will I be puffing myself up?

On the other hand, if I don't, is it because I don't want to appear to be a fool, not knowing what her reaction would be? Is it so that I won't appear to be puffing myuself up? Is it because I have no idea what I would say to her, and I do not trust God to give me words (Matthew 10:18 - 20)?

10 And he said to me, "Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says,' whether they listen or fail to listen." (Ezekiel 3:10&11)

Look to Nehemiah. Again and again this man of God was able to keep his focus and restore the focus of the remnant of Israel to where it belongs: not on the "feeble Jews" or on the rubble with which they would rebuild the walls; not on the danger from their enemies or the reproach of their tormenters. The focus is God, His will and His glory. It always has been, and should be now.

I want to keep the focus where it should be. I want to want to take the lowest place for Him, trusting Him to be my good.

(Reminds me of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well.--I want to love like that!)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Rocky vs. Li Quan

(Sometimes I'll read a portion of Scripture as if I had never read it before.)

I felt like Rocky this morning when I arrived at Planned Parenthood. I was wrong. It is not our fight. It is the Lord's. Some trust in chariots, arrows, horses, presidents, judges, signs, and numbers...but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Ps. 20:7)

There was a young woman on the other side of the street with a two-sided sign. On one side it said, "Abortion is a woman's right!" On the other side was written, "KEEP IT LEGAL!"

She made the hour interesting. She made me think. It occured to me that there is fear that killing unborn children may become illegal. Outside of the intervention of God, I don't see it happening. We are afterall, wise in our own eyes. We, the people of the United States of America are in agreement that we are right, and have our rights! We, afterall by our mouths lay claim to heaven itself and by our tongues take possesion of the earth. We also say, "[Huh!] How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?" (Ps. 73:9&11)

It also occured to me that God is not afraid, "the Lord laughs at the wicked, for He knows their day is coming." (Ps. 37:13) Knowing God, we are instructed also not to be afraid. "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil." (v.8)

So what do I do with this woman? I watched her, and prayed for her; and our nation and the protesters, and the doctor and staff and the beeping passers-by. Every now and then she made eye contact with me across the street. What is she thinking? What is her reasoning? Is she beyond reasoning?

I am not afraid of her. I do not know her and don't care what she thinks of me. I do have the fear of man, so I am not speaking lightly about this. It is a real issue with me. Every now and then she would reach down and take a drink from a Starbucks cup. I wondered how she likes her coffee. What an odd thing to wonder at a time like this, I thought.

Before I left, I waved at her and hollered, "See you next week!" She hollered back, "See YOU next week."

Besides the fear of man, I also fear Starbucks. Starbucks was featured in "You've Got Mail" as a place where you can make 7 different choices to get one beverage for an incredible amount of money. Starbucks features about three of my top ten fears.

So I wondered: I wonder how she likes her coffee? (Colossians 3:1-15/focus: vs.12-14)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Quest

The quest began when I started going to Planned Parenthood on Thursdays. I normally take my lunch break earliest in our office, at 10:00 am. By then most protesters are gone from the place. So I would sit in my car and read Psalms and listen to God and talk to Him as I meditated on His word in the context of the place and time I was in. I fell into a pattern of reading, during the hour I was there, seven Psalms; one for each day of the previous week since I was there last.

I came one day to Psalm 36. I cannot tell you how deeply this has impacted me. The entire Psalm, of course, but focusing in on verse two: "For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin." At first I thought, "How appropriate for Thursdays! God, open THEIR eyes that they may see THEIR sin and hate it."

But how could I say that, when the people driving by, or going about their business, have closed their eyes to what goes on there or to what God approves or dissapproves? So I said, "God, open the eyes of the people of this city and of this land that they may see that they love the sin they support by their apathy, the sin they call choice, and sexual freedom."

But how could I say that, when there are people standing in a group on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood holding their beads and signs and wearing their robes, who have blinded themselves to the sufficiency of the blood of Christ to wash away their sins? So I said, "God, open the eyes of those who are captivated by the mysiticism and rituals that seem to them to make up for their sins and gain favor in your sight. Open their eyes and let them know that their righteousness is as filthy rags."

But how could I say that, when my brothers and sisters in Christ, who worship God in truth and humility, are not burdened for the children being slaughtered or for those whose daily steps take them closer and closer to the edge of the abyss, and they do nothing to snatch them back from the flame. So I said, "God, Open their eyes that they may see that their silence condemns the sinner to hell..."

But then I realized that "they" are me and how could I say anything but "God, I am a woman of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips. Show me if there is any unclean way with in me, and make me clean."

So this has been my prayer. God, I am a sinner, lead me in your way (Ps. 25) Open my eyes and let me see my sin and let me hate it. (Ps. 36) Create in me a clean heart. (Ps. 51)

So the quest began...

Once I commented on a blog and I received a blog-flogging
from some lurkers there. A dear little one thought that the
internet was a wonderful way to cloister yourself up--I mean hedge
yourself about-- and still impact the world. Maybe, but there is no "pressing flesh," no touching, no eye contact, no reassuring smile,
no tears to temper your criticism, no wink or sparkle that would indicate gentle humor or understanding and love.

I bring this up to say this: I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. I
have been thinking a lot, though. It takes me a long time to post the
simplest of musings, and a lot of tissues. I never intended for this
blog to be used like this. I wanted to put up ponderables and work
them out with whoever stopped by. I really did want to wrestle out some of the stickier issues in the Christian life. I expected to wrestle them out with unseen flesh and blood.

I have come to realize that God is using this to reveal to me sins of which He
will purge me. (Remember, I did ask Him to do this, and He has shown Himself faithful and powerful.) He is using it like a refiner's fire, and although I thought it would be through the corrective responses of bothers and sisters, as it turns out, it is through His Word and His Spirit.

When I post the tears flow. I am amazed, and it is exhausting. I came to realize this when I posted about the missing V key on my keyboard. This was going to be a simple, humorous, light-hearted post, but by the end of the post, I was convicted of my lack of gratitude for what God has given me; also that others, seeking God would be hindered by my words and behavior.

I don't want this to be a negative blog, but the purging of sin is a terrible and wonderful process.

I want while I am going through it, and forever afterward to say:

16 Come and listen, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.

17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.

18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;

19 but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.

20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me! (Psalm 66)

Answers? I'm not sure that I am going to be getting black and white answers like I would like:

I think I just got my "Propriety in
Prayer" question answered on the Pastors Bayly blog ( Baylyblog: Out of
our minds, too: B. B. Warfield on silence in the church... ).

Now I would appreciate answers to some other questions like:

How do you love like that?

Is passion, like love, an action and not a feeling?

How do you tame the tongue, putting yourself aside and the needs,
concerns, reputation of others ahead of yourself?

If the issue is, "On what or whom am I trusting for salvation?" then
how can Catholicism be called anything but heresy?

How can we "stand with our Catholic Brothers in the cause of life" if they are not our Brothers?

Would this be "unequally yoked?"

Exactly what do we call freedom, and when do we call it heresy?

Actually George, an 88 year old black guy who goes to Planned Parenthood on Thursdays has helped me to understand the Catholic Brother/heresy question more clearly than I have ever understood it before. I only met him once. He thought I said I was Saint Rachel, but I said that I usually go by just plain Rachel. He, being a "regular Catholic on the street" shared with me about how his sister was released from purgatory. He also stated clearly that although he thought Christ was "sufficient" that he also needed to do some things to "boost" himself into heaven.

Brothers, let us not grow weary of doing good, just because others use these same good works to justify themselves before a righteous and holy God. Be responsive to the burden that God places on your heart, it is the good works that He has saved you unto (Sword Drill: Where does it say that we were saved unto good works that He prepared for us in advance to do?)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Something's Missing!

This is a post that has no edificational or sanctimonious alue at all. There is something missing and I just, for fun wanted to go ahead and post a post without compensating for it. Can you guess what is missing?

I am ery surprized that I use this letter so much. I didn't think I did. It is one of those letters that you just take for granted until it "goes missing." Howeer, now that I am actually talking specifically about it, I find that I am not missing it whatsoeer!

We had a spill on our keyboard and now, it is eident that one of the keys has passed on and will not be reied. We can use that charactor by inserting a pen or pencil tip into the place where the key used to be, but I'm tired of that, so I say, to heck with the , full speed ahead!

Of course it will neer be the same, talking about blessed topics such as salation, the proidence of God, the soereignty of God, and Jesus being "ery God of ery God."

This does hae its upside, though. We can just do away with such things as family alues, Dener, olcanoes; and words such as ilification and ociferous.

We may need a new ersion of the Bible, howeer. We could, maybe call it the NI. Some passages may sound somewhat different:

You are my King and my God, who decrees ictories for Jacob. Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me ictory; but you gie us ictory oer our enemies, you put our adersaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name foreer. (Psalm 44:4-8)

Some may not be effected at all in the NI:

You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you. May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the Lord Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:5-6)

Seek God with your whole heart.

God has blessed Glen with a friend who happens to hae too many keyboards! So he gae Glen a keyboard. Thanks be to God for his bountiful gifts! I confess here my ingratitude and I pray for a grateful heart.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I want to love like that!

Why? It could be that the poor woman craves love and thinks it will
come by giving herself away. Or possibly she hates herself, feels
worthless, and expects to be used. Maybe she was inducted into this life
because of the sexual abuse she suffered as a child or as a young woman.
Maybe she ended up here because of alcohol, drugs or poverty. There can be
a dozen different reasons, but all of them are wrong and my heart aches for
her. I want to take her in my arms, call her beloved, tell her she
is precious to God and that this is not what God intends for her, that this is
not how a woman finds fulfillment.

The Truth about Sex
Kay Arthur
Chapter 5; Pg. 93

One time, I was watching TV and there was a show on about Marde Gras. They showed a blurred scene of a couple of girls lifting their tops to expose themselves for onlookers and the camara. I became indignant and left the room. While stewing about it, I realized that those girls are not to be hated, like I was doing, but pitied. They thought that was what they had to offer; how they would get approval.

I would want to have this depth of insight more and more. I am sorry for the hatred I nurtured in my heart for the young women, and their audience. This is something I will need to pray for. It is not something that would come naturally to me.

I would naturally be in one of two camps. I would either be under the deception of Mardi Gras (which I once was), or the hate-filled-righteously-indignant-on-looker (which I am).

God has changed my heart and taught me to understand the deception, and to hate the sin of the strange woman of Proverbs and the simple-minded man who follows after her.

Now, I think He is teaching me to love the sinner as He loved me while I did my laps in the wilderness. Why is this so hard?

I spoke the other day so accusingly of the flag-girls in the high school band. The moves they are taught are seductive, and the outfits they wear are revealing. My husband brought me up short, pointing out my malignant grumbling.

Who, though, could I take in my arms and call beloved? Whom could I tell that this was not God's best for them? Their flag coach? Their mothers? Each of the girls, themselves?

How could I do that when my natural inclination is to hold them at arms length with my finger pointing accusingly at them? And, by the way, why is that? I was there once, and Jesus took me in His arms and told me that this is not what He wants for me.

It is Phariseism. I don't know how to love like Jesus did, but I want to.

Recently, God is continually bringing people across my path and revealing my judgement to me: A Mae West-like woman, flagrantly dressed, and I see the need in her eyes. A presumably gay young man, who has resolved himself to be the comic relief, whose eyes catch mine as I resist the urge to chuckle, because I see the sin and the bondage there.

5 guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O LORD.
8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, O LORD,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
12 Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD ?
He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.
Psalm 25:5-12 (New International Version)

Lead me, Lord
Lead me in Thy righteousness
Make Thy way plain
Before my face.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What Do You Feel Passionately About?

( P ) Pronunciation
A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger.
Ardent love.
Strong sexual desire; lust.
The object of such love or desire.
Boundless enthusiasm: His skills as a player don't quite match his passion for the game.
The object of such enthusiasm: Soccer is her passion.
An abandoned display of emotion, especially of anger: He's
been known to fly into a passion without warning.
The sufferings of Jesus in the period following the Last Supper and including the Crucifixion, as related in the New Testament.
A narrative, musical setting, or pictorial representation of Jesus's sufferings.
Archaic. Martyrdom.
Archaic. Passivity.

( P ) Pronunciation
Capable of, having, or dominated by powerful
emotions: a family of passionate personalities.
Wrathful by temperament; choleric.
Marked by strong sexual desire; amorous or lustful.
Showing or expressing strong emotion; ardent: a passionate speech against injustice.
Arising from or marked by passion: a teacher who is passionate about her subject.

What do you feel passionately about?

Now that's a good question for a little lite banter. Possibly on the surface, or if you are someone other than me. My husband is a very passionate man. He will passionately discuss politics, sports, fact, I think he could passionately discuss anything! I on the other hand am more guarded. Am I guarding my passion or the possibility that I have none? Am I afraid of getting my passion popped?

We will be beginning a new Women's Bible Study very soon. I was previewing the material and the very first question for discussion is: What do you feel passionately about?

In the context of Nehemiah, the desired response is obvious, and I tend to feel guilty on the one hand because at times my zeal for the Lord's will, His people, His name, and His holiness may be waning. On the other hand, if my zeal is at its zenith, I will feel quite self-righteous, sanctified and holy while composing my thoughts to answer...and then I have to face it: My zeal is never that lofty.

If you have read my previous posts about "The Mighty Hand of God..." or "Oh Wretched Man that I am..." you might realize my predicament. It is two-fold:

In the Mighty Hand post, I stated that if I am trusting God with my trials, casting my cares upon Him, then I am not worried or troubled, but at peace. How can you be passionate, which, according to the definition is all bound up with emotion, if you are at peace with it? When I am not trusting God with them, then I am worried, but I feel more passionate.

In the Wretched Man post, I exposed a darker side of myself. I did not bring everything to light, but just a portion. My wretched man struggles not only with the tongue, but with wrath. I have grown up with the ever present stereo type of the redhead. Part of the definition of passion is the aspect of wrath. Scriptures regarding wrath and malice and fretting pop up and tell me that this part of passion is a sin.

So on the one hand, I would tend toward passion's sin and allow anger to rule and worry to flourish. On the other hand, I might appear to be passionless by not worrying or exploding or seething.

I would say that I am passionate about my kids, step-kids, grand-daughter, parents and in-laws. I would dearly love to see them knowing and loving God; trusting Him. I have learned (see The Mighty Hand of God...) to trust God with their souls and to speak to God and to them as God gives me words and opportunity (see Evangelism... and Ezekiel's Warning...). Even as I state this I tremble that I might become complacent or seem not to care.

I am passionate about my sin. I do hate it. I love to hide it from others. I want desparately to be free of it.

I am passionate about God's truth and salvation. I hate to see it mingled with trivial side issues. I hate to see it distorted, hated, mocked, discarded, disregarded, and painted. (Then, when I go this way, I go a little too far, and I hate that I, alone handle God's truth properly!) I hate to see it hidden, especially by me.

I am passionate about my lethargy. I despise my inactivity. I loath my cowardliness. I am sickened by my lack of zeal in my private prayers and my public presence. Can it be that I am passionate about my lack of passion or about the lack of active passion?

Is passion, like love, an action and not a feeling?

Monday, August 22, 2005

blah, blah, bla...

I am learning. Everything I do does not work the way I expect it to, and sometimes the results surprize me.

I told my daughter where to find my blog, and when I asked if she made any comments, she said that you have to have a blogger account to do that. That kind of reminded me of how I got started on all this. I was at a friend's blog and when I tried to comment, it appeared that I had to set up an account, so I did.

So, I went on my blog, and tried to make a comment to several posts to see if you could do it without an account (you can). Then I thought I saw where I could delete a comment, so I worked for a long time to undo what I had done so that people would not waste time checking on comments that were really not comments. Now I see that they still appear as comments, but when you click them, it is just a notice that this comment has been deleted. I don't delete people's comments (at least I have never have). So now everyone knows what that is. I deleted my own "comments" but left a scar.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?

...Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The
tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It
corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire by
hell. (James 3:5-6)

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set
your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your
life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your[a]
life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. ...8But now you must
rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and
filthy language from your lips. ...12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and
dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness
and patience. ... 17And whatever you do, whether in word or
deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father
through him. (Colossians 3:1-4, 8, 12 &17)

How often do I need to learn about taming the tongue? There must be something I'm not getting. Oh wretched woman that I am! Who, Who can and will deliver me from this body of death and this tongue set on fire from Hell!

Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!

This must mean that With me it is impossible, but I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

If anyone knows how to put feet on this, I would appreciate it!


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Mighty Hand of God is sometimes soft, and subtle

I Peter 5:5-11
5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to
the humble."[
a] 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

I may be dealing with two issues here. I hope I can keep them straight.

Remember when we were in school, primarily Jr High and High School, when we were done with English, we packed up our books and went down the hall and around the corner to Math class and did Math until we were done and had to go to Social Studies or History or (argh!) Gym class.

God doesn't teach us like this. He teaches us many things all at once and as we go. I don't learn everything there is to know about humility and then move on to taming the tongue class, or Mercy 101, or Forgiveness through the Ages. Sometimes I think I have mastered something, and then I seem to have to learn it all over again. All tests are practical and some are multiple choice and true and false at the same time. Pop quizes are the norm.

So where was I...

Ah yes, I was going to talk about how a godly woman in my church this Sunday just turned a light on for me. The question in Sunday School was: What would we rather do instead of praying. MaryLee Bayly said that we would rather be talking about the situation that is troubling us, rather than giving it to God.

Is this not what I do? I go on and on about my troubles, in fact, sometimes, if I am not fussing about my troubles, I begin to think that I must not be concerned about them! However, I Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all our cares upon Him, for He careth for us. Philippians 4:6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Who can I trust with the beginning and the end? God! Who tells me to give my concerns, fears, troubles to Him? God! Who can handle all of these, and loves me? God!

What am I saying to God when I talk to Him about those things that worry me, make me afraid, and then continue to worry and talk and fuss and "fret" (see Psalm 37)? I am saying that I don't think His arm is long enough for this one. I am saying that I am the one who must figure this out, and that He is not sufficient to the task.

What am I saying to others? I am saying, hey you're on your own, do the best you can, because My God is to small for even my concerns.

So, thanks to MaryLee I have mastered this faith thing...again.

Since I thought immediately of I Peter 5:7 when MaryLee turned the light on, I happened to see the rest of that passage (above; I Peter 5:5&6). The idea of submitting to one another, and to older people, and to husbands, and to one another. Linda Stewart, also a godly woman in my church has helped me with this regarding the idea of dying to self. If I feel like I must be understood, or that someone must hear about it if they have wronged me (so that I can forgive them, by the way!), that I can die to myself, and as the following passage said, "consider others better than yourselves...look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." How can I insist that I be understood when I am called upon to have the attitude of Christ Himself.

Philippians 2:3-11

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain
conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature[
a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being
made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Father, I will bring my cares to you, because you bid me to. Make me, then to stand firm in the faith before you, that others may see and glorify You.