Come, Read the Bible with Me!

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.