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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Kickball Pulpit: What a Six Year Old Taught Me About Envy

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I was a first base coach for kickball last fall. It was cold. Really cold. My fingers were numb and to be honest, I was not very interested in being there. I wanted to leave and get started on my long list of chores waiting for me at home.

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You know how you hear things sometimes even when you aren’t really there, when you are not truly listening? I was staring at homeplate thinking about what I was going to do for supper yet I overheard the boy playing first shouting. He was ecstatic. “This is awesome! We are winning by 19!

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A huff came up out of my soul. Is he going to gloat?

He didn’t. In fact he proceeded to say something amazing. It was the best thing I heard or thought of all that week.

With just as much enthusiasm he continued, Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Photography: Truth in Images, Sin

 

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Moving into Oblivion

Our family is preparing to move from a place we love for one that we like not so much.  There is nothing about this move that excites me, even on my most optimistic days.

One of the most difficult things to leave are our friends.  Despite many promises of “we’ll keep in touch” or “so and so is not that far away”….I know better.  Once we leave, within two weeks most will rarely think about us again.   The people I laugh with today will largely forget me within a matter of weeks.

Alexander Pushkin said it well, ‘oblivion is the natural lot of anyone not present.  It’s horrible, but true.’

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On my dresser is an urn holding my baby boy.  He is the third child I had that died in utero.  Our family named him “Irish”, which I probably would have never named him had he lived to see the sun, but still, Irish caused me great agony.  He was my heart’s desire, one of our last attempts at another child and he was placed in my hands lifeless.  The despair over his death lasted close to a year for me.  Yet, even he, has slipped into oblivion.

Oblivion: the condition or state of being forgotten.

From the first song in The Phantom of the Opera, “Think of Me,”

Think of me, think of me fondly, when we’ve said goodbye.
Remember me once in a while, please promise me you’ll try.

Am I comfortable with being forgotten?  There is a natural tendency to want to claw our way into being remembered.  To insist on doing something that will leave a mark on humanity.  To leave a wake of our essence behind us.   To do or be something so exceptional as to defy this natural law of “out of sight, out of mind”.  We hope that our measly lives amount to something worth being remembered, for if we live and die and the memory of our existence disappears, the point to our life seems to vanish too.

Total absence never made my heart grow fonder, it made my heart forget.

To not be forgotten, you have to either live with the person, be in constant communication with that person or be that person.

And so, I face my reality.  The world will most assuredly forget me.  Even my children will come to a point where they think of me infrequently.  My spouse, well, he’s stuck with me til’ one of us dies, but after that, I know that whoever is left standing will slowly begin the process of forgetting the other.  I might as well not fight it, I won’t be remembered by people.

Could God forget me too?  Might He?

If man and God should forget you how terrible!  But if man forget you and yet God does not, what have you lost?  And if man should remember you but God does not, what have you gained?  For even the man who might remember you will himself, someday be forgotten.

I wonder sometimes if God will forget those cast into hell.  I suppose He might for they are permanently removed from His presence.  I can’t think of a Scripture that speaks to Him forgetting them at the moment, I don’t believe there is one (forgetting meaning not deletion of memory, but indifference).  Even if God dismisses those, I feel confident He will remember me solely on my standing in Christ.  In Christ, the presence of God is always with me through the Spirit, communication with Him has freely opened and mystery of mysteries, I am somehow IN Him.  No, He won’t forget me.

I’m okay with moving into oblivion.  Truthfully, it is sometimes painful because people are important to me, but I don’t see it as fatal because when all is said and done, it is a minor oblivion. The real oblivion that I fear is an impossibility, so long as I am found in Christ.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Spiritual Growth

 

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The Pencil Speaks To Me

thispencilI watched my son as he did his work today, struggling yet persisting with this pencil. I asked if he wouldn’t like to use one of the new ones I bought to replace this old one. He refused, in fact, he adamantly resisted the idea.

“Silly, stubborn boy,” I thought.

I continued to watch him and then stopped when I suddenly saw myself. God prevail in me to throw away all of the old pencils in my life, and use the new He gave me, that sits there waiting for me, waiting for me to discard the old one.

 

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Hating Tamar

I think I have finally come to understand Amnon, which is big news because I have always just considered him to be one of the ten top jerks found in the Bible.

Reading 2 Samuel 13, I first find myself sympathetic to him since he is overcome with infatuation.  Amnon is powerfully drawn to Tamar, his step-sister, and is consumed with thoughts of her.   His desire for her leads to his scheme to get near her.  So far, everything is understandable though admittedly, not desirable.  Infatuation is an intensely powerful experience and it tempts us to force the matter with all sorts of silly schemes. Up to this point he is not acting any different than anyone I have ever known. Then, we move on to the rape, where he crosses a big line, a really, really, big, ugly line.  He now enters into self-centered jerk territory.

What has always puzzled me though are his feelings immediately afterward:  “Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred.  In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her.” 2 Samuel 13:15

Huh?  Where did that come from?  He uses her and then kicks her out without even an apology. Exceptional jerk.

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You know that verse that talks about how if you judge others you end up judging yourself?  As it turns out, I am an exceptional jerk as well.

I think Amnon hated her so passionately because he blamed her for his own sin.

I was reading a post by Cracked.com on Five ways Modern Men are Trained to Hate Women when all the dots connected regarding this verse.  In the authors opinion, men learn to hate women because women hold power over them because of the man’s desire for sex.  Furthermore, women threaten to ruin them as men are prone to think sexually in highly inappropriate contexts.  Sounds like Amnon fits that to a tee.

But is it justified?

I thought about the things I most passionately hate.  Nothing had to do with sex,

But…

I saw that what I despised were things that have in the past made me look foolish, and that I criticize the most things that I fear could make me look foolish in the future.

We tend to aggressively criticize things that hold a sway in our being.  If my love for something or someone reflects poorly on who I am, eventually I will hate it for the conflict it causes within me.

There is a good chance that the things you and I feel most vehemently against are actually things we condemn because we are scared to death that they will condemn us.  We most passionately hate the things that have power over us.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Spiritual Growth

 

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Up in Smoke: James 4:14 in Pictures

What started out just as a photography exercise for me has turned into this post.  When I sorted through these images I was surprised to see so many pictures inside the pictures.   I was mesmerized by how the smoke from a snuffed out flame captured the thought of this verse:

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14

Not all is gloom and doom.  At the end of the slideshow I included some that I thought expressed these verses:

Let my prayer be set forth as incense before thee; The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2

“And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8:4

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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Photography: Truth in Images

 

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Reinterpreting Ruth Part 2: The Surprises Found in the Gospel of Ruth

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One of the reasons I hope you read The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James is because after reading it myself I have seen where I have completely skipped over the nuances of Ruth and missed the big picture in a big way.  That bothers me because I study Scripture because I want to understand the point!  I’m not a novice.  I have studied hermeneutics and understand how important it is to get the context straight and pay attention to those pesky details to understand the intent.  It bothers me a lot that I was so off base on this book.

Before I read The Gospel of Ruth this is how I would have summed up Ruth: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2013 in Ruth, Women and the Bible

 

Reinterpreting Ruth- A Must Read Book for 2013

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I have never read a book before that has changed how I interpret an entire book of the Bible…until now.  This book has left me scratching my head wondering how I never saw this before.

The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules by Carolyn Custis James is a must read in my opinion for any student of the Bible. I have never heard this interpretation of Ruth before, which is sad, because it has helped me in answering a question that has vexed me for years…Is God good for women?  It has also added some much needed depth for me to the  feminine hall of faith.  Finally, my new understanding of the book of Ruth enables me to draw stronger connecting lines between Jesus’ teachings and the Law.

Better than merely seeing Scripture in an insightful way, James unearths Ruth, making the traditional love story interpretation with Boaz as the kinsman redeemer riding in as the hero, a superficial treatment to God’s message.  The truth is, most of us have missed the point of this book.  So what is the point?

To answer that, you have to ask what question is raised in Ruth.  What was the dilemma?  The broken link of Elimelech’s family line, yes, but there is a louder dilemma if you look closely.  The point is not the bloodline of the Messiah…the point is the heart of the Messiah of that bloodline..  At its core, (my conclusion, not James’),  Ruth is about the Law.  Specifically, two story lines are taking place in this book, two instances where the Law is being followed to the letter and yet producing a result far short of God’s will.  The book of Ruth is essentially God’s sword to the Pharisee in all of us and it is a message of hope as well to a beleaguered Eve struggling under it.  The takeaway for Naomi, Ruth, Boaz and us is do not view the Law as God’s heart.  Ruth shows that neither God nor His thoughts, are understood or served through the Law, unless man goes beyond it.   In both story lines the Law, even while being carried out, exposes something despicable in man.  Indeed, even if one could fulfill all of the Law, they could still not be righteous for the Law does not love. God and man, need to bring that to it. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Ruth, Women and the Bible

 

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