Saturday, May 30, 2015

In praise of the extroverts ...

After our long hiatus, I'm prompted to re-visit this blog because I was thinking how much I appreciate the extroverts God's plopped into my life.

All this "get to know your introverted characteristics" stuff has been helpful to me these last few years.  (How is it that I love people and yet find myself so eager to go home from every stinkin' party?) But I wonder if all that publicity can lead us to forget just how much the opposites contribute?

So last night I went to a hockey game (stop ... take a breath ... really), and I had a delightful time, in large part because the entire weight of all the social stuff landed square on Phil, my neighbor, who went with me.    (the same one who owns a pirate costume ... just in case it might come in handy ... you never know when you might need a pirate costume)

I think back at the traveling, the parties, projects and studies ... and what a joy it's been to have friends who  would not only break the ice, but also warm up the water a bit, so I could dive in and enjoy the conversation without doing the work. My sister-in-law, who always sees a reason to celebrate; Pastor Baker, who seemed to enjoy the challenge of dealing with cranky customer service people; Deborah, who attracts these amazing conversations, and unusual people when we travel together; Bonnie, who always welcomes one more to their table; Lois, Ruth and Tillie Pell, who found it odd that anyone would knock, and greeted every entering guest like a soldier home from war. 

I appreciate the people who, in so many different ways, revel in their liberty to dance for the cameras ... and allow me the freedom not to!

Friday, May 30, 2014

A News-Free Summer

Returning to the original purpose of this blog ... a place to hold myself accountable ...

It's bad out there.  Has anyone noticed?  And it's getting worse.  The headlines and sound bites, pictures and videos send me onto an emotional see-saw between outrage and despair.

In 2013, a friend began to blog, about her attempt to purge cynicism from her life in 2013.  When she began, I remember thinking it sounded like an impossible goal.  I've really appreciated her posts.

Today, while lamenting the state of the world in a conversation with my pastor & friend, he suggested I cut out the news. My immediate reaction was very negative.  So negative, in fact, that I found myself considering it all afternoon.  It's not like I enjoy the news.  It's more like I feel compelled to know what's going on in the world.  I resist being seen as ill-informed.  I want to be prepared in any way I can for what's coming.

And yet ...

Am I learning anything new?  Really?

I've been editing a paper recently based on Ecclesiastes 1:9 - What has been will be again; What has been done will be done again; There is nothing new under the sun.

How does this relate?

Well, back to today's conversation, he pointed out that what I'm seeing that weighs on me is simply age-old themes repeating.  While the situation may be worsening, it is not changing. 

  • The world is still in rebellion against God.
  • People are still inherently evil and pursue self-interest
  • Everything is still decaying, wearing out, winding down.  (Second law of thermodynamics)
  • Power still corrupts.
  • There are still isolated bright spots ... which are bright precisely because they violate the above.

So, why not turn it off for a while?  Why not take a break?  Why not, as he said, "turn off Glenn Beck and read your Bible."

I believe I will.  I'm going to take the summer off -- try to enjoy God more, and think about the world less.

If by chance it would be wise to lock my windows and load the guns, could somebody please let me know?  :)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Gay Marriage - a Social Justice Issue?

There is a great deal of conversation already floating around the internet about the Christian's response to homosexuality. But it seems to be one of those issues that's prompting me to write, whether I'm weary of thinking about it or not.

I intend to think here about this issue specifically among Christians, and in the church.  However, I also recommend an excellent article by Dennis Prager at which addresses homosexual marriage from a more secular viewpoint.  

A couple Bible passages come to mind as a reason to add my voice to the mix.

Ezekiel 3:
17  "Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me.
18  "When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’; and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.
19  "Yet if you have warned the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.
20  "Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he shall die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand.
21  "However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself."

Now, in no way do I consider myself a prophet. :)  (and all the leadership of my church draws a hearty sigh of relief to hear THAT).  But I have the words of God ... in a book ... and I wonder if unwillingness to speak about what I've read, when it seems so relevant, might be considered a grievous error.

The other passage was 2 Timothy
1  I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
2  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires;
4  and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.
Now, just as I'm not a prophet, nor am I a preacher (there’s that sigh of relief from backstage again).  But even a lay person, is, I think, called to “rightly divide the Word of truth”  (2 Timothy 2:15), and it grieves me to see the plain truth of Scripture ignored in favor of quirky interpretations designed to support current cultural trends.

I'm responding particularly to this video

which is one of many sources that compare the way people in the past used the Bible to support racism and Christians today who point out the Scriptures’ condemnation of homosexual behavior.

Those making that comparison are completely missing the point.

Racists were trying to twist the Bible to support a sin that was currently socially acceptable.

While this IS happening again today, it is not happening at all in the way they claim.

The current error is looking at the cultural norm of "all consensual sex is acceptable" and twisting the Bible to agree.  This issue goes so much farther than, "is homosexual behavior wrong."  The real question is, "what is God's design for sex?"  Once that question is answered, then we're faced with, "how do we live in response to that answer?"

Looking to culture to answer those two questions is precisely the same approach that gave us the supposed Biblical justification for racism.  Rather we need to look to the Bible, and allow that to be the lens through which we interpret our culture.

The truth is, God DOES treat sex as having a higher meaning than what our world ascribes to it.  Over and over, He emphasizes that it's a blessing that's reserved for marriage.  In Genesis 2, we see God establishing the marriage relationship:

18  Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."
19  And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.
20  And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.
21   So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place.
22  And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
23  And the man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man."
24  For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
25  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
During the whole creation story, we hear, again and again, that God looked at what He'd made, and it was good;it was good; it was good.  Yet, here, is the first time something is "not good."  Adam, alone, was not good.

God created a partner suited to filling that need.  But beyond simple companionship, we begin to see God expand the meaning of that relationship, using it as a picture of spiritual realities:

  • God and Israel (Isaiah 54:4,5, among many others, with Hosea being the most notable example - as the entire book is a long metaphor comparing Hosea's unfaithful wife Gomer with Israel's idolatry against God.)
  • Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-32, Revelation 19:6-8, many many others)

Marriage, and therefore sex, if we're going to wed the two (pun intended) in the way the Bible does, seems to be one of those issues that carries more meaning than it originally appears.  There are many parallels drawn between this relationship and spiritual realities.  So when we allow our culture to re-shape our perspective on these things, perhaps we are tampering with a tree whose roots go far deeper than we know.

We live in a world that has been marred by original sin in every way.  Part of that sin-sickness means there are innumerable ways that suffering touches our lives which were not in God's pre-sin plan. And that includes the fact that some people are born with an orientation towards certain sins, including improper relationships.

If we acknowledge that people are born with predispositions towards certain sins, does that mean the church should refuse to speak out against those sins, lest they offend a struggler?  I would contend that if we do not, then we are failing those people.  If we are too delicate to mention that something is a sin, then we are also too delicate to offer hope.

If a person is born with a homosexual orientation ... it seems the question always follows, how can we possibly expect them to find contentment in an opposite sex relationship?

While God did say, "it's not good for man to be alone" we are later told that some are destined to singleness for the furtherance of the kingdom of God.  Marriage is the normal state for most people, but not all. In fact, singleness is commended in 1 Cor. 7 as being a state whereby one can serve God without distraction.

The following essay was written by Emily Perl Kingsley is about having a child with a disability, but I think it applies equally well to our approach to any large life-circumstance which God has allowed, but yet would not have been our choice:


Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

When God "works all things together for good to those who love Him," it doesn't mean He will bend His plan according to our desires.  But rather it means when we allow Him to bend our desires according to His plan, we'll find there are joys we never expected waiting for us on the other side of that wrenching.

All comments are welcome (disagreeing with me or not), but I'll only approved those that are rated PG, and refrain from personal attacks.  This little bitty blog is the only fiefdom I get ... so I have to make SOME rules. : )

Monday, October 29, 2012

Conservatism is Calling

I'm working on an honest-to-goodness, real, thought-out post.  But it's not ready yet.  In the meanwhile, I found this video to be excellent:

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A Brief Moment of Grace

From this morning's One Year Bible reading (New Living Translation - which is new to me):
“O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, we have been steeped in sin. That is why we and our kings and our priests have been at the mercy of the pagan kings of the land. We have been killed, captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today.
“But now we have been given a brief moment of grace, for the Lord our God has allowed a few of us to survive as a remnant. He has given us security in this holy place. Our God has brightened our eyes and granted us some relief from our slavery. For we were slaves, but in his unfailing love our God did not abandon us in our slavery.
- Ezra 9:6-9a

This really struck me this morning.  It's referring to Israel's behavior as a nation, but as individuals, we can't look at our own conduct, motives, words, and not acknowledge that "steeped in sin" pretty much covers it.  

However, God mercifully throws in a "But now" ... we are given a brief moment of grace.  He's brightened our eyes -- allowed us to see our need.  He's given us security -- the offer of deliverance from our sinful natures through Christ's sacrifice.  He hasn't abandoned us in our slavery.

A brief moment of grace ... a respite from the insanity of self-focus, and self-worship to hear Him calling. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


It seems that Facebook has taken a lot of the steam out of my blogging, but this morning I'm finding myself thinking about hate.

I've noticed in the last few weeks that somehow the meaning of this word has been radically re-defined.

Let's start with the dictionary definition:


[heyt] Show IPA verb, hat·ed, hat·ing, noun
verb (used with object)
1. to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest. 

(examples of usage: to hate the enemy; to hate bigotry.)
2. to be unwilling; dislike. (example of usage: I hate to do it.)

"Hate" is a nasty word.  And the actual presence of it is at the root of a great many of the world's evils.

So now ... though ... the definition has shifted, and it seems that the word is used more or less to mean "disagree with."  

So, if I take any position on any issue that implies that others are wrong.  Or worse yet, implies that I believe that others are DOING wrong, I'm "hating."

Sorry ... friends ... not only is that NOT "hate", but it cheapens the word.   
History has SHOWN us hate.  To lump someone who's expressing disagreement, or even condemnation, in the same camp with those who have committed genocide, is insane.  (so, yes, I suppose I'm "hating" there.  I seem prone to it, apparently).  

 When we use the word this way, we're implying that strong disagreement will automatically lead to animosity, or worse yet, violence.  But if people don't disagree, and don't discuss, then there is no refinement of ideas.  We never realize WHY people hold the positions they do, and we don't learn to know them as individuals, rather than stereotypes.

The fear of "hating" creates far more distance between people, than it would if we simply looked in one another's eyes and said, "I think you're wrong."  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

forget about it!

I was looking at Isaiah 54:4 today:

"Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. "

The phrase in blue stood out to me. We all have these memories which, when we touch on them, make us flinch. Stupid things said and done ... sinful (or just dumb) choices made ... being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and seeing what you wish you hadn't ...

When I first read the above verse, I automatically had the thought, "praise the Lord, He chooses not to remember that stuff. And He doesn't cause us to be disgraced ... cause others to remember it."

But it's more than that. He says I will forget the shame of my youth.

He's going to allow it to fade, to the degree those memories won't fling themselves in my path.

I'm thankful for that. There are SO many things it's just so nice to forget!