Stuff

 

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Inventories and taking the census raise mixed emotions.  We are sorters and counters at heart. At the same time we have some more important things to do right now like catching the latest show on TV.  So classifying, enumerating, and sorting just have to wait until… you can’t find that thing you know you have someplace.

Do you know just what you have?  Do you even know where it is?  Do you care?

Being orderly of mind and stuff is for some an inbuilt character trait. Watch for the child who carefully arranges his blocks with all the animals on one side facing outward.  There is a budding accountant, a future enumerator, a bean counter who will drive his spouse crazy with his attention to detail.  The boy who sorts and re-sorts his baseball card collection is an incipient museum curator. For the rest of mankind orderliness is or has to be imposed from without.

Why the reluctance to dig in and make lists of the household contents?  We long to be organized; books are written on how to bring order out of chaos in our lives, beginning with our ‘stuff.’  Most people have a junk drawer; for some, that describes every drawer.   Because of the unwillingness to dig in and inventory, untold hours are spent in archaeological digs in drawer and closet hunting for that elusive, faintly remembered item.

Once we bite the bullet and decide to dig in, itemizing each object and recording its location, we tend to respond in different ways.

Way no.1—Turn and flee to a favorite distraction.  The Procrastinator Route.

Way no.2—Immediately find a treasured item which side tracks the project while you go down memory lane.  The Historical Route.

Way no.3—Get note pads.  Sharpen pencils.  Draw straight lines (where’s the ruler?) to make orderly columns.  Puzzle over how many columns of information you need.  Redraw the columns.  Find that it is too late now to start since you spent so much time getting everything ready.  Start dinner, instead.   The Well Charted Route.

Way no. 4–Dig in and begin.  Stay with the project even if it takes days, weeks.  Read those books on organization.    Spend a little money on notebooks, or files, or boxes or drawers that will be needed to get the job done.  The Efficient, Orderly Route.

There are only a few, unique individuals who ever find their way to Way no. 4.  They recognize that ordering their affairs is essential to save countless hours in the future.  Three years hence when the dishwasher breaks they will be able to answer the questions of warranty, place purchased and cost without turning the household on its ear.  Knowing where the files are kept, and when the kids had their DPT shots, and the number for that good plumber they had a few years back can save much aggravation.   But there is an investment to be made in order to reap the desired state of unruffled tempers and time saved in that future day.  It is giving a NOW time to the sorting, tossing, recording.  Sacrificing the present day pleasure of fun and games, loafing and lounging, for the unknown that lies ahead is seldom appealing, but that is the required investment to assure a good return.

Just consider: what would the universe be like if it were as orderly as your junk drawer?

There is More

-jvCyUZ3lky5XALq7VqfWgThere is more!

It is the norm to develop ideas and interpretations of life as we grow. This includes politics and purpose, relationships and religion, as well as spiritual realities.

For many, we picture a solid wall between us and the heavenly realms which are out there somewhere, unreachable and certainly not understandable.

Then we learn about Jesus and hear that because he died to pay for and forgive our sins, we can now have a relationship with Father and will go to heaven when we die.

This is where most people stay. Picture a solid wall, with a wall phone attached. There was no phone there until we accepted Jesus. Now we can go to the phone and call Father whenever we have a need. How cool is that! Some of us call frequently, others only when in trouble. This works for us as we drudge through life. When we die, we somehow are able to walk through that wall as Jesus did after the resurrection and enter heaven.  Good.

But our view never changes. We see our life, its problems, and the wall with its phone hanging there. That is all.

Jesus’ enormous suffering and dying only provided us a phone line? And possible streets of gold at the end of life?

The testimony of millions is a new life, somehow energized within when transformed by God, a new life which alters our priorities and definitely reduces the drudgery of life. But still, the wall exists in our mind to keep that new life confined. Being born again installs the direct connection phone line which is a great improvement to the old way, but it does not have FaceTime installed. We are left unable to see what the Father is doing, the way Jesus could. We read the promise that we will do more than Jesus did, but feel challenged to pray for someone to be healed of a head cold.

It seems that Jesus tore down the wall so that we can be fully restored to heavenly realities and we have resolutely rebuilt it. Any experience beyond the norm of earthly life is deemed scary, abnormal, and shunned as weird. Fear constrains us from entering into all that was made available by the complete work of the Cross. Any time we sense a nearness, or presence of Holy Spirit, or alteration of the atmosphere, we pull back and flee rather than staying in the moment, pressing into it to see, hear and learn more of the Father, of Jesus, of that other reality we call heaven.

It is a huge loss to us. We have been invited to a fancy dress ball with a fabulous feast, and we choose to stay home with a pack of snack crackers. And the phone.

There is more, much more, for those who pursue him. Press in; don’t pull back. Real life awaits.

Swearing and Theology

Swearing and Theology

Come, little children, and gather around. I will tell you a story about swearing. In days long ago there were two main swear words which would guarantee parental disapproval, often emphasized with a soap bar mouth washing. The first was “damn,” a word I heard from my mother’s mouth only once. Never was it seen in the newspaper, or in literature. If a man should accidentally let it slip in a woman’s hearing he would apologize immediately – “I beg your pardon, ma’am!” for no woman was to have her ears offended by crassness or profanity.

For those more extreme situations when a simple damn did not do the job of conveying the emotion of the moment, men would move on to the more serious “goddamn” or “goddamnit!” Then came the uttermost: “Goddamnit to hell!”

This “hell” introduces the second primary swear word that was off limits to children and women, and never seen in print except for Biblical messages warning of a fiery destination for the wicked.

Of course, people have always encountered frustrations when a simple “aw shucks” just seems too inadequate. Work-arounds and substitutions arose in their place. “Darn” was allowed in polite society, as was “Hades” the Greek god of the underworld. On occasion we would use H E double toothpicks, an oh-so-clever way to avoid the forbidden word.

The use of “damn” was so controlled by polite and public society that Clark Gable’s use of it in the movie Gone With the Wind was a shocker, making news and furor across the country. Grandmothers and preachers alike fretted about “what has our country come to!”

Few have stopped to consider what damn means. Its definition is to bring condemnation on, or to doom to eternal punishment or hell. It is ultimately a God function. Therefore, a seriously uttered “goddamnit to hell” is a declaration or prayer that the person or offending thing be consigned to the flames.

Years have passed. Those two words have almost disappeared. In their place has arisen an extensive vocabulary of swear words all of which focus on body parts and sexual function. There is no longer any such thing as polite society, with norms for speech. The words are part of print, news and literature, and every day conversation. Some people are unable to get through a sentence without using one or more of them, betraying a limited ability to communicate.

It also reveals the removal of God and God consciousness in the public square. Without God, damn and hell have no meaning. Without Him, we are left with only ourselves at our uncreative, physical worst.

It does matter, after all, what you believe even down to the way you swear.

Godless?

“The godless in heart harbor resentment; even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.” Job 36:13

“The godless in heart harbor resentment.” This says those who have not had their hearts converted to and by the Lord harbor or hold on to resentment. It would appear from this statement that it is a given: godless = heart full of resentment. The question then is this true when turned around? Is it accurate to say that those who harbor resentment and bitterness are godless? Does resentment shut the door to God’s presence?

Resentment and its companion bitterness, two ugly attitudes of heart, are the seedbed for others as well. Left to flourish like weeds, they grow into hatred, desire for revenge, and murder. Self pity grows up like thorns in the flower garden, causing pain to those who come near. Bitterness poisons the soul soil so that joy cannot take root and its fragrance is lost to mankind. Resentment is the seed of division; true love and friendship wither in the presence of judgment and condemnation.

Is it possible for someone to love God, and proclaim to be a follower of Jesus, and at the same time have a deep root of bitterness within? Or are these proclamations hollow, without reality, because the two cannot coexist?

Coming close to faith in Christ, we learn about the reality of His Kingdom and our inclusion in it. He assures the would-be believer that accepting His offer of himself means that He, Father and Spirit all will come and make their home within. John 14:23; 17:23. Thus “en-godded,” people take on a new identity, new world view, a new way of living and loving.

But there is no space in the Spirit-filled life for the weeds. The reverse is true; the weeds choke out the life Jesus wants to live in each individual. We become godless to the degree we harbor, hang on to, nourish and dwell upon our resentment and bitterness. These attitudes have no place in heaven or earth.

Therefore, it is wise to get rid of them.

Resentment and bitterness can only be eradicated by the willingness to forgive and release the offender and situation. Hanging on to unforgiveness “because they deserve it,” destroys you, your flower garden, your future, making you become godless.

Jesus has a better idea. Let it go, and let Him in.

Musing on Tension

n38307511_31163642_738Musing on Tension
There is within me a shapeless, unformed stirring. Care, concern, burden? Idea? Perhaps the exercise of writing will help midwife this “thing” and bring to birth a form which can be dealt with, looked at, pondered over.

So, God help me. You alone know the hidden thoughts of the inner man. You alone know your purposes and plans for me. Let us haul to light this gestation to see if there is life in it.

Tension comes from two opposites or a split (dichotomy) in what was once one. I see the world in such a tension. The physical world, divinely created and ordered, is a masterpiece that beggars description. Much of our libraries, much of our accumulated wisdom, much of the efforts of our educational institutions is exploration and explanation of the world we inhabit. Of the accumulating of knowledge there is no end. Often we “liberated,” educated 21st Century scholars are no farther along in understanding than Adam who, at the beginning, was given the job of naming things. We name things thinking erroneously that in the naming is the explanation. To say the grass is green because it has chlorophyll tells us nothing about why grass is green.

In effect, we are trying to describe the totality of the earth and everything visible and invisible connected with it. But it is too much for the human mind either singly or collectively. The complexity, balance, beauty, design and even sheer numbers of things to be found in this world speak clearly of a Designer Mind far greater than any human can attempt to realize. We are in and of the world, yet it is beyond our comprehension. It is a spectacular, amazing world. From whirling electrons to whirling galaxies, hummingbirds to ostriches, delicate ferns to towering pines creation surrounds us with variety to delight the heart and stretch the mind.One Bead

In recent years the many scientific “truths” taught as almost absolutes have crashed in ruins as new discoveries, new technologies surface. Scientists have even been quoted as calling some findings “puzzling,” which generally translates as not fitting in with their firmly held mechanistic or atheistic beliefs. Tension has developed between science absolutists and Designer absolutists, each side sure of its position while certain of the folly of the others.

Tension itself enhances life. Breezes seem more gentle after a wild storm, the body self-destructs without pain to guard and warn, mountains without valleys are not mountains at all. Shadow and sunlight, freeze and thaw are counterpoised and yet help define one another. What is youth without age, joy without sorrow?

The world is full of examples of stress and tension that are beneficial: the hatching chick must peck his own shell, or die; the tree that is wind-tossed develops deeper roots. Tension in fact is part of the variety to be examined as part of the grand Design even if only partly understood. Studying the dynamics of “what makes the world go round” can only give rise to awe.  The two opposing views of this world, its source and meaning are both needed to give understanding to the other.

Outside the Bubble

This is a repost. It was seen by few at the time, but I believe is worthy of a wider audience. What is at question now is the value of human life. Is the spark of life which makes us human worth anything at all? If not, what difference does it make if we engender children to sell for our profit? Why are we shocked and appalled at this and not at harvesting fetal organs for profit? Are we not being split brained, accepting one and not the other?

 

My life is lived in a bubble of God-focused principles, with reading and teaching Scripture a daily activity. I delight in helping those who have encountered evil in their past and now want freedom from their defilement. My friends also are people who love God and righteous living. Even though neither they nor I are perfect we are aware when we stumble; turning to God in confession, forgiveness and cleansing, we receive a fresh start.

The bubble is not opaque. I see the tragedies of life splashed across the news; I read the in-depth articles of conniving, corruption, cruelty, crassness. I have experienced harm from the disturbance of mental illness, seen far too many pictures of mass murders, genocide, slaughter of the innocents. I notice the almost weekly obits of the twenty-somethings whose lives were destroyed by drugs. And I weep. I see pictures of children abused to the point of death by those who bore them, and I weep some more.

Before my life became God-focused, I was of two minds about abortion: I wasn’t too sure I could do it, but it was fine for you. With my life orientation change, this thinking changed, too. Life became a valuable entity, not to be trifled with, and certainly not murdered. Yet, I knew there are some cases or situations that fall outside of the norm, where an abortion is the lesser of two evils. You might say I was a pro-lifer 99% of the time.

It seemed to me that abortion was, for the most art, a selfish act by those who wanted to play without paying the piper. Having tossed God out of their lives, there were no restrictions now on sexual behavior, and oops, well let’s just dispose of this inconvenience. So the abortion industry arose to meet the need. Laws were adjusted to conform to the new morality. Inside my bubble I saw it all as a sign of our growing separation from God’s standards. It was an evil bigger than any of my preaching or disapproval could change.

But recent revelations of behind the scenes at Planned Parenthood have revealed an evil that is even deeper and darker than any I could have imagined. Yes, taking innocent lives is evil. Late term abortions more evil. Deliberate killing of the newly born, also known as infanticide, more evil still. Those evils I knew of. The utter bottom of the pit, however, had not penetrated my thinking until now. Destroying life to harvest body parts? Merchandising organs, glands and tissues?

Wherever a business arises, it is to meet a demand. What and who are the powers that utilize these sacrificed children to their betterment? Is a mad pursuit of longevity, pushing back the inevitability of physical death, driving this demand? Is a fear of entering eternity pushing the “need” for tissues grown in vivo, as it were? Is it a sense of complete disdain for any life but one’s own? How is this different from cannibalism which feeds on human flesh for survival?image

Trafficking in baby body parts can have only one result: turning human hearts to hearts of stone. Driven by greed, wanting to live forever, the people behind this horror have reached a depth beyond knowing. And I weep.

Decent and in Order

My mama was an accomplished communicator; with a raised eyebrow or disapproving glance she was able to convey paragraphs. It was she who taught me there is a right and a wrong way to do things, and woe betide me if I strayed off that path. I think her favorite scripture was “Let everything be done decently and in order.”

School Girl Carol School Girl Carol

One of the accepted activities was church attendance. Even though she did not attend religiously—she came to faith in her later years—it was good for me, and was a societal norm. So when I had children of my own, to be the best mother I could be, I took my boys to church. They were taught about obedience, authority, being law-abiding, and that work was a good and expected thing. Going to jail, taking drugs, disobeying your parents were BAD things.

But things have changed somewhat since those days. Christianity, and people who adhere to it are now looked upon as the enemy, their beliefs questioned, challenged, criminalized. Our culture today would brand me an unfit parent for taking my children to church, exposing them to an Absolute, who declares He makes the rules. Funny about that. They are all employed, tax-payers, law-abiding contributors to society. What did I do wrong?

Increasingly we read reports of parents being arrested and their children removed from the home because someone somewhere disapproved of the freedom the children displayed when they walked to the store All By Themselves! Home-schoolers are harassed even though the children consistently test better than average across the board.

It would appear that the thing feared by society in general is any independent thinking, outside the control of governmental powers. To stand up in one’s opinions is to invite serious consequences from those who have great ability to enforce compliance. Unlike my mama’s effective eyebrow, they have the machinery of a legal and legislative system to bring people to their knees. My question: will this mean things are done decently and in order, with contributing citizens as a result?

Or something far worse?