Monthly Archives: September 2012

Playing Fast and Loose

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I had a really difficult week:  First I had a flu, and then I had a teenager.  So today I did the only reasonable thing one does when one is going through a bad time:  I fasted…except for a trip to Cold Stone to get their totally awesome Sinless Sans Fat ice cream with black cherries mixed in.  But that doesn’t count because ice cream is nothing but fat and sugar, so if it lacks those two ingredients it’s really nothing, right?  And black cherries are a fruit and if I’d blended it first (which is what will happen once it’s in my stomach), it would be juice which is allowed on some fasts.  And the sugar in the black cherries had absolutely no nutrition, so I’m good there.  I also had a few handfuls of Cheez-Its.  But that wasn’t breaking my fast-I didn’t look at them while I ate them, and each one is so small I swallowed them whole, and though I did inhale, I didn’t chew.  So-yeah- I fasted today and Boy do I feel spiritual.  So I guess I can break my fast in time for dinner, which is great because I am absolutely starving after all that not eating. I just love not eating.  Hey-I think I’ll fast again tomorrow (I want to try another flavor of Sinless Sans Fat).

“Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?  Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?”  Isaiah 58:5,6

A Short(s) Lesson in Humility

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After the birth of our fifth child, I was happy to be back in “normal people” clothes.  One sunny day, I pulled on a pair of shorts, and to my surprise, they fit.  I turned this way and that before the mirror, very pleased with myself as we all set off for a picnic at the park.  An hour later, after a stop at the park restroom, the kids ran ahead to find the perfect picnic spot.  I lagged behind carrying the usual truckload of gear and noticed people giving me a second look. I smiled and thought, “I must look pretty good in these shorts.” I was setting out the pb&js, when a little girl approached and said, “Excuse me, you have something on your back.”  I twisted around to look, and there plastered to the back of my shorts was a toilet seat cover.

Two verses come to mind- Daniel 4:37, and James 4:6:  

“…and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”  Yeah, no kidding.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Like I don’t have enough opposition in my life? I need to add GOD to that list?

What I need is a double scoop of grace, please.   (I have never worn shorts since.)

Crystals, Auras and and Unknown God

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I once spent a weekend in a small town known for it’s New Age “aura”.  It kinda creeped me out to walk past shops promising to alleviate pollution or insomnia by placing a crystal in the appropriate spot.  Then there were the essential oil classes, teaching how to use oils for divination, empowerment and opening my third-eye chakra (what the heck?).  Patchouli and I go way back- I love the stuff, but I’ve never thought of it as more than a funky fragrance.  I’m embarrassed to say witnessing in that town was the last thing on my mind.

In Acts 17, Paul goes to Athens, known for it’s multitude of idols. He doesn’t criticize their paganism, he compliments them for their religiosity, and springboards from there, finding an open entry for sharing the gospel: the monument “To the Unknown God”.

Back to New Ageville:  I could’ve done better.  Maybe I could have told the shop owner about the crystals around God’s throne from the book of Revelation.  I could have shared about the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with essential oil and why she did it.  I could’ve connected them to the Bible and pointed the way to “The Unknown Power” of Jesus Christ.

“Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious.'”ACTS 17:22

Selah Preschool

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To pause and reflect feels like time out in a corner until my mind stops fidgeting and chewing its nails. Selah is a discipline, and it’s a tough one. I prefer the distracted life of cell phones, facebook, magazines, news, shopping and even cleaning the kitchen, to “Be Still and Know”.  Our culture sees no value in reflection or meditation, unless it’s a class to take, complete with special clothes, an inbred philosophy and a certain striving to attain.

I say I’d love a day to just sit and read, and once in a while I do, when an external circumstance forces it-sickness, for example.  But even reading is not equal to Selah.  To lay down my mind, turn off all radio frequencies of the brain, stop flipping the cerebral channels-well, I fight that.

My Amish friend Ada explains the reasoning behind the seemingly ridiculous regulations of her culture- things like riding in a horse and buggy instead of a car, not having phones in the house (she can, however, have one in the corner of her acreage), and the taboo on technology.  She said,  “The faster one travels through life-whether mentally or physically- the less they will see of creation and the less they will consider their Creator“. Wow.  Pause and Reflect.  Ada, do you mean to say there is some higher calling than efficiency, something greater than “getting it done in record time?”

The Lord has trouble getting a word in edgewise.  He has to impress His thoughts on me in the sliver of time allowed, which is 4:30 to 5:00 a.m., when I’m coming out of twilight sleep, but not awake enough have engaged the brain in any chatter.  I used to think He spoke loud and clear, now I realize it’s just seems that way because I’m not speaking at that time, which helps Him out.  A lot.  He doesn’t have to interrupt me.  

Lately, I’m trying to Selah.  I tackle my brain the same way I get my three-year-old grandchild ready for the swimming pool:  Stand still.  Stop wiggling. Let Go. Listen. Use walking feet. Obey the Life Guard. Whew!  How does God do it?

Maybe I should try to help Him.  I think I can stand still- Be Still– if I practice.  But like my grandson, I’m gonna have to try it in short time segments throughout the day- kind of like a Selah Preschool.  That’s okay.  My grandson will not always be three.  He’ll learn to listen.  Maybe we can learn together.

For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not…Isa 30:15

Beditation

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When I was young, my coping method for stress or crisis was cleaning.  Deep cleaning.  It was not unusual for me to be on hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor at three in the morning.  I may not be able to fix the problem, but by golly, I’ll fix my floor!  With things spinning out of control (seemingly) , I found comfort in controlling a bucket and sponge, a vacuum or a toilet brush- the latter making a handy weapon, in a pinch. For instance, in the 1980’s epidemic of P.M.S., eight kids and unpaid bills, I could say, “I have a loaded toilet bowl brush and I know how to use it.”  and everyone would flee.

Ah, youth!  Now, at fifty-eight, when trouble comes, I take to my bed:  cram the earphones in, crank up the worship music or audio Bible, bury myself six feet under in pillows and comforters (they’re not called that for nothing) and stew/spew/pray,  punching my Tempur-Pedic into short-term memory foam loss.

So you can imagine my giddy delight when the very day after I’d done such, I found in the BIble this whole idea of taking to my bed!  It’s like God actually encouraging- Bwaaahaahaa-my insanity.  Here it is:  Psalm 4:4  “Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still.  Selah.”  Or, in another version, “feel compunction upon your beds for what ye say in your hearts.  Pause.”   I really like that word compunction.  Doesn’t it kinda sound like “come punch on”?

Actually it means to consider your guilt.  Pause. Mmmm-okay, not guilty. That’s when I hear that Still, Small Voice say, “Whoa-wait just one little minute, missy.  Rewind and press pause again.  Is that a little mummified self-pity wrapped up in those Egyptian cotton sheets?  Are you clinging to 300 thread-counts of unforgiveness?   Let’s   review this whole, “take to your bed thing” again.  What it says is, ‘Be angry, but do not sin.  Meditate on your bed and be still.  Pause.'”

Hmmm.  I think I’m headed back to bed to meditate on this.  And Be Still.  And Pause.