Thursday, January 31, 2008

Not about chocolate

Joey fidgeted because the church carpet was cool and hard but mostly because his friend Jeremy was poking him in the ribs. He knew that if they sat quietly and didn’t wrestle, they’d get candy at the end of this. So he tried to ignore Jeremy.

Mrs. Spraggs had a big storybook out, reading to them about two little girls who had gotten into a fight but finally decided it was better to share than be selfish. “And why?” Mrs. Spraggs asked.

Joey’s hand popped up. “Jesus!” he said and she gave him a big smile. He might even get to hand out the candy now, which meant he could sneak an extra piece.

“Yes!” she said. “Jesus tells us to be nice to our friends and share things. When we obey Jesus, he’s pleased with us.”

And Joey knew what she meant, because it looked like chocolate in the candy basket this week.

Oswald Chambers calls this the teaching of the effects of redemption rather than revelation about Jesus. Mrs. Spraggs didn’t mean to do this, but she didn’t teach the children why they should share and forgive their friends. She actually implied that doing so would bring earthly benefits. Well, sometimes it does.

So, why would I share and shed selfishness? The answer should be because I'm passionately in love with Jesus, because I belong to him and fall in gratitude at his feet. Otherwise, I'm implying that the blessings of redemption are foundation of faith.

Our foundation is a relationship with Jesus, not worshipping the blessings of his work. We worship our King and enjoy his blessings, not vice versa.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.

John 10:9

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

About Weston

Just a couple of days after Christmas, in that afterglow of vacation and gifts, Weston Brewer was accidentally shot in the head. This 12-year-old boy who loved fishing, baseball and hanging out with his buddies was suddenly plunged into a coma with doctors predicting his death within 24 hours.

But the doctors weren’t praying like his family and friends were.

When the ventilator tube came out, Weston kept breathing. He survived 24 hours and 48 hours and then a week. Three weeks after Christmas, Weston emerged from the coma. Before long, he was chewing on popsicles and discussing the Super Bowl with his father. (He wants the Giants to win but figures the Patriots will take it.)

His family and friends are praying for full recovery now.

If you’re interested in being a meaningful support person for Weston, follow these directions:

1. Go to
2. Click "Visit a CarePage"
3. Register (first-time users only)
4. After you've registered, enter exactly: WestonBrewer

You can even check out a YouTube video of Weston.

You know those people who reject God for letting orphans suffer in Africa? If they want to blame God for tormenting those children, do you suppose they thank God for preserving Weston’s life? Maybe not. But we sure can!

Prayer log

I don't always comment on our prayer log, but want to thank you for posting requests and for praying. We may never know how God has used your prayers and your concerns.

I add these prayers to my morning prayer time and love to see how God is working. Thanks for posting prayer needs and for praying!

Reading or collecting?

Odd, the way the less the Bible is read

the more it is translated.

C.S. Lewis

Around the table

My father was a punster and our supper table was frequently punctuated with groaners, puns formed out of our conversations. (This is also a plug for family meals together.) So, I collect puns and here are a few:

  • A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
  • Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.
  • We'll never run out of math teachers because they always multiply.
  • When the smog lifts in Los Angeles , U C L A.
  • The math professor went crazy with the blackboard. He did a number on it.
  • The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground.
  • The dead batteries were given out free of charge
Quit groaning. You know you like 'em!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Quirky me

I’ve been tagged by Tina (who is a scrapbooker, by the way, another one of my hobbies) and so I’ll give this a whirl.

Here are the rules: (1) Link to the person that tagged you. (2) Post the rules on your blog. (3) Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. (4) Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. (5) Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

Here’s the quirky list:

  1. My husband and I do not remember the first time we met. (You’ll have to ask if you want more details!)
  2. I once devised a code for tracking every play in a football game. (You’ll just have to ask if you want to know why.)
  3. My son and I show Holland Lop rabbits and are members of the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
  4. My very first camera used 127 film (anybody remember that kind of film?) and my very first typewriter was a black manual with thin spidery fingers that carried the letters up to a black ribbon, impressing the ink onto the paper.
  5. My favorite food is the dish I haven’t tried yet.
  6. My least favorite part of an eBay transaction is wrapping the packages for mail. (Remember, this is about unimportant quirky details. I KNOW you don’t care about my angst over eBay transactions! You probably don’t care that I’m trying to raise some money to buy a new Palm either!)

Now, who to tag... Here’s the deal. If you’re reading this, you’re tagged. Go have fun with this and leave me a comment so I know what you’ve done.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Five: light of the world

The LORD is my light and my salvation--
whom shall I fear?

Psalms 27:1

The LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.

Isaiah 60:19

The people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned."

Matt 4:16

In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

John 1:4

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9

Thursday, January 24, 2008

This is what it means to be held

My 16-year-old daughter, who wants to be a moviemaker someday, has created a new video in honor of Sanctity of Life week. This clip will be shown tonight at our local caring pregnancy center annual banquet. Please take a look.

The mama drama

I'm sharing a piece from Kathleen Y'Barbo. It's a wonderful piece on choices and love. Although it's written to teens, we can all learn.

This week is Sanctity of Life week. And because of the Hollywood Mama Drama, it is also a perfect time to understand that mama drama doesn't only happen in Hollywood. Every year nearly 1 million teen girls find themselves pregnant, and unlike Hollywood stars who have the money and fame to carry them, these girls wonder what they should do. Many choose abortion, and because of this they not only sacrifice the life of their child, but this decision also brings heartache they must carry for the rest of their lives. Perhaps YOU can be the one who can make a difference.

Who was the first one Jamie Lynn Spears turned to when she found out she was pregnant? Not her mom. Not her sister. She turned to a friend. What if you were that friend?

As a teen what can YOU do when a pregnant friend comes to you for advice?

Remain calm and loving. Your friend most likely feels alone, frightened and extremely sensitive about her pregnancy. The most important thing you can offer is your continued friendship.

Show God's love and forgiveness. Your friend may have been looking for love by giving herself intimately to a guy. Now she might feel ashamed and unworthy of love at all. Point her to God, who loves her unconditionally.

Celebrate life. She may consider this baby a "mistake"--a barrier between her and "normal" life. Lovingly remind her that no matter how the baby was conceived, he or she is a gift from God.

Be available to share ... and to listen. Your friend has big decisions to make, and although you can't make those decisions for her, you can be available to help her consider her options. Share information you've discovered on fetal development and on the physical and emotional trauma of abortion. Most of all, be willing to listen to your friend's deepest concerns.

Find help. Your friend is most likely in need of more answers than you can give. Visit a local crisis pregnancy center with your friend, or call CareNet for help at 1-800-395-HELP. Encourage her to tell her parents and to seek the counsel of a pastor or youth pastor.

Partner with her to make better decisions in the future. My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson) is a book for teen girls and encourages teens to script their lives instead of being caught up in the drama and emotions of the moment. Read it together. Talk about the importance of making good choices.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A powerful duel

What to do with absolute power? That’s the question.

Here’s the scenario: the Assyrian king Sennacherib had sent a huge army to Jerusalem to conquer it as he’d conquered so many cities in the area. His general taunted Judah’s king, Hezekiah, and the people: you can’t resist the most powerful army on earth.

And, he added slyly, your God can’t stand up to us any more than any other god in the region has defied us. We are absolute power.

Hezekiah refused to buckle. He shed his kingly robes for the burlap of humility and went to God. He didn’t count his generals and number his soldiers. He didn’t strategize with his advisors. He laid out the problem before God.

And it was a classic dual: God vs. Sennacherib. Sennacherib was supremely confident, having never lost to a god before.

But this was no battle between swords and statues of silver. Sennacherib’s army was decimated in the night by the angel of God and he went running home to Nineveh, to meet the ultimate irony.

People in those ancient days understood that gods ruled in particular regions. Sennacherib assumed he was safe in Nineveh under the wing of his own god, Nisroch. But it was there, in the sanctuary of Nisroch, that Sennacherib died at the hands of his own sons.

Even with home field advantage, Nisroch was unable to defend the mighty king. Sennacherib died in the presence of his own god after being unable to pierce God’s defense of Jerusalem.

What a contrast in kings, between Hezekiah who came into God’s presence in humility while Sennacherib came in pride and confidence in his own power.

And what a contrast between deity, between God who is powerful and other gods who are smoke and mirrors.

Where do we rush when difficulties come? Hezekiah put on humble robes and trusted God. It made all the difference.

"O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.”

Isaiah 37:16

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Topsy Turvy

David was carrying a newborn baby lamb when his brother shouted from on top the rise. “Dad wants you!”

“What for?” David settled the lamb beside its mother and watched the wobbly-legged baby begin the amazing search for its first meal, butting the ewe’s front leg and falling in a heap.

By now, Micah had joined his brother at the delivery site. “He told me to watch the sheep so you could go. Cute baby. What do I do with it?”

“Make sure it gets a drink. Don’t leave until you’re sure it does because you might have to help it.”

“It’ll figure it out,” Micah declared. “I don’t want to touch it. Phew, you smell like afterbirth and sheep. Nobody will want to be around you. Look at you! You’re filthy.”

“I like to be here for the new lambs,” David wiped his hands on the dry grass. “Birth is exciting.”

“Well, you’re going to see a priest. You better wash yourself well or you’ll be unclean. He’ll send you away.”

Imagine Samuel, in search of a king, meeting this young shepherd. David might have still been damp after scrubbing the unclean remains of the sheep. The scent of the lambs still hung on his robe. Shepherds were lowly.

Samuel was looking for a tall, handsome man to lead Israel and here God brought a shepherd to be anointed. What madness to politicians and generals! It was a topsy-turvy choice, selecting the lowest to be the highest.

David’s resume was spotty and his job skills appeared ill suited for ultimate leadership.

But you know the rest of the story. David became the greatest king in the history of Israel. The man after God’s own heart lifted God’s people to the very height of their history. David spawned the kingly line of Judah, leading straight to Jesus.

Maybe you feel like you need to wash up a bit before standing before God. Maybe you feel your hands aren't clean enough yet and your habits need some straightening.

We look on the outside but God... well, God looks on the heart.

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

1 Sam 16:7

Friday, January 18, 2008

Breaking the Contract

With a long hug and a gentle kiss on the forehead, I finished tucking my three-year-old in bed. We’d read, sang, prayed, lingered. Now I moved on, ready to do my nightly exercises.

At that moment, I would have called myself content, full, confident. I should have used words like smug, naïve, proud. The wheels were about to come off and I was powerless to stop it.

That evening I opened a door to a blackness I would not leave for several months. That night a baby, only a few short weeks from conception, died without ever feeling the warmth of his mother’s arms.

The funny thing about miscarriages is that few know how to respond. There was something wrong with the baby and this is for the best, one older woman told me. Another said that her sister had had one. You know that you’re getting older, another scolded me. You can’t expect much.

I wanted to hold my baby. I wanted someone to hold me and kiss my forehead and cry out, I’m so sorry.

Four days later, after minor surgery to complete the loss, I stood at a window while the world marched on. The horror of what I could not prevent pushed me into a numb world of shadows. Where I should have mourned, I hid.

I kept the paint touched up on the outside, but the inside was as empty as my womb. No one knew, or no one commented.

My life had largely been self-powered. I knew God and I knew I was a good disciple, living a clean life and following the church code well. I was a good addition to his flock and he, apparently, had always honored my commitment by blessing me.

But this was no blessing, I cried out. I had prayed desperate prayers of exchange: “save this child and I’ll….” No rescue had ensued.

I didn’t know then what I know now about that old shell of myself. The rest of that statement would have been, “…and I’ll return to our previous agreement.”

We had a deal, in my mind, and he hadn’t kept his part. I left for awhile. God was apparently moody and whimsical, unlike myself, and couldn’t be counted on in a crisis. I trusted my own viewpoint. God had failed me and so I withdrew.

In my worldview, God and I were in a legal separation. But not in his. I might have declared the covenant dissolved, but he did not. His contract could never be broken. He wouldn’t leave me or forsake me.


Most women love the lure of flowers, the attention of a suitor. There’s a thrill to a telephone call or an evening stroll in the park.

I was wooed in those summer months. I deserved no courtship. I had chosen a silent separation and had earned no suitor’s pursuit. The covenant had been broken in my reckoning; my Bridegroom had not done his part.

But on a summer camping trip, with a time for quiet and reflection, my heart began to expand. I missed my Lord. I felt his warm breath as he called my name. I opened my Bible and began a slow climb out of a black hole.

The miscarriage happened in March and by October I was passionately in love with my Savior. I did not understand my loss but what mattered to me was that I was loved by the Creator of the universe. My soul soared like the eagle.

I was scheduled to speak at our church’s Christmas tea in early December, now a delightful task. And the joy was expanded when I discovered I was pregnant again. I felt certain that God was restoring what had been lost.

My speech-writing tasks were easy and the outline pulsed with life and vitality.

But lightning crashed again. This baby, too, was lost. I gave the long-anticipated speech knowing that life was draining away.

But this time was different. I was desperate not to lose the relationship I had just re-gained. My cry that weekend was that I not lose hope in my King.

And this time, as I sat in a hospital bed facing a surgeon, there surged in me a certainty that I could never explain apart from my Lord. I told the doctor that there had to be a cause for this. He told me I might never know a reason.

But I knew that I knew that I knew that I would find it. We consulted a specialist and, after a month of embarrassing interviews and tests, learned that I had a progesterone problem.

And that I was pregnant again.

Daily shots, mood swings, fear blurred the new few weeks. This pregnancy didn't start with the joy and anticipation that it should have had. My thoughts were simple: “I don’t know if I can go through this again.”

A thin little heartbeat thumped on a 6-week ultrasound while I was still getting twice-a-week shots to stave off yet another miscarriage. A tiny being moved strongly in the 10-week ultrasound. Joy mingled with cold fear gripped me.

Our son was born on Nov. 7. The first baby lost had been due on Nov. 7.

I had once hoped that my friends or family would comfort me during the one-two punch of miscarriage but they couldn't give what I needed.

The Bridegroom never left my side. In the humiliation of loss and the agony of inadequacy, he whispered my name and drew me back. He kept his part of the covenant in the face of my accusations and my silence. He never left me.

The prophet Joel speaks well for me:

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…

You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has worked wonders for you.

Joel 2:25-26

Friday Five: Fruit!

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number. Gen 1:28

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life. Prov 11:30

If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.

John 15:5

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Gal 5:22-23

Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. Eph 5:8-11

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Every Good and Perfect Gift

Life, in all its forms and approaches, is always precious but not always easy. Author Sharon Souza digs into some difficult issues - infertility and Alzheimer's - in her new book, Every Good and Perfect Gift.

Enjoy an interview with Sharon:

Your debut novel Every Good & Perfect Gift is releasing this month from Nav Press. Can you tell us a little about the book?

DeeDee and Gabby have been friends since the sixth grade, when headstrong and courageous DeeDee began mapping out their lives. But after twenty years with her husband DeeDee changes her plan. Nearing forty years old, she wants a baby - now! Two years of infertility, prayers, and outrageous behavior finally results in the birth of DeeDee's demand.

Gabby is present for all of it, noting the increasingly strange behavior of her lifelong friend after the baby's birth. Then comes a diagnosis that threatens to shatter their world. Gabby must find the strength and faith to carry DeeDee and herself through the dark unknown, but is she up for it?

What inspired you to write Every Good & Perfect Gift?

I wanted to write a book about a "Jonathan and David" type friendship between two women, knowing that I was ultimately going to tell the story of a young woman who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's. I have a close friend who, at the age of 42, began to exhibit many of the symptoms portrayed in the book. Since completing the book I've learned that another close friend has been diagnosed with EOA. What are the odds?

In determining what course the friendship between Gabby and DeeDee would take, I asked myself: What is the greatest way one woman can express friendship to another? The answer: By helping her have a child if she's unable to, which one character is willing to do if it comes to that.

You've incorporated two major issues in Every Good & Perfect Gift: infertility and Early Onset Alzheimer's. Why not focus on one or the other? Why both?

The theme of Gift is extraordinary friendship. The foundation for the friendship is established between the characters in their childhood, tested through the issue of infertility, and exemplified through catastrophic illness. Infertility was the catalyst to get to that level of friendship expressed because of the illness. One character's growth was accomplished because of infertility, while the other character's growth came as a result of the Alzheimer's.

Why did you use humor to tell a story with such serious issues?

It's exactly because the issues are so serious that I chose humor to tell the story. Our life experiences are heavy enough without adding to them as we read for pleasure. That's not to say there aren't serious moments in the book, but hopefully the reader is buoyed by the lighter sections, rather than overloaded with the weightier ones.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Understand these?

You're ready for 2008 if these make sense to you:
  1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
  2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.
  3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.
  4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
  5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.
  6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.
  7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.
  8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.
  9. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.
  10. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The date night

Last week, Matt needed some nails for a project and headed for his pickup to run to the hardware store. “Want to come?” he asked me.

I hopped in with him. No time for makeup or perfume. Just grabbed a jacket and away we went. We talked about his work schedule, the next construction project he had planned, the shipment of supplies coming in.

At the hardware store, he showed me a new tool he’d like to buy soon. “It’d save me a lot of time but it’s expensive,” he said.

On the way home, he whipped into McDonalds. “Want an ice cream cone?” We licked ice cream and leaned over the Clorox-damp plastic table before heading home.

We counted that as a date night. My friend is married to a farmer, so she counts times when she rides the combine with him during harvest as a date night. It's hot and dirty but they're together.

Once I grumbled: how could he not find time for his family? For me?

I have a book about creative date night ideas. I wondered why he couldn’t read that, so we’d go do exciting things like fly kites together under the stars.

But when I read the one about catching frogs and having a frog-jumping contest, I decided these were not meant for real people anyway.

I decided to pitch the attitude and get to know my husband’s world. It means going to hardware stores and talking about power tools but he held my hand all the way home and shared his heart. Not a bad date night, all in all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Pride's explosion

The snow had drifted into the valley below our farmhouse and there was a mile of whiteness on a crisp January morning when we watched the big milk tanker truck crest the next hill. The driver hesitated for a moment and we gathered at the window, wondering if he’d try to come down the road. He had to clear the valley and none of us knew how deep that snow was.

This was a big, heavy, powerful truck and soon it surged forward. Gaining speed, it aimed right for the drifts clogging the road, determinedly trusting its own speed and weight to push through. The explosion as it hit was incredible, shooting snow high in the air and completely veiling the truck.

But when the snow settled, the truck had stalled about a third of the way into the drifts, with snow pressed hard into every crevice of the body. Hours later, a huge tow truck pulled it backwards to free it and send it on a different path.

Peter stood before Jesus at the last supper with determination. “The rest may deny you but I never will.”

“Tonight, you will deny me three times,” Jesus answered.

But Peter refused to accept those words. He believed in the power of his own will and the strength of his own speed. He’d plow through what others could not.

After the explosion, when he was utterly mired in his own fear and failure, Jesus came along to pull him backwards, free him and send him on a different path.

Peter had surged forward confident of his own power and determination. But Jesus didn’t say, trust your own strength. In the end, after Peter’s utter failure, he said simply, Follow me.

Mistakes aren’t mistakes if they get you on the right road, following the right person.

Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." John 21:22

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Five: Isaiah

My Bible-reading plan is a simple one: I read a book from the Old Testament and, when finished, read a book from the New Testament, then back to the Old Testament. Sometimes I read fast, taking in the words like any good literature, and sometimes I read slowly, pondering every phrase and looking up ever imagery.

I’m reading Isaiah right now. Isaiah is a fast-read approach this time. I chose to read from The Message, just for a different input this time. Here are some fascinating verses from Isaiah:

But they won't get by with it. As fire eats stubble and dry grass goes up in smoke, Their souls will atrophy, their achievements crumble into dust, Because they said no to the revelation of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Would have nothing to do with The Holy of Israel. Isaiah 5:24

…consuming one another in their lusts— Appetites insatiable, stuffing and gorging themselves left and right with people and things. But still they starved. Not even their children were safe from their rapacious hunger. Isaiah 9:19-20

The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the kid. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them…. The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.

Isaiah 11:6-9

Joyfully you'll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation. And as you do it, you'll say, "Give thanks to God.
Isaiah 12:3-4

What does one say to outsiders who ask questions? Tell them, "God has established Zion. Those in need and in trouble find refuge in her."
Isaiah 14:32

Thursday, January 10, 2008

C.S. Lewis and love

Psalm 29 is based on a Canaanite hymn to Baal, a local false god. Baal was considered the god of thunder, so Psalm 29 refers to the “voice of the Lord” seven times, countering the teaching that Baal was the god of seven thunders.

The writer of Psalm 29 intended to show that God, not Baal, was the cause of thunder. He re-wrote the psalm to correct the theology of the Canaanites and to counter their hymn.

You can see, in that re-working of an idolatrous song, how God is able to remake what was lost, to restore what was in error. The form – a recreating of an idolatrous hymn – actually strengthens the point.

C.S. Lewis took the same tack in his novel, Til We Have Faces, where he modified the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche, producing a challenging psychological look at the older sister who intervenes in their romance.

The story is told from Orual’s viewpoint and the reader gets to see what Orual,the ugly and bitter older sister, cannot see. She justifies her decisions and believes her own reasonings.

These are not cardboard characters. In spite of some of her ugly conclusions, I found myself respecting Orual in many ways and wanting to show her the way out of her own rationalizations. She is intelligent, honest, concerned with others – and yet imprisoned by her bitterness. She’s not a black-and-white villain, but a complex woman on a journey to seek truth.

The story is about her moral development, a lifetime spent justifying decisions she finds difficult but necessary to make. The reader can understand what Orual does not about herself and her own perceptions.

Although Lewis seems to spend his time in the world of myths and Greek gods, there’s a deeper current that runs here. Lewis has not written a symbolic book but one of emotion and sincerity. His meaning is solidly planted on the God of love.

Plan to read it twice to capture Lewis’ intent but plan to read it. It’s powerfully written with depth of insight and meaning that will touch your heart.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A movie idea: Atonement

I enjoy a thought-provoking movie and, when I ran across this review, wanted to share. I haven't seen the movie yet but plan to. Ben Witherington writes a compelling report on the movie Atonement.

And here's a question for you: why does it seem that movies which engage most thoughtfully in Christian themes (like atonement) are so often made by non-believers?

Other considerations

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
-Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Rock reality

Well-trained with clear eyes, the soldiers from the South surveyed the hillside. They would kill an intruder if they located one – and the little puff of dust had aroused their steely view. What had slid down the hill? They searched intently.

They ignored the boulder at their feet, standing close enough to see there was nothing hiding behind it.

This scene from the movie The Two Towers prickles with suspense for we know what the soldiers do not. The boulder is an illusion. We know that the heroes, Frodo and Sam, are huddled beneath an elvish cape, which is only a cape from the inside. But from the outside, where the soldiers stand, it is a solid rock.

We sit nervously, wondering if the soldiers will spot the deception. Will Frodo and Sam trust the cape or their own legs? Might they give up on the cape’s protection and make a run for it?

They stay and the soldiers shrug their shoulders. Probably a small animal tumbled down the hill. The men return to their battalion and we, along with Frodo and Sam, sigh in relief.

How easy it would have been for Frodo and Sam to trust their own eyes rather than trust the cape. How easy to craft a scheme of escape based on what they could see.

We’re under that cape, too. We see what others see and yet we trust what seems to be impossible. We can’t see from the other side, where the enemy stands.

I am reconciled to God through Christ. It all seems ridiculous. I live in a world where my own plans and schemes are thought to be the only solution. I see the inside of the cape just like those around me.

Are you ever tempted to throw aside the cape and make a run for it? Do you ever shudder as enemy boots stand solidly inches from your toes, ready to kill at a slight flutter? Do you trust the Cape?

From our side, the cape looks like ordinary cloth – unable to protect anything. But from the other side, it’s a rock.

It’s a Rock.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Eph 6:13

Monday, January 7, 2008

Keep walking

Jamie hugged her books against her chest and threw back her head with determination. She had two minutes to get to Biology class, two minutes to maneuver Jock Alley. She’d tried a lot of different strategies.

Sometimes it worked well to keep her eyes on the floor as she walked. Other times, she followed so closely behind the cheerleaders that she almost blended into their group. But on football game day, they had all been in uniform and her mousy everyday clothes were a sore thumb that drew jeers.

She turned the corner in the locker-lined hallway to see tall, dark-haired, handsome Tommy Fletcher. “Ooooh,” he said in a low coaxing voice. “Here comes the Princess! What elegant clothes today. And that hair!” He howled with a practiced coyote voice. “Sexy! Hot Mama today!”

She got that she was plain. She wasn’t drawn to the high fashions and the latest hairstyle. On she walked.

The howling continued for a few seconds before the boys grabbed their books and walked off with a group laugh.

At least after Biology class was freedom. Jamie could leave this crazy world that squeezed her heart every day and step out into the place where she could breathe, smile, laugh……

She knew it wasn’t just the athletes. At her cousin’s school, the athletes had all gotten saved and were nice. There, it was the drama kids who formed the gauntlet line. Sometimes it was the guys in building trades or the girls in art class.

It wasn’t what they were doing but what they were inside.

The Biology classroom had the faint smell of formaldehyde and Lysol as she settled in. Not much longer and she’d be out of here.

"If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

Ever feel like a junior high student? Keep walking.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph 6:12

Friday, January 4, 2008

Friday Five: God Forever

Lives forever

For this is what the high and lofty One says--
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
"I live in a high and holy place,
but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
Isaiah 57:15

King forever

But the LORD is the true God;
he is the living God, the eternal King.

Jer 10:10

Existing forever.

Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.

Psalms 41:13

Priest forever

The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."

Psalms 110:4

Righteous forever

“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;

his righteousness endures forever.”

2 Cor 9:9

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Covenant Child

How could a child born of privilege and promise grow up with nothing? That’s the question of the Holbrooke twins, born to incredible wealth but growing up as Goodwill kids.

But the bigger question in Covenant Child by Terri Blackstock is: how will a promise be kept? For the Holbrooke twins, orphaned at a tender age and shuttled off to live with greedy grandparents, had been promised by their step-mother Amanda that she’d take care of them. She had inherited the family millions and offered boundless wealth to the twins.

Blackstock has crafted a familiar story in today’s culture of custody battles and legal maneuvering. We travel with the twins, who endured the loss of their parents at a young age, been wrenched from Amanda’s loving arms and raised by Eloise and Deke, who spray their torn house with ugly lies and greedy wastefulness.

Kara and Lizzie grew up marinated in hatred, sure that Amanda stole their money. They blamed their hopeless lives on her self-indulgence. But Amanda, in the face of such anger and bitterness, never forgets her promise to the girls.

Though they reject her in ugly ways, Amanda continues to offer love and provision. Lizzie first accepts her generosity but Kara rejects, sure she is sniffing out a scam. Although she detests Eloise and Deke, she believes their world view. The final confrontation will move you.

Although the opportunity didn’t blossom, I thought I might be teaching a Bible study at our local women’s prison facility. I was going to use this book to teach hardened hearts the nature of promises and grace.

Covenant Child is a can’t-put-it-down sort of book. You’ll take another look at covenants after following Amanda, Lizzie and Kara through this poignant roller coaster. It’s worth the ride.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

If Christ....

If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ

is not risen-- nothing else matters.

– Jaroslav Pelikan

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Spread the word

It was a common challenge, this prospect of raising up a new generation, and the people of Israel did it poorly. Joshua had led the nation into God’s promised land, conquering areas as God directed. But time marches on.

Joshua passed on as did the people of his generation. Now settled in a new land, a new generation grew up “who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)

If you’re familiar with the book of Judges at all, you know it overflows with accounts about weird doings: stealth stabbings in the outhouse, clubbing in a woman’s tent, a conqueror brought down by a woman’s rock. Samson is laid low by a haircut and Gideon, after leading a victorious mission against the Midianites, turned to idolatry.

The key to Judges is that “each man did what was right in his own eyes.” Surrounded by nations who were led by kings, Israel opted for a theocracy: God was their king.

Only they quickly forgot. God was no longer king; personal preference was.

But in the words of that famous theologian Bob Dylan, “you gotta serve someone.” We serve God or we serve Satan but we always serve that which we follow.

The lesson in Judges is that people need a king. Left to their own, they fall in the base vulgarities we see at the end of the book of Judges.

Yesterday I mentioned the Josephson Institute survey about our teenagers. Surveys deal with generalities and there are abundant exceptions. But are we so different than the generations in Judges? We worship relativity: each does what is right in his own eyes.

We need a king as surely as did the people named in Judges. There are no perfect parents except God and look what happened to his first children. They rebelled. This is no slam on parents who have wayward children.

But where do we go from here? Choose your king and follow him. Point the way for the next generation and sacrifice to give them a chance to find guidance.

We need more than honesty and character today. We need the absolute of God’s nature. Spread the word.