Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Fisking of Rob Bell

I don't know if you're allowed to 'fisk' actual books, but I'm going to anyway. As I mentioned days ago, I'm reading Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis at the request of a friend, and I'm trying to read it quickly so that I can give it back. However, practically every line cries out for a response. I don't know if I'll have time or inclination to do this for the whole book, but here's what I got through just in the doctor's office yesterday.

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith
The title and layout alone, for me, are a hang up. I was a lit major in college, and I reveled in deconstructionism and gender studies and all that, how shall I call it, c***, and had a marvelous time (really, if you want beautifully written deconstructionism, go to Jonathon Culler, go to Helene Cixous, seek out The Eloquence of Silence, but by no means waste your time on Christians trying to copy it. It just feels like walking into a Christian book shop to find "art". There probably isn't any). However, real life doesn't bear deconstructionism out, and this book seems to me, on its face, as a not very good copy of all that other interesting literature (as well as being ever so completely untrue). In other words, the title and layout alone says to me that Mr. Bell is trying a tad too hard. Let us consider the actual writing.

Mr. Bell first discusses his painting of Elvis and how things become dated and need to be rethought for each generation. Fair enough. I don't like the language but I'll save my quibbling. Then he goes jumping on his trampoline and considers who has faith and who doesn't, concluding, rationally enough, that everyone has faith. And then we come to page 22, entitled Springs.
He writes, "Take, for example, the doctrine-the spring-called the Trinity. This doctrine is central to historic, orthodox Christian faith. While there is only one God, God is somehow present everywhere. People began to call this presence, this power of God, his 'Spirit'. So there is God, and then there is God's Spirit."
Alright. Stop it right there. Just a moment ago, in a part I didn't quote, Mr. Bell made a point of saying that the "springs" are "doctrines", they are not God, they are ways of talking about God. So one of the main "doctrines" or "springs" is the Trinity, which, in one summery paragraph, Mr. Bell manages to completely mangle. Matt could put a couple of labels on all the heresy going on here. So God is "somehow" present everywhere, and we, in our great wisdom and understanding, came to think of that "presence" as "God's Spirit". I know I'm being fast and loose with the scare quotes, but Mr. Bell is being fast and loose with God. Its not that we came to understand God in this way, but Rather that God choose to make himself known, first through Scripture, and then perfectly through his Son, as One in Being and Three in Person.
"People began to call this concept the Trinity. The word trinity is not found anywhere in the Bible. Jesus didn't use the word, and the writers of the rest of the Bible didn't use the word. But over time this belief, this understanding, this doctrine, has become central...It is a spring, and people jumped for thousands of years without it."
Honestly. You believers out there will be able to see plainly what is wrong with this writing. But for anyone else who might be reading, Jesus himself plainly used the Trinitarian Formula, "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" when commissioning his disciples before Ascending into Heaven in what is traditionally come to be known as "the Great Commission" (Matthew 28). The church didn't "come to understand" God in this way. They may have later applied the word "trinity" but Jesus himself made it very clear that He was God, that his Father was God and that the Holy Spirit was God. God has always been this way, he just choose to make himself known at a particular moment in history.

Well, obviously, I have a lot more to say, but looking at the clock, I see that it is 10:15 and I have to be up at 5 to finish off things for church. But don't worry, I'll be back on this important subject. In the meantime, pray for the state of the church. Lord knows, it sorely needs it.

Friday, May 30, 2008


So grown up.


Weeping at the End.

Historical Moment

First Day of School

Last Day of School

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bloggy Slump

I haven't made good my vows to the Most High, or rather, all of you, to whom I announced I would blog every day this week to make up for not blogging at all last week. However, I didn't take into account Matt's amazing Canoe Race, nor my destructive and cyclone like toddler, nor feeling unpleasant and dizzy (no, I'm not pregnant, I've got some weird pain and its so weird that I'm actually taking the trouble to go to the doctor about it tomorrow after E graduates from Kindergarten).

I just can't focus my mind, and I've got to vacuum for a Bible Study and keep feeding A, who has been eating steadily since 7 o'clock this morning (cream of wheat, then a large cinnamon roll, then a second one, then an apple, now a banana, and he's asking about lunch).

But, here are some pictures of the canoe race. Unfortunately, you can't see Matt in any of them.

And an extra one of R, for good measure, even though he didn't come with us.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In case you wanted to listen

Matt recored my sermon from this morning. You can listen to it here. It's the first one up, 'Do Not Be Anxious'. I'm trying to gather myself up to shove us into the car for Matt's Third Annual Memorial Day General Clinton Canoe Regatta. More on that later.

proper 3 year a

Lately E and A are enthralled with, essentially, the middle ages. A has a very fine and impressive castle, around which, aided by his blocks, he conducts long battles, building bridges for his knights to cross over on their way to battle, lining them up in formation, knocking them down unto death. E is the princess.
“I can’t sit on that chair” she said the other night, “Princesses don’t sit on booster seats”.
“Short princesses do” I said.
“Oh” she said, disappointed.
And then later “I am going into the meadow with my pets. I will be the princess of the meadow.”
All this play is under girded by fantastical fairy tails of knights, and castles and wickedness, and horses and beautiful hair. What is very clear, in this system and world view, is the person at the top—the princess, the King leading his knights into battle. Evil is overcome by good, light, and beautiful colors. Everyone is happy at the end. But descending from this beauty and privilege to the realm of normal life is tough. E’s time being princess was horribly cut short on Wednesday.
“You must pick up your room and then put all your toys away and then set the table” I said.
E pouted, “I was being a princess” she said, “And now I feel like Cinderella”.
The Kingdom of E the Princess collided with the me in my Kingdom, what I am going to call, for our purposes this morning, the Kingdom of Anxiety, not my own term, I’m borrowing it from WH Auden.

The Kingdom of Anxiety is not the dark forbidding evil that it sounds like. But it is not oriented in the pristine beauty of the clouds. It is of the earth. A subject of the Kingdom of Anxiety wakes up with an eye to the future—what am I going to do tomorrow? How will I get to the end of today? Will there be enough money at the end of the month? Did I fill out that consent form for the school? Do I have time to squeeze in the bank between these two appointments? Will that person like me or hire me or pay me the money I’m owed?
This eye to the future is fertile soil for irritation, impatience, worry. And then, the drum beat of the Kingdom of Anxiety, dissatisfaction.
Turn with me to Matthew, chapter 6 beginning in verse 24.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. No one can love God And Money” a better translation would be the old word, the Greek word, Mammon, the stuff of the world, all the things that you own, the things that you would like to own, the things that own you.
If you look at your text, you will see a convenient break between this verse, and the verses under it. But what is the first word in the next verse, after the break? Right, Therefore. So we will not be able to understand the comforting words from 25 on without these difficult words in 24. No one can serve two masters.
This is more than a question of loyalty, who do you love better? Or what is your greatest priority? It is a practical question, a matter of logistics. No one can serve two masters, no one can be obedient to and do the will of two different and conflicting People. You cannot wholly devote yourself to Jesus, and to all your stuff, your job, your relationships, your own plans
at the same time. You have to choose.
So, in order that you may make an informed decision, so that the choice will be clear and obvious, let us spend a few minutes looking, on the one hand, at Mammon, what I am calling the Kingdom of Anxiety, and, on the other hand, Jesus, and the Kingdom of Heaven.
As I said a moment ago, Mammon is a nice pithy way of saying ‘the stuff of the world’. Its all the things that the world says are important, all the things you can possess in the world, all the jobs by which you can earn money and prestige, and all the things, even, that you need to live—food, clothing, shelter, human companionship. So far from being the Master of your Own Destiny, the Maker of your Plans and Purposes, if you live in this Kingdom, these things will eventually be the main determining factor for you, the things that drive you and give meaning to your life. It is the Kingdom of Anxiety because needing to acquire the next thing, or maintain a certain kind of relationship, or succeed at such and such job is not the road to peace, quiet, joy and contentment. There is a very simple reason for this, all these things will come to an end. They are here for a while and then they go away. The human person was created by God to live, from the moment of his or her creation, forever. But everything else fades away. The fad passes, the car breaks down, the food goes bad, the clothes wear thin, the job eventually is over. So, if Mammon is your Master, your King, you necessarily have to keep your eye focused on the future, ready to replace what you have, acquire something new, moving on, moving up, satisfying yourself as best you can. If you are not very well off, then food may be your main consideration. But most of us are beyond that point. We’re really trying to figure out how to get that next thing, go on that holiday, impress that person, accomplish our own goals.
Pretty dismal, I think, so what does the kingdom of Heaven look like and why would we want to live there? First off, Jesus is the King. His word is law. His love is vast. But his way is also narrow. And the price of life in this kingdom is yourself. Essentially, in the Kingdom of Heaven, you have to admit that you cannot save yourself, you cannot buy or work your way to eternal life with God; that you cannot find satisfaction and fulfillment in this world or the things of this world; that you need someone to help you. And that help is Jesus. It is his work alone, and not yours, that brings you into eternal life with him. You lay down your own self—your pride, your sin, your plans—and ask Jesus to give you his life. And, I would say, in the beginning, you can come in with all your stuff, but as you go along, you’ll find that its harder and harder to carry and you don’t really need it so much, and its easier to put it down and go on without it.
What does this look like day by day? Well, most of us, upon becoming Christian, do not run out, like St. Francis, and give everything we possess to the poor, although that would be an option. If you’ve been to my house, you’ll notice that I’ve obviously not done that. And God doesn’t ask most of us to. But, as you walk with Jesus, and pray, and read your Bible, and listen to his voice, he will bring issues to your attention—I want you to let go of your anger toward that person. Put it down, and go on without it. Or, I want you to help this person out. I know you don’t feel like you have enough, but I will provide for you. Or, I don’t want you to buy that new car right now, I have other plans for your money. Or, I want you to give a full tithe to the church. Or, I want you to give up your favorite tv night and go to a Bible Study. Or, I want you to trust me with the people in your life and not try to solve those problems yourself.
Its not that you don’t have material possessions, its not that you are not surrounded by people you love and who love you, its not that you don’t work very hard at your job and here at church, but rather, that all those things, all those relationships, all those works are made captive to Christ, are brought under his rule and authority, that in dealing with them, you consult him first on every matter, however small or great.
Why? Because he is the King. Because he is Eternal, unchanging, from before time, because you were created to be in a relationship with him and follow him. And he will never fade away. He will never leave or forsake you. He will never let you down. He will never leave you hungry and cold and without work to satisfy your hands. That’s what he’s promising today. But you have to make a choice.
Supposing you make this choice, this morning, for the first time. Supposing you’re here, and you’ve had enough of seeking after the things of the earth, you’ve found they don’t satisfy you, and you want to enter life in the Kingdom of Heaven? What do you do it?
Look down at your text, verse 33. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you. Seek, look, put down everything else you’re doing or worrying about and look for Jesus. If you seek him, you will find him. He promises, right here. Come to the rail this morning to pray and ask him to come into your life, to fill you with the Holy Spirit, to provide for you, to give you eternal life, to forgive and cleanse you of your sin. And then come talk to me or Matt after the service.
And for those of you abiding in the Kingdom of Heaven, take a moment to evaluate the quality of your Christian life this morning. Anxiety or Worry, for the Christian, are a way to gauge, not your salvation, but whether or not you are letting the world, the things of the world, determine the order and quality of your life, whether or not you are dabbling in the Kingdom of Anxiety, or letting Mammon be in charge again. Are you frustrated, careworn, anxious, worried? Then you need to take the trouble to leave that behind and seek again the Kingdom of God, the righteousness of Jesus himself. If you look at yourself and find this to be the case, then look at verse 26, to the solution to this problem. Look at the birds of the air. Verse 28 Consider the lilies of the field. If God takes the time and love to care for the least of the things of this earth, his own creation, how much more will he care for you, for whom he was willing to give his own Son, his only Son, whom he loves to die to bring you to eternal life. Therefore, do not be anxious. You cannot add even a single day to your life through worry. God has already provided for you, today, and all the days of your life, giving you those good things he knows you need. When you come to the rail this morning, open your hands to receive them, and leave all that other stuff behind.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

the Diocese of Texas has a new

Bishop Coadjutor
Wasn't paying attention before. Don't know anything about him. But I will say his autobiography is compellingly underwhelming.

One Week Later

I'm Back!
I Finally received my new computer cord this week. I can't even remember what day. I carefully took a picture of it and now can't find my camera. I also took a picture of R covered in chocolate, and G with her big pink bow. Someday, maybe, you'll get to see them.

So I know its awful that I actually got my cord and didn't immediately blog, but this week has been crazy, and, I realize in retrospect, stressful. All week long I was getting another cold, hopefully the last. The kids all had it all week-E missed a day of school, A was sacked out on the couch all week. The baby conveniently had a well baby in the middle of hers, saving us an extra trip to the doctor. And R is covered in snot, making him the poster picture of 'snot nosed child'.

And in the course of the week I managed to start a new Bible Study (so cool! All women outside of the church, interested in Jesus, never read the Bible before. So cool.) And sign us up for Classical Conversations, providing me the all important accountability I know I require in our new homeschooling venture. And clean the house, because the Bible Study met here. And finish reading Job. And later tonight, or tomorrow morning, I'll be posting my sermon.

As I write this, I'm finding it extraordinarily comforting to list all these things I did. Or rather, all the things that God did, graciously allowing me to participate in his work. Mostly, I've found, in the church, that you work very hard, pointing people to God, encouraging people to look to God, inviting people to meet God. But every now and then, God breaks in, in his own time, in his own way, and lights up some heart or some path, and everything suddenly and perfectly falls into place. And all the work before was necessary, important and useful because when he acts, you're ready for it. And can jump in.

As penance for being offline for so long, I'm intending to Blog Every Day for One Week. And if I do, Matt will come up with some nice prize (hopefully his new Spaghetti Bolognese).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Still No Cord, But at Least This

Quote of the Week
"E's hair is pretty, but she's always mad at me."
"Why is she mad at you?"
"Because I ask to play with her and she says no and she says to me 'go away'. That's why she's always mad at me."

Left Over Supper
-Zucchini and Tomato Pie
Thinly sliced tomato, zucchini, a measure of cream, pie crust (2 1/2 cups flour, 1 ts salt, 2 sticks butter, ice water, hand worked), thinly sliced feta, lots and lots of cheese grated on top, all layered together, in a 350 degree oven. Basically, I'm eating this pie all by myself slowly all week because Matt is too disciplined to eat pie, and its too delicious to waste on children.

Book trying to Struggle Through: Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis

Friday, May 16, 2008

Unbelievable, But True

I'm still waiting for a computer cord (power). I have a camera full of pictures, a box brimming with unanswered email, a pile of thoughts unblogged, a thousand articles unread, You Would Think that At Least my house would be clean. But its not.

But at least Matt is home.
If this cord doesn't arrive today I don't know what I'll do. I'd like to think that I'd run screaming through the neighborhood, but probably I'll just work and go another day without being online.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Still No Cord

Matt is off gallivanting about for half the week with the only computer cord in our possession, so I'm sitting down here on the desktop for a few minutes reading email and staring at laundry. Its going to be raining all day so A, instead of being outside, is building an elaborate train track right next to the front door so that when someone comes by, they will trip, fall, break something, and perhaps never come back again. He is moving this track down from the upstairs hallway where I have been tripping over it for the last week. Every time he whines, I take another train (or knight in shining armor) and he has to do a job to get it back. Since starting this policy I've discovered that he clean the dining room, clean his room, wash off dishes and carry whole baskets of laundry. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of it sooner.

Having no computer cord all week allowed me to write several whole blog posts in my head without ever committing them even to paper, let alone a machine. Probably they are lost forever because I can't keep one thought around for very long. I remember, yesterday, vaguely enumerating to myself all the things I've learned since becoming a mother. But now I can't recall any of them. And I made another list in my head of all the things I love about my own mother. And I had plenty to say on the whole subject of the 'socialization' of home schooled children. But that's gone too. Maybe I'll get it back, but probably I won't.

In the meantime I'm going to wander around picking up toys, folding laundry, waiting for Matt to skype, and something else, hmm, wonder what that other thing was.


Matt recorded me yesterday (or rather, Micah) preaching and posted it here. Its ok. I've noticed some serious and unhelpful ticks (saying 'right' every few lines and 'um'). I have sneaking quiet unhappy suspicion that I sound grating, like Hilary clinton, just one more reason for women to be 'quieter' in church. Anyway, enjoy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Sermon for This Morning

It isn’t often that the Feast of Pentecost coincides with Mother’s Day. All week long I debated to myself whether I would rather talk about and extol the virtues, duties, privileges and trials of being a mother, or whether I would rather talk about the incomparable riches, grace and mercy given to us through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But, given that the thing Every Mother Needs Most is the Holy Spirit, I think we’ll have a dip into Pentecost this morning.

So what is Pentecost? Or, as some Anglicans like to say, Whitsunday? Whitsunday comes from both ‘White’ Sunday, because of the vestments and clothes of new converts—white—and also ‘wit’ Sunday, as in ‘wisdom’ such as that received by the disciples on this day. That was just a little something for some of the altar guild.

Pentecost, actually, was, well, is, a Jewish Festival celebrated 50 days after Passover. If we had more time, I’d go into all about it. But instead, turn with me to Acts Chapter Two. You can also have a finger in 1 Corinthians 12. The disciples, at the time of the Jewish Pentecost, were waiting in Jerusalem, as they had been told to do, crammed together in the upper room, basically afraid, insecure, completely unclear about what their future would look like. Their decision to be obedient and sit in Jerusalem and wait is a model for us. Think of all the unhelpful things they could have done, roving over the known world, telling people about Jesus without the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, consider the many times in Scripture that God has asked someone to wait, even a very long time, before he acted, and that in waiting the person was able to participate in a key way in God’s Work in the World. Sarah springs to mind, Hannah, Ruth, Elizabeth, just to name some important mothers. The waiting of he disciples in the upper room is no different that the waiting you do in your every day life for God. God is patient. He’s not in a hurry. Neither need you be.

If you look down at your text, you’ll see also that the disciples were all together. It may be that it was only the 12, or rather, the 11, but I think it included a lot more people than that—all the people who had been with Jesus along the way, all the people, in fact, who would make up the Church. If you’re looking to be filled by the Holy Spirit, I don’t recommend going off into the forest by yourself. You want to be with other believers, you may even want to be doing actual work. And as you are with the church, during the work of the church, the Holy Spirit will enter your life in a powerful way, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

And while they are all together, waiting, the Holy Spirit manifests himself to them, descends on them Powerfully in two visible ways. There is a mighty Rushing Wind, and tongues of fire. The wind is a sermon all by itself—the Breath of God, the life giving breath that brought creation into being and sustains it. This morning I want to talk a little bit about the Fire.

As they heard the Mighty Rushing Wind, waking them up, enlivening them, alerting them to the presence of God in the room, Fire descended from Heaven and individual flames of fire separated and rested on each of their heads.

Let’s look at the properties of real Biblical Fire for a moment. Fire, in the Bible, is the visible sign of God’s perfect holiness. The First Great Fire of Holiness, apart from the flaming sword in Genesis, blocking the entrance to the Garden of Eden, is the Burning Bush. Moses, by no means a model of holiness and goodness, is by himself in the wilderness and God breaks apart his whole world by Burning a Bush, and yet the bush does not burn up, it is not destroyed. The fire of the Burning Bush later translates to the Pillar of Fire by Night, showing the people of Israel when to go forward, when to stop and wait. The fire was God’s direction and presence with the people. Then, there is the Tabernacle, or Tent of Meeting, and later the Temple, full of fire—the fire of hundreds of sacrifices being burned by which the atonement or forgiveness of the sins of the people was applied ultimately through the complete sacrifice of Christ. Some of the sacrifices would be obliterated, destroyed by the fire. Others were cooked in the fire and then eaten. And how can we not mention Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego, walking around in a blazing fire, completely unscathed, not a hair on their head burned, or their clothes singed, not even the smell of smoke.

God is Holy. He is so Holy, so Perfect, so Full of Righteousness, so Completely Good, that evil cannot exist in his presence. It just burns up. There are some interesting moments of people dropping dead in the Old Testament, having come in contact with the Holiness of God, they just don’t survive. But for the most part God protects his people from being annihilated 1. by not letting them see his actual face 2. by giving them the law so that they can understand who he is without seeing him and 3. by giving them the Sacrificial System by which they could be forgiven of their sins, and then come and be in his presence without dying.

So, when the disciples are altogether in one place, waiting for God to show them what to do, and individual tongues of fire come and rest on each of their heads, they do not, sensibly, think that this is a nice warm cuddly time whereby they are affirmed for who they are by God. No, God’s very holiness is resting on them, indeed is Indwelling them, is Filling them.

How is this even possible? Because Jesus has died, risen, and is seated at the right hand of the Father doing two things 1. Interceding for them, that is, bringing them before God’s face, their needs, desires, hopes, problems. They are in the very presence of God, through Jesus. But 2. Very Importantly, Jesus is covering them with himself. His death is sufficient for the forgiveness and obliteration of their sin, his blood covers them. So when God looks at a Christian, at a believer, he does not see the mire and coldness of sin, that person doesn’t fall down dead in his presence. No, God sees the pure, holy, righteousness of Christ.

We are reading, in the Ladies’ Bible Study, the book of Job. It’s been a real trial for us. We enjoy moments of it, but basically it’s a hard slog. We can’t wait until it’s over and we can read something more fun. I don’t have time to tell you the story of Job, but at one point, his “friend” Zophar, in an attempt to get Job to admit what an awful person he is, says this about God’s relationship to the wicked (that would be everyone not found in Christ), “To fill his belly to the full God will send his burning anger against him and rain it upon him into his body”, one translation read, “to rain it upon him, as his food”.

Apart from Christ you can expect the holiness of God, the Fire of God’s Justice and perfection to bring you to death, to destroy you. But, but, In Christ, With Christ, if you are found in him and know him and believe in him, the Very Fire of God comes to live in you. The fire of wrath that the wicked are made to ‘eat’, now is the fire of cleansing, the sanctifying Fire of the Holy Spirit actually living in you, in your very flesh.
Which is why, if you are living a real, honest Christian life, you will find, at moments, that is I not at all a comfortable experience. At times it may actually be painful. How could it not be? The fire of God, the Holy Spirit, is alive in you burning away the dross, the sin, the parts of you that are not wholly devoted to him. And not only that, but this Spirit that is sanctifying you, that is making you holy, is also bringing you into the church, into the body of believers, the Body of Christ. You do not live for yourself or your own To Do List any more. You live for the sake of Christ, for the Church. And you are equipped, enlivened, directed in this Life by the Holy Spirit. Do you find that you’re here every day scrubbing floors? You can thank the Holy Spirit. Are you serving on Vestry? Do you listen, carefully, to the Bible, and understand, for the most part, what it says? Are you out in the world, telling everyone you meet about Jesus? Are you in school bringing every thought and moment captive to Christ? Do you cut hair after church? Are you in Bible Study during the week? Are you serving meals, organizing Rummage, marinating chicken, praying every day, forgiving those who have offended you, seeking the forgiveness of others, of Christ? I know you are. This church is on Fire. The Holy Spirit is making Christ present Here, is making you into the Image of Christ, is building us into the very Body of Christ, that is the church.

If you want to take stock of your life as a Christian, if you want to be sure that the Holy Spirit is working in you and through you, your first step is not to look inside yourself and see how you feel, or if you’re becoming a nicer person (although that may play a part), but Rather to evaluate and consider your life in the church. I’m sorry to say it, because I know it’s terribly inconvenient, but the Church is the center of the Christian’s life. All the gifts the Holy Spirit gives you are for the building up of the Church, the body. Now, that doesn’t mean spending every waking minute here. That would be great, but it’s not practical. It does mean ordering your priorities rightly. If you want God to use you, to fill you with the Holy Spirit, to give you all the gifts and riches of his grace, you have to come to church and order your life with church at the center. I’m hoping very much that Matt will talk about what exactly this looks like next week when he talks about the Holy Spirit. In the meantime, this week take a few moments to look at your life, your routine, your priorities, both for the purpose of being encouraged by all the things that God is doing, and to be challenged to find if things are in order.

Let’s Pray
Heavenly Father, fill us with your Holy Spirit, this morning, show us your power, and presence and glory. Build your Kingdom, here in this place. Build us into the Body of your Son Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

God Must be Trying to Teach Me Something

Still no Cord!
Loosing my mind and temper.
Computer sitting idly and forlornly by.
Prayer Required.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Plans for the Future

E: After dinner, and after I clean my room, I'm going to run away from home.
Matt: I'm sorry to hear that. Where will you be going?
E: Behind the couch.
Matt: We will miss you a lot.
E: Yes, but I'll be back for meals, and to go to school.
A: What about sleeping?
E: I will come home to sleep as well.
Matt: Well, you seem very organized.
E: Yes.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Technological Problmes

A small, roundish child carefully picked up my computer and flung it on the floor yesterday. I came downstairs in a glow of contentment, induced by a really strong cup of tea and a perfect omelet (two kinds of cheese-Matt's been practicing) brought to me in bed, to be shattered by the vision of my computer on the floor, upside down, the cord horribly mangled in a fall. I coaxed my machine to life and found everything ok.

So Matt is kindly sharing his cord with me while we wait for a new one.
Blogging may be light until it arrives.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Portion Control

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on my own Bible Reading Schedule. And even though I feel bad about missing a lot of what the church is reading together, I haven’t, at this moment, left my own routine because God has been so faithful in pursuing me and showing me his will and purposes day by day. Yesterday I read, depressingly, of Uzziah being stricken with leprosy in the temple for offering up incense when he was not authorized to do so.

But then the Psalm for the day, for me, was Psalm 73. And, as usual, the words of the psalmist traced themselves over the experience of my days and times.

“Why” I have recently asked God, “Are the wicked allowed to prosper?” Why don’t you do something about the mess of the church, or the neglect and abuse of children, or the continued unmitigated slaughter of unborn babies?

So I read the opening lines of the psalm.
Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked…”
Lest God does not know the ways and perverseness of the wicked, the Psalmist describes them for 9 verses.
“They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind…pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment…”
“Do not,” said a lady in my Bible Study, “compare yourself to anyone else! Don’t do it!” It is so easy to compare. It is so easy to look around at the world and then measure yourself, up or down, according to what you see. But the comparing road is a slippery road. First, because in the world, the goodness or wickedness to be seen has to be teased out, like pick up sticks. With all the good is mixed in a little bad. In all the bad a little good can be discovered, a way to let someone off the hook, or a means of forgiveness discovered. And second, because we are all a little stricken.
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task…”
And here also I have dwelt, weary to understand what is going on in other people’s minds and hearts. I cannot know.
“ …until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end…”
And that is where the rubber meets the road. Either we get on board with God, we go to him on his own terms and learn what he purposes and Is, or we slip and grow weary and envious and faint hearted. The road of pride is filled with the stones of anxiety, malice, envy and trouble.
"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.”
And then, shoving away cats and putting a plug (pacifier) in G’s mouth, I turned over and read “But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Lk 10:41
A full portion of Jesus, a full measure of time with God. That is all I require.