Monday, March 30, 2009

Passover's Power

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Deeply embedded in the roots of Christianity is our Jewish heritage. Few Jewish observances speak more directly to God's grace, His plan of salvation, the effectual work of Jesus (the Lamb of God), and the incalculable privilege of the one saved than does Passover.
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That which most people observe at Easter is, in reality, the Jewish Passover remembrance. In Easter we often obscure the beauty and poignancy - even the promises - of Passover, but the power remains. It's hard not to witness God's personal, tender nature - His holiness, His righteousness, and His forgiveness - in every detail associated with Passover.
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Here I have borrowed from sources both Christian and Jewish to tell Passover's story. Shalom!
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PASSOVER - April 9-15, 2009
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Passover is probably the best known of the Jewish holidays, mostly because it ties in with Christian history (the Last Supper was a Passover seder), and because a lot of its observances have been reinterpreted by Christians as Messianic signs of Jesus.
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Passover begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. It is the first of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Shavu'ot and Sukkot).
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Agriculturally, it represents the beginning of the harvest season in Israel, but little attention is paid to this aspect of the holiday. The primary observances of Passover are related to the Exodus from Egypt after 400 years of slavery. This story is told in Exodus Chapters 1-15. Many of the Passover observances are instituted in Chapters 12-15.
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The name “Passover” refers to the fact that God “passed over” the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt. In Hebrew, it is known as Pesach (that “ch” is pronounced as in the Scottish “loch”), which is based on the Hebrew root meaning “pass over”.
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Probably the most significant observance related to Passover involves the removal of chametz (leaven; sounds like “hum it’s” with that Scottish ch) from our homes. This commemorates the fact that the Jews leaving Egypt were in a hurry, and did not have time to let their bread rise. It is also a symbolic way of removing the "puffiness" (arrogance, pride) from our souls.
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Chametz includes anything made from the five major grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt) that has not been completely cooked within 18 minutes after coming into contact with water. We may not eat chametz during Passover; we may not even own it or derive benefit from it. We may not even feed it to our pets or cattle. All chametz, including utensils used to cook chametz, must either be disposed of or sold to a non-Jew.
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The process of cleaning the home of all chametz in preparation for Passover is an enormous task. To do it right, you must spend several days scrubbing everything down, going over the edges of your stove and fridge with a toothpick and a Q-Tip, covering all surfaces that come in contact with foil or shelf-liner, etc., etc., etc. After the cleaning is completed, the morning before the seder, a formal search of the house for chametz is undertaken, and any remaining chametz is burned.
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The grain product we eat during Passover is called matzah. Matzah is unleavened bread, made simply from flour and water and cooked very quickly. This is the bread that the Jews made for their flight from Egypt. We have come up with many inventive ways to use matzah; it is available in a variety of textures for cooking: matzah flour (finely ground), matzah meal (coarsely ground), matzah farfel (little chunks, used as a noodle substitute), and full-sized matzahs (about 10 inches square, a bread substitute).
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The day before Passover is the fast of the firstborn, a minor fast for all firstborn males, commemorating the fact that the firstborn Jewish males in Egypt were not killed during the final plague.
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On the first night of Passover we have a special family meal filled with ritual to remind us of the significance of the holiday. This meal is called a seder, from a Hebrew root word meaning “order.” It is the same root from which we derive the word “siddur” (prayer book). There is a specific set of information that must be covered in a specific order. This is the seder.
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It was during a Passover seder that Jesus proclaimed that the meal represented Himself and that He was instituting the New Covenant, which was foretold by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah. The celebration of this covenant has become the ordinance of communion in the Christian Church.
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At the end of the meal, Jesus took the unleavened bread, broke it, and said that it represented His body. Then He took the cup of wine, which would have been the third cup of the Seder - the cup of redemption. He said that it was the new covenant in His blood "poured out for you." It is through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are declared clean before God, allowing those of us who choose to accept the pardon, to commune with Him - both now and forevermore through the eternal life He offers.
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Passover lasts for seven days. The first and last days of the holiday are days on which no work is permitted.
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Resources: Jewish Virtual Library, Evidence for God
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Tsker Tales

Because I'm now a grandma and well into senior-citizenhood, I often have reactions to the news. I'm supposed to. Grandmas & seniors do that. We're known for our "tsk tsk tsk" and clucking sounds, our narrowing minds. Aren't we?
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Well, if it's true, then I want to be the first to confess. I'm a tsker.
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I also want to say it has nothing to do with grandmothering or age. Some things ought not be!
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So here's a list of just a few of the items that have captured my ire.
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... The rising tide of child abuse, from sexual to physical, and much in between.
... The crap junk we now get to select from for our viewing enjoyment on television - day or night.
... The voice & credibility given to haters of America & God (they're not just concerned citizens; they're downright rabid).
... The burden we place on young people to have, or to perform.
... So much stuff that was, even a few short years ago, considered evil, is now simply OK (let the individual decide).
... Gun rampages that leave whole families slaughtered.
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Just a few, as I said.
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I can't help but reflect on something my pastor is often heard to say: "We, as believers, are commissioned for the world, not from it. We are God's Plan A; He has no Plan B."
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If the church grows silent or, worse, apathetic (aka lukewarm), then what, or who is to stem the tide of pollutants? Certainly not the government ...
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And then I launch into another tsking round as I remind myself that the world is just being the world; it's doing what the world does. That's why salt and light are so vitally important. And never more than they are today.
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Don't worry, I don't run around tsking & wringing my hands as if Chicken Little. The sky isn't falling. I don't lose sleep or get hives over the things that disturb me. They must be. Even so, I don't have to like them, nor do I have to pretend they don't matter.
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I think it's probably safe to say this is rant. Old women do that too.
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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Scorpion Wars

It's just about time for scorpions. Bark scorpions. They're the more virulent form of scorpions, though quite small. And to think these hideous creatures are alive and well right here. They lay low most of the winter, preferring a reclusive life wherever they can find a bit of warmth ... usually far from human habitat.
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But with warmer temps I can almost hear them conversing about the adventures to come. I think it gives them great delight to know I'm gearing up for the annual war. They make it so very personal. Their snickers annoy me no end!
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Can I just say right here and now scorpions give me the creeps?!!!
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It's been some time since I saw one in the house, but once you've seen one scurrying across the floor, I don't care if twenty years passes, you're still paranoid.
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I refuse to go barefoot. I've got those sticky bug mats hidden beneath nearly every table, the wash machine, and a few select corners. My can of special scorpion spray is at the ready. Soon I'll begin the nightly black light ritual wherein I check outside walls & fences for any sign of them. We also have a monthly pest control service that does a great job of prevention & eradication. Did I mention paranoid?
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How do you suppose these mini-monsters made it onto the Ark and through the flood? Moreover, how'd they get here ... in my backyard?
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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Paradigmatic

There is none so blind as he who will not see
Ray Stevens/Everything is Beautiful
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It's a word, Paradigmatic. At it's root we are told it means this:
... a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated.
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Thus, a Paradigm Shift is a change in one's thinking. Such a concept is hardly new, but it gained popularity in the realm of the sciences, biology in particular. And it's context is meant to convey a shift away from a lessor towards a greater, or a better, theory.
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We see it used today quite often in the arsenal of business management nomenclature (what a word that is, huh?). It has come to represent a shift of management and/or leadership styles, supposedly evolving from a lessor form to a higher form. From Management by Objectives to Theory X, and onto Theory Z; from SWOT Analysis to Performance Prisms, the business landscape is strewn with theories and techniques supposed to wring success from an endeavor.
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But we also know that everything new is not always better; not always beautiful.
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In the final analysis, it's those with ears to hear and eyes to see that reap the benefits of paradigmaticism.
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For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
2 Peter 1:16
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Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
2 Timothy 4:2-4
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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Power of One

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Math always gave me fits in school. I did quite well with addition & subtraction, and not too poorly with multiplication & division. Having grown up in an era wherein the Abacus was the only divining tool, I learned to work out complex math problems on paper. Had the calculator or the Excel spreadsheet been at my disposal, I may have enjoyed math sciences more. They weren't. I didn't.
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Geometry & algrebra were simply another world. I never even considered venturing any further in them than I had to, and certainly not beyond them. I'd leave the complex to the gifted math minds. My own was not among them.
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All that to say I love math's simplicity, especially the number one. Numero Uno. Solo. .
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In the biblical sense, all numbers are symbolic; The number one is particularly powerful, an integer so unique it's difficult to comprehend. It means unity, and wrapped up in one is completeness. It's a whole number.
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There can be no doubt as to the significance of this primary number. In all languages it is the symbol of unity. As a cardinal number it denotes unity; as an ordinal it denotes primacy. Unity being indivisible, and not made up of other numbers, is therefore independent of all others, and is the source of all others. So with the Deity. The great First Cause is independent of all. All stand in need of Him, and He needs no assistance from any. "One" excludes all difference, for there is no second with which it can either harmonise or conflict.
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Man's ways and thoughts are the opposite of God's. God says, "Seek first." Man says, "Take care of number one." He is in his own eyes this "number one," and his great aim is to be independent of God.
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Independence, in God, is His glory. Independence in man, is his sin, and rebellion, and shame.
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Where there are more wills than one, there can be no peace, no rest. There must necessarily be conflict and confusion.
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This is the secret of all disturbance in families, parties, and nations. [1]
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And then, even among the math sciences, we learn that one is again synonymous with unity:
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In math, the nth roots of unity, or de Moivre numbers, are all the complex numbers that yield 1 (ne) when raised to a given power n. They are located on the unit circle of the complex plane, and in that plane they form the vertices of an n-sided regular polygon with one vertex on 1 (one).
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The number (+1) is a square root of unity because (+1)2 = 1, but it is not a primitive square root of unity because (+1)1 = 1. So (+1) is only a primitive first root of unity. The number (−1) is a primitive square root of unity because (−1)1 ≠ 1 and (−1)2 = 1. For n>2, the primitive nth roots of unity are non-real complex numbers. [2]
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So, did you get all that? It's OK if you didn't. The only thing I hoped to achieve by sharing it is the fact that the number one is, first and foremost, united.
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Three Dog Night got it terribly wrong when they wrote:
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One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one
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It was just a few short weeks ago that my sisters were here. During one of our gatherings, Carol shared the impact the following scripture had on her when at long last the portentousness of one hit home.
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" ... this is the testimony of John ... He said: “I am ‘ The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “ Make straight the way of the LORD,”’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” John 1:19, 23
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Think of it: one voice.
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Think of it again. Jesus said that no one greater than John had ever been born (Matthew 11:11). One man. One powerful impact.
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Other ones come to mind: Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, John Adams, Helen Keller, Billy Graham.
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It works both ways. See for yourself. What comes to mind when any one of these names is spoken: Hitler, Lee Harvey Oswald, Ted Bundy, Osama bin Laden.
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One can be united in good, or in evil.
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You and I have amazing ONE potential; incredible power. Our value has nothing to do with #2, or #9. Our value has nothing to do with what we do or what we have. One is enough. It's the integer that allows our human beingness. .
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Resources:

[1]Bible Study.org
[2] Wikepedia

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Confident Waiting


Like an unsettled feline he paced; back and forth, back and forth. It was a daily routine; twice daily, actually.
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Early, in the faint pre-dawn light he'd throw back the flap of his tent and breath deeply of the crisp morning air. He'd then glance casually in the direction of his sheep herds, but at once would shift his gaze more intentionally towards the horizon. Within moments his steps were plotted in that direction, making his way along the invisible course that would take him far into the desert. With a certain, steady gait he'd continue, shielding his eyes from the rising sun's glare.
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As if arriving at some pre-determined destination he'd stop ... often in the exact same place as the day prior. For the better part of an hour he'd look out - first this way, then that - as he scanned the horizon. Then he'd pace along an imaginary boundary that seemed to prevent him from going one step further.
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Back and forth he'd walk, straining his eyes as if he expected to see something there on the horizon.
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Then, as determined as he'd been in the making of his way, he'd pivot and head back to camp with equal determination.
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As the evening meal ended, and once assured of his flock's security for the night, he'd again head out beyond the camp to pace the sandy realms until long after dark. By then the camp's fires were his only means of finding his way back.
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In all this he was resolute.
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The man in this story was a father whose son had, many months prior, left home. He'd been a cherished child, but a child with wanderlust and no few complaints of life among sheep-herders. In his desire to cast off familial restraint, he headed off to the city, carrying a sizeable purse granted him by the father that paced now.
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The father had heard of the boy's exploits ... his fondness for the Temple prostitutes, his enchantment with wine, and his frivolity in throwing away vast sums of money on gambling and other worthless pursuits. The knowledge was of little comfort to the father beyond knowing the boy was alive. Yet no matter what he'd done, the boy was cherished still, and no less.
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The father knew something else too. He was certain the boy would return. Certain.
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And so he paced, watching the horizon for the first sign of the boy's progress homeward.
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You know this story well. It's the tale of the prodigal son. I realize I've dramatized it, but that's just how my mind works. I wanted to step into the father's shoes to trek the desert, and to pace and stare with him. I wanted to feel his heartache, and to share his hope. I wanted to let him know that I believed as he did ... that boy was coming home!

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The story has long intrigued me, though not for obvious reasons, and not necessarily for taught reasons either. I have just never been able to get past the wedged-in text that says:
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But when he was still a great way off,
his father saw him and had compassion,
and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

Luke 15:20
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Here was a father that knew more than ever he let on. Other family members and even the hired hands balked at the boy's leaving. In the ultimate of good-riddances, they'd written him off, hoping never again to look on the trouble-maker.
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But his father knew something they didn't. His grief and concern did not obscure it. His waiting did not grow tedious. He hurt for the boy, knowing what form of grief the child has purchased for himself. Yet the knowing prevailed: the boy would return. And he knew he'd accept and love him when he did. Not if he did, but when he did!
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The dots I'm connecting here have a little to do with prodigals, but much to do with the Father's perspective in this story. Long before that prodigal turned for home, the father knew he would. That's why, when that boy was still a long way off, he could strain to see the horizon and know it was his son. He had already decided his gameplan, and it was to reach to the boy in love and welcome him home.
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No questions. No recriminations. No penalties.
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I don't know about you, but I often feel the lump formed in my throat when I consider this father. He represents forgiveness, that is true ... but he represents so much more when I consider how much faith God has had in me; faith I didn't always have in myself. He knows what I'll do. In all my own wanderings He waited patiently for my return, knowing I would return.
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I am always welcome in His arms ...
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It is then that I realize it's where I really wanted to be all along anyway.
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And He knew it all along too.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wise, Strong & Rich

Reasoning ability is such a precious thing. We think and we ponder, and amazing things happen. We learn things; we exchange what we don't know for what can be known (or what will be known). And often the exchange occurs with little or no fanfare. We just keep amassing new information which will, in one way or the other, affect us.
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The intellect is to be cherished & relished, expecially when we consider how limitless is our intellectual quotient. We are told that men use but a scant 10% of their brain's capacity, if even that much - - though I often wonder how anyone could arrive at such a conclusion. Afterall, how DOES one measure a brain's capacity anyway?
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But there's a place where one's brain and/or reasoning faculties can actually get between them and what can only be described as an abundant life. Our friend C.S. Lewis - a man of extraordinary intellect - speaks of just such an impediment in his classic, "Mere Christianity".
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Today I believe God's word says it best, and my own embellishments aren't required. He dashes most all of the world's claims to fame when advising us that being wise, or strong, or rich just might not cut it.
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I'll let Him speak for Himself. At my personal 10% best, it seems a reason-able thing to do ...
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This is what the LORD says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight," declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 9:23-24
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Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar?
Where is the philosopher of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
... to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
... think of what you were when you were called.
Not many of you were wise by human standards;
not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
But God chose the foolish things of the world
to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world
to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world
and the despised things—and the things that are not
to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who has become for us wisdom from God—
that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
1 Corinthians 1:20, 24-30
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See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow
and deceptive philosophy,
which depends on human tradition and
the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Colossians 2:8
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Monday, March 23, 2009

An Inside Job, Therefore

I'm an avid fan of detective stories and the science of forensics. When A&E television has a particularly good story about how a case was solved, I'm all ears. I'm also amazed at how many crimes are actually inside jobs. It seems the more you know about a subject, the better able you are to achieve your desired outcome.
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As I was reading My Utmost for His Highest earlier, our friend Oswald took us to the subject of carnality (fleshly/worldly ways versus spiritual). It wasn't long before he had me thinking about all the changes in me and in my life since becoming a believer some 30+ years ago. They are changes simply too incredible to claim as my own. They didn't occur swiftly, or even early on. Most have been forged over the years; some with no small amount of pain.

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We are asked: Why do you believe in God?, or What proof do you have that God even exists?
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Sometimes I'm inclined to share a scripture; or a comparative body of reason. At other times I might point to some incredible thing I believe God did in my presence - something supernatural. But the real truth of the matter is that I only need point to me. It's nothing short of amazing. Amazing grace.
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How else do I explain that peace resides where anxiety once dwelt? How else do I explain how forgiveness formed where resentment and justified anger once found root? How else do I explain how the passing from this life to the next has become yet another of the adventures I look forward to where once fear of it gripped me? How else do I explain how my once compulsive nature has found a respite in restfulness?
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It's an inside job.
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There's no way I made the changes that have literally consumed me. I am not just some wise old lady (old yes, wise maybe). I am not just some remodeled, fixed up old creation. I am a new creation, and that could only happen in a realm I'm unable to reach, much less fix up. It's an inside job. And because it is, it's no wonder it's then impossible to boast.
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Don't misunderstand. I've not arrived. There are plenty of places where my flesh shouts for preeminence. But I look at my past as an indication of what my future holds, and my worries vanish. He's not through with me.
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We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ ..."
2 Corinthians 5:12, 14, 16-17
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Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to _______ (fill in the blank). The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are _______ (fill in the blank) obey the law, yet they want you to _______ (fill in the blank) that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world... what counts is a new creation.
Galatians 6:12-16
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lost Weekend




Man ... what a weekend! It began on Friday with our westward journey to California for a wedding. We no sooner left our home roost when hubby began sneezing ... and sneezing ... and sneezing.
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We reached our Costa Mesa destination (directly across from the largest Mall in California) and looked forward to a good night's sleep. Driving 5 hours non-stop wrecks havoc with one's posterior. Too, by now, hubby was a very unhappy camper ... or should I say hoteler? I'll bet he sneezed every three minutes the whole way.
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The wedding was scheduled for 4:30 PM, which meant we had all day Saturday to check out that Mall. Can anyone say SHOPPING?!!! I could almost smell the Cinnabons, and went to bed dreaming of Mrs. See's chocolates and shoes - lots and lots of shoes (my weakness).
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It was a noisy, restless night for the sick one. He sniffed and sneezed the night away, so when we began our day Saturday it was obvious shopping was NOT going to happen, nor were we going to make it to the wedding. By 8:00 AM we had decided to return to home's comforts.
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So east we trekked.
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I'm glad to report that hubby is doing much better this evening, but my sas has fizzled. Looks like the sneezing-sickness has gripped me too.
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So much for today's creative energy. Come to think of it, so much for today's energy period. I might have had a whole lot more had I gotten a dose of Mrs. See's.
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Achoo!
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Jimmy?


Who's Jimmy?
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It was the question that followed the final words of a dying woman. Sequestered in a nursing facility and heavily sedated due to the excrutiating pain that marked her final days, the old one cried out:
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"Jimmy. Come get me. Please, Jimmy ... I need you."
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Over and over she called to him.
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The bones of this story acquired flesh in the days following her death, when her late-life remembrances were visited by those that loved her. With rapt attention the audience listened. I was among the hearers. I can hear it told still, and today I am compelled to put it in print.
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When she was but a small child, the old one walked to school ... often amidst the snow drifts of Eastern Washington's bitterly cold winters. It was then that her brother Jimmy, 10 years her senior, would come alongside, scoop her into his arms, lift her to his shoulders, and carry her to school. It was that Jimmy that she longed for in her dying moments.
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That Jimmy is my father.
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I share this story for a variety of reasons, some of which are vague even to me. But the one thing I hope to capture is the content and context of the story for the generations that follow me. It is no fable. It is true.
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I won't attempt to color the tale with additional tellings. Nor will I attempt to connect these dots to the wider range of subjects associated with deathbed experiences.
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No, it's sufficient to note that the old lady - my recently deceased Aunt Helen - longed to be carried across the thick, cold drifts of death in the arms of the one she trusted. I'm thinking she may have seen or longed for Jimmy, but the arms - the Everlasting Arms - belonged to Jesus.
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They are, it is certain, together once again.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Addition, Subraction & Other Math

Everything has a price, from eggs to shoes; from gardening to friendships; from lifestyles to worldviews. Everything.
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We've all heard it said: "There ain't no free lunch!". Boy do we know that all too well in these days of economic ping-pong.

The fact is, not only does lunch come with a price tag, so too life. It's ain't free either.
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So today I feel like harping on, pontificating about addressing the subject of intentionality. Whether small choices or large, it's our great privilege to count costs and choose those things we have determined to be worthwhile. Some may fall under the heading of needful; others merely wants. By-and-large, they all affect us in varying degrees.
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That means I don't step back ten paces (or even one) to let someone or something in front of me to do my counting for me ... unless, that is, they're selecting a gift. Where gifts are concerned, their counting on my behalf is a blessing ... though with some gifts, not so much ! (I'm still wondering why hubby gave ME a file cabinet for HIS office for Christmas one year. But then, I digress ... ).

This counting stuff is a common theme for me. I suppose it derives from having such a strong distaste for the controlling & manipulating forces that would have me think this way or way, or do thus and so (I dare say, I'm every bit as guilty capable of "helping" people know what to think myself). Besides, every time I speak of the subject, I remind myself that I am not a victim unless I abdicate my counting & choosing privileges. Furthermore, I am reminded not to be a victimizer, and to respect the counting-privilege granted to others.

There's a danger associated with this ... Some people actually want someone else to make their choices (long past childhood). Whether conditioned to do so, or reluctant to take the lead in their own life story, they unwittingly become volunteer victims. Others seize the opportunity to rush in for the rescue, gladly counting for someone else, often to berate or contend when their pushy mandates suggestions aren't followed.
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Rosezilla, in her comments posted here, reminds me the flipside is equally true. We are asked for advice when another is troubled with the process of cost-counting. Downstream, these troubled ones may actually be upset because of the help offered.
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It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway), that some things can be counted on the fly, in your head. Since most of us aren't sevants, the more complex calculations require all ten fingers, and sometimes a calculating device. Often they entail the heart (where our desire roosts), where calculations often get scrambled - when one day a cost seems worth it, but a few days ... or years ... later we ask ourselves: What was I thinking?
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A parallel theme accompanies cost counting. It has to do with being informed, educated. How often do we set forth our sail on the windy seas of life without ever having considered a map, or a compass ... much less a destination? Off we go, thinking the journey alone is sufficient for satisfaction; we'll learn as we navigate!
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We often count costs much as we would by sitting in a darkened closet and, by feel, determine which bill to pay, or which book to read.
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Cost-counting is ... well, costly. But if I want to live on purpose, with intentionality, it's my charge to know the value of that which I desire, and whether or not I can (or even want to) afford it. Then, when tallying time arrives, I won't be inclined to point at someone else with contempt for having lived MY life. It makes good economic sense. It makes equally good common sense.
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"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' Luke 14:28-30

Now there's one place where cost-counting becomes irrelevant. It falls into the gift category, with nothing to equal it. You couldn't calculate the cost if even you wanted to.
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He said to me (John): "It is done. I (Jesus) am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. Rev 6:6-7
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I'm thinking here lies the vital reason to know the Owner of, and the Manual about so great an estate. If I'm to inherit it, then I'd best count the cost of being bequeathed such an amazing thing.
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But now I have to count the cost of sitting too long and being late for work ...
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Making Rounds

Odd term, making rounds. Actually, it's an idiom that means: To go from place to place, as on business or for entertainment.
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I first encountered it years ago when someone told me something like: "The doctor will be making rounds early tomorrow." It's physician-speak for hospital visits.
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Well, I'm making rounds today too. I make them almost every morning, and then sometimes again in the evening. I don't drag along a stethoscope; nor do I don a white jacket. My rounds entail a meander around the growing number of blog sites I've come to cherish. I'm often blown away by the creativity of some, the depth of others, and the good nature of all. I dare say my meander takes longer and longer, as often I enjoy leaving a comment before I head onto another site.
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There's no way I could list everyone here that has made me laugh or cry, challenged me to think about something in a new way, or shared a tale that left me knowing them better. It's safe to say my rounds leave me better, richer. That's where the doctors and I part ways. It's their job to make their patients better, whereas my rounds do just the opposite.

I suppose now I'd best be off for office calls. It seems a fitting thing to do following rounds.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Old Irish Blessing

From the heart of my own Celtic heritage - The Flanagan-McFadden-Kelly-O'Neal-McAleer clans wish you this day, and always ....

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OLD IRISH BLESSING
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May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
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About those ...
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Shamrocks have been symbolic of many things over the years. According to legend, the shamrock was a sacred plant to the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad, and three was a mystical number in the Celtic religion, as in many others. St. Patrick used the shamrock in the 5th century to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as he introduced Christianity to Ireland.
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In written English, the first reference to the Shamrock dates from 1571, and in written Irish, as seamrog, from 1707. As a badge to be worn on the lapel on the Saint’s feast day, it is referred to for the first time as late as 1681.
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The Shamrock was used as an emblem by the Irish Volunteers in the era of Grattan’s Parliament in the 1770’s, before ‘98 and The Act of Union. So rebellious did the wearing of the Shamrock eventually appear, that in Queen Victoria’s time Irish regiments were forbidden to display it. At that time it became the custom for civilians to wear a little paper cross colored red and green.
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As a symbol of Ireland it has long been integrated into the symbol of the United Kingdom, along with the Rose, the Thistle and the Leek of England, Scotland and Wales.
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So today, on St. Patrick’s Day, a member of the British Royal Family presents Shamrock to the Irish Guards regiment of the British Army. The shamrock became symbolic in other ways as time went on. In the 19th century it became a symbol of rebellion, and anyone wearing it risked death by hanging. It was this period that spawned the phrase “the wearin’ o’ the green”.
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Today, the shamrock is the most recognized symbol of the Irish, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, when all over the world, everyone is Irish for a day! The original Irish shamrock (traditionally spelled seamr√≥g, which means “summer plant”) is said by many authorities to be none other than white clover (Trifolium repens), a common lawn weed originally native to Ireland.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Family at It's Best

I write often of our family. Family immediate; family extended. By now I hope I've left the impression that our family is a valued & sacred trust to us.
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Never have we felt that more than this weekend.
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Departing early Friday, we made our way from Arizona's blossoming season to the naked winter of Washington State's Okanogan Valley. From flip flops to boots, from tank tops to wool sweaters, we trekked. There we were greeted by snow covered mountains and brisk air. .
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Winter has lingered long in the valley.
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Warm hearts, and equally warm hearths greeted us as we hooked up with clans Rawson & Wells, and a good many others as well. A celebration formed in those early moments, reaching a crescendo of joy & nostalgia that was nothing short of ebullient. We gathered to mourn the loss of mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt & friend ... Helen. That mourning took many forms, and certainly tears gripped each of us at one point or another. With her passing, so too an era.
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As with any reunion, pictures & stories galore occupied every moment. Whether going out or coming in, someone had stories ... lots & lots of stories! The youngers sat in rapt absorption, while the olders connected lineage.
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The olders followed the youngers in all things zany, not to mention an evening of hilarity that keep everyone talking at breakfast the following day. In fact, the olders lead those youngers in some pretty hysterical antics themselves. Humor runs deep in the soils of this clan!
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At many points in the passing days I found myself quietly watching & listening with a heart filled with pride. The olders revealed authenticity - the sort one associates with wisdom, of having lived long & well (though difficult at times). The youngers demonstrated vitality & spirit - the likes of which keep the doors of hope flung wide open. Each heart - whether old or young - in this great family is cut from a pioneer cloth that is nothing short of amazing.
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These are my people.
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And so the chapter that belongs to the generations of my father and mother are now both closed. We that follow gladly embrace the mantle they've left us, even as we pen the chapters that are ours to write.
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May our own children one day gather in kind to rejoice and celebrate the rich heritage that is their's to embrace. May they weep with sorrow & joy for having been so loved as we, and by us. Truly we don't always know these things in our youth; nor do we fully cherish them until the mantle is again passed.
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P.S. For family, I will post and/or send additional pics in the days to follow.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Wake of Sorts

The sisters and I, as well as my hubby, daughter & her boyfriend Tom, and our granddaughter Rylie have been celebrating the homegoing of our 96 year old Aunt Helen. We are roosted in the Okanogan Valley amidst an even larger family contingent; surrounded by snow covered hills and threatening clouds.
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It's been a whirlwind episode, and the term "herding cats" barely covers the events that involve so large a family as ours. Even so, we've managed to eat meals, sleep nights, arrive on time at various gatherings, and laughed so much I've thought I'd choke.
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Our Aunt would be so honored to know that her clan has found cause for fanfare in her passing, not to mention great joy in one and other.
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I'll post more upon my return, including pics (especially for you, Carol ... you've been so-o-o-o missed). That is, if we don't get snowed in!

Sassy out

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Forever "The Girls"

Sisters
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March 12, 2009
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A day of fun, food & fellowship ... we Wells girls are never at a loss for love & laughter.
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Picture: Barbara, Dolores, Kathleen & Carol

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Beauty of Faith AND Reason


The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. Albert Einstein
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There it was, that word again: doctrine. It seemed to appear out of nowhere, and often these past weeks. That's not altogether startling since I read a lot of Christian material, and I actually work for a church. But I'd gone years without giving the word, or its meaning much thought. To me, it seemed to represent a cement-like fortress of legalese that allowed for precious little grace ... as if one's reason ought to be shunned altogether.
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Nothing could be further from the truth!
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Like some long sunken ship being hoisted from the depths, the meat & matter of doctrine surfaces. Like a curious onlooker, I wondered at the bounty aboard. So, even as I write I'm not altogether sure what that bounty might include or entail, or where exactly it'll take me.
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All I know, for sure, is that doctrine is relevant.
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Thus far we know that: Doctrine is a systematic and scientific arrangement of biblical truth. It comes from the same Greek stem as doctor, and it's purpose is to help us see what the word of God has to say, in a systematic way, and on any subject.
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That makes doctrine vitally important. It stands alone - - all by itself - - not dependant on philosophy, or conjecture, or whim. It's discreet; a closed system - like the circulatory system of the human body.
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In these regards it differs vastly from Theology. With Theology we study God, religious faith & practice - - and that often leaves open the door to opinion, or philosophy. Doctrine has no such door.
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Now we know why the scriptures have so much to say about it:
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" ... Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘ These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
Matthew 15:7-9
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Then they understood that He (Jesus) did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matthew 16:12
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Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. John 7:16-18
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... we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— Ephesians 4:14-15
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Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 2 John 1:7-10
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Perhaps here I have the stuff of bottom lines where doctrine is concerned. It's knowing what God has to say.
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Pretty simple, actually. It's not the impenetrable fortress it's often made to be. Moreover, no one owns it - no man, or denomination, or religious institution. It's to be mined, embraced & cherished ... and the best way to engage in the embrace is to dig into it - to know for myself what God has to say.
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What better way to know when & how to sort between the true and the false; the freedom making and the shackles placing; the richly divine and the utterly absurd. Yep ... it's relevant!
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No wonder the word keeps grabbing my attention.
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Resource: Doctrine for Difficult Days, J. Vernon McGee

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pachyderms



What a beautiful word: pachyderm. Even in form it's just, so ... so distinctive. Whether we envision or speak it, immediately an enormous creature comes into view. Our very thought of it may be attended by recollections of a nature program we've seen, or a visit to the zoo, or the movie Dumbo. You just can't ignore pachyderms.
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Even so, have you ever had an elephant in your life you wanted to ignore, or cover up, or were told to keep hidden? Such attempts seem rather absurd, yet they neatly fall into the original don't ask, don't tell rule. Thus the quote by Joy Adams in her famous book, "Born Free" seems almost prophetic: "It has always seemed miraculous to me that these colossal animals can move noiselessly through the bush, and are thus able to surround one without warning."
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And so it is with elephants. They sometimes hide in plain sight, or may come storming at us through the bush of life. We witness them as the beautiful, dangerous creatures they truly are; or we do our level best to camouflage them, as if they aren't really so beautiful or dangerous afterall. We push and shove and breathlessly heave them into some back closet, hoping never to have them seen ... by own eyes or the eyes of any onlookers. Worse, if one of our seemingly hidden beasts is discovered, we quickly explain it away by calling it something less obvious: "Oh, that's just a harmless little old pet.", or "It's no big deal ... it's really a kitten."
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Some of our closet-bound pachyderms might look like this. My ...
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... Dad has a drinking problem.
... Hubby has a pornography issue.
... Wife has trouble with gambling, or shopping.
... Son or daughter is promiscuous.
... Pastor abuses his wife and children.
... Own life is filled with anger (so I make up for it by being so-o-o-o sweet)
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If it's true (and it is), that we are only as sick as our secrets, then it only stands to reason that the pachyderm in our life needs to be located in a more spacious living arrangement than a closet. It may even be quite necessary to solicit the help of more than one set of hands to free it.
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In this world, unsubdued and crazed elephants are incapable of causing such harms as the miseries of the deepest hell, which can be caused by the unleashed elephant of my mind." Unknown
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Friday, March 6, 2009

Watchers

I thought long about even posting this; misgivings flourished. But I think there's a moral to this collection of thought I ought not miss. It may just be for me, but perhaps you'll see yourselves here somewhere.
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Recently a dear one from cyberspace paid me the kindliest of compliments. What she said doesn't matter so much as do the thoughts that followed it. My thoughts. Or were they?
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No sooner had I read and responded to my gracious friend when I heard, clearly & distinctly, that still, small voice within: You are watched.

You know me, or so I hope you do by now. My curious, quizzical nature immediately kicked into gear as I profoundly muttered to myself: huh?
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I wish I could say I had an immediate revelation. No such thing. For hours that comment rolled around in my thoughts like a marble in the dryer. Loud. Unrelenting. Unavoidable. Annoying.
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I've thought about it long enough now to realize there is probably more than one implication, but the one that features most prominently is this: Because of Whose I am (is that correct English?), what I say/write, or do, has context. Regardless of what I think or hope, what do people actually see? (Don't answer that; it's rhetorical)
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Please don't mis-understand. I'm not implying I need to don a cloak of shoulds. Nor am I saying, or even inferring, that we ought not be transparent and honest about our struggles, pain, and challenges. Life can be dreadfully difficult. But I do need to be mindful of Who I represent. So, when a lovely compliment comes along, instead of taking a bow (which I am so terribly inclined to do), I can say "thank you" - - to the giver, and The Giver.
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On the other hand, if someone thumps me (which, quite honestly, I deserve sometimes), I can be equally unaffected. Mine is not to grip or defend either way. Mine is to listen, learn, adjust (if necessary), and move on.
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If it's true, You are watched, then it behooves me to be authentic, grounded, mature, and gracious. If, on the other hand it's not true, then it matters little what I say or do.
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I mean, think about it ... how many people do you know that claim Jesus as Lord & the scriptures as God's sure word in one breath, and in the next they're listing all the reasons they don't have to believe Him or it. Worse, how many confessions of faith - testimonies - have been given from the left lip, yet from the right lip comes a confession of all the things wrong with life, of how victimized is the confessor?
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Am I cut of that cloth? Is my life & testimony as equally incongruent? Again, these may be questions just for me to wrestle with. Then again ...
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It matters! You are watched.
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