Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jackassology



Isn't it amazing what we can learn from the world of animals; or nature in general, for that matter?

As I meandered through the Book of Jude recently, I was struck by these three things:
  • The Error of  Balaam
  • The Way of Cain
  • The Rebellion of Korah
They are representative of much of what ails the church today - - your church and mine ... regardless of denominational underpinnings.   We been told to expect them, as they go hand-in-hand with the insidious stuff (aka apostasy) that worms it's way into the Body.   Given a recognizable identity, they'd be goats, or weeds, or even lions that snarl & snap & rip apart.  Mostly they look like true believers right up UNTIL the matter of God's word - His whole counsel - is concerned. 

Mind you, these are not atheists and agnostics we're advised to be alert to.  They're not your neighbor who's never graced a church, or your Uncle Mortimer who's got legitimate questions about the claims of Christianity.  These are those numbered among us - - true believers (or supposed true believers).

Not only does Jude (verses 3-16) caution us about these, but so does Peter, and even John in the Book of Revelation.  We are told how to spot them; and to beware of the harm (can anyone say chaos & confusion?) they cause.  It would seem prudent, then, to have a better understanding of their character, or lack thereof.    

So I've been on a mission, and I must say, it's been a rather enlightening one!

I wonder ... do we recognize any/all of them?

Balaam's error boils down to obedience to Godbut... It’s saying, “Yes Lord, I’ll obey You, but ______(fill in the blank)".  A true prophet, Balaam was overcome with worldliness.  Thus he got his assignment so very wrong and, in essence, said what God told him to say, but didn't do what God told him to do.  What a shining example of doing our best to satisfy God while simultaneously profiting personally and/or pleasing men.

Even Balaam's jackass knew better than his master!

As for the way of Cain, he consciously chose a way different than the one God had shown him.  Although he knew what was right, he hadn’t done it.  He shows us exactly how to justify just about anything, and why one's own interpretation can trump the word of God.

The jackass probably would have layed down beneath Cain too!

When it comes to Korah's rebellion, I get hiccups.  I mean, who in their right mind would delight in being swallowed up by the earth?!  Here we see witness pride & ambition colliding with God's authority.  It is in stark contrast to the humble heart that would seek to know & obey God's word & ways about man's.  We have no difficulty seeing how these might craft all sorts of aberrant or unsound doctrines in opposition to that which is sound.

Balaam ... Cain ... Korah ... These all ASSumed they knew best.  The jackass appears to be the only thing unscathed, except - that is - for the beating he took for resisting Balaam's perverse diversion from God's expressed plan.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Evacuation Wisdom


For a brief span of roughly 18 months, hubby and I lived in Southern California near Mt. Baldy.  I'd heard of Santa Ana winds prior to moving there, but until we actually lived in their path I hadn't a clue about their tremendous power - - power multiplied when accompanied by fire.  Such was our experience that first Fall. 

All around & above us the wind & fires raged for several weeks before they were finally quenched.  But while they were consuming everything in their path, we lived on that path of peril - - ever vigilant & watchful, and ever at-the-ready to evacuate.   Ash-laden, smoke-scented air was a ready reminder not to get too complacent.

As I watch news of Hurricane Irene's merciless intentions, and listen to the many who are cautioning, warning, and even advising people to flee, I think back to those days in California.  I think of the days just prior to Mt. St. Helen's eruption, too.   There were, and are plenty of notices about what to do to be safe when a natural disaster is expected and/or to prepare for an evacuation when advance warnings are available.  Often they provide evacuation routing to further ensure the safety of the evacuees.  Even so ... and still ... people refuse to heed.  Like old Harry Truman at Spirit Lake, they shake their first & roll the dice in the face of extreme danger.

I know you know where I'm going with this...  It's an object-lesson from nature about the amazing, grace-laden evacuation plan & route God has provided to all mankind.  He uses the loudest of bull horns to get our attention - the Gospel: the power of God for saving men (Romans 1:16-17) - whereby He offers the only sure means of escape.  Many seize the warning and find their way to safety.  Others insist they're just fine & have no need to act.  Some, like Harry Truman, see great humor in the silliness of such a warning & plan. 

While I pray for my many & dear friends on the U.S. Eastern seaboard, I also pray for those who insist upon making their home upon the path of peril.  It's not about hellfire & damnation, nor is it about wringing worried hands.  It's about intentionally making one's way to safety, knowing with certainty that we are forever out of harm's way. 

Thomas said to him,
“Lord, we don’t know where you are going,
so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.
No one comes to the Father except through me. 
John 14:5-6

Love does no harm to a neighbor. 
Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.  
And do this, understanding the present time:
The hour has already come for you to wake up
from your slumber, because our salvation is
nearer now than when we first believed. 
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.
So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and
put on the armor of light. 
Romans 13:10-12

As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive
God’s grace in vain. For He says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you."
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2, Isaiah 49:8


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Moss Covered Musing

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.


I do declare, these virtual meanderings are ever so exciting!  In recent weeks I've traveled thousands of miles over a backward span of nearly 2,000 years.  My eyes are bleary, but my feet are happy to continue the journey.

As I mentioned in my post some weeks ago, I've been AWOL as I pursue material (biographical, historical and ancestral).  I have high hopes that it will provide the sinew for a book that's been long in the writing. 

My journey has taken me along many & varied branches of my family tree.  On my mother's side we are predominantly French and Irish (through the clans Grenelle & O'Neal).  Her kin takes me farthest back thus far; and that to 800s Norway (how cool is that, Debbie & Sonja?).    

Robert I Rollo - Viking Rolf Ragnvaldsson (850 - 925)


On my father's side the Scots-Irish feature heavily through the Wells/Kelly and McFadden lineage.  It is my grandmother Sarah Kelly that provides the richest fare.  I've managed to trace her (and my) heritage back through Scotland & Ireland, linking our branches to several kings and knights (and castles that stand still, or in ruins); and to the renowned Robert the Bruce. 

On various Mayflower records I've discovered no few relations.  Several were signatory on the actual Mayflower Compact!

I must tell you that I'm amazed and grateful for the resources made available to me by way of Ancestry.com.  Their database includes census, vital statistics, immigration and other records from every imaginable war or affiliation, and so much more!  Thanks in large part to the convergence of LDS records (the Mormons are big on ancestry), the pool of information available to time-travelers like me is immense.

For now I'll keep at it, which means the blogosphere will remain of secondary focus.  For now. 

I think of you often, and pray especially for those of you I know are living in life-chapters new (Terri, Peggy), or difficult (Rosel, Tammy), or challenging - - or all of the above (Elaine).  Sometimes a grin forms when another of you drop into my thoughts:  Judy, Beth, Lisa, Sonja, Debbie, Janette, Noreen, Susan, Sharon, Luther, Karen, Loren, Ron, Mary ...  Well, I could just go on and on!

One stanza from the song Amazing Grace has run through my thoughts so often on this journey.  It's the preface to this post, and the postscript.  When I consider all that was wrought by God's hand to deliver me (and you) to this very day, it's simply mind-boggling.  Down through the ages He had (has) a plan for me, and He saw to it I arrived on time, and for a time such as this.  Today I'm part of it - His plan.  And so are you.  Let us run together this amazing race - for our joy and His glory!

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Upon the Moors

I'm planning on going AWOL.    And here's why ...



Chilham Castle
Begun in 1174 for Henry II, it
was completed in 1616 for my
ancestor, Sir Dudley Diggs,
son of
Sir (Knight) Thomas Kempis


The Ruins of Castle Cary
Built sometime in early 1100 by
my ancestors, the Percevals 

For several years I've been building my family tree.

As I trace my lineage through the web of branches on both sides (Wells on my dad's side; Grinnell on my mother's), I am absolutely thunderstruck to have made my way back as far as the 800s.  Stunning!  And I'm not done threading yet ...

My discoveries have taken me to the Moors of England & Ireland & Scotland, as well as to the fertile & verdant valleys of France's Argonne region where, most likely, Jewish ancestry was handed down as well (having been exiled with the Sephardic Jews of Spain).  Some small consortium of my DNA  derives from the forests & farmlands of Germany. 

All-in-all, I'm predominantly a Celt, but no commoner.  The ancestors I've met along these various branches (and on both sides of my parentage) include lords & ladies, sirs/knights.  As expected, this includes a fair number of castles (two of many shown above) & kingdoms.  

Which brings me back to where I began.  My AWOLism is born of my heartfelt yearning to visit those ancient lands & peoples that are, even today, near & dear.  With the advent of the internet, as well as sites like Ancestry.com, what was once thought lost is found.  I long to know these people & their times; to look long at their family crests and the coats of arms they bore proudly.   I will attempt to look on their faces in search of the resemblance that is mine both physically & spiritually.  Much of what I see is now readily available.  The rest I'll have to imagine.

So, if you wonder about my whereabouts, just picture me walking the misted moors with Lady Amy Anne or Sir/Knight Thomas Moyle.  We've much to speak of ...

 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for
and assurance about what we do not see. 
This is what the ancients were commended for...  
Therefore, since we are surrounded by
such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race
marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 
~ Hebrews 11:1, 12:1-2

P.S.  I'm not actually going to Ireland & Scotland.  That's something I'd planned to do this Fall, but have postponed until next year.  But, I am going to spend a considerable amount of time in research, and less on social networks.  I'll be back.  In the meantime, you can always reach me at my direct email address.  I'm hoping to drop by to see what you're up to when I return from my heathered wanderings of the heart ...
 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gripping Grace

Such a vivid image is conjured up with the term grip, or gripping.  It's a word we readily identify as we read through a suspenseful book, or we bite our lips over a particularly dramatic movie (can anyone say "Raiders of the Lost Ark"?), or as we yank our jacket - or worse, our hand - from the now-shut car door.   It's far more cunning if we're attempting to give up smoking (how well I remember!), or any other bad habit. 

The scripture weaves a powerful thread throughout it's many pages about grip's power.  Depending on context, it's either a good thing, or a not-so-good thing.   

In the opening salvo of Luke's Gospel, we are gripped right along with the man-Priest Zechariah:   Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him (Zechariah), standing at the right side of the altar of incense.  When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. (vs 11-12).   I mean, who wouldn't be should Mr. Angel creature show up for a tete a tete?

Yep.  Gripping is most often married to startling, and it quite often entails shock & awe.

Most of the time we wriggle free of that which grips us.  The book ends; the movie too.  We pull ourselves free of the car door.  But, according to the scriptures, there are two grips against which we have no pulling power.  Their hold is firm - unrelenting, unending, and un-releasing.   

The one is sin. 
The other is God's saving grace.

Before the coming of this faith, 
we were held in custody under the law, 
locked up until the faith 
that was to come would be revealed. 
So the law was our guardian until 
Christ came that we might be justified by faith.  
Now that this faith has come, 
we are no longer under a guardian.   
~ Galatians 3:23-26   

I've not read it, but Max Lucado has even penned a book about the tenacity of grace's grip.  I love it's tagline:

Your Father Always Caught You. He Still Does. 

Some things seek to grip me still (thank goodness, NOT smoking).  But nothing can equal this oft-misunderstood & maligned commodity called grace.  

From the Law's grip to the Lord's.  Now that's gripping!

For sin shall no longer be your master,
because you are not under the law, 
but under grace.  
~ Romans 6:14

Jesus prayed ...  "Father, the hour has come. 
Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  
For you granted him authority over all people 
that he might give eternal life 
to all those you have given him.  
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, 
the only true God, and Jesus Christ, 
whom you have sent. 
~ John 17:1-3