Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A View from the Fringe

I could tell from the look on his face that he thought me to be a bloomin' idiot mis-guided & mis-informed.  The first words out of his seasoned 17 year old mouth were:  You can't actually believe that, Grandma?!!

From the time he was but a wee lad, he loved all things scientific.  From rocks to rain clouds; from dinosaurs to constellations, his little nose was often pressed into a book, just like his father's (my oldest son) had been many years before him.  Geology, Astronomy and Paleontology gripped him like a Harry Potter novel does to some.  And now that he's headed onto college (a year ahead of most), he's hoping to walk a path that includes a career in Mechanical Engineering.  No surprise. 

But that day, the day of our exchange his worldview took a spin on its proverbial axis.  The young man was quite unprepared for his own grandmother to push against conventional wisdom.  At once I had entered the realm of the unconventional - - at least his eyes.

I didn't much care for the plummet from my sassy grandmothering pedestal, where only moments before I'd been some sort of heroine in the 17 year saga of his life.  No doubt it won't be the last such tumble, but it was definitely the first.  No matter, it was a great object lesson in how to agree to disagree.  

What sparked this clash of ideologies? 

On one side of the debate was my precocious and scientifically studious grandson.  On the other side sat me - - not quite so precocious but similarly studious.  The subject?  Creation versus Evolution. 

Mind you, I hold no contempt for those that subscribe to Evolutionary Theory.  As my grandson advised me, it is THE foremost & foregone conclusion of MOST of the greatest scientific minds in recent history as he shoved me out onto the fringe alongside all other illiterates uneducated folk. 

Even so, I held my own, reminding him that not ALL scientists concurred.  There were, and are plenty that subscribe to the creation narrative.

God bless him, though:  he was respectful in his apoplexy.

For ask now of the days
that are past, which were
before thee, since the day that God
created man upon the earth, and ask
from the one side of heaven unto
the other, whether there hath been
any such thing as this great thing is,
or hath been heard like it?
~ Deuteronomy 4:32

It was not the first, nor will it be the last of conversations about why I subscribe to the Creation/Young Earth worldview.  I have yet to read an article, listen to a debate or consider facts that convince me that God's word is suspect or vague on the subject, or that Evolutionary Theory is uncontrovertible fact.  I find it rather easy to stand alongside the ancients, the prophets, and even Jesus Himself in testifying to Eden's very real locale, the people/progenators known as Adam & Eve, the fact of Babel, and other epochs describing origens that are recounted by the Bible's authors themselves.

At the end of the day I have concluded that a plethora of information, fact, rhetoric and conclusions exists on both sides of the spectrum - - much as there is in the debates between belief/unbelief in God, conservative/liberal politics, etc.   Choices about who & what to believe run the gamut. 

As I said at the beginning, I have no quarrel with those that subscribe to Evolutionary Theory, said grandson included.  I've more-or-less resigned myself to the fact that, where this subject is concerned, I'm a carrier of the dis-ease known as apoplexy.  That, and that living on the fringe is not so bad as one might think.    

Thus saith God the LORD,
he that created the heavens,
and stretched them out;
he that spread forth
the earth, and that which cometh out of it;
he that giveth breath unto the
people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein
~ Isaiah 42:5
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and
honour and power: for thou hast created all things,
and for thy pleasure they
are adn were created.
~ Revelation 4:11


Excellent Resources Related to Creation Science:

Creation Ministries International
Answers in Genesis
The Institute for Creation Research
Reasons to Believe

Sunday, October 28, 2012

From Sea to Not-So Shining Sea

When I tucked myself in last night, it was with thoughts of the power & potential of the storm, Sandy, anticipated to hit our eastern shore.  Warnings & advisories were being called out on nearly every media outlet the entire day yesterday.  News footage demonstrated the efforts of people bracing for the worst.

In the middle of the night I awoke - a common occurrence with my 64 year old, arthritic frame.  I got up to grab an Ibuprofen but, as I clamored about the kitchen I noticed my computer screen with a rather large & ominous announcement about a significant earthquake just north of us in British Columbia.  Alongside the headline were warnings & advisories to Hawaii, Oregon & California to prepare for a potential storm surge at the least, a tsumani at worst.  Evacuations were already beginning in order to move well over 100,000 on Oahu's shoreline to higher ground.

Returning to the warmth & safety of my resting place, I couldn't help but see a poignancy in all of this. 

“They sow the wind
and reap the whirlwind.
~ Hosea 8:7

I'm not one to quickly attribute happenings in nature & elsewhere to God's direct intervention.  Afterall, we live upon a globe affected by currents, gravity & a host of converging weather patterns.   Tectonic plates tilt & shift.  It is also a globe affected by man's fall.

Yet in the quiet of my nearly slumbering heart came the thought that men play fast & loose with all things God-related.  Many mock.  Many more deny.  Surely there is a price to such folly - - a price long ago foretold.

I cannot listen to the wind this mornng but to consider how great & precious are the promises God makes to His own.  How comforting His word.  How great is His glory & wonder!  


I love to stand at ocean shore
And feel the thundering breakers roar,
To walk through golden fields of grain
With endless bloom horizons fray

I believe
I believe
I believe

P.S.  My prayers for all of you residing in the path of these natural disasters.  God's protection & peace upon you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Downside of Contention

Reminder to Self: 
Great wisdom is generous;
petty wisdom is contentious.
Great speech is impassioned;
small speech is cantankerous.
~  Chuang-Tzu
With the season of contention well underway in the run-up to presidential elections here in the U.S., I am ever so mindful of the skillful and often times deploring contentiousness afoot (or, rather, atongue).  I find myself wondering if contending must include so many uncivil, caustic, slanderous and mean-spirited diatribes?
I think I've answered my own question.

Contentious:  exhibiting an often perverse and
wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes
Contend:  to strive or vie in contest or rivalry
or against difficulties : to struggle
Imagine, if you will, what would happen if believers were to use the former tactic in lieu of the latter (and, unfortunately, it happens way too much).  How in thunderation would God's Good News be considered such?
All I know is that I'm getting daily object lessons about why one works and one doesn't.
Oh to be generous, wise & impassioned ... 
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and
teaching everyone with all wisdom,
so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 
To this end I strenuously contend with all
the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. 
~ Colossians 1:28-29
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write
to you about the salvation we share,
I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend
for the faith that was once for all entrusted
to God’s holy people. 
For certain individuals whose condemnation
was written about long ago have secretly
slipped in among you. They are ungodly people,
who pervert the grace of our God into
a license for immorality and deny
Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. ~
~ Jude 3-4

Saturday, October 20, 2012

When Prophets Bleat

There are so many voices today, even among believers.  The proverbial spin does not rest with the media alone, but far too often sometimes makes its way to the lips of spokespeople with a penchant for proclaiming "thus sayeth the Lord" as though the oracles of God. (Bear in mind, it may sound more like "The Lord told me _______; and/or told me to tell you __________.") 

I mean no disrespect to honest-to-God prophets.  I just don't know any in order to make my apologies.  Even so, I believe the gift of prophecy is alive and well.

The word of the Lord came to me:
“Son of man, prophesy against the prophets
of Israel who are now prophesying.
Say to those who prophesy out of their
own imagination:
‘Hear the word of the Lord!
This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
Woe to the foolish prophets who follow
their own spirit and have seen nothing! 
Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals
among ruins. You have not gone up to the
breaches in the wall to repair it for
the people of Israel so that it will stand firm
in the battle on the day of the Lord. 
Their visions are false and their
divinations a lie.
Even though the Lord has not sent them,
they say, “The Lord declares,”
and expect him to fulfill their words. 
Have you not seen false visions and
uttered lying divinations when you say,
“The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken?
“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord
says: Because of your false words and lying visions,
I am against you, declares the Sovereign Lord
 ~ Ezekiel 13:1-8
How much heartache & folly could be avoided were the "prophets" in our midst be held to God's standard for wearing that title?  They're either spot on, or they're not.  And if they're not, then how about we dethrone them?  It needn't be a showy display with tar & feathers, or a lynching; but a turning away of the ear; a removal of the laurel wreath we've placed on them.  It can be done with great grace.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits to see whether they
are from God, because many false prophets
have gone out into the world. 
~1 John 4:1
I realize some among these are mis-guided.  They believe they're doing & saying what they truly thought/think is God's proclamation.  But oh, what a mess they often conjure.  That's the trouble with false prophets: the deception actually begins in/with them.   They are, as I said, misguided or self-deluded at best; deliberate deceivers at worst.  It's either truth they convey; or it isn't.  
Come to think of it, we've been warned.  Under the heading of Apostasy, comes the sub-category of Great/Swelling Words.  If spin is anything, it's all of that.  Bleating becomes a growl. 
“Beware of false prophets,
who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ravenous wolves."
~ Matthew 7:15


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pain's Tender Blooms

All that I have seen teaches me to
trust God for all I have not seen. 
~Author Unknown

A young wife & mother of three, it was obviously difficult for Georgia to speak of their deaths:  her husband, Bill, and two of her three children.  Few people knew the story.  As a matter of fact, I'd known her several years before I learned of the tragic event myself.  For a long time, I knew only that she was a widow with one grown son.

Georgia was a co-worker AND my personal champion during a particularly painful segment of my own life's journey.  Little did I know that her comforts were born in the depths of her own losses.  Life and experience - and God - had well endowed her to be an encourager.

It was Georgia's birthday, and the children wanted Daddy, a private pilot, to take them all flying in celebration.  Billy (14), Clayton (12) and Delana (8) - the treasured princess - couldn't wait to soar above Washington State's Cascade mountains.  They'd done if before, and often.  The plan was put in place.

At the last minute, Georgia had to back out of her own airborn adventure due to the onset of the flu.  She insisted the family continue on without her.  And so they did.

Hours passed, and long beyond the family's anticipated return was nothing more than silence.  Georgia began to grow worried.  It wasn't like her husband, Bill, to not call when delayed.  She stole courage by envisioning him extending their flight to marvel at the forested wonders of the Cascade range, or to avoid weather.

By late afternoon she could no longer set aside her growing alarm.  She called the airport to see if the plane had returned.  It had not.  She queried anyone and everyone who might have spoken with Bill.  None had. 

After calling her parents to summon support, Georgia next called Search & Rescue.  Within hours, a team was formed to locate the missing family.

For the next five days men, horses, helicopters & dogs combed the area they believed the plane may have landed or, worse, crashed.  Days & nights grew long for Georgia, and terribly woeful.

While teams of men & women searched for the flying foursome, tragedy had already unfolded. 

Not long after take-off something went terribly wrong, affecting the lightweight Piper Cub containing the family.  It was later determined that wind & blinding rain was the culprit; that, and "pilot error".  But on that day, and on the forested slopes of the Northern Cascade mountains a catastrophic crash occurred, three of the four celebrants were killed instantly on impact:  Bill, Clayton & Delana.  Billy was tossed from the wreckage alive.  But barely.

For hours & days Billy moved in-and-out of consciousness.  At first he could see the plane's fuselage containing the inert bodies of his father and siblings.  Mercifully, a wind caught one wing, flipping the plane and changing its resting angle.  Billy could no longer see those lifeless forms.   He slept, gaining & losing consciousness as he fought the pain of his terribly broken & bloodied body.  He knew he was dying.

About the time Billy was nearest to giving up, of letting go of the ebbing life he clung to, two men - hunters dressed in hunting camouflage & boots - walked into the crash site.  Tenderly they spoke to Billy, comforting him and assuring him that help was on the way:  "Stay put, son; your mother is looking for you; she's  not far away.  Help will be here shortly."

Then they were gone.

Billy clung to that hope, and it wasn't much longer before the Search & Rescue teams made their way to him.  Five days had lapsed.  He was air-lifted to a Seattle hosptial, where for many long months - even years - surgeries and other medical procedures were applied to repair his broken body  It would be many more years before either he or his mother would recover from the deepest of their wounds.  In such matters, the heart heals slowly.

Peace is not the absence of affliction,
but the presence of God. 
~Author Unknown

I share this story for several reasons. 
  1. I hope never to forget it, or the largess of Georgia's heart.  When I needed it most, she spoke of this tragedy, but never again.  
  2. To validate Georgia's losses.  Her life, though meaningful & precious to her, was never to be the same.  The wounds were simply too deep for her to ever let go, or forget.  Each year, when her birthday drew near, she would steal away to mourn yet more.  
  3. Those two camouflaged hunters were even better-camouflaged angels.  Had they not been they would never have left a severely wounded child to await help alone.  Georgia knew that.  Billy knew better still. 
  4. Though Georgia didn't personally discover the wreckage, she felt it.   On so many levels what the angels told Billy was true:  Your mother is looking for you; she is not far away.
I think of this story often.  I hope never to forget it.  It's been 20+ years since I learned of it, and 20+ years since it actually occurred (in the 1970s).  It's such a vivid reminder that we don't know what we don't know; that God's ways are truly & utterly mysterious on every level; and that the unseen world sometimes reveals itself when we need it most. 

The fact is (and I comfort myself often & always with the truth) that:  God is looking for us; He is not far away.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is
common to mankind. And God is faithful;
He will not let you be tempted beyond
what you can bear. But when you are tempted, 
He will also provide a way out
so that you can endure it. 
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Syncretism - Blessing or Curse?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you,
for when you love the world, you do not have
the love of the Father in you.
For the world offers only a craving for physical
pleasure, a craving for everything we see,
and pride in our achievements and possessions.
These are not from the Father, but are from this world
(1 John 2:15-16 NLT)

Syncretism: the curse of apostate religion
~ Derek Thomas

According to Merriam, syncretism means:
1: the combination of different forms of belief or practice
2: the fusion of two or more originally different inflectional forms
Put another, yet similar way:
The union (or attempted fusion) of different systems of thought or belief (especially in religion or philosophy).
There's soooo much I could say on this subject, but I've decided to say but little.  The fact is, there is much going on in the religious world that is, unfortunately, oh-so cozy with THE world. 
Here we have the your God is the same God as my God doctrine.  It is the concerted compromise of making Christianity like any other worldview.  Regardless of what undergirds the motive for it, it certainly contains an element of craving in its ingredients -- for acceptance & validation, if not for vainglory.  Pride revs its engine.  Christianity is dumbed down.
All men (women & children) are precious & equal.  All beliefs & practices are not.
The operative word here is yoked, and not to be confused with becoming narrow-minded & meanspirited, lest we forget the mandate to love ...   
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and
wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can
light have with darkness? 
What harmony is there between Christ
and Belial? Or what does a believer
have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between
the temple of God and idols?
  ~ 2 Corinthians 6:14-16


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Establishing & Holding Boundaries

Besides my human inclination towards all things easy (aka conflict averse), I believe the lion's share of difficulties in my life have been the result of poorly pitched boundaries - - or the lack thereof, whether they be for my own life, or in the way I relate to others.   Boundary lines matter.

In the past few weeks - between home, Europe and home again - I have had several conversations with people who are struggling with a relationship.  Kids.  Bosses.  Church buddies.  Friends.  Spouses. Neighbors.  The bus driver.  There's a better than 75% chance that most trouble can be traced directly to a boundary, whether that's due to not having one, or to having one constructed of gossamer. 

For the sake of this post, I'm looking at the footings & pickets that comprise the boundaries in my own life.  Some I've constructed well.  They hold firm.  Others - a bit more rickety - sometimes give way to heavy winds.  Those heavy winds might come with the force of dissent, a challenge, a judgement, a slight or rejection, a controlling manipulation (or outright aggression).   

Why is it so hard to set healthy boundaries?  I say "healthy" because some use a boundary to avoid any form of conflict altogether, crumble when challenged, or look for an easy out.  Those aren't really boundaries at all, but avoidance strategies.  They don't typically build relationships, respect or understanding but, unfortunately, more often result in the exact opposite.

I believe one reason it's so hard to set & maintain boundaries is because we wrongly conclude we need to be harsh, or mean in order to establish them.  Another reason I believe it's hard is because we also wrongly conclude that Christians cannot/should not ever say "halt!" 

Whatever the reason ... to change the way we relate to boundaries - our own or those set by others -  requires no little courage.  The minute one is established, watch the bus driver, teen, spouse or self shove extra hard for a prolonged period in order to return to what's typical/comfortable. 

I think I know why ranchers & farmers in both Scotland & Ireland use rocks & mortar as fence lines.  Even after hundreds of years they still stand.  It helps to have a good plumb line too.

"Who despises the day of small things?
Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line
in the hand of Zerubbabel. "
(These seven are the eyes of the LORD,
which range throughout the earth.)"
~ Zechariah 4:10

If boundary-settting troubles you like it does me, you might profit from this great material by Drs. Cloud & & Townsend, "The Simple Scoop on Boundaries".

Also, here's a fairly comprehensive list of what poor (gossamer) boundaries look like:

Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries
Carol Ann Worthing, PhD
  • The family of origin is allowed to negatively affect your new family
  • You play second fiddle to someone or something else; you feel like you get the ‘leftovers’
  • An adult who doesn’t stand on their own financially
  • An adult who is a perpetual child
  • Triangulation instead of one-to-one communication
  • A child is overly responsible for his/her parents
  • An individual is overly responsible for another person
  • Working too much overtime
  • Taking work-related stress home
  • Expecting too much of work
  • Conflicts with authority or the law
  • Trying to change or control other people
  • Misplaced priorities
  • Minimizing stress caused by others
  • Inability to delay gratification
  • Inability to follow-through
  • Goal-setting that is not value-driven
  • Isolating from friends, family, or the world
  • Non-stop talk; dominating a conversation
  • Not owning one’s own behavior or consequences
  • Unrealistic or grandiose expectations of ourselves or others
  • Excessive fear, anger, anxiety, passivity, or over-involvement
  • Making decisions for people who should be making their own decisions
  • Frequent phone calling, tracking another, phoning another at unwanted times of the day or night
  • Out-of-control eating, drinking, spending, use of time; drug use; or inappropriate sexual activity

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Veneer by Any Other Name is Still Veneer

There's nothing quite like solid wood when it comes to furniture.  For a good many years I couldn't afford anything so luxurious as oak, mahogany, or maple  - - much less Brazilian walnut (known to be one of, if not THE hardest of woods).  I settled for the less costly, which is to say my furnishings were largely of the veneer variety.  Some remain so.

I'm wondering if veneers are true of people, too?  Of me?

What, exactly, is a veneer?  To be sure, we could subscribe to Woodshop Wisdom for all things crafty (think PBS & Tooltime); or we could visit Merriam for something far less so.  I opt for the latter.
1: a thin sheet of a material: as a: a layer of wood of superior value or excellent grain to be glued to an inferior wood b: any of the thin layers bonded together to form plywood  c: a plastic or porcelain coating bonded to the surface of a cosmetically imperfect tooth
2: a protective or ornamental facing (as of brick or stone)
3: a superficial or deceptively attractive appearance, display, or effect 
At its best, a veneer is a facade.
I think I've answered my own question.
At it pertains to who I am (or claim to be), the acid test of whether or not I'm veneering is to put me in a boiling cauldron or smack me upside of the head.  My reaction alone will tell you much about the stuff just beneath my surface.  I dare say you might well find some straw there. 
... 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 12:1-2
Regardless of what I am, or am not today ... my heart's desire is to be of the Brazilian walnut sort - - solid, immovable, impenetrable, sturdy and costly - - at my core.  Not to mention fireproof.
For no one can lay any foundation other than
the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver,
costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 
their work will be shown for what it is,
because the Day will bring it to light.
It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will
test the quality of each person’s work.
If what has been built survives,
the builder will receive a reward.
If it is burned up,
the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—
even though only as one escaping through the flames. 
~ 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 21 & Beyond - Home Again

Every house where love abides
And friendship
 is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest.
~Henry Van Dyke

As much as we relished our days & times in Dublin, by day 20 we were eager to pack, and even more eager to make our journey homeward.  Besides all the dirty laundry, packing included the myriad new memories made on our monumental meander.

It's taking some discipline to re-order our internal time clocks.  Sleeping is off-kilter, and befuddled is an apt description of the brain's condition.  International travel does entail a price beyond dollars.

That said, I am overjoyed to rediscover the joys of home - - not the least of which is this year's Indian Summer: a Fall quite unlike any we've seen in many, many years.  Beautiful, and rivaling those we discovered in Germany, Austria, Scotland and Ireland!

The light is what guides you home,
the warmth is what keeps you there. 
~Ellie Rodriguez