“I’ll Show Ya”

When my second son, Garrett, was about two and a half, he loved to be the little explorer.

What I couldn’t find, he’d find.

Garrett had an almost uncanny and precocious ability to figure out where things were, be it around town, at Disney World, or at a never-been-there campground.

He’d lead the way with his sunny smile and his confident, “I’ll show ya.”

Nine times out of ten, the little guy was right.

It’s cute when a toddler explains the world to adults. (And astounding when he’s right.)

But I tend to get annoyed when someone I don’t know tries to supply me with instructions. He or she may be right, but they haven’t earned my trust yet.

A couple of years ago, I helped a friend move. One of the other helpers was a guy with an obvious chip on his shoulder. Whatever items I decided to place in a box, he felt it necessary to tell me how to pack the box, tape the box, label the box, stack the box. He was no more a professional packer than I was. Finally I told him in a very sweet tone that I’d be happy to finish the job, and perhaps he could tend to the other side of the room. Honestly, I said it very politely.

The guy muttered something about how women get their dander up and they’re so emotional. I kept my mouth shut, but I wanted very much to tell him that anyone, male or female, would get annoyed when a complete stranger intrudes on one’s assigned job and takes it upon himself to become the supervisor.

I guess the problem was in the lack of relationship. Why should I trust this stranger’s directions when I don’t know if he is trustworthy? I haven’t had time to check him out.

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(My trustworthy super-guys: Bruce, Garrett and Roen)

Who do you know who’s trustworthy? It’s not so hard to accept directions from them, right?

Jesus doesn’t wear a chip on His shoulder. He’s completely trustworthy. When He says, “I’ll show ya,” it’s for our good, and for our protection. Not to satisfy His bruised ego.

And He’s always right. Amazing!

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1 NIV Bible)

Great Expectations

For years, I used to have this recurring dream:

We buy a house. It’s a simple, middle class house. Perhaps three bedrooms, an average sized living room, kitchen, dining room, baths. Mediocre. Nothing grand or thrilling about the place.

After we’ve moved in, I notice a door at the end of the living room. (It’s always the living room.)

No one else seems to have noticed this door, so I go to explore. I open the door and discover a large room—like palace sized—opulently furnished and decorated. Wow, I marvel, how come we didn’t know this room was part of the property?

Then I notice another door at the far end of this palatial room. Intrigued, I go to explore again. When I open this second door, I discovery, to my delight, another wonderful room, with hallways spreading out in all directions, each leading to more lovely, ornate rooms.

How could this be so? We bought what we thought was a typical house in a typical neighborhood. Surely the sellers would have sold the house for much more than we paid for it if they had known what they had.

Or maybe the sellers knew all along. Maybe this magical house is a special gift.

I haven’t had the recurring dream in several years now. Psychologists and dream interpreters could probably tell me what the dream signifies.

But I prefer to believe my own interpretation:

I come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I place my trust in Him and begin a walk of simple faith, living in a modest “house” which I believe encapsulates the whole of the life I imagined within His Kingdom.

But, after a short time, God begins to show me things I never could have dreamed or imagined would be part of my inheritance as a child of God.

Simply overwhelming. I could not see how wondrous this new dwelling place of faith was when I stood on the outside, looking in.

And, even after I moved in, the walls of this simple place seemed secure, but limited.

As a new child of the faith, I could not conceive of the magnitude of God’s gift to me.

Yet, each new royal room that I discover shows me that the splendor of my inheritance expands exponentially. And never ends. God keeps on giving and giving.

My modest little house expressed how I viewed God: limited, not that big, stingy, holding back on the richest of His blessings (because I don’t deserve them.)

My “house” continues to grow as I learn just how big my God is, and how generous He is.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14: 2 NIV Bible)

Hawks and Hades

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The small bird seemed to come out of nowhere. Like a Kamikaze pilot—zipping, diving, buzzing— he harassed the B-52 Bomber…a hawk.

No doubt, the bird had a nest nearby and he wasn’t going to tolerate the presence of a big and dangerous predator in his territory.

Standing on the paved path which connects several suburban neighborhoods, I watched the real-life drama play out for several minutes. Though I couldn’t identify the bird who  dive-bombed the hawk, he was persistent and untiring.

The hawk, though, kept making his slow, unperturbed circles. Each of his circles widened on the southward arc so that he gradually made his way into another neighborhood—and probably another bird’s territory. Mr. Hawk seemed to take these harassments in stride.

I once witnessed a hawk pluck one of the pigeons off my roof, fly it over to another roof and calmly begin to pluck the dead bird’s feathers all the while being mobbed by a flock of shrill, outraged pigeons.

We humans almost always identify the predator as bad.

But in God’s word, we read that Jesus proclaimed that the “gates of Hades” will not prevail against the truth of the gospel. (Matthew 16:18)

Surprisingly enough, that puts the Church in the position of the aggressor. The Church is the “hawk,” scoping out her next area of conquest. Not a conquest brought about by blood and savagery, but one of faithful ministry and testimony to a world that lives without the saving grace of Jesus. The “gate of Hades” does not come to us; we go to the gate…and use the battering ram of the gospel to knock down the defenses of the evil one.

As Believers, we need to stop viewing ourselves as weak and defenseless.

We are the members of Christ’s body, filled with God’s mighty power, who actively pursue those who run from God’s truth. We pursue them with acts of kindness, with our charity, with our prayers, and with our accounts of the love and faithfulness of Jesus.

We are hawks for God’s kingdom!

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19 NIV Bible)

Invited

Originally posted on Dena Netherton: My Father's World, My Father's Words:

My Christmas memories center around parties spent at my grandparents’ house.

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My grandmother put out a spread fit for a king. Before the meal, family members mingled while sampling her wonderful canapés, chips and dip, hot and cold drinks.

Someone always had a piece or two to play on the grand piano.

The white tablecloth and starched white cloth napkins set off the fine china, crystal and silver at her long dining table. Fresh flowers from Grandmommy’s garden ornamented the center of the table.

Grandmommy’s buffet always included a simple salad, followed by the main meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, wild rice, green bean casserole, and rolls. Chocolate eclairs with a dollop of whipped cream topped off the feast. After the meal, Grandmommy served the coffee and tea in gleaming silver pots.

My grandmother was a wonderful hostess, and we always felt like royalty.

As a child…

View original 203 more words

Not My Property

We used to live in a lovely home in Southern California with a heated pool and gorgeous views of the hills. Along the back fence, green grape vines coiled. Jasmine scented the air in the evening. An orange tree produced some of the sweetest oranges you’ve ever tasted. Beyond the patio and pool, on a steep slope, grew lemon trees, apple trees, and two young peach trees.

Each day I dutifully went out to tend this lovely, productive garden.

I planted strawberry plants in one bed and sprinkled slug pellets to keep the nasties away from my succulent berries. I pruned the bougainvillia so its sharp spikes didn’t spear us as we passed through the gate to the front yard.

Oh, how I loved my garden.

Then Bruce made a job change and we sold that home and moved to Colorado.

A couple of years later, when we visited Southern California, I decided to see how the  old “homestead” was doing. What I saw shocked and disappointed me.

The new owners had removed all the fruit trees and planted the ubiquitous —and boring—palm trees. They’d even removed my precious grape vines. And, in place of the lovely shade tree in the front yard (did I mention how hot it gets in Southern California in the summer?) they’d planted another palm tree.

My son turned to me and said, “Just remember, it’s their house now.”

Good point. The house belonged to someone else and they can do with it as they see fit.

A good point to remember, also, when I’m tempted to complain to the Lord about my own life, my inferior body, the direction I wish He’d allow me to go, but doesn’t…yet.

I have to remember that I surrendered control of my life long ago. I placed my faith in Jesus Christ and handed over ownership to Him. Now He’s the owner of me.

He can do with me as He sees fit. I’m the house He dwells in and He’s the Lord of this—ahem—”castle.”

I can trust him to take care of His property…and do it with sovereign excellence!

“You are not your own. You were bought at a price.” (1st Cor. 6:19,20 NIV Bible)

Fairy Tale Hero

My mother used to read to us from such collections as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Mother Goose, Aesop’s Fables, and a host of other, much beloved stories.

In each tale was a germ of truth, and a clear delineation between good and bad:

Tell the truth (Pinnochio)

Don’t make deals with a wolf (The Three Little Pigs)

Slow and steady wins the race (The Tortoise and the Hare)

Work hard and in time you’ll reap the benefits (The Little Red Hen)

But my favorite fairy tale of all was The Sleeping Beauty. Evil Maleficent hates the lovely princess, Aurora, and wants her dead. But I think the real story here is about the partnership of the prince with the three fairy godmothers and the good creatures of the forest.

Maleficent holds the noble prince captive in her dark and hellish castle. But, aided by the powers of good, the prince escapes and rides away to rescue his beloved princess, lying in a deathlike state in the king’s castle.

The powers of darkness unleash their fury on the prince. Thorny, impenetrable trees block his path. Maleficent, herself, transforms into a mighty dragon, spewing fire. But nothing can stop the prince. Love impels him to fight evil, risk his own life to reach Aurora and bring her back to life with his ardent kiss.

Even as a little girl, my feminine heart thrilled at the thought that someday my own “prince” would be willing to risk all to reach me and rescue me from any danger.

Unlike many stories that have come out in the last twenty years, this old story has a definite good and definite evil. The prince is all good. Maleficent is all bad.

God’s Word speaks about Jesus—the Prince of Peace— in the same way: “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1st John 1:5)

Jesus is the ultimate Prince, the Man who has surrendered His life to death on a cross, defeated death and Satan, and longs for the day He can come to His Bride and take her home to be with him forever.

Jesus is not a complicated hero in a modern story, with emotional issues and idiosyncrasies, who sometimes does the right thing, but often fails, too. Jesus is all good. Completely trustworthy and honest. The ultimate hero in any story.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13)

To Bleed Or Not To Bleed

I stepped through the doors of the blood center yesterday, feeling nervous.

Not because I’m afraid of needles. I’m not.

But because I’ve tried this before without too much success.

I’m what they call the universal donor: type O negative. So I felt it my duty to help out by donating my valuable blood.

I secretly refer to myself as the “untapped vein” (pun intended).

Even when they take little bits of blood from me, as in a lab test, I’m stingy. Last time I attempted to donate, they could only get half a pint from my arm. That’s why I’m nervous.

One doc told me I have teeny, tiny veins.

Anyway, the grateful phlebotomists at the blood center hooked me up and watched a pretty good stream of precious O negative blood flow down the tube. Then, it happened…again.

The vein stopped flowing. For fifteen tense minutes, two nervous phlebotomists positioned and re-positioned the big needle in my arm. I dutifully squeezed the ball in my hand. They murmured something about possibly hitting a “valve” in my vein that kept opening and shutting.

Finally, with just seconds to spare, they got their pint. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

I hate that about my body. Teeny, tiny veins. I just want to help, but my body betrays me.

I remember what Jesus said to His disciples as they waited with Him the night before His crucifixion. “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Yep, that’s me. A weakling. In so many, many ways.

Good thing God already knows that. He knows my spirit is willing. And that there are so many things I would like to do for Him to show my love, my gratefulness for all He’s done for me.

In another month or two I’ll try to donate again. Maybe there’s a trick to this I haven’t yet discovered, like running a mile before I arrive at the blood center, or drinking a gallon of water.

And if those things don’t work, I’ll stick with donating canned goods.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” (Col. 3:23 NIV Bible)

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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