Posted in Personal Helps, Proactive Faith, Stories & Studies

I Hear You… But I’m Not Listening

“And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me…” (Ezekiel 20)

The Lord has just finished warning Israel, through the prophet Ezekiel, that He would wipe out the very land because of their sin. It’s some serious reading. They professed to worship the God of heaven, but they worshiped like pagans, enforced some arbitrary traditions and ignored other laws altogether, were eager to impress surrounding godless nations, oppressed the poor, sacrificed their children on their own altars to idols. Sure, there were individuals scattered throughout the nation that did sincerely seek the Lord, who were doubtless horrified at the way things were – but the vast majority paid them no heed.

Ezekiel delivers this dire rebuke to the elders, but he returns to the Lord fuming, “Ah, Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?” “They nod their heads and holler Amen at everything I say because they think I’m being figurative!”

Read the news. Listen to the powerful warnings from the pulpit. Hear the concerned voices of government watchdogs, law enforcement, and Christian legal groups. What they are saying is getting tangled up in the threads of what we’re hearing – not what the media is twisting, not what news outlets choose to release, but in how we choose to hear the message. We shake our heads at the state of the nation, but we get up the next morning and live precisely the same way with the same worldview and the same level of spiritual detachment that we did the day before.

Ezekiel’s message hit the ball out of the park while Israel nodded and clapped politely and watched it sail right over their heads. What he said was very little like what they heard. They stood for truth, all right! – and did absolutely nothing about it.

Take the message literally. Be hyper-specific. Apply it to YOU.
I am a wimpy, inconsistent witness to my coworkers.
My unproductive and worldly browser history is destroying the nation.
My soulwinning efforts are the hope of America.
I’m bringing my country closer to judgment because I’m a prayer slacker.
My failure to voluntarily help with others’ needs is a reproach to my God.

It’s not enough to say that someone else is responsible for what goes on; I have to do all I can in my own sphere of influence to prevent it. It’s not Facebook politics where talk is cheap, it’s not what I say I believe, it’s not comparative morality, “us vs. them”. It’s my own practical, lived-out-in-realtime actions – and changes – that make a difference.

It’s time I read the Bible asking the Holy Spirit to show me – not what “the church” needs – but what I need… and take it literally enough to yield, instead of holler “Amen” and walk away unchanged.

Advertisements
Posted in Encouragement, Personal Helps, Proactive Faith

The One With My Name On It

Do you ever give a gift that’s just fun to give? A few years ago I was elated to find my dad’s favorite brand of ginger ale, which isn’t commonly sold in our area. I hid cans all over the house with badly-rhymed clues on Post-it notes, and sent him on a scavenger hunt to collect them all. As silly as it was, it turned a four-dollar gift into something memorable amid the chaos of the holidays. Neither of us remember what his “real” gift was that year. We do remember the stupid ginger ale.

I’ve sometimes wondered if in God’s “daily load” of blessings, He has any Continue reading “The One With My Name On It”

Posted in Personal Helps, Proactive Faith, Stories & Studies

In the Real Hero’s Shadow

Caleb’s name has been passed down through the ages as a courageous hero. His beloved Hebron is immortalized on thousands of church signs. You sing “I Want That Mountain” in church, inspired by his story. You know at least a few people named for him. But what if Caleb was… your dad?

You know the story. Joshua and Caleb were among those spying out Canaan, and would be the only two adults in faithless Israel to get to enter. Fast-forward 45 years: Joshua is now Moses’s successor, and is busy conquering Canaan. Caleb is now an old man, trying very hard to be patient as his tribe waits their turn for land allotments. He tells Joshua, “Moses promised me Hebron. I have been faithful to God and He’s kept me going. I’m still ready to fight. Can I please just have it now?” And Caleb the 85-year-old giant-killer charges into Hebron and possesses that thing.

Achsah (pronounced “ak-sa”) is Caleb’s daughter. Imagine growing up in Caleb’s shadow. You’ve heard him talk about giants and victory and Hebron your entire life. He spends his evenings telling you – again – about the amazing things he saw there. He’s ingrained it into you that fear, disobedience, and complaining are all roads to failure and misery. He’s stubbornly supported everything Moses and Joshua have ever said or done. You never get home from the tabernacle before dark because Dad’s volunteering the family for everything. But for all his annoying cheerfulness, you know unquestioningly that he is the greatest man you’ve ever known. He’s a hero to you – especially when he finally gets to defeat the sons of the giants and claim his beloved Hebron.

Continue reading “In the Real Hero’s Shadow”

Posted in No Need of Spoil, Personal Helps

A Classic Woman in a Changing World

 

What constitutes a classic?

If you instantly pictured a Dickens novel or a 1960s Camaro, well, you’re not wrong. A classic is something distinctive that doesn’t lose its appeal over the years. It’s something timeless, that continues to resonate long after its creation.

So in six millennia of human existence, what is classic womanhood? The world hasn’t really ever decided what to do with women. Throughout the ages and across cultures, women have been worshiped, abused, treated as property or bargaining chips, reverenced as the leaders of society. What constitutes a classic woman in a world that can’t make up its mind about us? Continue reading “A Classic Woman in a Changing World”

Posted in Personal Helps

You’ve Got a Fool In Me

 

What is a fool to you?

The word carries different meanings to different people, and how you perceive it will determine what steps you take to avoid being one.

  • An idiot who makes stupid decisions.
  • Someone who runs his mouth about absolutely nothing.
  • The one who says in his heart that there is no God.
  • A person who disagrees, intelligently or not, with an opinion you hold strongly.
  • A medieval jester. (Definitely don’t be that guy.)

Continue reading “You’ve Got a Fool In Me”

Posted in Personal Helps

5 Steps to Being a Doer (When You Can’t Find Your Keys)

Confession: I’m unbelievably forgetful. While I’m fixing dinner, I forget there’s still laundry in the dryer. My students know that if I don’t write assignments down, I won’t remember what I’ve instructed them to do (and they’re off the hook). I have driven straight past exits because I’m lost in thought or listening too intently to Nat King Cole (“so straighten up and fly right!”). Continue reading “5 Steps to Being a Doer (When You Can’t Find Your Keys)”

Posted in Personal Helps

The Day the Knife Slipped

 

I love cooking. It’s a very practical science, it’s a creative game, and, well, there’s food involved.

And for the most part, I’m a fairly competent “kitcheneer”, thanks to my skilled mother. I can make you forget you’ve had chicken three times this week, or that you’ve just eaten your fifth cookie in a haze of carb-induced euphoria. I can wield knives and gadgets and raw food with confidence. I can cook on a budget and for people with completely opposite dietary needs.  I know what I’m doing.

But in the last three months or so, I’ve suddenly Continue reading “The Day the Knife Slipped”