I loved you, Samuel!

Today I pulled another tab from my Bible reading jar, cuz yeah, I was ready to explore once more.

ROMANS!

Before I scamper off to read about the early church though, I wanted to write a little about what I learned while reading my way through 1 Samuel.

As you may know, 1 Samuel records Samuel’s life and the times of Saul and David that butt up against the Prophets story.  Murder, intrigue, spiritual death, physical death, the death of a king, the anointing of another, and exciting times throughout, that’s what I found in 1 Samuel.

THINGS I LEARNED IN 1 SAMUEL

Obeying God, especially when it isn’t easy, is totally the way to go. So. Many. Blessings.

Not obeying God is a bad, bad thing and results in striking consequences.

Being humble means a lot to Papa.

Being proud may satisfy the flesh, but it doesn’t prove all that helpful in finding God.

God speaks a word to us when we obey and do what he says…no matter what.

God remains silent once He has established that we wouldn’t obey, even if he did tell us what to do.

Living in caves and hideouts—not that bad when a blood-thirsty king is hunting you down.

Giants don’t get to say who will win the day—God does!

One smooth stone in the hand of an expert is enough.

Women of honor are honored, and given riches, and crowns, and love, and a place in God’s story.

Even rabble-rousers and riff raff come in handy when you’re building an army.

Playing the harp can be a manly pursuit.  Yes, it can!!!

God tells a compelling story; one we miss out on when we don’t read the Bible regularly.

All hope depends on God, who uses lil guys and misfits every step of the way to victory.

Having a seer nearby helps, a lot.

Hiding from God won’t work. He sees us, even behind the baggage carts of life.

There were not Motel 6s in the ancient Arabah.

Sometimes the victory shout IS: Kill ‘em all!  We hear that often on basketball courts these days, don’t we?

The hand that rocks the cradle really does rule the world.

Prayer Changes Things!

Ancient mysticism fascinates me. I wonder how/why it works.

Kings should avoid witches at all costs.

Falling on your sword isn’t always noble.

Old Testament teaching isn’t for everyone, or so I hear, but I absolutely love it.  I love the simplicity of the OT. I love the fervor. I love the commitment to righteousness, and the stories that speak to the failings of those who try to skirt God’s commands.  I love the grace I see. I love the retribution that is fair, and just, and metered out by a Holy God, so we don’t have to wonder if it’s fair or not.

I love that the majority of what I find in the OT is unveiled and easy to understand. Who among us doesn’t understand betrayal, or the vulnerability of sinful men, or the blood lust and fear that accompanies war?  I get it.  I see it happening all over the globe today. I can look at what happens in 1 Samuel and compare it to my world and say with confidence that people don’t change without God’s intervention in their lives. They just don’t.

WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO AVOID, AND WHAT MAKES GOD UNCHANGING.

It’s all there in the Bible, but to get it you have to read both the Old Testament, and the New Testament.  They are both important for understanding who our God really is—who we are vowing allegiance to–and how He expects us to behave.

I loved reading 1 Samuel, but I must say I’m also ready to dive into Romans.  The early church. The struggles, and the blessings. The foundation and the continuing, never ending story of faith, forgiveness, and beginning again.  The picture of divine justice, set alongside the obvious failings of men is also fascinating to me.  Paul, in all his glory.  I love him, even as I despise him.  Intrigue, fighting, victory, defeats…  I can’t wait!  This is going to be sooooo good.

What book of the Bible is your favorite?  What did you recently learn from reading it, that you did not know before?

 

 

 

Walls

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall. That wants it down.”

I love the words from this poem by Robert Frost. They conjure images to my mind. Images of walls torn down, peoples united, and relationships mended.

000mending wall

What is it that keeps a wall in place?  What physically separates us?
Sound engineering.
Quality materials.
Rightly aligned foundations.
Good ground that isn’t prone to shifting.

We spend our lives putting effort into building walls that will last.
But what of those walls that need to come down?

What of those walls that have been improperly built?

Or worse yet, rightly built, but later regretted.

Emotional walls…Spiritual walls…Relational walls.
What do we with these?

Demolish.
Destroy.
Redeem.
Restore.

It takes effort, determination, and consistency to bring down walls built by fear, isolation, or hate.

Walls protect and walls repel.

What walls do you see before you today?  What steps are you taking to break them down?

Stop Drills And Your Happier Life

What is a Stop Drill, you ask?

It’s like a fire drill, and just as important!

Here’s how to conduct a Stop Drill.

Buy a couple of bags of your favorite candy, snack, or dime store rewards/stickers. Go into the yard or living room or basement to set up the exercise. Ask the kids to line up at the opposite end of the room from you, like they would to play red light/green light. Now, explain that every time they obey your command to stop the first time they are told to, they will get a treat.  Commence issuing directives, including sudden STOPS.  You’ve just completed a Stop Drill.

Note:  Popcorn makes a great reward for Stop Drill practice, since you can give one piece each time the kiddos respond correctly without filling them full of sugar.

Before you start an Stop Drill, remember that its best to reward right behavior, and move past wrong behavior rather quickly.  If the kiddos don’t respond properly to your commands, or they fail to respond, don’t give up. Keep trying.  Practice makes perfect.

Here’s why Stop Drills are important:

Three-year-olds get lost in big box book stores, AND half-blind Grampas can’t keep up with said three-year-olds when they book it outta there at full speed on those wee chubby legs of theirs.

When a three-year-old decides to break ranks and run…

Hearts pound.

Palms sweat.

The perpetrator laughs.

Legs MOVE.

Voices call down aisles.  “Where are you?”

Junior is lost!

Vanished.

Escaped.

Still giggling, gleefully. Rotten kid!

Panic sets in.

What if?

Have you been there?

This post is not about the fear, the relief, or the reprimands associated with losing a child in a big store.  Well, maybe it is a lil, but it’s also about preparedness (and humor, always humor).  It’s good to bring a little levity into frightening conversations, right?

But seriously (or not), Stop Drills are about next time.

They’re about conditioning kids in a way that teaches them to do what we say, when we say it, so that when we yell DUCK, MOVE, or DID YOU HEAR ME?, they will act…out of instinct, and for their own goodness and safety sake.

How can practicing Stop Drills help you live a happier life?

1. First, Stop Drills stop “why” questions in their tracks.  No longer do you have to say, “because I said so,” every time you want your child to stop doing that.

2. Stop Drills condition kids to stop, thereby helping young’uns learn how to instinctively respond to your directives.

3. Stop Drills relieve parents of worry when their kids are operating outside of arm’s reach, but still within screaming distance.

4. Stop Drills make it less likely that your child will be hurt, especially as hurt pertains to kids running into the street unaware of the danger a busy street implies.

5. Stop Drills reinforce the need to be safe through obedience.

Remember: You can train an old dog new tricks, and young pups are even easier!

In conclusion:  If Stop Drills don’t sound right for your situation, you can do what I did when my kiddos were little.  Tell them if they go near the road you will 1.  Spank them, hard. 2. Let the pigs get them.  Hey, no judging. My methods worked and that’s what matters. 😉

Have you ever lost your child in the store or the park? What were you taught to do that you do without thinking these days?

Liars Gonna Lie

Dealing with liars leaves me conflicted.

Am I supposed to allow them to lie to me, unchallenged?

Am I supposed to confront them with their lies?

If I try to gently restore them to the truth, how exactly would I go about doing that?

I know I should pray for them.

I keep hearing I’m supposed to hate the sin, but love the sinner.  I’m working on that.  I sense that I need to separate my feelings about their behavior from any actions I take, but that’s HARD to do.

I’m  not gonna lie to you, I have a problem with liars.

I have a problem respecting liars.

I have a problem with being a liar sometimes. Ugh!

It’s true: I am not always completely honest with others.  Brutal honesty doesn’t appeal much to me.  In fact, I’m not sure that I ever want to develop a taste for that kind of interaction with others.

Does that make me a liar?  Hmmm…

I, like others, find social convention demands I interact with grace in public situations, which sometimes means I cannot be completely honest in my impressions of and sharing with others.  A good thing, I think.  Certainly I feel it is a blessing when they are not completely honest with me about every impression they have of me.  Heavens, who wants to hear every thought someone else has about them?  Scary!

Let me say pretty emphatically that I think telling lies as a means of shielding one’s self from consequences in life is wrong.  It’s sin to me.  But do I believe that in every case, all the time?

Think Corrie Ten Boom. Think the Hiding Place. Is it wrong to lie to those who would take the truth I would tell them and hurt others because of it?

So many variables, and so much danger in granting ourselves too much wiggle room!

I am of the Wesleyan persuasion regarding how I approach faith and sin. That means I define sin as a deliberate act of rebellion connected to a known principle, rule, or command from God.  I see sin as willful disobedience…akin to the plot the religious leaders entered into when they colluded with Judas to betray Jesus and then handed him over to the Roman government to be beaten, murdered, and removed from public view.  They knew what they did was deliberate, hateful, and wrong (sin), but they did it anyway, because they “needed to/wanted to/had to” maintain the status quo so as to shield their reputations and power bases.  Easter having just passed, this act of rebellion (sin) is fresh in my mind, and therefore easily called upon to make my point.

While doing research today, I found some interesting food for thought on the Wesleyan definition of sin.  Maybe you’d like to check it out, especially if you are not Wesleyan and have never understood how they handle sin inside the confines of their faith journeys.  The writer of that post is Keith Drury, a VIP in Wesleyan circles and someone who can pretty much be depended upon to understand the Wesleyan definition of sin and communicate it to the public in trustworthy ways.

My problem:  Determining what is deliberate deceit, and what is a subconscious behavior that is so deeply mired in denial that it is not readily understood as deliberate by the one who uses it to get along in life.

For instance: Someone regularly withholds information from others (friends, family, co-workers), in order to maintain control over these others, and/or avoid fights or anger levied at them when they make “promises” they are unable to later keep.  Is that deliberate sin, or a bad habit?

Or this:  Someone regularly omits information until the timing is right for them to reveal it.  They are looking for an advantage in their communications, but not in a conscious way.  They have learned to watch what they say and limit their comments to times when tempers are less likely to flare.  I can see how this pattern would develop when one lives with an abuser, addict, or an alcoholic.  I can easily see this as a habit developed unwittingly. Not deliberate.

I guess I believe some people have been so shaped by life and their interactions with others that they lie pretty easily, and without realizing how insidious a sin it is or how much it hurts others who trust them to tell the truth.

I could go on and on talking about this today, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that I have a hard enough time trying to figure out what I ought to say and when I ought to say it/share it/reveal it, to want to avoid investing massive amounts of my time dissecting others lies and trying to figure good motives for why they devise them.  When they lie to me, though, that’s different. Then, I am ready to dig in my heels and fight the good fight to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

To be certain, separating the dirty liars from the accidental or occasional liars is hard work, in my opinion.

I want to close this epic post with these words from The Bible, that I was led to consider after a conversation with a friend today.  I think this is relevant to my inner dialogue regarding lying.

“But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.  And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”  Jude 1:20-23  [emphasis, mine. ljh]

When have you found it hard to hate the lies, but love the liars?  Do you ever withhold information in an unconscious way?  Under what circumstances do you think it would be right to consciously withhold “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”