Friday, July 8, 2011

A Great Start to Your Day!

When Steven and Christine were small, I loved Monday mornings.  I didn't have to work Sunday night, so I was well-rested; I would rise bright and early to get a jump on things.  Monday mornings usually started with waffles or pancakes.  I loved being home with my children, so a delicious home-cooked meal was a great way to celebrate and start our school day.  As my children got older, of course they wanted to help.  Waffles were a cinch -- pour, watch for the green light, repeat.  Pancakes were a little trickier; timing and patience were something that never really came naturally for my two.  We'd sit down to breakfast, only to find batter oozing out from between crusty tops as we began to dig in.

Charles Spurgeon had a gift for choosing some of the most obsure verses, illuminating them in a way only one with a true gift can:

"Ephraim is a cake not turned." -- Hosea 7:8

Spurgeon immediately draws to mind those Monday morning cakes.  Burnt and crusty on one side; barely cooked and gooey on the other.  He explained that the spirits of those in the tribe of Ephraim had not been fully penetrated by the Spirit of God -- much like a pancake, left to sit to long on one side is never fully cooked.  Spurgeon urges us to desire grace as it fully penetrates to the very center of our beings.  Sanctification should so thoroughly permeate our lives, our hearts, our thoughts, our deeds, that we are "cooked through" with a Godly spirit.  There should not be any areas left untouched by the refining fire.

Likewise, Spurgeon notes, the over-cooked side of the unturned cake.  "Burnt black with bigoted zeal for that part of truth which they have received, or are charred to a cinder with a vainglorious Pharisaic ostentation of those religious performances which suit their humor."  In other words, legalism, hypocrisy, pretention, hollowness, a religion that selects precepts based on personal appeal rather than accepting with conviction all of the truth of Scripture. 

"Let me not be found a double-minded man," Spurgeon pleads. 

James 1:8 (KJV) says, "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." 

Monday morning cakes were fine for making memories, but just as maturity has improved Steven and Christine's cooking, spiritual growth can cook through all of those unturned cakes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Random and Inflammatory

Once again, in my quest for research I have uncovered even more randomness.  Behold, the complex inner-workings of my mind:

1)  Imagine your first experience with an infant -- better if it was your own child.  Remember freaking out, going in to the nursery to check if he/ she was still breathing?  Remember sterilizing everything?  Biting your lip and holding your breath whenever anyone held him/ her?  Glancing back at his/ her car seat a thousand times during a twenty-minute ride to the pediatricians?  Ignoring yentes who kept telling you to give him/ her cereal at bedtime so he'll sleep through the night?  Now imagine your name is Mary, or Joseph and, your son is the Creator of All Things.  No pressure there.

2)  Now remember your second child.  Licking off the pacifier before sticking it back in his/ her mouth?  Banging his/ her head on the roof of the car in haste to get him/ her in the car seat before your first child wet himself?  Crashing out on the sofa in exhaustion while your four year old fed your youngest crayons?  Begging the pediatrician to let you switch to cereal?  Mary was a virgin for practical reasons, too.

3)  Found a cute website for parents, Sunday School teachers, those dealing with cancer in some way, those looking for inspiration, or anyone trying to avoid whatever else it is they're supposed to be doing:

4)  Ever notice a cliche' never helps...NEVER.

5)  My mother just said, "Never say 'never.'"

6)  One sure way to determine a true friend:  She will discreetly step behind you, pull your black halter top up over your bright orange bra strap and pull your skirt back out of your pantyhose, enabling you to take communion without that strange draft you've been feeling.  (Saw it.  No kidding.)

7)  To Be Filed With "Bloody Glove" and "Jesus Juice":  Though we may not like it, Casey Anthony was found Not Guilty (different than "is not guilty," BTW).  But, like it or no, our legal system is based on evidence, thank God.  Not only do I believe the jurors endured great personal hardship, and bore witness to horrific testimony, but they did an excellent job upholding our system of innocent until proven guilty.  I've heard enough people passing judgment on these servants, and frankly I think it's as disgusting to publicly derride individuals who struggled to act according to the letter of the law, as it is for the perpetrator of such a heinous crime to walk the streets. 

Love, People, love.  Is it really that hard?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Search Of...

I'm currently working in The Workbook of Living Prayer, by Maxie Dunnam -- a six week course designed to improve your prayer life.  I am seeking to make my prayer life more effective, more meaningful, more intense, and definitely more relevant.  I knew before I began the course that I would need to be more disciplined.  Day Two, and already discipline has come into play, starting with the disciples in Gethsemane.

I have the time to pray; I know I do.  Sometimes I just don't start because I fear interruption.  Sometimes I place other things ahead of prayer.  Sometimes I don't pray for things because I really don't believe God will do what I ask -- not because He is not good, or He can't, but because I've seen too many times when He has not.  If He doesn't do as I ask will that leave me vulnerable to doubting His existence, or His love, or my faith, or our relationship?  It's a can of worms I'd just as soon leave closed.  Sometimes I just don't feel God there.  Like driving through a thick fog -- the light from your headlights bouncing back toward you, socked in, impenetrable.  Sometimes I'd rather listen to the radio.  Discipline.  Doing what you must, doing what's best no matter what.

Yesterday's activities actually had me looking at others, in order to see myself a little better.  One of my friends came to mind.  Someone who takes what's coming, processes it, and discards or accepts it.  They rarely engage in active seeking.  They are open to new suggestions, ideas, criticisms or approvals.  But they are not looking under the seats in the van, picking up the sofa cushions, Googling, rereading the Owners' Manual -- all to find that pearl of great price.  If they come across it, fine; if not, well...

"How sad," I thought.  "I should talk to them about this.  See if they would be willing to accept my committment to them, or even seek for themselves.  Perhaps they don't realize how seeking can speed up the process, be so much less frustrating, keep you from falling of the track or jumping from the train in confusion and misinformation."

Today, as I thought about the discipline an effective prayer life requires, I thought about my friend -- and just how much we are alike.  I have begun a search for a better prayer life, but how actively will I search?  How committed am I to this quest?  Will I go to great depths to achieve it?  Fine to open a book, answer the questions, and nod in agreement.  But the proof will be in rising a little earlier, or closing the door to remove distractions, or shutting off the radio, or bowing my head, knowing that while I may not have all the answers -- while I may not know what God has in store, I will remain faithful.

 Psalm 119:114 (ESV)
"You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Bored, bored, bored, bored.

I am supposed to be writing.  I have a few ideas saved on my "tablet," but I'm just not feeling any of them. Quite frankly, I'm just not into researching facts and figures today.  I'm leaning more toward research strictly for the sake of research.  You know, where you Google a piece of music you heard on The Glades, or you click on the most sensationally-titled articles from Yahoo!, knowing they never pan out to be as riveting as they appear, but you're zooming across the worldwide web without a map -- reckless, carefree, and using the excuse that it's a holiday, therefore reckless misuse of time is not only allowed, but encouraged.  "Relax.  Enjoy!"

So, here's to wasting time and driving under the influence (of pop-ups, sidebars, and inconsequential search suggestions).

*  I just took this quiz, and quite frankly, I am scared.  It's a religious knowledge quiz; I scored 14 of 15 correct.  I'm blaming my higher than average score on the fact Christine just studied Church History and World Religions.

*  Tinkerbell is licking my toes.  I think this is a good opportunity to share with you some of Tinkerbell's issues.  She does not like change; she will bark if I leave a clothes basket on the bed, or drape a towel or article of clothing over my shoulders in a situation she considers "unusual or inappropriate.".  She has a couple of nervous habits -- one of which is licking your feet.  Some folks don't care much for it, I recognize it as the only foot rub lasting more than twenty-six seconds and costing less than a dollar, I'm going to get.  She is a "flank-sucker."  Some dogs indulge in this behavior the same way a child sucks his or her thumb.  Typically though, dogs continue this behavior throughout their adult life.  Tinkerbell's seems to escalate when she is denied something she wants.

*  Speaking of dogs... I was walking my two brutes a couple of weeks ago, when a puppy darted toward us from it's unfenced yard.  As I stood in the middle of the street, screaming for the owner (standing right on her steps) to get her dog, Desi and Lucy did remain relatively calm -- I gotta give them that.  But the puppy only came closer, the more we tried to turn away and ignore it.  The owner did nothing -- not so much as a whistle.  I resorted to getting out the dog repellent, merely to protect the puppy.  As I sprayed a weak barrier on the ground to deter it, "mommy" finally began to call her dog.  Mind you, my dogs really were not reacting violently, but I didn't want to go there.  After what seemed like minutes, the owner came toward us, crossing our path to nab her now fleeing pup, and said, "He's just a puppy; he doesn't know."  ?????????

*  Did you happen to know, a Michigan jail inmate says he's being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he can't have pornography?  His handwritten lawsuit actually uses the phrase "poor standard of living."  BTW, he is serving time for a robbery to which he was linked by snowy footprints and a trail of money leading back to his apartment.

*  And, something really worth watching... a gift like no other.