Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Bitter Pill to Swallow

Proverbs 28:5 (NLT)                                  

"Evil people don’t understand justice, but those who follow the Lord understand completely."

A trip to the drug store today can leave your head spinning.  Besides the variety of medicines for specific symptoms, remedies are available in pills, capsules, syrups, chewables, even frozen pops!  And the flavors!  It couldn't be any easier to be a sick kid these days!  I remember cod liver oil, merthiolate, and one-size-fits-all cough syrup that tasted like syrup of ipecac!  Every dose of whatever insipid cure my parents were dishing out was preceded by, "You're not supposed to like it!"

Thank God for modern medicine, but justice can remain a bitter pill.  We all like seeing "the bad guys" get what they deserve, but what happens when we get what we deserve?  If we are righteous and wise, following the Lord, we will understand.

When we keep back our tithe from God and wind up on the receiving end of an unexpected repair bill, do we understand, or do we just keep back more the next Sunday?  When we reap the sorry consequences of striking out on our own, ignoring the path God has set forth before us, do we understand, or do we just press harder to get that square peg into that round hole?

No one enjoys justice; we all want to look for an alternative route.  Facing justice when you know you're deserving of it, is probably the least enjoyable experience of all.  How do you look at yourself, knowing the one who let you down was you?  Even watching someone head down the wrong path can be painful when we consider the consequences to befall them.  But we understand the need for God's justice. 

Justice brings glory to a perfect and righteous God; He cannot change, not even for a moment.  One only has to look at our country's legal system to see how flawed human justice can be.  God's justice is infallible.  So while we may be tempted to turn away, to kick and scream, it is the wise child who understands, "You're not supposed to like it!"  But those who love and follow Him, understand it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

10 Simple Rules

Micah 2:7b (NLT)

"If you would do what is right, you would find my words comforting."

Years ago, my employer cared about people.  We rewarded those who did well, and disciplined those who did not.  I'm not talking caning, or anything like that, but we used "progressive discipline."  We talked to our people each day about something they were really doing well, or those things that were lacking.  After three discussions about the same topic, we were required to reward them or retrain them.  If retraining failed, we sat them down formally.  If that failed, we began progressively suspending them without pay until changes were made or termination was necessary.  (I actually fired one of the nicest guys I'd ever met.  He seemed like a great guy -- honest, intelligent, hard-working.  He just wasn't cut out for that kind of work; he was a danger to himself and his co-workers.  I couldn't allow that.  I was completely honest with him.  I fired him.  He thanked me -- sincerely.)  We trained and retrained constantly; we gave feedback like it was going out of style.

Likewise, management was trained frequently.  Management received salaries and bonuses based on performance.  It was the trickle-down theory; the same way the bad stuff rolls down hill, the good stuff will as well.  One workshop that stuck with me the most, taught us how to treat people.  One lesson really made an impact:

"The greatest injustice you can do the best employee, is not disciplining a problem employee."

A sense of fairness is something we are born with, but my employer is no different than the rest of society today.  We seem to be leaning toward an unfair version of "fairness."  We strive to be fair to the person with the most money, the best connections, the "squeakiest wheel"  -- the person who is the biggest threat, rather than the person who is most deserving of fairness.  We are so afraid of offending those who, let's face it, need to be offended. 

When one of the dogs has done something wrong, I need only to sternly ask, "Who did this?" to know which dog it was.  The guilty pooch immediately tucks tail and begins to slink from view.  The innocent party remains unoffended, tail still in full swing, ears lifted, looking at me expectantly.  Guilty people, however...  Guilty people try to lie their way out.  They badmouth the person who caught them.  They protest laws and twist things around to make themselves look like victims.  They cry "unfair" and incite others to hop their bandwagon.  They try to cloud the lines between good and bad, right and wrong, superior and inferior.  But why are they so uncomfortable?

Micah 2:7b (NLT)

"If you would do what is right, you would find my words comforting."

Rules help us to see our limitations, our strengths as well as our weaknesses.  Rules help us to know what is expected of us.  Following rules makes us stronger and more comfortable with others.  Rules establish a measure of quality.  Abiding by rules helps us to all live in relative comfort.  Sure, we may not get what we want, but rules are designed to help us all have what we need.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Bestest Day Ever!

Every once in awhile, Scott and I hit a homerun.  We choose to do something that turns into great fun for everyone.  Olivia is usually the first to give our egos a boost; "This was the bestest day ever!" she will exclaim.  And she's usually right.  Since Jesus has changed my life, each day seems better than the last.  Little do I ever really stop to consider the greatest happiness in this life, to be the least little peek at life in the next.

From Spurgeon:

"The earnest of our inheritance."—Ephesians 1:14.
OH! what enlightenment, what joys, what consolation, what delight of heart is experienced by that man who has learned to feed on Jesus, and on Jesus alone. Yet the realization which we have of Christ's preciousness is, in this life, imperfect at the best. As an old writer says, "'Tis but a taste!" We have tasted "that the Lord is gracious," but we do not yet know how good and gracious He is, although what we know of His sweetness makes us long for more. We have enjoyed the firstfruits of the Spirit, and they have set us hungering and thirsting for the fulness of the heavenly vintage. We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption. Here we are like Israel in the wilderness, who had but one cluster from Eshcol, there we shall be in the vineyard. Here we see the manna falling small, like coriander seed, but there shall we eat the bread of heaven and the old corn of the kingdom. We are but beginners now in spiritual education; for although we have learned the first letters of the alphabet, we cannot read words yet, much less can we put sentences together; but as one says, "He that has been in heaven but five minutes, knows more than the general assembly of divines on earth." We have many ungratified
desires at present, but soon every wish shall be satisfied; and all our powers shall find the sweetest employment in that eternal world of joy. O Christian, antedate heaven for a few years. Within a very little time thou shalt be rid of all thy trials and thy troubles. Thine eyes now suffused with tears shall weep no longer. Thou shalt gaze in ineffable rapture upon the splendour of Him who sits upon the throne. Nay, more, upon His throne shalt thou sit. The triumph of His glory shall be shared by thee; His crown, His joy, His paradise, these shall be thine, and thou shalt be co-heir with Him who is the heir of all things.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Listen Up, You Techies...

So, we're walking out of work the other day, my co-worker and I, and we're talking television.  I can't recall why, but I can tell you I probably didn't have much to contribute to the conversation.  If it's not "The Glades," I'm not really interested in watching.  In fact, I'm getting a little tired of Calli's it's-different-when-I-do-it attitude, but that's another post.  So, my co-worker mentions a show called "POV."

"What does POV stand for?" I ask.

"Point of view," he says.  "It's a techie term."


Today, in recognition of all those other folks who don't give a rat's caboose about what's on TV, technical jargon, or if there's an App for that, I decided to develop some terminology of my own:

1)  CU:  What you say to the nurse who calls you at home, tells you you've been diagnosed with   ?     and when you ask her what on earth that is, she says, "Don't you ever watch TV?"

2)  PO (Power Outage):  To your average technology addict, it's like shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater.  While my husband is breaking out in a cold sweat and pacing the floor, I can still do a crossword by candlelight.  (Your more advanced techies have battery back-ups and mystical spells they call up straight from the underworld, to continue their assault on the human intelligence despite a lack of electricity.  They are impervious; they are pure evil.  Don't mess with them).

3)  SPF (Smart Phone Free):  What I plan on remaining for as long as possible!  Do I really need to spend three times as much for my phone, and twenty percent more each month just so I can "stream" or "surf"?

4)  PHD (Physically High Def):  Most techies don't know this, but there is an entire physical world out there with real trees, real stories, and real people who use spray tans and Bump-Its.  You can see them for yourself.  Oh, yeah, and there are smells, too.

5)  CSI (Computer Systems Ignorant):  Those of us who understand the basics.  As the tech guy at work told me, "You're a user."  He made me feel so ashamed.  That is, until I realized, he must be the pusher.  He comes around with the latest programs, installs them, a few at a time -- just enough to get us hooked.  And then... when we have an IT problem... we have an estimated wait time of 30 minutes.  We'd sell our mothers to move to the front of the line.  We buy him lunch; we bake him cookies.  Anything.  I never thought I'd wind up like this.

6)  App:  Short for appliances.  Despite my husband's lightening-quick ability with the television remote and his ability to store a week's worth of TV programming in his head, he is tragically inept with appliances -- particularly the washing machine, the oven and yes, even the refrigerator.  (He has this inability to see casseroles and salads that usually wind up residing in the back of the refrigerator.  This causes him to scowl, sigh, and then whine, "There's nothing to eat.")   

7)  SOL:  What you're all gonna be if we "techless" ever decide to put down our books, allow the laundry to build up, stop picking up the kids and pick up the remote instead.  OK, so SOL isn't exactly my own, but it still applies!

Monday, July 18, 2011

When It's Time to Call the Professional

"If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it."—Exodus 20:25. 

This morning’s “Spurgeon” pointed out that while this verse originally made reference to the Temple of the Old Testament, it clearly speaks to us today, of the Temple of the New Testament and the sacrifice of the cross.  Spurgeon says that as human beings, we desire to add or take away from Christ’s sufficiency by focusing on good works or penance as a part of salvation; this focus elevates us as authors, designers, and craftsmen, bringing the glory to us rather than the Deserving One.  As God expressly forbade the use of human tools on the physical structure of the Temple, a foothold for repentance and salvation to the nation of Israel, we, His chosen of today, are no more permitted to defile by our touch the redemption He has provided us in the very being and offering of His Only Son, Christ Jesus.

I love puzzles, math problems, and can't resist a challenge.  Discovering the unknown gives me great personal satisfaction.  It’s that satisfaction that can get me into trouble.  Personal satisfaction is just a polite way of saying pride.  Doing it myself, experiencing a sense of accomplishment is fine, provided I am ever mindful of “from whence cometh my help.” (Ps. 121:1, 2) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)  Conversely, without Jesus, I am nothing; "without Him was not anything made that was made." (John 1:3, 4).  Christians are not self-deprecating; we are self-aware.  I know what I am capable of, with and without Jesus.

Without Jesus, I am a do-it-yourselfer.  The diy network has a show called "Renovation Realities," which shows you what really happens when folks try to do it themselves.  Blown budgets, fights, injuries, tears.  As a do-it-yourselfer, I've had my share -- and not just during home renovations!  I can't even deal with people some days without losing my temper.  Without Jesus, I am a liar, a thief, a gossip, a bungler, no kind of friend, wife or mother.

But with Jesus,  I am forgiven, redeemed, perfect, patient, honest and kind.  Some days, obviously, I lean on Him more than others.  Some days I encounter people I just cannot tolerate.  That's when I need to give it over to Him.  No sense "laying it on thick," as my mother always said.  No sense trying to run the other way; you can't pretty up a pig.  She doesn't like me, and I don't like her, but Jesus loves us both.  He can take care of it, and He deserves the honor.  And, so long as I can keep my grubby little paws off of it, that's just what He'll get.  The minute I try to take it back and fix it, I am serving no one but myself, seeking the pride of doing it all on my own, and setting myself up for miserable failure.  Sure, God may give me the victory for a time, but without humble obedience to Him my "temple" to self is destined to come crashing down.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Look Again

My husband tells me I'm wonderful.  My husband tells me I'm beautiful.  But is it me he really sees?

Psalm 115:1 (NLT)

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name goes all the glory
for your unfailing love and faithfulness.

God loves me enough to have given me a wonderful man like Scott.  Do I think for one moment He will not give us what it takes to make our relationship work?  No way.  God seeks to be glorified.  God deserves to be honored.  God works for His own recognition and worship.  That means, God will help me be a helpmeet to my husband.  God will help me keep my mouth shut when it does not need to be open.  God will turn my eyes toward Scott and Scott's eyes toward me.  God is changing me everyday, and I am praying that it is to be more like Him.  I have only to surrender to His way.

God placed Scott and I on this earth for each other.  So that when I look at him, I feel warm and silly inside.  So that when I am happy I have someone who appreciates my happiness, to share it with me.  So that when times get tough I have a strong man to lift me up or give me a shove in the right direction -- whichever is best at the time.

But best of all, God gave us love for each other so that when we see each other, think of each other, pray for each other, we can not do it without thanking Our Heavenly Father for His unfailing love and faithfulness.