Siblings

I saw my wife in a whole new way today and I think that is a good thing.

Her brother came to town for the weekend and we met him for lunch today. It was a good visit, good to catch up on him and his family. He has a child beginning to narrow down choices for college and it doesn’t seem possible that those many years have flown in that young life. Our son and daughter-in-law joined in and it was, altogether, an enjoyable time.

Afterward, on the sidewalk, the visit was winding down and I watched my wife and her brother talk the way siblings do, with understanding passed between them that went beyond the spoken words, and I was glad for her. She has few childhood memories that she can easily call upon. She has even wondered at times if there was some dramatic experience that keeps her from remembering.

But then there are days like today when, prompted by someone close to her who was also there, the memories, the connections all line up in their proper places.

Today I saw her as a sister who loves, and is loved by, her brother. Because of distance, both physical and relational, she rarely is a part of that. But today she was and it was fun to watch.

via Daily Prompt: Aware

Mad all day

I was mad all day.

I started to say that this was not an easy thing to do but, sadly, I realized it wasn’t that difficult at all. Early in the day, at work, somebody said something that may, or may not, have been a critique. I assumed it was and I took it personally. Quickly, all the faults and shortcomings of the speaker came to mind. “That’s just fine, coming from him!” I thought. Why didn’t he see the wisdom of what I had done, instead of suggesting that it was not a solution at all, but more like a problem?

After a couple of attempts to explain myself (attempts that were cut off), I walked away in a huff and I huffed and puffed all day. Again, it was pretty easy to do.

Why? Because I am selfish and I have anger inside me. So when my kingdom is threatened, when my thin skin is breached, it is no problem at all for selfishness and anger to come gushing out.

I like to think that I am some kind of mature Christian at this stage of the game. But it is amazing how easily that notion is shown to be self-deception. I am stunned by my childishness. And though, for many hours today, I felt I was wronged and was justified in my behavior, by the end of the day I saw my tantrum for what it was.

It is possible the guy was jabbing me, but, what? Mr. Maturity can’t take it? No, I can’t. I need a Savior. I am not really capable of living this life as a Christian without the Christ of Christianity. And I think many Christians do themselves, and their Lord, a disservice here and I have done it myself. Sometimes we think we just need more patience or kindness or courtesy or manners or humility or some other behavior on our part in order to get along with those around us. That is, we think we are good enough, or can be with enough effort, to live as a Christian by our own efforts.

But we aren’t. And when I said disservice a moment ago, I short-changed it. It’s idolatry and deception to think, somehow, I can flesh out Christianity on my own.

Only Jesus could do that.

 

(daily post)

Words to live by

I went out for a little exercise and had in mind a certain distance to cover. But, at my current level of fitness, it’s an open question as to whether I could accomplish said distance.

I did the lap in the park and was headed down the street for the “second half” of the jog and my inner coach was pushing me along, “Just get to the next driveway!”, “Get to the next sign!”, “Don’t fight the hill, relax! Just go over it!” and so on.

So, over the little rise and across the street I went. I turned into the gate at Eastlawn and the inner coach spoke up again, “If you make out of the cemetery, it will be okay!”

Hey! Words to live by! “If we make it out of the cemetery, it will be okay!” Indeed! Enjoy your life today!

 

Baby Blues

I almost cried at work today.

I was listening to my Lyle Lovett station on Pandora and a song by Keb’ Mo’ came on. It is a tune called “Lullaby Baby Blues” and I heard it for the first time, today, the third birthday of my blue-eyed grandson.

Now, at home, it’s okay if my eyes get a little leaky.

“It Is Finished”

When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. – John 19:30

Coming to this passage, I have two questions. The first one is WHAT is finished? I think I have a pretty good idea what the answer is, and I think you do, too. The worst ordeal, that of bearing in the place of His people the Wrath of God against sin is complete. Make no mistake, there is a God and there is Wrath. But for the children of God, Jesus stood in their place and bore the eternal, burning, wrath of Holy God against sinful creatures.

He did not call on 12 legions of angels to deliver Him from the agony of this hour. He has allowed Himself to be dragged away to be crucified. He had earlier reminded Pilate that He, Jesus, was in control of these events. And he rebuked his own disciples for trying to prevent the crucifixion.

And so we should consider that the words ‘It is finished’ imply that a PLAN was in place and has indeed been completed. IT. IS. FINISHED.

We misunderstand if we think that the crucifixion and the redemption of sinners was a fortuitous circumstance that we stumble into. No, Dottie Rambo was spot on when she wrote:

“Behold the Lamb, behold the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.”

She knew her Bible. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, tells us our Father has chosen to redeem His children in Christ before the foundation of the world.  Peter, in Acts 2, called it, “the definite plan and foreknowledge of God”. Salvation did not come about in just one, short, holy week. It has been in the works forever. It is finished.

Yes, God has a plan. And He has many plans. Our God who would power a billion suns or more, and redeem billions of sons and daughters on a small planet, is the kind of God who starts a work in you and Who will complete it. And though you haven’t seen its end, I can tell you, It Is Finished and has been forever.  And this should give you hope.

The second question I have is, Why did He say it? That is, WHY do these words come from Christ’s thirsty mouth so that they then would be recorded for all time? Of all the phrases in all the world, Why is this one of the seven that would be remembered in Good Friday services like this one by Christians everywhere?

First I presume that not a single word is out of place in Scripture. Every word is in the book on purpose. Not one sentence, not one paragraph, is extraneous, extra, or something we can take or leave. He wants us to have them all. He wants us to SEE them all. And He wants us to see, “It is finished.”

And I think the ‘why’ is simply that there is nothing more to be done regarding the salvation of men and women. If the WHAT of the first question is Jesus has completed His work, the WHY of the second question is that you and I cannot improve upon it.

I think He tells us “It is finished” so that men and women, who from time immemorial have tried to appease the gods with most anything a human body can be made to do, will, once and for all, stop trying to finish what He Himself finished, and simply trust God that He finished it.

There is a popular definition of insanity that says ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. Well, what then shall we say about trying to finish a thing that is already finished? Believer, Jesus invites you to come to Him and rest and I’ll tell you why.

It is finished.

Worst Thanksgiving dish I ever had

I don’t particularly remember any “worst” Thanksgiving dishes. But then, I am a picky eater and typically confine myself to things I like – turkey, stuffing, potatoes, bread, green beans. These are pretty basic and usually don’t get messed up. Oh, a turkey can get dry and potatoes can be lumpy and some weirdo could get the dumb idea to throw nuts into a stuffing, but really, I can count on a decent Thanksgiving meal because I’m picky.

For dessert, chocolate cream pie. I do not want any fruit pie – fruit is not dessert and besides, I just don’t like the texture of cooked fruit in the pie. Pecan pie? No nuts, please. And just what in the world is mincemeat? Don’t know and don’t care. I guess pumpkin is the popular choice for Thanksgiving, but it’s just not that good. If there is no chocolate cream pie, I’ll just have another buttery dinner roll, thanks.

One year the family gathering featured a red velvet cake. A red velvet cake that had something wrong with it. It had flecks of something about the size of sesame seeds in it. To this day I do not know what the alien bits were. I have looked at red velvet cake recipes to try and determine what was in the cake and I can’t figure it out. It was almost like gristle and there were dozens of these things throughout. It wasn’t hard, but it resisted the bite a little. I’m not sure what is was but, as you can guess, I’ve been off red velvet cake ever since.

Good intentions are not enough

Excerpted from Justice Antonin Scalia’s commencement address to Langley High School, Virginia in June, 2010:

“Movement is not necessarily progress. More important than your obligation to follow your conscience, or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly. Nobody — remember this — neither Hitler, nor Lenin, nor any despot you could name, ever came forward with a proposal that read, ‘Now, let’s create a really oppressive and evil society.’ Hitler said, ‘Let’s take the means necessary to restore our national pride and civic order.’ And Lenin said, ‘Let’s take the means necessary to assure a fair distribution of the goods of the world.’

“In short, it is your responsibility, men and women of the class of 2010, not just to be zealous in the pursuit of your ideals, but to be sure that your ideals are the right ones. That is perhaps the hardest part of being a good human being: Good intentions are not enough. Being a good person begins with being a wise person. Then, when you follow your conscience, will you be headed in the right direction.”