Thursday, May 24, 2012

He Waits At The Scene Of The Crime

This was a really interesting article. It talked about some of the descendents of top Nazis, how they grew up not knowing these horrendous secrets about their parents and grandparents. One brother and sister, so horrified at the history of their progenitor's sins, both had themselves sterilized, in order to prevent the family from ever having another heir. They have walked around with a burden of guilt. 

I couldn't help but ponder: what do we do with our sin? With our family history of sin? Do we run from the facts? Do we visit the scenes of the crimes? Do we mutilate ourselves to keep it from happening again? Do we pretend there is nothing wrong in our past -- even if our family's past remains as the world-wide definition of evil? One man went to Auschwitz, where his father was brought up in luxury, and wept when he saw 'the gate to hell' that he recognized as a backdrop to old family photos. He was approached by victims of his own family, who told him their stories. He was forgiven, and felt joy for the first time in his life.

These descendants feel guilt by blood association. It seems they consider themselves tainted, although they have had no hand in the wicked deeds. It brought to mind our kinsman redeemer. The One who came in our likeness -- the likeness of sinful man. He came as our relative. He came to save us from inside the family. But in a sense, He is also our victim. Jew and Gentile alike laid their hands on Him and crucified the Son of God -- the Son of Man. We beat Him. We cursed Him. We tore His beard and nailed Him there. And He waits, at the scene of the crime, to offer redemption in His blood. That scene of our guilt, of our family shame, is the place where He waits to welcome us as brothers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Prayer in the Morning, and How?

For the quiet of the morning;
for the softly falling rain;
for the cooing of the mourning dove --
thank You.
Lord, help me to be salt and light:
neither flavorless nor dim.
The age in which I live is distressing.
Please be my Helper.
Be my Friend.
Lord, I want to be Yours -- set apart for You.
I want to bless You with my hands, my thoughts, my faith.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength."
"He seeks those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth."

How do we worship in Spirit and in truth?
The opposite, I suppose, would be to worship Him in material form and hypocrisy.
The falseness of setting up a sacrifice and withholding my soul.
A song from my mouth and silent disdain from my heart.

True worship chooses to do the honoring thing when He is the only audience.
True worship not only refrains from murder, but also from hatred.
It marries from the heart -- eschewing even the lustful thought of another.
Secret charity, and secret prayer.
Secret forgiveness, and secret fasts.
Secret trust: a hidden hope.

Friday, May 18, 2012

In Search of the Source

I just finished reading a book that I loved.
It's called In Search of the Source -- A First Encounter With God's Word, and it was written by a man who spent twenty years in Papua, New Guinea, with the Folopa people learning their language and culture and translating the New Testament and Genesis for them.
I always like to hear stories and read books that show how the Gospel changed things when it came in.
We have had The Book in the hands of our English-speaking culture for so long that we forget its power.
We argue over its meaning about the things we don't understand.
I like hearing about the peace and the turmoil brought on by Jesus's words when a new culture hears them.
The book also challenges how you think about language. He discusses passages that gave him trouble in translation because of cultural differences and how he came to find the words to say the message.
I love when he had no word to use, and the stories of how the word came through some weird situation being served bugs to eat, or hunting bats in a cave.
Or his explanation of communion to people who just a few short years before were eating their dead, family and foes alike.
But the most moving thing in it was when he was translating Jesus's suffering to them.
He had to find words for 'flogged', and because these people had actively participated in the brutal treatment of their enemies, they knew firsthand the scene of horror the story portrayed.
It stunned them.
I think it can be beneficial to your spirit to see the truth through someone else's eyes now and again.
I wish I was better at book reviews, because I love to recommend books.
This one is worth reading.
It was written by Neil Anderson.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Difference

I am part of a group in which someone asked,
"What do you see as the difference
between playing church and being the church?"
This came from that.
I thought I would share it here.

I guess I would have to say it's the difference between playing house and being a family. 
If it's, "Here, you be mommy, and I'll be Daddy, and Susie can be our baby," it's playing house. 

But if it's, "Will you marry me?" 
And "Yes!" 
And a long miserable labor and birth. 
And love. 
And home. 
And sleepless nights. 
And working out a way of peace even though we don't agree. 
And choosing to eat a burnt meal 
because your wife doesn't know how to cook, but she's trying. 
And cleaning out and packing each others' wounds like a nurse. 
And kissing the messy face of your baby. 
And getting up and getting a drink because they can't reach the counter. 
And taking out the trash. 
And helping kids to wipe. 
And listening to boring stories that you already heard before. 
And being hurt for their benefit. 
And being thrown up on. 
And having to forgive, because they did it again. 
And realizing you were wrong, and saying, 'I'm sorry'. 
And being forgiven. 
It's letting their pain be your pain. 
And rejoicing when they rejoice, 
even though you feel like crying in the bathroom for yourself. 

It isn't acted out perfectly, 
but with practice, you get better at it, 
and your husband gets better at it, 
and then another newborn comes along, all selfish and squalling, 
and you all have to learn all over again 
how to be kind and how to teach kindness. 
And he grows into a toddler and pulls his sister's hair, 
and he has to learn to be kind, and she has to learn to forgive. 
And then one day, you see them sharing, and helping, and choosing to love. 
And there are love notes from new writers, 
and you ignore how they spelled them, 
and you don't care that there is no punctuation and no spacing. 
It's recognizing progress instead of noting imperfection. 
It's sharing blood. 
It's the reality of love, instead of the fantasy. 
It recognizes value in the most useless members. 
They belong to us. 
We don't care if they are crippled, if they're old, if they're in diapers. 
If they have bad breath and running sores. 
They are ours. 
Our babies. 
Our great-grandfathers. 
We're glad they're with us, because they belong to us. 

But when we're playing house, we can do without that, 
and just put on our princess clothes and sparkly headbands, 
and pick the best looking companions to be there with us, 
and the prettiest dolls to be our children. 
And let's kick out the ugly little kid with a birthmark and all the bedwetters.
They smell.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Whose Image and Inscription?

"The Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 
And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, 
'Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth... 
Tell us, therefore, what do You think? 
Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?' 
Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, 
'Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.' 
So they brought Him a denarius. 
And He said, 'Whose image and inscription is this?' 
They said to Him, 'Caesar's.' 
'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, 
and to God the things that are God's.'"

It says they went away marveling.
And as I thought about the coin with the image of Caesar on it --
that self-proclaimed god --
I marveled, too.
Because my mind fell back to this:
'And God created man in his own image, 
in the image of God created He him; 
male and female created He them.' 

They tried to entangle Him by provoking Him
to advocate withholding taxes from royalty.
And He made it clear that they were withholding God's property from Him.
Property He had stamped His image on, created in His likeness.
And an inscription,
the writing declaring we were put into circulation in His name:
"He hath set eternity in their heart, 
yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done
 from the beginning even to the end."

"What shall I render unto Jehovah For all his benefits toward me?"
I ought to render myself.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Beauty That It Is

When my husband and I went to Israel, 
the tour guide reported to us that the weather forecast was hot and dry 
for the entire time we were going to be there. 
In February. 
It is supposed to be the rainy season. 
Of course, we tourists were delighted.
We had come from a cold winter.
But the guide said it was bad news for the people who lived there.
They needed rain.

Why do we complain about it? 
Liquid water is so necessary to our existence that without it we die.
Our crops fail.
Our forests burn.
Our land withers up and blows away.
But we only want it when it isn't given.

See it for the beauty that it is. 
And use it for restful meditation. 
Rain is one of the mercies of God, 
sent on the just and the unjust alike. 
It ought to remind us to be kind as He is kind
to those who love us, and those who don't.
To forgive.
To provide nourishment.

My husband bought me a rain barrel last week.
I have been waiting for this rain to drip from my gutters into my barrel,
so that when the sun shines, 
I can water my plants with His mercy.