Sunday, August 29, 2004

A Thing and A Thing and A Thing!

The last few weeks have been busy around here. On top of a heavy workload right now, planning for vacation, and thinking about Pioneer Clubs starting up again soon at church, Mike and I have spent a lot of time putting the finishing touches on our basement project, hereafter to be known as the gameroom! I was feeling the crunch today as I sat at work (yes, my department had to work both Saturday and Sunday) and thought about all I need to do before we leave for vacation Friday.

Where did the time go? I got to thinking about how much of my life is consumed by "stuff." First you start thinking about stuff - you know, poring over the ads section of the Sunday paper. Then the planning starts - how much can we afford, how can we justify this, where would we put it? Next comes the shopping stage - wood grain or black, white or off-white paint, Berber or plush carpet . . . and then on to the big stuff - TV, stereo, etc. Then there's the installation - making room for things and putting it all together. At some point, we may even sit down and actually enjoy all the "stuff" for a bit, but before long, maintenance kicks in!

I feel like we made modest choices and we've been saving for three years to complete this project. We are looking forward to being able to entertain family and friends now - the finished GAMEROOM adds some much needed room to our 2-bedroom house! Nevertheless, it's a fact that "stuff" is time consuming. It gets to be amusing when you find yourself shopping for stuff to put your stuff in, dumping stuff that was at one time such a must-have at Goodwill, etc. One good thing about a small house and being slightly claustrophobic is a natural aversion to too much "stuff." Yet I'm still plagued with an ungodly desire for, and a pursuit of "stuff."

I'm convinced the only solution is a change of attitude. Since I won't be taking any of this stuff with me to heaven (what my dog or cat don't ruin first), it makes sense to focus my time and effort on what God values - people. I notice when I'm happiest when I'm thinking about others. That said, I plan to stay away from the new Walmart in town

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

Magic Tricks

We've been studying John in our adult Bible class at church and today we came to the story of Lazarus. When Jesus sends the messenger back to the sisters with promise that Lazarus would live, most likely what they heard was "Lazarus will not die." This message probably came after Lazarus had already lay dead several days. Was their faith misplaced? Was Jesus just a man after all?

It's so easy to read this story from our clued-in point of view. We know what's going to happen. Reminds me of a little kid trying to impress some adults with a magic trick. Of course we know how the trick is done, and that it's only a trick and nothing more. Quarters cannot be produced from ears anymore than rabbits can be pulled out of hats. And yet, don't we often find ourselves slightly convinced, even for a second, by slight of hand, especially if the trick is done well enough?

Isn't that how it is with us as Christians who possess the word of God and know how the story ends? We know Jesus waited purposely for a few days before returning to Bethany. We know Lazarus' death was part of His eternal plan, and that He intended to restore Lazarus to life. We know God's glory was Christ's ultimate purpose. So why, if we know the rest of the story, are we caught off guard today when our faith is being put to the test?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Molded or Morphed?

I've been thinking about Romans 12:1-2 lately, where Paul instructs the Christians in Rome to be transformed, rather than being conformed to this world. The difference between those two words, conformed and transformed, is striking. Without bothering to check out Webster's, I offer the following definitions:

Conformed - molded to or around, made like
Transformed - changed from one thing to another, made new

Conforming is something I can do on my own. I can conform to the expectations others have for me or to the expectations I have for myself. I can adopt the standards and convictions of those around me, so that their lifestyles and attitudes become my own. This verse is probably single-handedly responsible for many of the standards and rules I, along with many other people, were forced to abide by for so many years. I was taught that these rules were in place to keep us from looking like, and conforming to, the world. The only problem was, the very exhortation of "be not conformed to this world," in its execution, resulted in conformation to another system. In refusing to be molded to the image of this world, I wrapped myself around and became comfortable in something equally distant from God's heart; the approval of man.

Transformation implies something happening to me from the inside out. How am I transformed? By the renewing, on an ongoing basis, of my mind. And how is my mind made new? By the of the word of God and the continual working of his Holy Spirit. The more I am being transformed in this way, the less I will be molded to the world. But this transformation is nothing I can bring about in my own power. I haven't the slightest clue how it all works, this miraculous and continual transformation of my life. As I see it, my part is simply to be yielded to the Holy Spirit and immersed in His word.

The results of this transformation are humbling. No one tells me to change the radio station or not rent that movie. No one approves my reading list anymore. I don't have to go through dress checks or turn in Christian activity reports. But my desires are changing day by day. I'm no where near the ultimate goal, that of being like Christ. But like nothing else, I crave His working in my life. I long for my desires to be His desires.

To be molded is easy. It's visible and measurable and brings a feeling of satisfaction. I'd rather be morphed . . . changed . . . transformed. I'm constantly dissatisfied with myself. But that's okay. Ultimately, God wants to be the only source of satisfaction for the desires He puts in my heart. Thankfully, God reminds me that He promises to bring to completion His work in my life. All I need to do is get out of the way.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Got Fillers?

I'm stuck on Section 3 of this writing course I'm taking. Stuck . . . on fillers, of all things! You know, those handy little household hints, clever quips and funny stories. Where are all those little brain children when I need them?

I mentioned to my husband that I was struggling and he came up with one. "Don't pack too much for vacation - there will be stores wherever you go." That must be on his mind, since we promised to take the portable oil-filled radiator on vacation with us for his mother who would otherwise freeze to death. Yes, on a bright warm day in Nag's Head, you'll find my MIL wrapped in a blanket beside her heater. Ah, memories! Isn't that what family vacations are all about?

Sunday, August 15, 2004

What Am I Reading?

I think I'll try to use Sundays as a time to jot down a few words about whatever I'm reading.

I just started Desiring God by John Piper. I planned to save it for vacation, but being warned by a friend that it's a heavy read, I decided to take the plunge last night. It was begging to be read anyways! So far I've only read the introduction and part of Chapter 1, but one thought grabbed my attention immediately. Piper quotes Puritan pastor Matthew Henry, "The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks." Piper goes on to paraphrase Henry by saying, "I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God." Oh, that my longings and desires were continually towards the things of God. I'm looking forward to the rest of this book.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


I often pass several mentally disabled adults on my way to work. Most seem happy enough in their routines, clutching their lunchboxes and carefully crossing the streets as they head to the work center. One woman in particular catches my attention on more than one occasion. She makes her way slowly, almost painfully, down the street in front of the police station, her eyes unable to focus properly, her steps sometimes slowing to a halt. I wonder if she is medicated. Who cares for her?

One day last week as I drove by, I saw her stop then slowly crumple to the ground. Not knowing what else to do, I pulled over into a used car lot and ran back to where she sat on the ground. At the same time, another woman stopped and offered to run to the police station for help, then came back and helped me support the woman who can't seem to decide if she wants to sit or recline. I was certain our friend must be going into diabetic shock, from the way she stares blankly. She gently squeezed my hand in response to my questions and assurances that help is on the way. At least five minutes pass before we see a uniformed officer, ambling leisurely up the road towards the three of us. We're frustrated at his lack of concern and then I notice the woman's eyes as they met the officer's, and her hand waved at him ever so slightly.

"Hi, Charlene," the officer greeted her. "Where's your I.D.? Are you going to work today?"

"You know her? Has this happened before?"

"At least once a week," comes the amused reply.

In a matter of minutes, I was on my way to work again, not quite knowing what to think! But here's a few observations:

  1. Charlene. Her name is Charlene. Everyone has a name and everyone has a story. I can pray for her by name now.
  2. Who knows why Charlene has these spells? Perhaps she just needs a bit of love and attention, any way she can get it.
  3. If I see it happen again, should I stop? What if it's not just a spell some day?
  4. What if it had been something serious and we had not been right in front of a police station? Would I have known what to do? Sheesh, now that I think of it, I didn't even have my cell phone with me as I ran back there.
  5. What would you have done?

Monday, August 09, 2004

"Dear God, Protect Me From Your Followers"

I saw this bumper sticker yesterday and can't get it off my mind. I wanted to wax eloquent about the many ways in which Christ's followers bring shame upon His name (and sadly, there are many). Instead I was convicted to look within my own heart and see whether I have obscured the glory of God in any way today. 

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

What Do YOU Obsess About?

I have a new position at work, and with that comes the strange situation where my boss, who was more like my coworker for the past year, is now much more really a boss. I get along with her and respect her, but she has this annoying habit of insisting that we do everything the way she does, right down to using keyboard commands vs. the mouse. She comes pretty close to slapping hands some times in an effort to "train" people to do things the "right" (her) way! I was feeling a little perturbed about this last night, until I got to thinking about it.

I was able to laugh about it when I realized she reminds me of Monk, my favorite TV defective detective. I decided when I start to feel aggravated, I'll just remind myself that SHE'S the one with the disorder! Picturing Monk in the storm drain or on top of a dining room table will surely help me chuckle the moment on by.

But then I realized, just like there's a bit of the TV Monk in all of us, there's a bit of the real life boss in most of us. Hmmm, wonder how Mike feels when I can't sleep until his shoes are straight at the foot of the bed, or I'm running late for work because I'm putzing with something stupid. Is it merely just obsession or is it the need for control? I'm not sure, but this little reflection of myself with the same obsessive tendencies is rather humbling. So that's another reason not to let this bother me, but rather look into the mirror of God's word and see where He'd have me change.