Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Responding to What Readers are Reading

Cleaning Up Messes

Periodically I check who reads what on my blog, and when they stop by. Life is Messy – remains an oft-visited post. Maybe it’s the cartoon, or, the scary dust bunnies’ photo? Or, maybe some readers recognize:

·      They’ve been hurt or have hurt others;
·      Their circumstances are changing in ways they could not imagine and so, life is increasingly messy.
·      Now, they are mad, or scared, and hurt.

I made so many messes in my life when I got mad at another person.  Somehow, anger fired up my heart and idled my brain.  In this state, fired up but idling, I can be quite adept at justifying why Biblical principles of peacemaking don’t apply in this situation. So, I can disregard the inherent worth of the person who is irritating me, and discount the value of the relationship that God had established, or permitted.  Alas, in some quarrels, so convinced was I of my position, I rode roughshod over some folks, treating those I should have honored with scorn and distain.

Righteousness indignation isn’t much of a cleaning tool.

That's why it really hurts to see folks in the church consistently brandishing this tool. When quarrels break out, we struggle with our anger over other people’s shortcomings. Christ said this would happen and He said how to handle it: Go to your brother or sister – and don’t let the sun go down on your anger! (Matthew 5:23, 18:15; Ephesians 4:26) Anger left to stew over night eventually stinks, and Christians can do some stupid, cruel things to each other when we feed on our own frustrations!

Some of them can’t seem to get beyond disappointment, dissatisfaction, or disgust that a person with whom they work, worship or live has failed them.  Confessing Christians blow up at others because they simply failed to do or be what we wanted them to do or be.

Yet Paul said, carry one another’s burdens — reprove gently the one caught in a trespass — lest I do something far worse. (Galatians 6:1-2) Yet, I may put burdens on them I excuse myself for not fully bearing.  (Matthew 11:28-31) For example, if I am honest: I want my Christian friends and family, pastors and teachers to be perfect – mature, wise and winsome. And God help them if they mess up!

What kind of witness is it if we refuse to simply go to the Christian who wronged me, real or imagined, and ask if we can talk? Timing, of course, is everything – so, praying for the opportunity and courage is essential; God also might show us what is in our hearts and so prepare us for a better conversation than if we charged out the door on a mission. (Psalm 51:12-13)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Presidential Debate – After Round Two

The questions on the minds of “undecided” voters were filtered through a moderator who chose the questions for the two presidential candidates. Before I read the papers and test what I think I heard and saw with what experts will tell me that I heard and saw, I have formulated a question or two I wish I could have asked.

·      Why are 46 million people in America on food stamps?

·      How much money do we really owe, and to whom?

·      What do you believe about rules that govern the United States? ( A lack of social norms and the problems thus generated)

·      What does an ambassador of the United States represent, and what does it mean if he or she is deliberately murdered?

Fifteen percent of our population can’t feed themselves without help from the government.

Our government owes more than we make. (Government spending)

Suicide rates are up. (Source)

Why should I vote for you?

*Moderator Candy Crowley talks to the audience before the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Want to Report a Robbery . . .

I said to the dispatch officer.

As we left for church this morning, I noticed something amiss in the driver’s seat – and then I saw that my brand new GPS was gone! Sometime in the previous twelve hours, a person opened our unlocked car door and helped him or herself to my shiny new gadget.  They also rummaged through Doug’s unlocked car, but found nothing.
The officer who arrived within five minutes was sympathetic, took our information and asked good questions; before leaving, she reminded us to lock up our cars even when we parked in our own driveway.  And no, ours was not the only report this weekend; some neighbors also reported their cars had been ransacked, but no thefts.

Someone took our external guidance device; their internal guidance device needs replacement – roaming about in the dark testing car doors to see who’s the easiest target is foolish.  Discovering in the daylight it was us, is embarrassing – especially after all my determination to be a better steward.   

May God bless the one who stole from us with contrition. And I pray that God makes me more careful! But maybe the satellite guidance system  – or the GPS leprechauns -- could deprive those crooks of any pleasure or profit? 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Kudzu, An Apt Metaphor

Cooler temperatures and gray clouds pushed through recent pleasant sunny temperatures – in fact, we plunged thirty degrees from the high 80’s to 52 degrees. It feels more like fall. And fall is my favorite season – and October, a favorite month.  Memories of summer’s heat have softened, colors have ripened, and I don’t need a sweater just yet.  Carol Bishop Hipps, a writer and gardener called October bittersweet, describing it as “. . .  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.”

Bittersweet has been my word of choice this month.  We have spent the past few weeks unpacking all the boxes that we packed up before leaving Maryland -- when we emptied our storage locker.  Some of what I have unpacked, surprised me – like reconnecting with an old friend; other items flabbergasted me because I thought we disposed of them already in the yard sale from hell.  

I sort into three piles – toss, keep, or recycle.  It’s good – sweet -- to get organized, rediscovering tidbits and treasures, like the certified copy of our marriage license. (July 29, 1972) It’s a wee bit sad though, here’s the bitter bit, to be reacquainted with items only to bid them farewell. The advantage is out of sight out of mind! The annoyance is managing more the stuff! (Stuff – October 2009)

Being a steward of anything isn’t easy; being a good steward of even a little is hard. Being reminded I should have done this six years ago is irritating. It’s a blessing having things – it’s a reproof to see how poorly I’ve managed them.

Another part of the bittersweetness of these past few weeks is seeing how “things” can become more out of control than a half acre of kudzu! Now kudzu can be a good thing, if contained – but it got out of hand in the south, spreading at about 150,000 acres annually! Sometimes, I have nightmares about shipping boxes of my stuff  -- stuff I’ve forgotten about -- and I can’t unpack and sort it fast enough!

The important stuff of life is people -- at all ages and stages, with all their wonderful, exasperating, inscrutable quirks and quandaries. And most of that I am unpacking shows me how many great people to whom God has linked me! Whether I keep something, toss, or recycle it, it’s hard to let go of these reminders.     

All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbours. John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion

*Photo from Wikipedia article on the ubiquitous kudzu 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Cost of My New Bible

The new (to me) Bible cost a bit more than two and half paper grocery bags at Half-Price Books. Well, they gave me the money at the back of the store; I gave it back to them at the front.

Mindful of what being buried alive in too much of a good thing means, thanks to a reality cable show, I have become diligent about discarding what others might enjoy or profit from reading. But a recent quote by a favorite author spurred on my disposal: John Piper told seminary students to stop reading so much John Piper and start reading the Bible. (Bible Study: Following the Ways of the World, by Kathleen Bushwell Nielson)      

I like his books, and I’ve collected several on timely topics – they are surely biblical.  That is, he anchors his opinions with Scripture.  But  books taking up space on a (dusty) shelf wasn’t why the man wrote them; hoarding them, afraid I may not find another copy, shows I may not have fully grasped the many ways Dr. Piper wants his readers to be in the world.

Anyway, I had to find space for the books from Maryland we just shipped to Texas and I needed a smaller Bible.  Study Bibles – Bibles with footnotes, concordances, charts, cross references, and maps -- I have. One that is more portable, yet with print large enough to decipher, that I can carry to and from Bible study, which just began, I didn’t have.

So, I traded in a stash of books for just one -- I wonder why the one who disposed of their Bible got rid of a brand-spanking new one.  Maybe the NIV edition wasn’t scholarly enough for their studies?    I sure hope it wasn’t because they didn’t want it.  Too many Bibles on Half-Price Books’ religion shelves look like folks couldn’t or wouldn’t use them – although I honestly am not sure what the protocol is for Bible disposal.  

Anyway -- in the coming months, I will be reacquainting myself with apocalyptic literature, and using a Bible with no notes, scholarly, or my own.  (It does have cross-references and a concordance – and maps.) It is a letter to me, in the church, and given so that we non-scholarly types could understand from God how He sees us.  And I pass along the following, if Revelation piques your curiosity, dear reader:

 Study Questions for Apocalyptic Literature

1.            What is the situation or what are the conditions among the people to whom the apocalypse is written? How does the text reveal the situation?

2.            What images and symbols are used in this text? What effect does it have on you as reader?

3.             Where do the symbols appear elsewhere in the Bible? And what, if any, connection does the author intend for us to make?

4.             What in the text demonstrates that we are reading about events from God’s vantage point of history? What comfort and insight does this provide for our human perception of history?

5.             How does the text anticipate or recall the death resurrection and reign of Jesus Christ?

6.             What is the tension or conflict in the text and how does it relate  both to the original readers and us?

7.            How does the text compel us to respond to the death, resurrection and reign of Jesus Christ?

 (from Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word, pp 176-177.)