Thursday, March 23, 2006

Because You're Worth It

I've been thinking about something lately. I don't know if it's just me, but I've been noticing a lot of people talking about what we deserve. But what they say isn't really true. For example:

We deserve health.

We deserve chances.

We deserve rest.

We deserve satisfaction.

We deserve freedom.

We deserve respect.

We deserve privacy.

No! We don't deserve anything but wrath. The idea that we could possibly deserve anything good is idolatry. It is placing us--the created--above our Creator. Like we deserve anything? Oh really? What have we done to deserve anything? Just reading Amos (and Isaiah) really has made me think about how regularly we as humans turn our backs on God. How puny we are, and how silly that must look.

Really, I was looking at my brother's hermit crabs the other night, and thinking how funny it was that they get scared even when my shadow passes over them. Then I thought just about my height ratio in comparison to theirs. I wondered how tall something would have to be to be proportionate in my case. God is so other than that. He isn't even remotely in the realm of "bigger than." If there was ever an "off-the-charts" case, He would be it! I've been thinking about a recent news story--this doctor traveled to Africa, so that he could train more doctors. He was riding in a canoe on the way back from some village and a crocodile jumped out of the water, snatched him, and dragged him under. It just made me wonder at how many ways God has to take us out of this world. I'm sure this man never thought he'd be taken from this earth by a crocodile in Africa. But he was.

So to draw all these scattered thoughts together, God is so great, and I just don't see how we deserve anything. That is, we don't deserve anything other than God's wrath. And somehow, He constantly showers us with blessings. Let me list just a few.

The blessing of salvation.

The blessing of God's Word.

The blessing of prayer.

The blessing of the Spirit's help.

The blessing of life.

The blessing of family.

The blessing of the Church.

The blessing of work.

The blessing of friends.

The blessing of never being finished.

The blessing of not being able to control everything.

The blessing of color.

The blessing of music.

The blessing of laughter.

The blessing of joy.

The blessing of hope.

The blessing of justice.

The blessing of peace.

The blessing of love.

The blessing of change.

The blessing of children.

The blessing of rain.

The blessing of sunshine.

The blessing of growth.

The blessing of health.

The blessing of encouragement.

The blessing of rest.

The blessing of wealth.

The blessing of affliction.

The blessing of marriage.

The blessing of age.

The blessing of education.

The blessing of nature.

The blessing of technology.

The blessing of the written word.

The blessing of the spoken word.

The blessing of comfort.

The blessing of discomfort.

The blessing of compassion.

The blessing of birth.

The blessing of guidance.

The blessing of variety.

The blessing of water.

The blessing of strength.

The blessing of weakness.

The blessing of food.

The blessing of clothing.

The blessing of creativity.

The blessing of authority.

The blessing of submission.

The blessing of memory.

So each time you hear the word "deserve" let me just encourage you to replace the words following it with "wrath." And then, count your blessings. God is so good!

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Just before my last birthday, I was very aware of the changes taking place in me. I realized that I was growing up, more than I'd ever realized before. I was amazed at all the significant decisions I had to make. It was such a strange feeling, and it lasted quite a while. I wrote something then that I thought I'd share here.

I feel like I'm going to wake up and be five again, trying to decide which of my simple little pink dresses suits my fancy today. As I just emailed someone, I feel like it was yesterday that I was hugging my Dad's leg, and wondering with all my heart what it was like to be a grown up.

But now I wake up each morning and have to decide what will look okay with what, what is acceptable to wear. Now as I sit next to Dad in church, I simply have to look over to see him. I no longer look up, all the time wondering what the sermon actually means.

It's so strange getting older. I am happy. I really am. But I keep looking around and seeing not only my world change, but my very life changing. I no longer go on pajama rides to the post office, or sit in the grocery cart. I'm now sending things through the post office, and putting things in the grocery cart.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Same Thing

Someday, I am going to get a beagle and name it Amos. I think beagles are the best kind of dog (don't give me hate mail on this!). And Amos is a cute name, no? Of course, I mean absolutely no dishonor to the prophet Amos by this gesture, as I know that in Biblical times, dogs weren't too highly regarded. But I wonder if they had beagles back then.

I am now in the book of Amos. I started it a few days ago. I haven't finished Isaiah, it's just where my Chronological reading plan put me. (By the way, if you're not on a Bible reading plan, I recommend reading through the Bible chronologically. There's my plug.) I began noticing something as I started reading the background info on Amos, though. I don't know if this happens to you, but sometimes I don't realize that I've been thinking about something until it really culminates later. Well, this was one of those times, and I wrote down my thoughts. Here they are. It's interesting, as I was reading through the "Introduction to Amos" pages of Mom's study Bible, something struck me. It said:
"The dominant theme is clearly stated in 5:24 ('But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream!'), which calls for social justice as the indispensable expression of true piety. Amos was a vigorous spokesman for God's justice and righteousness, whereas Hosea emphasized God's love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. Amos declared that God was going to judge His unfaithful, diobedient, covenant-breaking people."
And it hit me. Hosea and Amos didn't teach different things, but different parts of the same thing. This justice is an amazing attribute of God. What Pastor Zimmer has been saying about justice in Matthew 5:38-42 has been so beautiful. Somewhat surprisingly beautiful. I guess what I mean is that I never really thought of what true justice looks like. I'd thought plenty about the complex, confusing world of American "justice," but not that much on what God's will was for the courts in light of Who He is. I'd thought on Who He is, even in terms of justice, but not in terms of how it related to how our justice system works. I'd thought about how weirdly (if that's a word) the current justice system tends to appear, and I had always been bemused by "justice" and all the really unjust, even unlawful, things that happen in the court of law. I'd never connected the fact that God had already set up perfect guidelines for judgment--here on earth, let alone in His throneroom! And I'd even read through His law. I don't know why it didn't click. But anyway, to get to the point, I am seeing how justice is not the opposite of love, but rather, the product of love! I hadn't thought of it like that. I'd thought it was just connected to right-and-wrong, not so intensely intertwined with love. We need justice--it's a product of His grace--a tool used to keep us from sin. God set up those standards out of love for us. And though we broke the law, Christ satisfied that law, taking our death penalty. God loves us so much. We should obey Him out of love and thankfulness.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"These Light and Momentary Troubles..."

We interrupt this blog to bring you an unimportant service announcement: This silly post has been inspired by the Baja funny post by TK. (Ya gotta read it!) Okay, so now that I've sufficiently bossed everyone around about what to read, I'll continue.

The unplanned antics of TK reminded me of the bizarre things that have occurred when I've been on the job babysitting. I must preface this post, however, with the fact that both of these stories account for less than one percent of all the babysitting jobs I've had. The others truly have been gems, except for small challenges such as power outage, temper tantrums, etc. And oddly enough, I've had some very bad luck followed by very good luck in many circumstances. Read on.

The first time I encountered trouble was actually the first time I ever babysat. I was upstairs with the kids, playing a board game, and we heard a big thump. I mean a big thump. Of course, I was a bit freaked out, and told the kids to stay upstairs while I investigated. I tiptoed downstairs, walked down the hall & into the living room. I peeked in and found their Christmas tree--horizontal on the floor. I think it had too much wassail. :) Thankfully, I knew their neighbor across the street. She's actually a good friend. She helped me get the tree up. Oddly enough, though, she is one of the shortest people I know, if not the shortest! I was twelve and quite scrawny, so I'm sure it was a funny sight, us trying to get the stupid tree up.

One more recent occurrence of weird babysitting luck was another first-timer. This was the first opportunity I'd had to babysit for a particular family friend--she's a very sweet lady. The kids went outside to get something and I followed them. We grabbed it and headed to the back door. I tried the handle and retried it. We were locked out. I thought, "Ah, what luck!" and we went to the front door. Alas, the diligent parents had locked it soundly. At that point, I thought about how long it would be until the parents were to come home. Hours! We turned around to find their friendly neighbors taking a walk. YESSS! I introduced myself and explained our predicament. They suggested using the garage pad with the kids' birthdays, etc. I tried everything known to man. Nope. Somebody suggested calling the parents. Brilliant! They ran home to get their cell phone. I asked the older child what his parents' cell number was. Uh, he didn't know. Great. I thought, "Man, she hung it in the kitchen. Wonder if I could just see it through the window." I ran around the house and peeked in. Just out of view. "Wow, tonight just couldn't get better!" So I walked around the house again and shook my head. It dawned on me that my mom had the number, so I called her. She gave me the number, and I called it, suddenly feeling some hope. They weren't answering, which seemed very out of character, but I left a message. The boy thought of trying to pry the screen off the open front window. I tried my hardest, but no luck--the top of it was stuck. He offered to get on my shoulders and try the top. So I hoisted him up and after much effort, we pried it off and he went through and unlocked the front door. Seriously, five minutes later, they pull into the driveway. They decided they weren't going to see the movie, that dinner was enough, and they'd wanted to come home. I explained the situation, and told them that I'd just left a message on their cell. They told me that their cell phone had just stopped working. Wow.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Isaiah's Gospel

Okay, so I'm loving Isaiah. No, I haven't fallen in love with a dude named Isaiah. I love reading the book of Isaiah in the Bible. It gets me thinking. Here are some notes on Isaiah 6.

Verses 1-5: Isaiah stands in awe and sees himself as truly sinful & doomed, seeing the Sinless and still being a sinner. He had the right response for the sinful seeing the Sinless. He saw our majestic Lord!

Verses 6-7: The seraphim relieves Isaiah's fear--he tells him of forgiveness, and sin taken away. This truly is the gospel in different light than can normally be seen. I guess you could say it's the throneroom gospel! Isaiah, a man, sees God's glory and holiness (vv. 1-4), and is struck with awe, but at the same time, utter shame and fear of ruination (v. 5a) because he sees that his sin requires death (v. 5b). In verses 6-7, he finds redemption from this terrifying guilt. And in verse 8, he joyfully commits to doing the will of the Lord--obedience! It's all part of the gospel. And even though the task is heartbreaking (vv. 9-13), Isaiah obeys God because his love for God is greater than his love for other things.