Monday, May 28, 2012

...And to the Republic, for Which It Stands...

It's not unusual for us to fly the flag, particularly in the summer; in fact, this is our second flag, as the first one finally shredded beyond my ability to repair it. Today being a patriotic holiday, I wanted to make sure it was out.

So I knocked the cobwebs out of the bracket, unfurled it in the slight breeze, and put the pole in place, stepped back and thought,

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
And to the Republic, for which it stands,....

And got stuck there.  Not because I couldn't remember the rest, but because, in our current political season, that seems so shaky.

To the Republic, for which it the REPUBLIC for which it stands...
One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I determined a long time ago that I would not use my blogs as political platforms.  And I am not about to start.  But...somewhere along the way things have gotten sideways. The Right spins, the Left spins, we're all dizzy.  It's impossible to know who is REALLY telling the truth.  Or what the truth really is.

But the Republic - One nation,  blue states and red states, under God...and that is a whole post by itself... indivisible, which is crucial, with liberty and justice for all, regardless of who they are or what the media says about them - seems very precarious.

And today, on this day when we pause to remember and appreciate those who have stood (and are standing)  'between their loved homes and the war's desolation' (The Star Spangled Banner, verse 4),  I would just ask that anyone who has read all the way to the end would pause and pray for our country, take the time to be informed and, in November, vote for the good of the Republic.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lookin' for some breathing space

Doesn't everybody call their mom on Mother's Day?  If you can, of course...and if she lives out of town such that you just can't pop in and say hi...

So, I called my mom.

And do you know what she did?  She said she was worried about me because I've been so busy.  And she quoted scripture:

...What you are doing is too much.  You...will wear yourself out.  The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.  Ex. 18:17-18 NIV

The scary thing is...I suspect she's right.

But I haven't a clue what to do about it.  Jethro at least offered Moses a viable solution to his situation; I'm not seeing one for mine.

So, my personal prayer for the next week or so is going to be for some wisdom here.  Some guidance.

And some backbone.  Because there are two words that I apparently need to add back into my vocabulary:




Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blinky blink blink

...go the lights on the new modem.  Which seems to be working somewhat, as I now have internet access.  However, pages are loading very slowly, photos  take forEVER and I often get a 'server not found' error that goes away when I click 'try again'.

So we are running with a limp.  Hopefully My Sweet Baboo can get some things corrected before he disappears for a couple of days on a primitive camping trip...or I may be communicating in a primitive manner.

Anyone good at reading smoke signals??? ;-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I was SO STUPID...but HE showed up!

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

My Middle-school girls class is currently doing a unit on Integrity, and tonight's lesson happened to have the COOLEST activity illustration I think I've ever done in class.  I was  so excited about it, and I told several folks about how neat it was and how I was looking forward to teaching this lesson.

But, when I got to church tonight, I discovered that I had left the zip-lok bag containing all the various bits and pieces needed for the activity on the kitchen table.  In my house. 20 minutes away.

Honestly? I wanted to throw up. No no no noNONONO!!!  How could I be SO STUPID! And what could I do?

I decided to flip flop the lessons; tonight's lesson was supposed to be lesson five, but I just kinda made an executive decision that we ARE going to do that activity, so that meant tonight had to be lesson 6, which is supposed to be the final lesson. 

Not this time.

I had time to skim read it a bit; the topic was 'How to maintain my Integrity' and focused on how out of step Christians are with the rest of the world...and how that really is OK.   Well, the discussion wandered off to the difference between saying one is a Christian and actually BEING a follower of Christ and, when the evening was over, I did something that I had not ever done in quite this manner...I gave the girls an opportunity to commit their lives to Jesus.

And six out of the nine girls in the room did.  Now, I know this may not have been a first time commitment for them, but that's ok.  My concern was that, if they had any doubts or questions, lets just pray through this and settle it right now.  4 of the 6 want to be baptized, so we'll be contacting their parents regarding that.

To say I'm flabbergasted and blown away is an understatement.  I messed up...but He made it right...


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Praying in the Closet

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I remember reading Hamlet when I was in high school and having a 'What??' moment, which recurred when I saw the community theater production of that show last spring.  There's a line when Ophelia, describing Hamlet's crazy overtures, begins her narrative by saying, 'I was sewing in my closet..'

I had the mental picture of her sitting in a teeny room, amidst hanging gowns, mending a torn hem in truly pitiful lighting.  Because, you know, in 2012 that's what a 'closet' means. Generally.

But today our Pastor touched on the verse that says 'go into your closet and pray', and I decided to have a look at that verse (Matt 6:6) .  Here're the renderings:

King James: But thou, when thou prayest,  enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret...

AMP: But when you pray, go into your most private room, and closing the door, pray to your Father Who sees in secret...

NASB: But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret...

NIV: But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen.

Suddenly the application of  'closet' rights itself; in Elizabethan England, it was the innermost, most private room.  Not clothes storage. 

Now, in the context of that passage, Jesus is contrasting the folks who make big showy prayers in front of others so that they will be thought to be holy and spiritual and make an impression on the hearers with the way He wants His disciples to privacy, with no theatrics or fancy language.

But today, for the umpteenth time I think, I was struck with the other aspect of going into the 'closet' to pray...the intimacy with God that results when we intentionally take time from the day to spend with Him and deliberately block out all distractions.

And I got all convicted again because my time with God is not spent all focused, with no distractions.  It's in snatches, the inbetweens.  Not exactly the leftovers, but not prime time, either.

And I was challenged...what if I *really* did this consistently?  Set apart time and blocked out the distractions?

You precious souls who have been following this journey of mine for a while know how many times I have set out to do that and then fizzled out on it.  But, once more, my friends, I pick myself up, brush myself off, and determine to start afresh...thanking God all over again for those mercies which are new every morning.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Kingdom Tale

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I wrote this back in 2000, trying to find a simple way to explain the Gospel.  I posted it on Facebook yesterday, and it got such an overwhelming response (read: not a single comment) that I thought, why not post it here, too?  Especially since I'm still running for all I'm worth just to try and keep up with everything I need to do in the next 3 or 4 weeks and don't have any REAL blog material, if you're into this sort of thing...enjoy! 

Oh, the jump from Word seems to have been a bit wonky.  The spacing is even over there; I 'm just gonna apologize for it being uneven here.  Not sure why.  At least it's only for a bit in the beginning.

Once upon a time, there was a King.  He was a very good King.  Everything in His Kingdom was full of light and joy and happiness, and all the subjects of the King loved their King very much.  This was a miraculous kingdom in which no one died, so the King never would be replaced by a less good and wise King…He would be King forever.  His nature was Eternal, so there was no decay, no abuse, no corruption of government.  As it had always been, so it would always be.

Time did not exist in the Kingdom.  From eternity, life in the Kingdom was blissful and happy.  But, eventually there was one being in the Kingdom who began to be unhappy.  Why and how it happened is a mystery, but one of the King’s highest officials, who had authority over much of the Kingdom, became unsatisfied with any authority less than the King’s own.  Thoughts that had never been thought by anyone else ever before were being entertained by this Unhappy One.  He realized that the King would be King forever… which would mean that no one else would ever be King.  Especially, it meant that he would never be King.  Finally, this Unhappy One stood up and said, “I will be King!”…and there was war.

Because the Unhappy One was very persuasive, he was able to convince others to join his cause.  Fully one-third of the population of the Kingdom followed the Unhappy One into battle, but they did not prevail.  The captains of the King took the Unhappy One and all his followers and exiled them to a remote Island of the Kingdom.  Then guards were posted so that none of the dark, bitter beings on the Island should ever have the opportunity to corrupt another one of the King’s subjects.  Only the Unhappy One would be allowed off the Island, and then only under guard to have an audience with the King, at the King’s discretion.

 The Unhappy One, furious at his exile, decided if he couldn’t be King of the Kingdom, he would be King of the Island.  His first action was to eliminate any who might oppose him, so he chained in prison caves deep within the Island all those among his followers who had become so twisted and evil that even he felt threatened by them.  Then, to defy the King, he used his ability and his authority over the horde that followed him to systematically destroy the Island.  Anything of beauty he pulled down.  Anything that was fruitful he uprooted.  Finally, there was nothing left on the Island but bare rock and dirty, steaming water that was a stench to the rest of the Kingdom.  Then, from the stronghold he had built, he shook his fist in the direction of the King’s Palace and sat on a stone he had carved into a semblance of a throne.  “I am King!” he declared.

The King watched this entire process sadly.  He grieved for the Unhappy One, whom he had loved and who had done the unthinkable.  He grieved for those the Unhappy One had deceived and led to exile.  He grieved for his Island, which had been a lovely place.  He knew that, ultimately, the Unhappy One would have to be exiled to a place beyond the Kingdom, so as to destroy nothing else in the Kingdom.  So, He made a place outside of the Kingdom – a terrible place of No Boundaries, so that none could escape; with fire to isolate each being and prevent any kind of perverse community developing.  The beings who were sent there would be totally cut off from absolutely anything else…and be unable to do any further harm to the Kingdom.  The King mourned as He made it, but His love for all His creation required that He deal drastically with the cancer that had infected it.  He did the only thing He could do.

            Then, He turned His attention to the Island.  He considered what He could do.  He knew that He could order the whole population of the Island off the Island to the Terrible Place He’d made, but that would not redeem the damage to the Island nor demonstrate His true nature.  He ultimately reached a decision beyond the capability of even His most trusted officials to understand.  They could comprehend His decision to go there Himself to restore His Kingdom and His authority.  What they couldn’t understand was the means by which He would do that.  All He would say was, “I will use the weak to confound the strong.”  Then, He began the task of re-making the Island so that it was suitable for the plan that He’d made. 

          First, He created Time, to define the limits of His actions there, so there would be a Beginning and an End.  Then, He cleaned the water and the land.  He put growing things back on the Island, first plants, then fish and birds and animals.  Finally, He did something that amazed all the Eternal Ones who were watching – He made a new creature.  Into this creature He breathed a bit of His own Life.  Then, He put the new creature in a garden in the middle of the Island.  He also made the creature a mate, so that they could reproduce and spread out over the Island.  He then gave them authority over the Island and everything on it.  Finally, He did a very dangerous thing – He gave them a choice between obeying Him or not obeying Him by forbidding them to do one specific thing.  The Eternal Ones around Him were aghast.  The Unhappy One was on the Island!  He had great persuasive power!  What if the New Ones listened to him?  But, the King merely smiled and said, “Love that has no alternative is not love…and the Kingdom must be built on love.”

            All the time the King was on the Island, the Unhappy One hid in fear.  But, when the King rested from His work, the Unhappy One realized he was not going to be banished from the Island.  He gleefully devised a plan to destroy this new work that the King had done…beginning with the New Ones the King had made.  Carefully avoiding the times the King came to visit them, the Unhappy One began to talk to the New Ones, trying to convince them to do the one thing the King had forbidden them to do.  He told them the King had forbidden this thing because it would make them better, wiser, even king-like.  His words made them wonder if the King gave them what was best, or if He were keeping them from what was best.  Ultimately, they decided they would rather make their own decisions than follow the King, and they did the thing that was forbidden.

            The Unhappy One and all his minions broke out into raucous celebration.  The Eternal Ones in the King’s Palace watched in horror as the King’s Life in the New Ones died.  “I am King!” the Unhappy One once more proclaimed over the Island.  “The New Ones have relinquished their authority!  I am King!”

            “What will you do?” the Chief of the King’s officials asked.  But, the King merely smiled sadly.  “What I have planned,” He replied.  “The Kingdom will be restored by love...but first, I must teach them that they cannot be the kings they believe themselves to be.”

            So, the King made one final visit to the New Ones before they completely lost their ability to see Him and understand Him clearly.  He explained to them what the consequences of their action would be – not judgment, but how their lives would work, since the King’s Life in them was now dead.  He told them they would fight and sweat and hurt…but in the end, their offspring would defeat the Unhappy One.  But their comprehension was fading fast and they didn’t understand much of it.  They knew that the joy and the freedom they had before they did the forbidden thing were gone.  They realized that, without the King’s Life in them, they were on their own.  They were afraid, and even the visit of the King did not completely dispel the fear.  They did their best to teach their children what they had learned of the King.  Some of their children chose to honor the King, but others listened to the Unhappy One, whom they could now hear but not see, and chose to honor themselves…or the works of their hands…as king.  Years and generations passed.  There was always antagonism—sometimes outright war–between those who honored the King and those who did not.  At times, it seemed those who rejected the King would overcome those who honored Him.  At such times, the arrogance of the Unhappy One was nearly unbearable to the Eternal Ones watching, yet the King held His hand from intervening once and for all.

            The King gave the New Ones a Code to follow, and specific sacrifices to make to keep them in communication with Him.  Since they had no Life in them, Life had to be sacrificed on their behalf.  The King knew this, and He planned a Great Sacrifice to restore Life to the New Ones, but that could not be made until at least a few of them could understand the need for it.  As years passed, the New Ones proved themselves unable to abide by the Code.  They worked at it, but always slipped back into doing what made sense to them, rather than what the King required.  Finally, they began to worship the Code itself, even though they could not keep it.  They valued it above the King, because it was a concrete thing that they could understand, and not an Eternal Unchanging King that they could not understand.  When this happened, the King stood up in His Palace and quietly stated, “It is Time.”

            Then, the King did something unfathomable, which only the King could do.  While He remained as King in the Palace, He also entered time as a Child of the New Ones…a baby who was born and grew to adulthood among the New Ones themselves.  Most of the New Ones did not even realize who He was, but the Unhappy One and his minions recognized Him at once.  Suddenly, they were presented with an opportunity to destroy the King Himself…and then, who would be King?  Plot after plot to destroy Him, right from the moment He was born on the Island, failed while the King grew and went among the New Ones, explaining to them what the relationship they were to have with the King was to be.  He taught them how to see the restoration of the Kingdom to the Island.  He told them that the Code was based on two great principles – to love the King and to love each other – and taught that if they did those two things, the rest would follow. 

          A few of them understood a little and acknowledged Him as King, while others were disturbed and frightened by these new teachings.  The Unhappy One and his followers went to work on those who were disturbed and convinced them that this upstart Teacher was dangerous, that He was trying to destroy the Code the King had given them.  Finally, the Unhappy One’s influence led the frightened New Ones to rise up in anger and kill the King, scattering the few who had trusted Him and sending the Unhappy One and all his realm into a paroxysm of wicked glee.  “I am King!” the Unhappy One proclaimed to the hordes in his stronghold, and as the celebration among them reached its zenith he began to make plans to launch an attack against the Mainland and the King’s Palace.

            But the Unhappy One had not considered the power of the King.  While he was laying his plan of attack, the Life of the King returned, and He Who Was Slain became alive again.  The Great Sacrifice had been made.  The King Himself had made it possible for the New Ones to once more have the King’s Life in them.  Now, the Eternal Ones in the Kingdom understood and rejoiced to see the wisdom and glory of the King.  But in the dominion of the Unhappy One, the stone that he’d called his throne split down the middle with a crack of doom, and cries of glee and triumph became wails of fear and grief as the news swept through the stronghold: The King lives!

            With the taste of terror in his mouth, the Unhappy One sped off to see for himself if the unbelievable news was true.  To his everlasting horror, he arrived in time to see the Living King breathing Life back into those who had recognized Him and honored Him as King.  He watched all his plans crumble to dust as that Life filled the King’s followers.  Then, the King returned to the Mainland, leaving the Reborn New Ones a promise that they didn’t understand…and what the Unhappy One perceived as an opportunity.  Yes, the Kingdom had been restored…but it was very small as yet and could perhaps be defeated again.  He returned to his stronghold to plan a different attack.

            But the King did not plan to leave the Reborn defenseless.  The promise that He’d given them was a promise to stay with them forever, and when He’d returned to Himself in the Palace, He did a final Unexplainable Thing.  He looked at His followers on the Island, the tiny group of Reborn who were still trying to comprehend the incredible resurrection of the King, and sent His Spirit, His very Essence, back to the Island and into each of the Reborn.  Now, they did not only have the King’s Life in them, but the Presence of the King Himself – with the King’s power and authority.  When the Unhappy One threw his attacks against the small group of Reborn who made up the Kingdom, he was astonished to see that the Kingdom did not collapse.  Instead, it grew stronger.  The Reborn, who had been so recently cowering in fear, were now boldly proclaiming the Kingdom, even at the risk of pain and death.  Many New Ones who had rejected the King when He walked among them saw the transformation that had taken place in the Reborn and repented of their earlier action, acknowledging the King in their own lives – and the Spirit of the King came into them with Life.  The Kingdom grew…and grew…and grew….

            Many years have passed.  The Unhappy One learned very quickly that what had worked before would not work now, since the Presence of the King in the Reborn was an eternal presence and would not die.  Even when the Reborn followed their own desires instead of the King’s, that Presence in them grieved but did not die. 

 Frustrated, The Unhappy One formed strategy after strategy to defeat the Kingdom.  First, he tried to kill all those who followed the King, but he could not.  He nearly succeeded in assimilating them back into the culture of those who worshiped the Code, but a remnant always refused, despite intense persecution, and eventually the voice of the remnant drew more New Ones back to the Kingdom.  He tried creating counterfeit Teachers of the Kingdom, who deceived many, but there were always those who clung to and proclaimed the Truth.  He tried distracting the Reborn with physical pleasures and material goods, but some always esteemed the Kingdom more and served as examples to those who needed help to maintain Kingdom priorities.  He tried discrediting the Reborn with their own weaknesses and failures, but over and over the Reborn would repent and turn to the King, who forgave them and restored them.  The Unhappy One was especially aggravated when he saw that those who had succumbed to weakness, then truly repented, often became the most humble and the strongest of the Reborn.  He tried promoting false kingdoms and kings in an effort to confuse the New Ones, often using truths from the true Kingdom itself as part of the teachings of the false ones.  

 It is true that many of the New Ones were deceived and rejected the Kingdom.  Many even hated the Kingdom and the Reborn and were willing to do unwittingly the work of the Unhappy One.  But the Kingdom still grew, sometimes very slowly, sometimes with almost miraculous speed, as New Ones daily yielded their allegiance to the King, received His Life and Spirit and followed the influence of that Life and Spirit in their daily living.

The Reborn still cherish the promise that, when the King has given all His creatures the complete opportunity to respond to His love for them, He will return to the Island.  Once more, the King and all His servants will grieve as all those who refuse to be part of the Kingdom will finally be allowed to go to the only place where the Kingdom is not -- the Terrible Place of No Boundaries.  But, when Deceiver and Deceived are banished by their own choice from the Kingdom forever, the peace and joy of the Kingdom will truly be restored to all the King’s realm.

It was the choice of the Unhappy One to divide the Kingdom; the Kingdom will be restored upon the choice of the New Ones to love the King in the face of the Unhappy One’s lies.  

The King understood that from the Beginning.