What Do I Have to Lose?

One day as I was mingling among the multitudes at the mall a passing T-shirt caught my eye. In bold black and white it declared, “Compromise is for Losers.”

I eyed the bearer of such anti-diplomacy. Was this his life’s philosophy, the rule he lived by? No doubt he thought he was making a statement, “Don’t mess with me.”

Losers of what, I wondered?

Truth? We should never compromise the truth, nor our honesty, our integrity, or our purity. Did the young man wearing the T-shirt have these in mind?

If I were to compromise with sin, I’d lose my self-respect. I’d feel degraded and guilty. If I fudged around with the definite “Thou shalt nots” of the Lord, I’d lose His blessing in my life and gain an uneasiness in my soul. If I say “okay” when in my heart I know the real answer should be “no”, this can be compromising with sin.

Or was he thinking of principles? Possibly. But whose principles? Would it be so bad if I lost some of my own understanding about how things should be done, my own sense of right and wrong? Does it hurt to be a little bit flexible on these at times?

So what might I gain by a compromise?

In the areas of my life where opinion, understanding and preference hold sway, a compromise could well benefit me. I’d lose my rigidity as I bend to someone else’s methods. In doing so I might well learn a better way, see things from a new perspective. Discover why a certain approach works when I was so certain it wouldn’t.

I’d lose at least a little of my pride and admit I might not have the best light on the subject. I’d have to abandon the “My way or the highway” attitude if I wanted to reach a compromise with someone.

I might have to abandon self-righteous indignation and gain better relationships. If what this person said or did was an affront to me and my nose is out of joint, I’d have to snap it in place again before I could reach a truce with her. At times I’d have to admit I was wrong and ask for forgiveness.

I’ve seen where a “No compromise” philosophy of life means “No real friends.”

Yes, it’s true. Compromise is for losers — and there are some things we really could stand to lose in order to gain something better.

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are…”
I Corinthians 1: 26-28

Our Father the ATM?

One morning as I knelt down to pray, my mind was occupied with all my shortcomings. The cup was definitely half empty; I felt so needy, so deficient in the virtues a Christian wife and mother should possess.

“Dear Heavenly Father,” I began, “please grant me more patience and more wisdom in dealing with situations that come up. Help me to understand Your will, Lord, and grant me the grace to do what I know is right. Bless me with that ‘meek and quiet spirit’ a Christian should possess, as I relate to my family. Help me to be more cheerful and encouraging.”

And the Lord answered me too clearly. He said, “Gimme, gimme, gimme.”

That shocked me out of my ‘poor and needy’ mood. I realized that, yes, that’s exactly what I was saying. I was calling God my Father, but instead of talking to Him sensibly, affectionately, as a child would talk with a parent, I was treating Him like a spiritual-virtues ATM.

How would I feel if my child would come to me and say, “Mom, give me my dinner… and buy me some new clothes… and do my laundry… and clean up my room, and…”

These are all very legitimate needs, but wouldn’t I long for some more meaningful conversations with her? Don’t I enjoy hearing about her day and listening to her ideas, hopes, plans? Wouldn’t I also appreciate hearing a “Thanks, Mom, for everything you do” now and then?

Is my Heavenly Father any different?

Since then I’ve tried to keep in mind as I pray that He is my Father, not my ATM.

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalm 100: 2-4

Song for My Brother

I wrote this article twenty-some years ago and stashed away a hard copy. Now as I’m digging around in my “filed and forgotten” I came across it.

I Dreamed of My Brother

Early one morning I had a dream. I dreamed that I was walking along a path and I came upon a man sitting and singing a song. I paused to listen to the words and this is what he sang:

Somewhere I have a brother, though his face I’ve never seen,
But in my mind I see him as he walks on hills of green,
and in my heart I love him and I’m going to see him soon…”

As I listened, I realized that this was my song he was singing, one I had written about my little brother who died some hours after birth, when I was three years old. Mom tells me that on the day of his funeral I cried a lot. That I don’t remember, but I do remember the family gathered in the old farmhouse and the little coffin Uncle Tom made sitting on a table, holding the newborn.

Then in my dream I turned around and looked at the horizon. Far off in the distance I could see those hills of green and I could see him walking there. But he was too far away; I couldn’t see his face. I woke up with the melody of that son still ringing in my ears.

Many times over the years I have thought of my little brother. At the time of this dream he was the only one of our family who’d gone on and was waiting for me in Heaven. At times when the going gets rough in this old world below, my thoughts often turn to him waiting up there. I don’t want to disappoint them by losing out. I don’t want him to be the only one of us who made it to heaven.

Years have passed since I had that dream. My niece. Barb, and others in the family have joined him up on those hills of green. Now I often think of those waiting and pray that I can join that family circle on those green hills.

“Out on the hills of that wonderful country,
happy contented and free
loved ones are waiting and watching our coming.
Heaven holds all to me.”

As I went about my work the next morning my mind was still on the words of that song. I decided to adapt it with more of a thought for today. Here’s my “earthly” version:

Somewhere I Have a Brother

Somewhere I have a brother though his face I have not seen
but in my mind I see him as he walks through fields of green
and in my heart I pray for him as I go along my way,
that we can both be faithful so I’ll meet him some glad day.

Somewhere I have a brother though his face I’ve never seen,
for he lives quite far from me with an ocean in between;
and in my heart I love him, for the Father’s love we share,
and I’m sure he’s also praying for his brothers everywhere.

Somewhere I have a brother and I almost see his face,
for just like me he’s part of this global human race;
just like me he cries when hurt and laughs when life is fun
and just like me he’s tired when his working day is done.

Somewhere I have a brother and his hopes are just like mine:
to have a home in Heaven when we reach the end of time;
to be among the faithful when the Saviour’s face we see. (Judgment throne we see)
Somewhere I have a brother and I think he’s just like me.

One Little Patch

“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” I Corinthians 12:26

The Apostle Paul is telling us that when one member of the body suffers, the whole body will feel it. I learned this first-hand one day when my tympani, or eardrum, received a tiny patch. A few hours after the deed was done my whole head was suffering with that little spot.

When I was in my thirties I had tubes put in my ear drums so I wouldn’t have to live with tympani-rupturing infections. The tubes remained for years until one by one they fell out, leaving little holes. My ear specialist deemed it wise to patch these holes, one at a time.

Into the operating room I went. He snipped a bit of skin from the back of my ear and tacked it over the hole, then he packed something into the outer ear canal to hold the patch in place.

This procedure called for a general anesthetic, which meant my whole body had to bear with the little member. I couldn’t eat or drink before surgery; my stomach grumbled about that. Coming out of the anesthetic after surgery my stomach felt queasy and my head felt fuzzy and unbalanced. My feet had extra work to keep my woozy body upright when the nurse insisted I take a short walk around the room. Later in the evening I suffered with a cross between a headache and an earache. All because of one microscopic piece of skin.

Thankfully the operation was successful, the site’s healed nicely and I no longer have a hole in that eardrum.

The Apostle Paul was speaking of the Church, referred to as the earthly body of Jesus Christ. As we become members of that holy body of believers, “knit together in love,” when one suffers everyone feels it. Every member has a place to fill, a work to do in the body, and if one is weak or AWOL others have to make corrections for him or her. I appreciate how much my fellow Christians bear with my faults.

We all have some weaknesses and irritating habits others need to bear with. Some Christians are recovering from past emotional damage. They may be fearful and suspicious. We’ve all been scarred by the consequences of temptations we’ve yielded to. And we’re not surrounded by people who always speak kind, edifying words. Gossip and harsh words from family, neighbours and co-workers may wound us. Plus, the Bible warns us that our enemy hurls “fiery darts” our way and some of them hit tender spots.

Unlike medical men, God makes repairs without knocking the his children out. If we are willing and obedient to follow directions, He brings us into situations that strengthen our weak areas and gives us courage in spite of our shortcomings. We can be serving Him to the best of our ability, still He constantly performs those small surgeries necessary to cure our hurts, fears, frustrations. Over time He skillfully removes our “baggage” without crippling after-effects.

This healing, straightening process is called sanctification. Like “Be patient; God isn’t finished with me yet.”

I’m glad the doctor is finished with my ears. I’d be absolutely delighted to never need any more repairs, big or small. But I trust the Lord will keep on operating on me, so I can be an effective member of His Church.

“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Romans 12:5

A Morning Prayer

Surf and sand.OR.jpg

Heavenly Father, am I too satisfied with what I’ve already
learned of You? Am I too content to rest in the knowledge
I’ve already gained? Bless me with a thirst to know more
of Your will, to gain yet more understanding of your ways.
There’s so much more for me to learn
of the depths of your grace.

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven…The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.”
Job 11:7-9

I was Supposed to Be a Star

WHAT WENT WRONG?
I Was Supposed to Be a Star!

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.”
See Jeremiah 29:11-14

God’s Word says He thinks good thoughts toward us; if we look to Him for help He will bring our lives to happy conclusions both now and in eternity.

So what happened to poor Joseph?

Why was he sitting in an Egyptian prison for two years when he was supposed to be ruling the sun, moon, and stars? God had given him a spectacular dream where the sun, moon, and eleven stars (representing his brothers) bowed down to him. He took it as a divine promise, but his brothers captured him when he was alone, tossed him into a pit, then sold him into slavery.

To add insult to injury, his master’s wive took an impure liking to him and wanted to cuddle when the master was out for the day. When he refused and actually ran from her, in a fury she accused him of trying to molest her. Joseph was imprisoned for his crime. (Or in this case, failure to incriminate himself.) So here he sat in prison — far from being the object of anyone’s adoration.

Didn’t he have enough faith?  Wasn’t he praying enough? Did he stay upbeat in the dungeon? Did he cheerfully “bloom where you’re planted” and wait for the fulfillment of his dream, or did he sometimes feel like he must have missed the boat somehow?

He interpreted his fellow prisoners’ dreams and asked Pharoah’s wine-bearer to remember him and speak a word to Pharoah on his behalf. But when the servant got back to the palace he forgot all about justice for Joseph.

When Joseph was forgotten by the king’s wine-bearer for two long years, did he wonder if God had forgotten him, too?

It’s easy for us, looking back through history, to see how it all worked out, that God had the big picture planned and Joseph’s prison episode was one small scene. But Joseph had to live through it day by day, year by year, hanging onto a dream he believed was from God.

When I’m feasting in the Royal Palace or living on Easy Street, it’s not hard to see God has my good in mind. When joy and inspiration surround me I can feel I have a purpose to fulfill in life. But what about when everything has gone wrong, I’m nailed for doing what I believed was right, and now I’m sitting in some prison or exiled to a far country?

When everything’s a mess and tsunamis of depression hover on my horizon, ready to toss flopping fish in my face and wash me out to sea, can I still hang on, trusting that God means this circumstance for my good? Do I believe that I can learn something from any situation.

“It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” Lamentations 3:26

Lord, deliver me from martyr pins, self-pity, self-scourging and righteous indignation.  Show me the truth about myself so I can accept what I need to accept and change the things I need to change. Grant that I may hold onto this quiet confidence that You are working things out for my soul’s salvation — my expected end in the mansion You have prepared. Come what may.

Reblogged from Christine’s Reflections, Aug 19, 2012

What DO Feminists Hate?

Monday Morning Musing

I was going about my morning as usual when I happened to check my SPAM queue and saw a title that caught my eye:

“If Feminists Hate This, It Must Be Good”

I didn’t open the e-mail, but I must admit the title IS thought-provoking. My mind immediately brought up various responses:
If feminists hate war, then war must be good?
If feminists hate child-abuse, then child abuse must be good?
If feminists hate drug-trafficking, and the sex slavery that often goes with it, then drug use must be good?
If feminists hate SPAM, then…

Ah, but… So much meaning hinges on the word THIS. Since I never read the message — which is undoubtedly an ad of some kind — I have no idea what “this” refers to. I just jumped on the title and thought, “Wait a minute. This is a false assumption!”

Rather than getting the complete picture, aren’t we sometimes inclined, as listeners or readers, to catch a few significant words and build our rebuttal on that?
“You said this, and it isn’t true.”
“She wrote thus and thus, and it makes no sense.”
“He carelessly asked for a dozen when he should have asked for precisely twelve!”

Looking back I blush to think of times where I’ve pounced on some short phrase and shook it like a rat, not listening for — or deliberately ignoring — the real meaning behind the statement. Yes, “Guilty as charged.” The speaker may have had a valid point but I’ve allowed one sentence to negate it.

Conversely, haven’t we all seen a child pick the part they wanted to hear and go from there?
Mother: “I don’t think you really should go along with them, but if you feel you have to do that I won’t order you stay home.”
Child to friends: “Mom says I can go.”

Another phrase comes to my mind. Over the years people have seized on this statement and taken it literally without ever exploring the context for the complete meaning.
Jesus said, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” (Matt 7:1)

These words from the Bible are frequently quoted, in fact they’ve become a motto for our times. They’re used to excuse a LOT of bad behaviour, to prove innocence of a sort. Usually comparatively speaking, like:

“Sure, I’m smoking pot, but who are you to judge me? You have a social drink now and then. Remember, the Bible says, ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’.”

Years ago I worked for a boss who smoked. Her sister nagged her about the danger of getting lung cancer. Then studies revealed that women who dyed their hair had a higher incidence of cancer. (It was slight, if I recall correctly.)

Well, the sister dyed her hair, so my boss justified her smoking with this ‘you’re just as wrong as I am’ approach: “My sister criticizes me for smoking, but she’s dyeing her hair. So who is she to judge?” Her argument didn’t affect her chance of getting lung cancer in the least, but it got her off the hook with her nagging sister.

In John 7:24 Jesus says, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgement.” Sadly, this sentence has never gotten equal billing with the “Judge not” line of thought.

In Matt 5:48 He tells his disciples, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Now wait a minute! What’s this about PERFECT? Who can ever be perfect?

The only way to find out what Jesus meant by this statement is to read the book of Matthew.

Just like the only way I’ll ever find out what “feminists hate” and why it’s so good is to read the e-mail. But I’ve deleted it. I really don’t want to know; the answer is not important to my life.