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

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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.

A Man Who Can

One summer my daughter and I found a nice “pick-your-own” strawberry patch and came home with half a dozen baskets of berries to put in the freezer. For some reason shasta daisies were blooming among the strawberry plants; when we loaded up our loot, my daughter picked a couple of these and tossed them in with our berries.

Once home we were soon occupied with stemming and preserving strawberries and the flowers were forgotten until the evening; by then they looked pretty limp. My first thought was to toss them out, but I decided to trim the ends, put them in water, and see if they would revive. An hour or so later I checked them and was pleased to see them looking “fresh as a daisy” again.

I thought of the song that says, “I can’t take a heart that’s broken, make it over again, but I know a Man Who can.”*

Do you sometimes feel as limp, neglected, and unwanted as a trampled flower? Here’s some great news: the Lord can restore people as well as flowers. And this isn’t just a temporary boost, where we droop and die again later. When we put ourselves into His hands, He promises to be a flowing well of water in our lives:

“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water (from Jacob’s well) shall thirst again:  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”  John 4:13-14

Not only singly, but in twos and threes as well—in fact, He gives special attention to family groups. Relations between husband and wife, parents and children, former friends, in-laws, all can be revived and rebuilt by a better plan. “I know a Man Who can!”

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. — Matthew 19:26

(*Song written by Jack Campbell and Jimmy Davis)

The Waters of Babylon

The Friday Fictioneers prompt has come around again, thanks to the diligent efforts of our host, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and a photo prompt donation from Roger Bulolt. (Please note the photo is copyright.)

It happens that I’m prepared for today’s prompt — though palm trees would have been a nice touch. 🙂  I was inspired back in spring to write a verse from Psalm 137 and stashed it away for the right opportunity. I thought of it when I looked at this morning’s prompt, so here goes:

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Butolt

“By the rivers of Babylon where we sat down, yea,
we wept,
when we remembered Zion.”

“Sing!” soldiers commanded,
sick of our sobbing. “Sing
some cheerful song from your land.
Stop this wretched wail.”

Sing?
We who’ve seen our toddlers trampled,
our elders left to starve; our maidens
in the hands of these brutes.

Jerusalem, the beautiful city, ravaged;
the temple of our God in flames.
Sing? Not a chance!

“Vengeance is mine,” Yahweh declares.
He will repay in full measure,
oh Babylon!

Hush — the prophet speaks!
‘The fire shall purify but never consume;
the waters shall cleanse but not overwhelm
Jacob, my beloved.’ *

Yahweh has not forgotten us.
He will preserve his people
in the waters of Babylon.”

(*Isaiah 43:1-2)

Why Does God Give Some Parents Children?

Why does God put innocent little babies in lousy homes? Why doesn’t He put babies in some really good homes?

One day a young man, recently divorced in the States, used his visiting privileges to take his son away from his ex-wife and fled to Canada. His intention was to stay in Canada until the statute of limitations ran out and he could no longer be charged with abduction.

It happened that we met this fellow and he told us his story. He felt his ex-wife was a very poor mother, living a wild life, and had wanted custody of the boy for pure spite. To make matters worse, he said, she had joined a well-known religious group/cult. He was sure God wouldn’t want his little boy to be raised in that setting so he kidnapped him and fled.

I asked him, “Why does God give children to those people then, if He’d never want a child raised by them?” The fellow had no reply to this. He and the boy disappeared before we could learn the outcome to this sad story.

And what about all the just plain bad parents out there? People who have been scarred themselves, who have no parental skills, people who are druggies or mentally ill? It seems most of these folks can reproduce, yet I’ve known some really good parents who were only able to have one or two children, or who adopted children because they weren’t able to produce any.

Do you sometimes ask, “Why is God not more sensible? Why does He allow this?”

But how should God remedy this? Just never allow sinners to have children? God is extremely fair. “He maketh His rain to fall on the just and the unjust…” We were damaged ourselves and far from perfect parents, but we thank God for our lovely daughter who has grown us up as well as been raised by us.

Sometimes it’s the very innocence of a child that brings conviction to a hard heart. Having a baby brought a very dear friend of mine back to God.

Our society has developed the mind-set that if I’m not happy, someone else is to blame. It’s how I was raised, the home I came out of , the insults and abuses I suffered, that determines my happiness or lack of it. But there are a lot of people who’ve grown up in very bad homes that made something of themselves, and those that grew up in horrific settings who turned to God as adults, found the strength to overcome past abuse, and are spiritual leaders today.

The theory is that if you raise a child in a nurturing setting, you’ll have a well-balanced child who will go on to live a successful life, but we’ve all seen adults who grew up in good homes with the best parental input and made bad choices so their lives have turned out rotten.

Joshua says to the children of Israel, “Choose ye this day…” The Bible gives us to understand that our own happiness is up to us: it’s a consequence of the choices we have made and are making today.

I believe God set this world in its order and it basically continues that way without Him straightening it out or cracking the whip over us all the time. He rather works by calling all the hurting people –which is every one of us– to find healing. “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matt 11:28

It’s amazing what God has done for those who, in all sincerity, sought His mercy. If we become angry and bitter at God for what life has handed us, our hope for improvement is thwarted and we tend to become our parents all over again. Then our own children will tell the same sad tales of their upbringing.

Those of us who have found this rest and felt His healing would like to shout it out to the world: “It’s true! It’s beautiful! It’s free to all.”

That’s why some of us blog. 🙂