What Goes Around…

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is BOOMERANG

Friendship’s like a boomerang
when you give a friendly smile
you’ll find it coming back to you
as you trudge some weary mile.

–Author unknown to me
Verse from an old Friendship Book

The word BOOMERANG comes from an Australian aboriginal language; its appearance in the English language was in the 1820s. However, the concept of things coming back to you is ancient.

In Galatians 6:7 the Apostle Paul writes, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.” Whether you’ve done good or bad; the Lord rewards you for your actions.

Even farther back, Solomon wrote “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Eccl 11:1 This being written in the more positive sense.

Hinduism and Buddhism teach a system of karma, whereby the good you do sets in motion a chain of actions that rewards or punishes you by your lot in the next life. In general, Good or bad luck, viewed as resulting from one’s actions,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

In our day we’ve boiled it down to “What goes around, comes around.” We could even mention Bobby Burns’ “The best laid plans of mice and man go oft astray.”

Boomerang, in my mind, carries a more negative sense. Like getting hit in the back of the head by the boomerang you threw at someone else. Or like the fellow who planned to rob a store by crawling through the heating duct late one Saturday night. Plans went awry when he got stuck and there he stayed until the store opened Monday morning and police were called to investigate.

Be An Encourager

I’ve a dear friend who tries to see the sunny side of everything, quick to mention and compliment your good points and cheer you up if you’re discouraged. “Yes, it’s tough now, but it will get better; just hang in there.” I wish I could be a lot more like her.

She doesn’t butter you up with insincere flattery, but her simple, uplifting kindness is a balm for any ache. “You have a good idea; it may just take a little more work to bring it out.” She has opinions and expresses them, but in a gentle way, not slamming or ridiculing the one(s) at fault. Bless you, Cathy!

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

In our day and age, it’s so easy to slip into the seat of the scornful and I often catch myself occupying that spot, but it’s not a useful nor satisfying place.

Our ideas aren’t always brilliant and we all need critical feedback. We all need to grow a spine and take advice. Over the ages of time, though, encouragers like my friend have done an invaluable service to the world.

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Christmas Blessings to All

ALL IN GOD’S PLAN

“There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…and all went…every one into his own city…” (Luke 2:1-3)
All in God’s plan. It seems that God wanted the whole world turned upside down for the birth of His Son! All over the known world folks had to make a journey to the place of their birth.

Just like today. The Christ-child wants to be born in our hearts, but before that can happen our life must be turned upside down. That which we hold in high esteem must come crashing to the ground. The way that we would most despise — the way of humility — must become the only one we want to take. That which is hidden deep within us must be brought to the Light. In a sense we come back to the place of our birth and realize we need to take a different path — His way.

“And Joseph also went up…with Mary, his espoused wife…”
All in God’s plan. Joseph and Mary had a destiny and God watched over them as they journeyed among the crowds of people. To fulfill His promise to His servant David, His Son must be born in Bethlehem. Did they sense what an important part they would have in history? Who could have known that what happened to those two ordinary, humble people in an insignificant village would change many people’s lives the world over?

Just like today. God has made His promise to man that “whosoever will may come” and He intends to fulfill this in our lives. He watches as we journey among the crowds of people and slowly He brings us to a crossroads, a place of choosing. Then, if we then choose to walk with Him, the Christ-child is born in our hearts. This gives us a destiny–and how can we know what an important part we may play in changing the course of other people’s lives?

“…Because there was no room for them in the inn.”
All in God’s plan. Not just so people could fault the poor innkeeper all these years for being so hard-hearted. Rather, it seems that God did not want His Son to be born in the inn — as a GUEST — perhaps in the company of the important and well-to-do. In His birth Jesus had not even a room or a bed and in the years of His ministry He had no place to lay His head. He was totally an outsider in this world.

Just like today. Each year at Christmas the normal events of life are disrupted for a season as folks go to and fro, buying gifts, decorating houses and stores, travelling home to their families, gathering for feasting, partying, and generally making merry. But the work God seeks to do in our hearts is something apart from all this. He comes quietly, at any time of the year, whenever a seeking soul opens his heart to Jesus.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to Him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20)

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Gladiator Mouse

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

You had to admire the little guy’s spunk. With no means of defense, pitted against an enemy twenty times his size, he was putting up a brave fight.

He was only a mouse captured in the claws of our family cat, but he wasn’t taking this lying down. For a moment the cat let him go and took a step back; instead of running away squeaking in terror, the mouse stood up on his haunches, jumped as high as his little legs could send him and tried to bite the cat’s face.

Whoa, I thought: Kamikaze mouse! Another Reepicheep, lacking only the sword.

For a few minutes I watched the unfair contest. The cat would bat the mouse around and he fought back as best he could, rushing toward the cat, trying to scratch it or nip it with his tiny teeth. I actually felt enough sympathy for the gutsy little gladiator that I might have picked up my cat and removed him from the conflict – had the arena been elsewhere.

However, the battle was going on right beside my garden where I surely did NOT want a mouse to find refuge. At one point he made a dash for freedom under a tomato plant but the cat snagged him and carried him off. I walked away and let nature take its course.

Later on I saw his lifeless body lying on the lawn. Well, at least he died trying.

As Christians, we have an adversary, a foe much greater than we. The Bible describes him as cunning and ruthless, opposed to all that is godly:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith…” I Peter 5:8

Yet we are told, “Don’t just lie there and whimper when the devil rakes you with his claws. Get up and fight back.” And we think, Are you serious?

We feel the devil’s hot breath on our neck at times as he sends us evil thoughts, temptations, depression, negative feelings about ourselves, wounded pride, anger, misunderstandings. Maybe we are inclined to wring our hands and say: ”Why are we troubled with these thoughts?” or “Why do I feel the way I do?”

As surely as cats hunt mice, our adversary will attack us. The Bible tells us that Satan is determined to decimate us, to dissuade us from following the Lord, by terror or temptation. Unlike defenseless mice, however, we have God’s promise that resistance pays.

Reading & Musing on a Sunday Morning

I was reading a passage of scripture this morning and decided to write my thoughts down, in case anyone is interested.

II Corinthians 12: 2-10

In this account, the Apostle Paul is telling the church members at Corinth about an experience he has had, and the effect this vision has had in his life. He doesn’t name himself, yet Bible scholars agree that he’s telling his own story here.

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago…such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Some scholars have read the story of when Paul was stoned and left for dead, wondering if he really did have an out-of-body experience. The Apostle himself isn’t certain, and leaves it open as to whether he was really dead or if this was a vision he had. However, during this experience he saw such beauty and glory, and heard such words as could never be described to an audience here on earth.

5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

So why doesn’t he tell the world about his experience? Why does he refer to it so discreetly, not mentioning that this happened to him? Why does he rather rejoice that he has these infirmities that drag him down? First, he doesn’t want people lifting him up:

6 For though I would desire to glory…now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Most scholars agree that this “thorn in the flesh” was an infirmity that slowed him down, and probably a disfiguring one. We get the impression from different passages that Paul wasn’t such an attractive man.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God has chosen to leave him weak so that the Spirit of the Lord can speak through him. People aren’t meant to look to Paul for the answers in life. The Lord Jesus doesn’t want people following Paul because he’s physically attractive or such a persuasive orator. So the Lord leaves him with this weakness, one which seems, from other scriptures as well, to be obvious to Paul’s audience.

Paul accepts this situation with grace:
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

It’s so human to want to be strong, to be talented, articulate, to have our listeners nod when we present our ideas. The thought of stepping up to speak, either to an individual or to a crowd, and having absolutely no speech planned out is frightening. The thought of stammering and groping for words is abhorrent to most of us. Likewise we’re inclined to shy away from a task if we’ve had no prior experience in that line. None of us want to sound, or look, dumb.

When we lived in Ontario our neighbour was a minister in another denomination. One day his wife explained to me how ministers were hired. A congregation in need will hear of a pastor who wants to move from the place he’s at, so a small delegation from the pastor-less church goes to hear him —or her, in this group— speak. If the pastor presents a good sermon, if they like the looks of him and feel he’d be a good fit for their own congregation, they offer to hire him. (Again, or her.) How tempting would it be to put a lot of effort into making a good physical impression.

Paul has adopted a different mind-set. In one place he says, “The ways of God are higher than ours.” Aware of his own weakness as a human being, he “takes a step back from himself” and rather goes forward in the Lord. The idea of winning followers of using eloquence to gain a good salary, these are laid aside. He doesn’t take pains to please the audience or “keep out of trouble.” He rather lets the words of Jesus flow through him and speak to the hearts of his audience.

This is more pleasing to God and the Gospel more effective, than if Paul could attract listeners and entertain them with his own oratory ability, or persuade them by his skillful reasoning. He leaves us this example, so none of us can feel we’ve nothing to offer. When we feel we have no talent, skills, physical attraction, or never “the right words,” we can comfort ourselves God’s words to Paul: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

 

Kisses From Above

precious white rain
every flake a kiss
a promise

I don’t know if this is a haiku or not, but it’s definitely a celebration. A nice bunch of snow flurries came down yesterday and continued off and on all evening and into the night. The sun is up so they won’t stay long, but they will do a good work in the short time they are here.

I’m also thankful to be alive and well this morning. Yesterday as I tootled along Circle Drive in Saskatoon a semi coming up the ramp from the right skipped the YIELD sign and pulled right into my path. Thankfully the left lane was clear and I could quickly pull over. If there’d been traffic in that lane, and this on the bridge of the #11 Hwy overpass… It only takes two seconds to change your life completely!

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Isaiah 52:7