Each to His Own Way

EachToHisOwnWay

I read in Isaiah 53 today, verse 6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

I understand from this verse that going our own way is the iniquity, the sin.

It calls to mind Judges 17.6, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” The surrounding passages make clear that this was not a good / Godly time in Israel’s history.

It also calls to mind John 15.5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Everything we do outside of God is nothing (“rubbish,” as Paul calls it in Philippians 3.8). Not only nothing, but what we do – all our works, our “nice guy” mentality, “my good outweighs my bad” mindset – is sin. It’s what cuts us off from God.

Thanks be to God, He forgives our sin: daily, moment-by-moment, even.

But it is yet another reminder that I must keep God and His Word in the forefront of my mind and heart. What I do and say matters. One way or another, I will glorify God or churn out rubbish.

I purpose to glorify God.

Funny Thing

somethingFunnyImage clipartguide.com

I just got back from a walk. You know how things happen, and they just make you think/wonder?

A car full of high school kids passed me (school was just letting out). A boy, hanging out the back window, said hi to me, and waved.

I gave him a big wave back.

He yelled, “I love you!”

I put my hands in a yell position around my mouth and bellowed a kiss at him.

“Thank you!” I heard as the car rounded a corner.

So, what was that about?

{A note on perspective: For those of you who follow me, you know I’m old now (social security old). I don’t think it was meant for me, personally.}

Was it an affirmation need of teenage angst?

Was it a dare?

Kids just messing around?

As my cousin-in-law, Paul says, “People are funny.”

So there’s a person God put in my path today. He made me think. Maybe he’s thinking, too.

I’m Not Less Than…

Sue has some Biblical words of wisdom here:

Sue's Pen2PaperBlog

In every home there is usually some sort of do’s and do not’s lain down for the children. Don’t run in the street, don’t touch the stove fire, take the garbage out, make your bed, don’t hit your sister/brother. Each child is taught what they should and should not do.

But what about healthy boundaries? What is a boundary? It is a line drawn in the sand, so to speak, that another can not cross. “You will not hit my sister, you will not use bad language in my presence, you will not break the vows of our marriage.” These are just a few of what is called healthy boundaries.

When a family has abuse; be it physical, emotional, or sexual within a family, boundaries are ignored. Its okay for Dad to sneak into his daughters room at night, its okay for Mom to get beat up by dad, its…

View original post 678 more words

What God Does Not Command / Ask / Suggest

God does not tell us to do these things; therefore, He will not help us or give us the resources to do them:

WhatGodDoesNotCommandAskSuggest 1

God designed us to do these things, and gives us (abundantly) His Word, Himself, and His people to accomplish them:

WhatGodDoesNOtCommandAskSuggest 2

We are not designed to love ourselves. Because of our sin nature, however, we do. Yes, in our flesh, ALL of us love ourselves more than anyone else (“Love your neighbor as yourself” assumes you love yourself – it is not telling you to love yourself. Ephesians 5.29 reminds us, Indeed, no one ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and cherishes it…). If we truly love someone else more than ourselves, it is by God’s grace. Even those who believe they are wretched, undesirable, and unlovable are putting themselves first, simply by the fact that they are considering their own opinion of themselves. Those who know they are wretched are actually blessed to be given eyes to see their true nature (and repent).

What to do about it?

The answer is, we are designed to love God above all else, to glorify Him. Everything we do in this life is to be for the purpose of glorifying God. Even Jesus came to glorify His Father (John 17.1: Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.) When Jesus glorified His Father, that meant joy for Him (Hebrews 12.2: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God).

God’s Word never tells us to get ahead in this life, to get all you can, to value man’s opinion (or your own opinion) of you. God is the ONLY ONE Who matters. Colossians 3.3: For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. THAT’S where your joy and peace come in: when you die to yourself / to your flesh, and live to glorify God.

The Good News is that, through glorifying and loving God, we achieve our true joy. That’s how God designed us.

How to do this? Read God’s Word. A LOT! Study God. Get with others who also love and study God. Obey God’s teaching and His Holy Spirit.

It seems an oxymoron to pursue happiness by spending all our time for the glory of Someone Else, and to forget our own selves. But God says, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55.9); and …hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (1 Corinthians 1.20).

Set your minds on the things above, not the things on the earth.  For you have died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3.2, 3)

Tears of Gold

TearsOfGold

There was once a poor man who cried and cried because he did not have enough money.  He cried in the morning because he had no fresh butter to put on his bread.  He cried in the afternoon because he had no horse on which to ride into town.  He cried at night because he had no hired servant to prepare his dinner.

Every day the man toiled at his house, alone but for the stray dog he’d adopted some months ago.  Every day he went through the motions of caring for his needs:  cooking his food, washing his clothes, tending his garden, caring for his cow and chickens.  And every day the man dreamed of having more money.

“Oh, for a fine carriage, with four graceful steeds to dance ahead of it.”  The man sighed and looked at his dog.  “Then I would not have to stay at this house all day.  Oh, for a stately mansion in which to live, instead of this hovel.”  On and on the man would dream, crying all the while for that which he did not have.

One day the man heard of an old witch who lived in a cave some distance from his home.  “I will visit this witch,” said the old man.  “Surely she will see that I must have more money.  Perhaps she can cast a spell to make my poor life more bearable.”

So the man and his dog took a journey to that cave.  The old witch stood near the opening, leaning upon a stick.  She fixed a shrewd eye upon the man.  “Hah,” she cackled, “you want money.”

The poor man looked up, astonished.  “Truly, she is a wise woman,” thought he.  He began to cry.  “Take pity on me, kind lady,” he said.  “I have never had enough money and have lived a hard life.  Can you help me?”

“Are you starving?” asked the witch.

The man stopped crying, shocked.  “Of course not.  I work hard to provide myself with something to fill my belly.”

“And your dog?”

“He gets the scraps from my table.”

“What kind of work do you do?”

The tears began to flow again.  “Every day I must get up, milk my cow, feed my chickens, tend my garden, cook my own meals, and keep my house clean.  When finally I tumble into bed at night, I scarce have time to enjoy a good book before I am fast asleep, so tired am I after the day’s exertions.”

“What do you need money for?”

The poor man mopped his eyes and blew his nose, to no avail.  The tears flowed faster than ever as he described to the witch what he could do with some money.  “Alas, I am able to enjoy only the barest of life’s necessities.  With more money I could buy a horse to travel to town.  I could buy some of the delicacies sold there, to embellish my dinner table.  I could hire someone to help me with my huge workload at home.  Ah, woman, the things I could do with a little money.”

The witch was silent.  She looked at the man as she chewed her lip with toothless gums.  She spoke.  “I have good news for you, Friend.  You will be a rich man, indeed.  Go home now.  I must work my spell.  When you wake up in the morning, you will see the magic I weave for you.”

The tears dried up.  “I’m going to be rich?” the man asked delightedly.  “How much will I get?”

“I said go home!” The witch answered fiercely.  “But leave the dog here.”

“What?”  the man asked, blankly.

“I said, the dog stays.”

The man shrugged.  “Do I need to do anything else?”

“Nothing.  Go home.”  She spun around and disappeared into her cave with the dog.

“Hee, hee!”  The man danced all the way back to his house.

Early the next morning, he awoke, eager to find his riches.  Without stopping to get dressed, he raced about his house, looking for the money.  Not on the table.  Hurry.  Not under the bed.  Hurry, hurry.  Not in the closet.  Where could it be?  He flung open the front door.  Not in his garden.  Run, run.  Not in his shed.  Maybe in the barn?  No!  He ran back into the house and began tearing the place apart.  Everything out of the dresser.  Everything out of the cupboards.  Nothing!

Finally, the man sat down at his table, panting.  That witch!  Nothing.  Nothing!  He began to cry.  He wept and wept that the witch had tricked him so.

Suddenly the man opened his eyes.   Something was happening.  Gold!  There was gold on the table, gold on the floor, gold in his lap!  From where had it come?  He reached up to wipe a tear from his cheek and drew his hand away.  There on his finger was a teardrop of gold.  His eyes darted to the other gold pieces.  They were all shaped like teardrops.

“Why, this is too fantastic,” exclaimed the man!  “Surely… Surely… But it is true!  I am a rich man!”  He pranced about in his nightshirt with glee, tossing golden teardrops into the air.  He listened to their tinkling music as they danced with him on the cobblestone floor.

Now the man’s dreams began to become reality.  He spent his gold with a flourish.  Ah, what fineries he enjoyed.  First, a fine white horse and a small carriage.  New pieces of furniture for his house, and new clothes cut in the latest fashions were fast to follow.  He ordered the tastiest delicacies from the baker and butcher.

The man threw away his old clothing, threw away his gardening tools.  He burned his rickety old furniture.  Soon all the gold he had cried that first morning was gone.

“Oh, my!” he wailed.  “I have not bought nearly all the things I most desperately need.”  The tears flowed again.  He opened his eyes, hoping.  He was ecstatic to see that his tears were still of gold.  He would be the richest man in the world!  He would never run out of gold!

Immediately, he started planning how he would spend his fortune.  Why spend so much trying to fix up this old hut?  Why not buy a new house?  And, he would certainly be very busy with his money; far too busy to worry about mundane household chores.  Servants!  He would need an army of servants to staff his new mansion.  And more horses and carriages.  He would need more and finer clothing: he was a man of import now.

And so it went.  The man spent his gold, and then cried more.  Soon he was having a hard time thinking of reasons to cry.  He couldn’t cry because of lack of money – he knew he could produce more any time he needed it.  He tried crying for other people’s problems, things he’d heard about in the town, but those were hard tears to squeeze out.  He had a hard time feeling sorrow for that which did not touch his own life.

One time he tried rubbing onions in, but the tears that came to his stinging eyes were only wet.  No, to produce gold, his tears had to be those of true sorrow.

“Wretched, wretched life!”  The man screamed.  “How am I to cry if I cannot feel sorry for myself?”  Tears began to flow again before he realized it, and quite a pile of gold was all about him before he stopped to wipe his eyes.

He used this tactic again and again, but soon found himself walking always in sorrow, trying to eke out a few more bits of gold.  He would stroll aimlessly about the echoing halls of his mansion, take excursions in his fine carriage pulled by six graceful steeds, spend hours in his counting house, sifting through his gold.  All this he did with dry-eyed sadness.

He found he did not want to cry again.  How did he no longer enjoy his mansion, his horses and servants?  Why did he always feel he had to cry, had to have more gold?  What was to become of him?

The man went for a walk one day.  He found himself at the cave of the old witch.

She hobbled out and leaned on a rock, her gnarled hands gripping her stick.

“So,” she said slowly, “you return.”

The man kicked the dirt with his tooled leather boot and hung his head.  “I have everything I need now,” he said, “everything I’ve always wanted.”  He shrugged.

“Yet you still are not happy.”

The man sighed.  “I thought if only I could buy whatever I wanted, then I would be happy.”

“And you aren’t’?”

The man was silent.

“You must be very careful what you wish for.  Sometimes it’s not something you truly want.”  She gave her toothless smile.  “But sometimes it is.  You are a rich man.”  She turned and went back into her cave.

The man left and wandered through the fields.  He stopped by a tree and sank to the ground.  “Money!” he spat out.  “How could I have thought it would make me happy?  This is not what I had in mind.”

Money and sorrow were now forever linked as one in his soul.  Perhaps he could go back to his garden, his cow and chickens.  At least work could take his mind off his sorrows, off his money.   Where was happiness?  Joy was not to be found in money; he had at least learned that.  Contentment, maybe, could be found in the work of his hands.

He was just starting to rise when he heard rustling behind him.  He looked around, and there was his dog, tail wagging.  His dog!  A friend!  The man felt instantly guilty, knowing he had not given the dog a second thought after leaving him with the witch.  Yet, here was this dog, a gift sticking its nose under his arm.  Maybe this is what the witch had meant, a gift to make him rich.  He pulled the dog to him, hugged him and nuzzled his head against the dog’s.  The touch, the willingness of the dog to come close to him, suddenly overwhelmed the man, and he began to shake deep inside.

He felt tears welling up in his eyes.  “No!  No more gold!”  He pushed his hands against his eyes.  Try as he might, he could not stop the tears.  He sobbed and sobbed with grief, rocking back and forth as he held his dog.

Suddenly he stopped.  He rubbed his eyes.  His hands came away wet.  Wet!  Wet tears!  The words of the old witch rang in his ears, and he smiled.  “I am a rich man, indeed.”  He laughed and laughed as the tears of joy ran down his cheeks.  They rolled onto his fingers and he held them up.  Truly, these were tears of gold.

Poor Little Me

Poor little ol’ “me” has been relegated to the geeky and uncool clique. You just never hear it any more. Poor me.

“Me” has long been used as the predicate form of self (that’s how it was invented, and is its purpose). Nowadays, most folks think it’s always appropriate to refer to themselves as “I,” even when it’s not grammatically correct. Maybe it’s the, “When in doubt, use ‘I’” syndrome.

Consider the following:

Standing under the bronze statue, Melissa waited patiently for Sue and me to show up.

Gasp! Did you see that? I’ll repeat it: Standing under the bronze statue, Melissa waited patiently for Sue and me to show up.

Yes, that’s right, I wrote “Sue and me.”

Somewhere in my DNA, combined with my upbringing and education, I became one of those persons to whom grammar and spelling mismanagement are a source of irritation. One of my particular peeves is the misuse of “I” and “me.” I am frankly surprised at the number of people who believe that, when referencing another person and themselves, it is always proper to use “I.” Not so, I tell you.

So here’s the general rule: If you are putting yourself into the subject of the sentence, use “I;” if in the predicate, then use “me.” It is always proper to use “me” at the end of a prepositional phrase, as it is the object of the preposition, and those are always in the predicate.

An easy way to remember this is to leave out the person or persons with whom you’re pairing yourself and say the sentence without them. Here are some examples:

A predicate example: Melissa waited patiently for Sue and me to show up. Take Sue out of the sentence. “Melissa waited for me” sounds right. “Melissa waited for I” does not sound right (and that would be because it isn’t correct). “For me” is a prepositional phrase, and it’s in the predicate, so “me” is the correct word.

Another predicate example: They presented a beautiful bouquet to my husband and me. (…presented a bouquet to “me,” not to “I.”)

One more predicate example: The fire truck raced past my friend and me. (…raced past “me,” not …raced past “I.”)

A subject example: My dog and I splashed around the lakeshore. “I splashed” sounds right. “Me splashed” doesn’t sound right. My dog and I are the subjects of the sentence. It is we who are performing the action, so “I” is the correct word.

I confess, I am unloading here. It has been cathartic, and I thank you for your time.

Leona’s Secret

LeonasSecret

I received an interesting call this summer. The caller identified herself as Leona Green and said she hoped I didn’t mind that she got my number from the phone book.

“I saw your picture at the Fair,” she said, “and it brought back so many memories. The one of the old truck. May I ask where you took that picture?”

I replied that I’d found the rusty old relic in the Hills one day when I’d been hiking.

“Do you think it’s still there?” she queried.

“Very likely,” I said. “It looked like it had been there for a while. It’s on forest service land, off a dirt road.”

There was a long pause, and I wondered if I should say something to fill the gap. Finally she spoke. “I’d like to ask a big favor of you, but I think we should meet first. Do you live in town?”

I told her the area where I lived, and she chuckled. “Why, that’s just down the road from where I am at Clarkson.”

“The nursing home?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s the one, on Maple Street. Would you like to visit?”

Since I’m retired, we agreed to meet in a half hour. I got ready and drove the short distance, bringing the picture with me. She met me at the front desk and took me to her neat-as-a-pin room. I handed her the picture.

“Oh, my. I really wonder if it’s the same one.” She sighed as she held the photo and stared intently at it. She looked up at me. “I used to know someone with a truck like that. It was painted green at the time.”

She asked me about who I was, and we chatted and compared notes until we’d arrived at a few common friends and acquaintances. She had a quick wit and lively sense of humor, and we were enjoying one another’s company when she suddenly peered intently at me. “Are you up for a little adventure?”

I raised my eyebrows. “Uh, maybe.” When dealing with a 97-year-old, one should never jump right into anything without seeing a few yards ahead.

“How would you like to take me on a drive, and we can go see that truck?”

I did a short mental calculation, looking at the clock: 45 minutes to get there, a few minutes to look at it, then back should still get her home in time for her meal. “Are you sure?”

“It’s a beautiful day!” she exclaimed. “Why not?”

A half hour later we were winding our way up the highway on a hot summer day, Leona’s walker folded in the back seat. I knew right where the truck was, and drove straight to it. We parked on the side of the dirt road, her passenger side window giving her a clear view of the truck.

She turned her head to look at me. “I’m going to push my luck and ask you for another favor. I’d try it myself, but I’m too old and too short.” She pointed to the truck. “The windows are all gone, so you should be able to reach right through that opening, on this side – the passenger side. There’s a lever you can push, if it’ll still move. It opens the air vent. If you get in there, you might find a box. Could you do that?”

“You bet,” I answered, my door already half open. It was an easy task to reach my arm into the truck. Not so easy was the lever she’d mentioned. It was big enough to get a good grip, and I yanked and pulled until it gave way. I hesitated only a split second before my hand entered the dark slot, but found her little box immediately. I drew it out and brought it to her. We both sat in the car while she dusted the box tenderly. She cupped it between her hands for a good five minutes, then opened it. We both gasped. It held a diamond ring.

She pointed at the truck again. “That’s a 1934 Chevy pickup. See the hand crank out front? It used to belong to a Mr. Dewey Nelson and it was green. He was 24 when I knew him, and he’d bought it used. The spring before I turned 17, he asked me to marry him. I was absolutely dizzy in love! He was so much older than I was.” She smiled at me. “Of course, it’s that way when you’re young, you know. Twenty-four, for heaven’s sake!

“Well, I said yes, and he gave me this ring. Isn’t it beautiful? But we didn’t want anyone to know yet, not until after I turned 17, so we kept it a secret. I wouldn’t wear the ring except when we went out together. When he dropped me off at home, we’d put it back in its wee little box, and we had that cunning hidey spot for it in the truck, inside the air vent.”

She was quiet for a minute or two, remembering. She looked up at me again, this time with tears in her eyes. “About a month after we were engaged, I got word that he’d been killed in an accident. We had one of those spring snow storms, and the roads were terrible. He missed a curve. No seat belts in those days, of course.” She shook her head. “What a long time ago that was! I was devastated. I never did tell anyone that we were engaged, not until just now when I told you. No one else ever knew about this ring.” She sighed. “But that,” she pointed to the truck, “is why I am Leona Green now, instead of Leona Nelson.” She closed her eyes and smiled. “God has been very good to me.”

{Edited to note: This is a work of fiction.}

Expectations

Do you go to the movies? Sometimes we go to a movie after we’ve heard all about it: seen the ads, watched the trailers online, heard our friends talk about it. We go with expectations. If everyone loved the movie and raves about it, our expectations are high. I hate going to a movie with high expectations; I’m almost always disappointed.

Expectations

I believe the truth will set us free from expectations.

Truth and expectations are related. However, make sure where the plumb line of your truth lies. Some think we live by our own truth, that we should do whatever our conscience and personal happiness monitor tells us.

“Expectations” is a relative term. It often depends on how we feel.

Our expectations are related to what we hold as truth.

Take a look at your own expectations. You expect your spouse to be kind and understanding? Think your kids should be grateful? You get angry when things don’t go as you think they ought? You expected good health for yourself / your loved one / your friend / children? You expected a smooth drive to your destination today?

Hard truths:

  • You don’t deserve to live; you deserve to die. (Romans 6.23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)
  • You don’t deserve to be happy; you deserve to suffer the consequences of your sin. (Psalm 34.16 The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.)
  • Truth is what God says (read His Word), not what the world says. (John 17.17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.)
  • Truth is what God says (read His Word), not what your conscience tells you. (Romans 8.13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.)
  • You don’t have any goodness in you; neither does anyone else. (Psalm 14.2, 3 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.)
  • There is no way you can go to Heaven without Jesus. (John 14.6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.)
  • You don’t have any good works in you; nobody has any good works in them. (John 15.5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.)
  • God created evil. (Isaiah 45.7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Proverbs 16.4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Colossians 1.16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.)

Those truths are what we are in and of ourselves: nothing, evil, dead, wrong, lost.

EVERYBODY IS! We cannot expect other people to be any better than what we are. We can expect that we hurt other people, and other people hurt us – really, really badly.

Disappointment, disgust, disapproval, disillusionment, disrespect, bitterness, jealousy, hurt feelings – all these come from expectations.

But look!

The truth is, we must set our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12.2); the Perfecter of who we are and who we can become.

Also true:

  • God created us in love (Jeremiah 31.1 I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving devotion.)
  • God redeems. (Isaiah 44.24 the LORD, thy redeemer… he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself)
  • God will guide you into truth (John 16.13 … when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…)
  • He cherishes you. He is powerful and can save you. (Zephaniah 3.17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.)
  • God gives us hope. (Isaiah 44.22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.)

God says we are loveable, cherished, special, and made in His image. Through Christ, we are redeemed, worthy, righteous, and alive.

When I go to movies, I try to set my expectations to zero. If I have low expectations, then I can be pleasantly surprised (maybe) with how it turns out.

We can similarly set our expectations when dealing with people. Are we to set them at zero, expect the worst from everyone? There is no set pattern. God doesn’t work that way. Set your heart and mind on God. See what He says. But do remember that we are all fallen – ALL of us. Forgive. Give grace. God’s grace.