Thursday, October 22, 2015

Try harder

Today was kind of a rough day. I started out at work, getting my annual flu shot. Now, I'm not sure whether there's really any effect of how you feel that day; I never had really noticed anything before. But I've heard they can make you feel a little yucky.

Then I went to the doctor for a 9:30 appointment. No big deal - just making sure my prescriptions are up to date, going over test results, and the like. Blood pressure was good, previous blood work was fine. But to get ready for my next follow-up, I did have to go to the lab to update the blood work. They filled somewhere between 6 and 8 tubes - I wasn't counting, but they took some blood, no doubt about it.

So when I got back to work after lunch, I noticed something right away: I was getting a little short with people. Patience was not overflowing, as I could feel annoyance bubbling to the surface. I think being low on blood and having the remaining life fluid gunned up with a vaccine may have been getting to me. So, on to the point...

I was in a meeting with two of our other actuaries, going over some data and how we might organize it to minimize manual work. Impatience bubbled up, and the numbers on the screen were just running together. I wasn't picking up what they were putting down.

At that point, I sent up a short, silent prayer. (When you're lacking patience, "it's what you do.") I simply asked the Lord to send me a little patience and power from his Spirit. And then I felt it in my spirit - an answer from the Lord, as clear as if it were audible.

"Try harder."

And it hit me. I was letting my impatience stand in the way of my effort to really follow what I was being shown. So, with renewed energy, I started asking more questions. Specific questions. And before I knew it, three things happened: I understood what I was looking at, I provided helpful feedback, and...I felt patience starting to take over my psyche.

Now, folks, as believers we have the power of the Resurrection at our disposal. It can be released through prayer and dependence on God. But he wants us to take a step of faith. After all, Moses was instructed to move forward before the Red Sea was parted. In my case - in this case - it was simply taking a closer, slower look at the data. Actually putting forth an effort. And so I did.

And that, friends, was the highlight of the day. When we feel God working through us for his glory, it makes it all worthwhile.

I wonder how that will happen tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Walking Dead - First Time Again

This past Sunday night, the new season of The Walking Dead began with our survivors trying to adapt to life in the so-far peaceful town of Alexandria. The people of Alexandria have been living a sheltered life, almost completely oblivious to the dangers outside. And so comes our group - Rick, Glenn, Maggie, Daryl, Carol and the rest. They have been fighting "walkers" (zombies) for around two years, but they have an uphill struggle convincing their new friends to learn. Because where is the danger?

It was a very puzzling plot line for the last few episodes of Season 5. Yes, the people of Alexandria were naive. No, they were not equipped to deal with the dangers of the zombie apocalypse. But why? Why had they been so sheltered? Why were their walls not being swarmed by the walking dead?

And then, as the new season opened, we saw this:

It was a quarry. A ravine filled with hundreds - no, thousands - of walkers. Trapped by the walls, and trapped by some large commercial trucks that blocked the openings. There they were, all these deadly creatures. The town had been safe because they were trapped, trapped nearby, just out of their view. But always out there, always on the verge of escaping. And the time was coming when they would escape. Soon. How would Alexandria prepare? What was the plan?

And so it goes. For many of us, we are cruising through our day-to-day, mundane lives. We're reasonably happy. We're mostly safe. We have fallen into a routine that we fool ourselves into thinking will go on forever. Or at least for a while, and we'll worry about the after when we get there.

But lurking are the walkers. Just beyond our walls in the quarry. Danger, heartbreak, cracks in the armor. Things that can bring the walls come crashing in. Walkers named...

  • Cancer
  • Greed
  • Accidents
  • Selfishness
  • Hatred
  • Heart disease
  • Resentment
  • Hurricanes
  • Lust
  • Death of loved ones
  • Earthquakes
  • Sexual permissiveness
  • Laziness
  • Anger
  • Tornadoes
  • ..................................
And on and on and on.

Lurking in the quarry, waiting for an opening.

Rick and the residents of Alexandria have a plan. What is your plan?

My only plan, my only hope, for dealing with the hundreds of manifestations of death waiting to devour me is this: Trust in the God of the universe, and put all my hope in the saving death and resurrection of his Son. He is sovereign over the world and over all the forces of sin, evil, and destruction that want to take me down. He won't keep me from having to face them. But his power will bring me through them.

How about you? You have a quarry full of walkers too; I know you do. Please don't just whistle in the dark, pretending they'll never come out. Oh, they will. And what will you do?

Monday, October 12, 2015

You downloaded WHAT?!

The other day I downloaded a new book for my Kindle.

Yeah, it's the book pictured here. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller.

Say whaaaat?!

Why in the world would I want to read that? Not married. Never been married. Not sure that God has marriage in my future.

But Keller is one of my favorite authors and the premise of this new book grabbed me. You see, whether I get married or not, I firmly believe that the Scriptures portray the union of a man and a woman as the predominant picture of God's relationship with his people.

We have become very cynical about marriage in our culture. The divorce rate...the trend of so many couples living together without the vows...the growing belief (now institutionalized by our government) that a person is free to define marriage however he wants - in so many ways we have let go of the original intent when marriage was ordained by God.

In Genesis it says that a man should leave his father and mother, hold fast to his wife, and they should become one flesh. This was the first picture of how Jesus would leave his father, hold fast to his people the church, and make us all one flesh with him - the body of Christ.

All through the Bible we see God portrayed as the bridegroom and his people as the bride, right up to the culmination of history in Revelation 21. I firmly believe this, as stated beautifully by author G.K. Beale:
As husbands unconditionally love their wives and as wives respond to this liven a faithful manner, they are actors on a redemptive- historical stage performing a play before the onlooking audience of the world. As husbands and wives perform their roles on this stage in the way God has designed, their roles are an object lesson to the watching world that Christ has left his Father to love and become one with his bride, and that those who respond in faith can become part of this corporate bride.
What a beautiful way for a family to tell the story of Jesus.

I definitely look forward to Chapter 7, "Singleness and Marriage." Keller definitely intends for we singles to be part of his audience and I know he'll have a lot to say for me. But even if that chapter were not included, I'd read it anyway. Why? I love the picture of Christ and the church that will be portrayed. It's a portrait of his love for me. And it's a foreshadowing of eternity with our Bridegroom.

 Let's read....

Friday, October 9, 2015

He's baaaa-aaack

So yesterday I got a Facebook message from a friend. It was short and to the point:

"Is the blog dead?"

Yeah, I can see why he asked. I last posted in July, a summary of our latest Visiting Orphans trip to Ethiopia. Over the past five years I've averaged 5-10 posts a month, and suddenly...nothing.

I'm not sure exactly why. I have been learning amazing things through reading the Scriptures, life experiences, and seeing the hand of God in media (movies, TV, etc.). All things that I like to write about. But for some reason, lately I've gotten this nagging feeling every time I started to write: Am I really saying anything new? Am I starting to repeat myself? Is the blogging avenue played out for me?

Let me just say, no. I don't believe that. I can't believe that. I may be more selective about what I write, how often I write, and whether it's fresh. But I'm ready to get back in the game.

So if ever been a regular and you've let your link to this site slide to the bottom of your reading list, maybe try to get back in the habit of checking for posts. I can't promise I'll have anything interesting to say...but then I've never promised that.

But maybe, just maybe, you'll find a nugget worth thinking about. Or laughing at. Or crying about.

Let's give it another shot.