If You Can’t Delete, Edit

A dear friend recently pointed out to me a glaring blunder in one of my posts. It was the piece on forgiveness, and I had used a quote from a pastor as an example of an admirable attitude toward people who had wronged him. It was a story I had heard long ago (translate: 20 years or more), and what the pastor said was something I had never forgotten. In my eagerness to get to the quote I included information that was not only unnecessary but potentially hurtful. It wasn’t important who the culprits were, and I was wrong to mention them, especially if doing so would distract from the point I was trying to make – and apparently it did, for at least one person. She asked if I could cite the news article, which I found I couldn’t. I couldn’t even tell her in what decade the event occurred. Of course, I realized she was absolutely right, and I tried to rectify the offense by deleting the post before anyone else saw it.  … Or I thought I had deleted it. (I clicked on the icon that looks like a trash can, thinking (silly me) that would dispose of the article.)

Apparently I am even more technologically challenged than I thought. The next day I was notified that several people had “liked” the post, and I saw to my horror that it was back/still up! After trying again without success to delete the post, I have edited the content, taking out the (completely unnecessary) identity of the “sinners.” Of course, that word could apply to all of us, couldn’t it? Not the least of which is yours truly.

For those who “liked” the post earlier, I’m glad you caught the spirit of the message and overlooked my insensitive blunder. And for the friend who gave me another perspective which will undoubtedly help me avoid similar blunders in the future – Thank you!

After all, this blog is not called “Divine Perspective,” but “Seeking Divine Perspective,” and I’m glad for any help my readers can offer. We’re all in this together.

(By the way, can any of you tell me how I do delete a post that’s already up?)

Counting to Ten

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”                       Matthew 5:44-45a

Our dog, Mr. Hollywood, is a good boy … most of the time. But recently we witnessed one of the exceptions before our very eyes and noses. My husband Marty was working in the yard and let Hollywood run loose, figuring he’d stay around as long as Daddy was there.

Somewhere, however, the pooch managed to find a very large, very dead fish. I first realized this when he ran around the corner holding its head in his mouth, or maybe the fish was holding Hollywood’s jaw in its mouth. Either way, I had to pry the thing loose quite painfully while simultaneously gagging and yelling at the dog .

After flinging the head into the water, I took a whiff and realized that Hollywood had been so enchanted by his find that he had also rolled in it, and from later evidence on our living room rug, eaten a large portion of it. After several baths (and I bathed the dog three times, too.), laundering Hollywood’s bed, and some teamwork getting the carpet and floors cleaned and deodorized, Marty commented that the really pathetic thing was that the dog would probably do the same thing all over again if allowed to. Looking over at the very sick pooch, I seriously doubted it. But Marty was right.

Somehow, the next time Marty was working in the yard, Hollywood managed to push open the screen door, and soon we had a repeat performance, albeit with a smaller fish. I was screaming at him in frustration when it occurred to me: I was yelling at a dog for doing what dogs do, and that didn’t make sense.

But how often do we do that – judge and condemn people for doing what comes naturally to them, and sometimes even the only thing they know to do? I am reminded of a story on the news about a church that had been bombed. While the building was still smoking, a reporter stuck a microphone in the pastor’s face and asked him how he felt toward the people who had done this. I will never forget his answer.

When asked “How angry are you with these people?” he calmly replied, “It doesn’t make sense to be angry with them, any more than it makes sense for me to be angry at a blind man for stepping on my foot.”

Are we getting angry at unbelievers for doing what unbelievers do? Is our anger actually hindering our prayers for them?

When we feel like responding in anger, instead of “counting to ten,” think on these ten words:

“Don’t get angry with sinners for doing what sinners do.”

Then, instead of protesting, retaliating, or nursing grudges, let’s pray that their eyes would be opened to see the God who loves them.

After all, a dog may never change, but God is changing people every day.

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for blaming others for not knowing You, when we are the ones who do know you and have failed to show them the way. Keep our hearts and minds pure and full of Your grace, so we can truly make a difference in this lost and dying world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Snow White, a Parable

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”                                             Ecclesiastes 3: 11

When our daughter Kelly was two, we were given the DVD of Disney’s “Snow White.” She loved it, and so did I. Whenever Kelly was watching her favorite story unfold, I could get things done that didn’t require a toddler’s help. I could do the housework guilt-free as I heard her singing along with the dwarves and saw her out of the corner of my eye dancing to the music. But I hadn’t realized the “teachable moment” that was under my nose until one day I was coming through the den with a laundry basket of clothes.

The video was almost over. Prince Charming had awakened Snow White from her death-like coma with a kiss and, after a warm embrace, had whisked her away on his horse to his castle …

… in the sky.

Wha—?! I nearly dropped the basket of clean laundry as I took a second look.

Sure enough, there was Charming’s home – up in the sky! Why I had never noticed that before, I have no idea, but I was suddenly struck with the romantic thought that someday my own Prince – the “Prince of Peace” would whisk His bride away and take her to His home in the sky, and I wondered if this had been what the original Disney producers had had in mind all those years ago. – Why else would they have presented such an obvious picture?

As I sat down to fold the clothes, my mind retraced the story and the events that had led up to that final moment. Snow White had been in what looked like death. At least, it was a deep sleep from which she was not expected to awaken. But her Prince – her bridegroom – had awakened her – resurrected her to be joined with him in marriage.

Just like our Bridegroom will.

But how did she get into that death-like state? You will recall that the wicked queen had disguised herself as a sweet little old woman and had given Snow White a beautiful apple. One bite from that fruit, and Snow was out.

Just like Eve.

In the beginning, the devil, disguising himself as a serpent, had tempted Eve with the forbidden fruit. The moment she ate from it, the curse had come over her, her husband, and all of Mankind, and we have been spiritually dead ever since. At least, until the Bridegroom revives us. We are revived to life the first time when open our eyes to Christ and embrace Him by faith, and later we enter into eternal life at the resurrection.

Did the original writers of fairy tales have Christian theology in mind when they wrote these stories? (More than one fairy tale has the Prince waking up the Princess from a deep sleep.) Or is it just the longing for such a powerful love that fills the hearts of people instinctively – that longing for Someone to rescue us from the spiritual death we have gotten ourselves into?

Prayer: Lord, everywhere we look we see Your fingerprints – from the endless skies, to Your creation on earth, to a children’s fairy tale. Continue to fill our minds with what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. [Philippians 4:8] Continue to remind us of Your love wherever we look, in Jesus’ precious name. Amen

 

Assume You’ll Get Caught

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” Luke 12: 2-3

When I taught English literature, there were two Shakespeare plays that were regulars: Macbeth, which I taught in October, and Romeo and Juliet, which I taught in February. That way the classroom decorations were both seasonal and in keeping with the lessons. (I like to multitask whenever possible.)

In discussing the plots of these two plays, I tried to integrate some life lessons as well. With Macbeth one of the morals of the story was “Assume you’ll get caught,” which frequently became a sort of class mantra for the rest of the school year.

Early on in the play, as we read the scene where Lady Macbeth tries to persuade her reluctant husband to murder the king, Macbeth asks, in essence, “What if we fail?” And Lady Macbeth says, in essence, “We won’t fail.”

I then would ask the class how many crime shows they’ve seen where the sidekick asks, “What if we get caught?” and the leader says confidently, “We won’t get caught!” (The answer is: Pretty much all of them.)

“And what inevitably happens?” I would ask, and the class would reply in unison, “THEY GET CAUGHT.”

Bingo. And of course, as we read the story of Macbeth’s one murder turning into two more to cover it up, then another, then the slaughter of a whole family, we see what is meant by “getting caught,” even if no arrest takes place. Soon the conspirators are drowning in the darkness of their guilt, and the belief that their souls are damned for eternity causes them to lose their minds. Macbeth, having seen the ghost of the friend he murdered, is ruling the kingdom through sheer paranoia, and Lady Macbeth’s tortured conscience has her sleepwalking every night, trying desperately to wash the blood from her hands. By the end of the play, both are as dead as their victims.

When the thought of doing something wrong occurs to us, we have an inner voice telling us, Don’t do it! I would submit to you that this is the still, small voice of God. Even in an unbeliever there is at least the inner voice of fear, asking, What if I get caught? If another inner voice is saying You won’t get caught, that is the voice of the enemy – the father of lies, the same one who told Eve, “You shall not surely die,” and persuaded her to blatantly disobey God. (Genesis 3:4)

Instead of trying to convince yourself that you won’t get caught, assume you’ll get caught. Instead of fantasizing what it would be like to enjoy the ill-gotten gain, picture prison, and what it would be like to lose your family, your reputation, and your freedom. Instead of dreaming of an affair with that person you find so attractive, imagine what it would be like to wake up the next day in the wrong bed, explaining to your spouse where you’ve been, explaining to the kids, the church … You get the idea.

If it’s worth the price you’ll end up paying, go ahead and carry out the plan. But I’m guessing once you’ve assumed you’ll get caught and mentally taken it to its logical conclusion, you’ll decide that the sin is not worth it.

Prayer: Father, You see all and know all. Thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, to guide us into the lives You want for us. Help us to shut out the voices of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and to listen to You only, in Jesus’ name, Amen

Gotcha!

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”                                                           Hebrews 10:24

Michael was an unhappy child. Every time I entered the third grade classroom for French class, as the other children were bouncing with excitement, Michael was sitting silently at his desk with a scowl on his face. He rarely made eye contact, and when he did, I couldn’t help wondering what I had done to make him so angry. It seemed impossible to engage him in the lesson, and since French was considered an “extra” class anyway, I had given up on Michael and tried to focus my attention on the students who wanted to learn. Still, there were days when just seeing him sitting there sulking would frustrate me, no matter how engaged the others were.

One day I was a few minutes early, and as I waited in the hall I read the papers the children had written that had been posted outside the classroom. The holidays were approaching, and each child had written a wish list. Most of them were the usual things – a puppy, a video game, a bike …

But then I saw Michael’s paper, and it brought tears to my eyes. He had just one wish: “I wish I knew where my dad is.” Before I could take in the full significance of it, I was called in to teach.

That night I was awakened from a deep sleep with that piece of paper in my mind’s eye. I tried to pray for Michael, but all I could do was sob. I didn’t know how to pray for him, and as I asked the Lord to help me, the thought occurred to me: “If only he would do something good – just one thing – anything – I’d make a big deal of it and encourage him, instead of just scolding and nagging him.” So, I prayed that I  could catch Michael being good, even though I couldn’t even picture what that might look like.

The next day as I came into the third grade classroom, Michael was sitting sulkily at his desk, as usual, while every other child was running around the room. As soon as they saw “Madame,” they scurried back to their seats and waited to see what fun thing we were going to do that day.

“Today we’re going bowling,” I announced, and all but one child squealed with excitement. I held up a bag of plastic bowling pins. “I’m going to need a helper today…” Immediately hands shot up with little cries of “Oo! Me! Me!

Suddenly the lightbulb came on.

“… and since Michael was the only one who was where he was supposed to be when I came in today, he’s going to be my helper.”

Michael’s head snapped up, a look of utter astonishment on his face. I smiled and held out the bag. He jumped out of his seat and started setting up the bowling pins as I explained to the class that I would say the name of an animal in English. If they could tell me the word in French, they could roll the ball once, and if they could tell me in French what that animal says (For example, a French cow doesn’t say “Moo!’ It says “Meu!”), they would get two rolls.

For the next thirty minutes the students reviewed their farm animals, rolled the ball, and knocked over pins, and my trusty helper set the pins back up with lightning speed.

When we had just a few minutes left, Michael shyly asked if he could give it a try. I said, “Of course!” He got both the animal name and the sound right, and he knocked over all ten pins, as the class cheered. That may have been the first time I ever saw him smile.

I don’t know whether Michael ever got his Christmas wish, but I do know that, at least for this teacher, he was “Teacher’s Pet” for the rest of the year. (I’m pretty sure he learned quite a bit of French, too.)

Prayer: Father, open our eyes to what is admirable and praiseworthy in others, and to acknowledge it openly. Help us to encourage more than criticize. And while we know there are times we must confront what’s wrong, may it be where we have already laid a foundation of respect and appreciation, so that the voice of correction will be heard as the voice of love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Follow Friday!

Sharing some of the “light” I’ve been getting from fellow bloggers. 🙂

David Fischer

Hey peeps! Over on Twitter we call this Follow Friday so in that Spirit I offer this chance for you to leave your blog link in the comments below so others can visit you too!

Only thing I ask is that you reblog this post so we can keep spreading the love! Tomorrow we get back to the business at hand! His Business!! Removing That Veil!!

Love you all,

David

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Not a Trained Monkey

“When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle.”                       – Luke 23:8

I was raised in a Christian home, but like anyone else, I needed to come to a point where I made my parents’ faith my own. For me that happened late one night as I lay awake fretting.

For perhaps the first time in my life I was wondering, What if all this about God isn’t true? What if there is no God? Or what if there is, and He’s mean? Or He doesn’t care?

For the first time in my life I said a prayer that was not someone else’s words that I had memorized. It was, simply, God, if You’re there, give me a sign.

Something happened in that moment, though my memory isn’t clear as to what exactly it was. It may have been something randomly falling off a shelf. I do know that it made a sudden noise, and I was impressed! He answered me! I prayed again, and this time it was not the prayer of a seeker, but that of a spoiled brat: That was cool! Do it again!

Nothing happened.

You might imagine that I was disappointed, but on the contrary, I think God spoke to me more clearly in the “nothing” than in the noise. Though not an audible voice, the message was loud and clear, even to a very young child: You don’t need Me to do it again. You know I’m here. And I did know.

One thing was clear: God was there, and He cared about me enough to reveal Himself to me when I asked. But once I knew He was there, He also made it very clear that He was not there to entertain me. This was not some trained monkey, this was the God of the universe. And what He had for me was way more exciting than a few magic tricks.

Prayer: Lord, we know that we are here to do Your will, not the other way around. Help us to have a divine perspective of Who You are and to live accordingly – totally yielded to You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.