Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Sabbath...my observation

It seems that in life lately, namely the life of those in the (a) church, the joy and necessity of a Sabbath has been completely disregarded. In our human effort at wisdom, grace has been cheapened and used to gradually erase even a hint of the day as it was created to be. I am reminded of this often in this age of technology as I read from that ultimate time waster: Facebook. I'm not sure I'm shocked anymore by the 'status updates' devoid of worship on a Sunday, but I'm certainly saddened.

Perhaps for those of us who were raised within the Calvinist Reformed traditions of Sabbath negatives, falling to the other side of the spectrum was akin to a drug addict suddenly being told that cocaine is a good thing. I count myself among those raised in some fairly vague but harsh rules (try not sweating on the Sabbath). While avoiding any form of sweat is rather nonsensical to this mother at this stage in her life, I still fully appreciate the idea of a Sabbath.

As Jesus walked along with his disciples and picked some grain he reminded the Pharisees - those who would have embraced the no sweat rule, among others - that "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). My maturing life has made this fact all the more real as my observations of just what a week entails screams for a Sabbath. Cheapened grace keeps man always moving, always reaching, always doing...cheapened grace forgets the admonition to "Be still."

Cheapened grace becomes an excuse rather than an exaltation. Grace as excuse keeps God's people from His house on the Sabbath. Grace as exaltation makes it difficult to keep God's people from running to His house. Cheapened grace suddenly renders the Sabbath about us...about our sports, our eating preferences, our need for vacation. True grace renders the Sabbath - and all of life - about our Savior.

I need a Sabbath. My spiritual life needs one. My emotional life needs one. My daily grind life needs one. I need the reminder - I need the refocus - I need the slower pace. The Sabbath is one of the very few things in life which none of us should ever need a vacation from.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Mish Mash of Bunnies, Woe, Loneliness & Skinny Vegans

The kale has been chewed up by those cute bunnies I keep saving from the ire of the resident labradoodle. Those bunnies don't know enough to not mess with a (partially) Dutch girl's future meals...kale/potatoes/sausage has been in my food dream world for a while now. Curse those fuzzy bunnies.


Not everyone who cries "woe is me" is really at 'Woe-Level'. Have you ever found yourself disappointed, after helping someone, because you discover that they really didn't need the help? I find myself in this situation every couple of months and I know I really should not feel this way...we each answer for our own actions (or lack thereof), but the dirty sinful nature rears its ugly head. I just hate feeling like someone took advantage of me....I hate it even more so when I realize the person is so self-centered that they haven't a clue. I hate it most that I even think about such things. Get behind me....icky thoughts....

Suffering from foot-in-mouth disease is worse than loneliness. In loneliness one is at least safe from saying the wrong thing at the wrong time (or to the wrong person). Loneliness is not an experience one longs for, but there is some safety in being alone. I loathe and abhor gossip. I try to avoid it at any cost. Yet sometimes I have opened my mouth, said something, and realized that what I said was 'news' to the listener. I hate when I share 'news' that wasn't mine to share. And I don't mean the veiled prayer request gossip type news, but just news in general. I think 'better safe than sorry' is a mantra to live by when it comes to sharing information. And so I think that loneliness, though not longed for, could certainly be treated a bit as a gift.

I just swapped online for a book (paperbackswap.com). The name should not necessarily reflect the contents. The title in this case? Skinny Bitch. Yup. And, no, it's not a diet book for female dogs. This one is touted as a relevant, current diet book for women looking to be, well, skinny (hopefully not bitchy....though when following this book one's mood could easily be classified as such). The authors list as their qualifications being "former Ford models". Really. I mean, such things really beg for me to make so many comments...it's like the ultimate joke set-up. The first chapter was sensical enough. The second chapter re-hashed Fit For Life (anyone remember this one?). By the third chapter the authors wanted us to embrace being vegans. Cough. Sputter.

Know this: I am not a huge meat eater. I DO believe that what we eat tends to determine how sick we are during a year. I DO believe that certain ailments can at least be alleviated by eating or avoiding certain foods. BUT too much of a good thing is......a bad thing. Vegans notoriously get their protein from soy-based items. Too much soy has been linked to breast cancer. I don't say this as the scientist who has done all the research, rather to show that for every good thing there is usually an example of why the good thing isn't so good. Then there's fish oil. When we don't eat it here we take it in capsule form. That's not at all vegan.

Ah - anyway - I was glad I didn't pay for the book and in spite of two "former Ford models" saying it's a good thing, I think I'll wait until they get some M.D.s behind their skinny names before I tout this book as the next best thing to sliced tofu.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

....oh, about a year ago....

About a year ago I.....

- was planning Vacation Bible School for church

This year I.....

- am planning Vacation Bible School for church

About a year ago I.....

- was nervously awaiting the results of the kids' standardized tests

This year I.....

- liberated all of us from the anxiety by skipping the tests

About a year ago I.....

- was planning a (BIG) family reunion in (MY) backyard and going (VERY) insane

This year I.....

- marked the season with the death of one of "the sisters"....one of my Aunts who just was always there along with the other two....sort of one Aunt and two bookend Aunts.....

To everything there is, indeed, a season. Some things stay the same for good purpose. Reaching children should not be a 'numbers game' involving a ratio of non-churched to expense. (But - alas - it often is.) I'm glad some things stay the same.

And some things change because we have a good mind to change them. The liberation and freedom of homeschooling easily lend itself to a year off of standardized testing. Nevermind that in traditional school settings the testing is not an annual occurrence - we homeschooling types are held to higher standards.....mostly by prying eyes and telling comments. Yet a little change does a body good.

Of course all things change not by our will, but by His good will. In fact, 'not a hair can fall from my head' apart from His good pleasure and I find that exceedingly comforting. Not confining. Not restricting. Oh-so-liberating. For if I were in control I shudder to think at the results. And so life changes drastically when family is called Home.....but Home is a most excellent place to be. The very best, in fact.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Context Is King.....when it's convenient

I had a few glimmering rays of wisdom during my time in the religion department at my alma mater. One such glimmer was a now retired professor whose favorite thing to say during freshman religion class was: "Context is king!" We used a book back in the day - one that has since been revised and I cannot speak to the revisions - it was entitled 'How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth' by Fee & Stuart. I remember the class well, perhaps in large part because I did not have to argue much during that semester. (This would not be the case for future religion and philosophy classes at the same institution.)

"Context is king!" is not a bad motto to hold for one's life in most - if not all - arenas. In fact as I type this little ditty I cannot think of a time when "context is king" would not hold itself up to the closest scrutiny. Perhaps only in comedy would context kind of throw a wet blanket on something otherwise quite humorous.

This came to mind specifically this morning when I checked in at various websites reading posts, seeing the pithy Facebook 'status updates' of various "friends", reading in the way that 2009 adults read in the a.m. I chuckled when I saw that a comment I had made on someone's status update for the night before had been deleted. It seems that this "friend" didn't like context too much as I had pointed out that a quote he probably intended to woo his loyal female followers (he's a divorcee) was written by a bisexual author/poet and probably not for the audience my "friend" was intending. It seemed context really didn't work for him and I was summarily deleted.

And as our (cough, sputter) President woos the Muslim peoples of the world into slick submission - to which I say to him "good luck with that" - it seems he has thrown context out the political window yet again (how often can one window be broken?) We have a President reaching out and wooing a group that doesn't want wooing - they want heads on silver platters. Where was this man when planes were driven into towers, as women long before that were subjected to the worst kinds of humiliation (because they had the nerve to be female), as children were raped and beaten? This is the group he wants to now befriend? Radical or no, this is no religion that is a friend to women - a friend to grace - a friend to children - a friend to anyone but brutal, power-hungry men. Context, it seems, is little more than an antiquated afterthought.

So many instances of people forgetting that "context is king". Unlike my freshman year religion class, I could be doing a lot of arguing on a rather routine basis. Yet while context may still be king - sometimes silence is golden.