Monday, August 29, 2011

Math Lesson

Some will not read this because of the title. I myself would be tempted to skip it for that very reason! If you know me, you know I do not like math. The mere mention of math assaults my brain. Practicing math = torture! I avoid anything that smells of mathematics.

In math, as in all subjects, the best teachers are ones who introduce you to a concept and then present the opportunity to work it out. Remember those worksheets? (Ugh.) I never would have learned my multiplication tables if I had not been given immediate exercises to complete. (And more for homework? Agony! Affliction! )

God is an excellent teacher. In Sunday School last week, we explored the story of the good Samaritan, which Jesus told to illustrate the point that all peoples are our neighbors. True to form, God gave me an opportunity this week to work it out through personal experience. (Okay, Holy Spirit, as long as there is no math involved!)

The Samaritan came across a man in need. Others passed by the man, but the Samaritan stopped to assist.

Friday, I came across a man in need. Others passed by, and I nearly did, too. I had good reasons: 1) I was on the phone with my daughter who was asking for advice. 2) I had a trunk full of groceries, some perishable. 3) I know little about cars. 4) I was a woman, alone, and as such, stopping to help a man is not usually considered advisable.

The young Asian man stood to the side of the disabled vehicle. Something about the way he stood, helpless and distraught, sliced the excuses right out of my heart. The mother in me (whose own son had been a lone student in Japan for a year, beyond my reach or help) applied the brakes and turned into an adjacent parking lot.

He was from China, an exchange student at the nearby college (ironically the same university my son had attended), and had been in the States only two weeks. The car belonged to another Chinese student, who was walking to a nearby store to purchase jumper cables. He was beyond grateful that someone had stopped to check on him. I stood alongside, unable to offer anything but companionship, wondering why on earth God would have prompted little ol’ automotively-incompetent me to stop. And then something happened. God used me to multiply His favor.

Another stopped. A chivalrous man had seen me next to the car and assumed I was the owner. He stopped to help a woman, not a young man. Turns out it was his day off. His regular job? A mechanic for AAA.

The mechanic pulled out a few tools and brushed the battery terminals. The car started. With their permission, I followed them home just in case the car died again. Both students were touched, and I did not receive the traditional Chinese bow but warm American hugs instead.

How beautifully God works! How perfectly and precisely! And always with a little humor for my benefit: the student was a math major. I love God.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sincerely Wrong

I watched a documentary last night about a man who claims to be the Second Coming of Christ. I was shocked by his doctrine, shocked by his tattoo (666!), shocked at his followers.

Then I went to sleep and had nightmares!

There are thousands who follow this false prophet. They are devoted, excited, passionate, sincere. Unfortunately, they are sincerely wrong.

I am reminded of a young man who took a summer job on a farm. The new hire was shown the difference between the weeds and the good plants and sent off to hoe a row. He threw himself into the task, worked hard, and was proud of the results of his labor. Several hours later, the foreman discovered the earnest young man had misunderstood the instructions. Hundreds of tomato plants lay decimated, surrounded by upright weeds. Sincere? Yes. Wrong? Yes.

What happens when instructions are misunderstood?

What if this new farmer had never been corrected? He could had gone home and begun to teach others what he believed! How many could have been misled? Sincere, yet wrong.

The man in the documentary is proud of his self-taught theology. He had a vision in which angels told him he was Jesus. He proceeded to interpret the New Testament as if he were the Second Coming, believing he had defeated Satan, that sin was no more.

His followers follow him, not the Bible.

The blind leads the blind. The weeds grow.

Sincere, yet wrong.

You will recognize his followers easily. They proudly have 666 tattooed on their arms. They even have a photo blog: newly-inked followers stand in front of his image and emulate his eerie, two-fingers-to-the-forehead salute.

The documentary had footage of children copying the gesture. The children are taught that this man is God. One child said his parents “party” (and we're not talking cake and balloons here) because “God does.” After all, there is no sin, right? Sincere. Wrong.

I don’t know what to do other than to pray and ask you to do the same. And please read and study your Bible. Don’t rely on a person to tell you what is truth. Learn from the Creator what is a weed and what is not. Check claims against scripture. Do not be deceived, do not be swayed. These people are out there, and with them others who are blindly led by man. Sincere. Wrong.

I know. As the old song goes, I once was blind but now I see.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Just Shoot Me

Have you ever just thrown your hands up in despair and resignation, exhausted from attacking every angle of a problem so that you finally just give up? Just shoot me. I'm done.

I've been there more times than I care to admit.

When we are in that headlong rush, we have a determined, blind/deaf focus. It's only when we stop that we can see and hear beyond our blinders. Then, something amazing can happen.

We remember that there is One who can not only see beyond our limitations, but is also totally knowledgable, completely powerful and absolutely merciful.

God answers, God solves, God grants.

Well, amen!

It isn't always immediate. It isn't always what we thought we wanted. But if God is omniscient like we believe He is, then it is always what is best for us. He's our parent. You know what that's like. Do you give your child three pounds of fudge just because she wants it? What if it's almost dinnertime? What if she's diabetic? What if she's allergic to chocolate? She might not know any of those conditions, but you do. Same goes for God. He knows things that we do not.

Just as you are more interested in your child's health and future than her momentary "happiness", He isn't as interested in your happiness as much as He is in your holiness. Not that He doesn't want you to be happy. It's just way more important that you be on the right path, the one He has laid out for you. Because, remember, He knows things that you do not.

So how do you get there?

That's the primary question I have tried to answer in "Just Shoot Me", the new book that will be hitting the bookshelves in May. Here's an excerpt from Chapter 6:

What good does it do to ask God for direction if you are not going to wait long enough to hear His answer? That’s like placing your order at St. Arbucks and then walking out the door before the barista can even chai your latte. Nonsensical, it is. (Repeat previous sentence in your best Yoda imitation.)

Psalm 5:3 (NIV) says, “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

Oh, how I hate to wait! Patience, thou art not one of my natural virtues.

I once asked God for patience. He gave me children instead. That’s because God teaches patience, He does not simply give it. Humility comes the same way. Word to the wise.

I, the OCD-gifted multi-tasker, struggle with this simple order to wait. Can’t we walk and talk?

God does not shout. He does not struggle for attention. He is the teacher who stands and waits. What is that old saying? When the student is ready, the teacher appears. He does not raise His voice over the din, but gives His lessons in near-whispers. The student must lean close.

My class has only one student (moi!), but she has more noise and commotion in her head than 15 six-year-olds at Chuck E. Cheese.

I wander around my mind-field, searching for the day’s target. God, is this the place you want me today? Is it here? Do I write today? Do I work on illustrations? Do I pray? Do I? Do I? Are we there yet?

Listen. Await instruction.

I asked God about why He makes me wait for His voice.

He answered in a dream...

Okay, does that grab your attention? (smile)

Send for your copy: details in the right hand column. Yep. Right there.

What are you waiting for? Onward, friend!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Singing with all my heart

I'm home this Sunday morning, watching our church service online. Right now, the vocal team is singing beautiful songs of grace and surrender and the overwhelming love of God for us.

As much as I want to join in with song, tonsillitis does not allow singing, at least not on-pitch or without copious coughing. So I sit here, singing in my heart... "I'm lost without You!"

Thank you God, for the technology that allows me to view the worship and for the ability of my heart to sing without my voice!