Archives November 2023

What We Deserve?

man with beard wearing brown headscarf

Some say it’s a blessing we don’t receive what we deserve. We don’t get what we’ve earned, so to speak. In Romans, the scriptures tell us, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23)

We have earned death or separation from God, but by obedience to God, we are blessed with salvation. A young girl asks a question in a short video.

“Jeremiah,” she says, “Can I ask you a question?”

“Yes, you may,” he says.

“Why would a loving God send someone to hell?”

“God isn’t sending anyone to hell. Hell was designed for the devil and his followers. When we sin we are already going to hell of our own choice. Because Jesus died on the cross, we have a choice. We can choose to follow Jesus and have salvation, or we can continue on our original path and choose hell. God doesn’t send us there.”

A few years back when a major city (I’ve forgotten which one, maybe Cincinnati?) was defaulting on some debt, someone, a clever citizen, came out with T-shirts with the logo on it—“De fault is not mine”.

It was funny at the time and I have used the phrase many times since, usually when I’m in denial, I often use another play on words, as in “I am in De Nile”.

In the end, however, none of our clever wordplays will cover the sad truth. We can be in denial all we want, but as the young man above, Jeremiah, told his questioner, we are still choosing where we are going to end up. No matter if we like it or not, the fault will be our own.

“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15)

Just Watching

yellow and purple clouds

There are days when I’m just as they say, ‘gobsmacked.” I watch people doing the most self-defeating things and I wonder how they can persevere doing the same things that have caused them problems.

As someone wiser than I has said, “The meaning of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting to get a different outcome.”

I can understand. I watched as a man who had recently become blind was learning how to live his new life. He was preparing his table before he brought his food for his meal. It could have looked heartless, but I laughed… well, I snickered at least.

On his table sat a pile of books. In clearing the books from the table he began to place them on the floor. The person helping stopped him. There were several ‘new rules’ he needed to learn of his reality. But as I watched I recognized how this would have been what he had done in the before days, and this would be utterly and absolutely wrong in his new life.

It wasn’t funny, except it was so human. We all share common foibles. Putting a pile of books on the floor whether you are sighted or not isn’t a good idea, but how much worse when you are blind?

There are more ways than one to be blind. The Lord has said, There are none so blind as those who will not see—well, he should have said it, but here is what he did say:

“And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” (John 9:39)

And really those who refuse to see, who don’t want to see, won’t see.

So, what do you know? What do you see? Have you ever considered what the world would be like if reduced to its elemental base? We live in a world that runs on perceived wealth and there are a number of those forms of wealth.

“But ten men were found among them that said unto Ishmael, Slay us not: for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey. So he forbare, and slew them not among their brethren.” (Jeremiah 41:8)

That elemental form of wealth saved more than one life.

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8)

Ah, yes, consider Job: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” (Job 1:1)

“His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.” (Job 1:3)

Job had wealth and honor, yet Job’s true wealth lay in his love of God.

The book of Job deals with suffering but in many ways even after reading this book we aren’t any closer to understanding suffering, either the why or how of it.

“It’s funny how we outgrow what we once thought we couldn’t live without, and then we fall in love with what we didn’t even know we wanted. Life keeps leading us on journeys we would never go on if it were up to us. Don’t be afraid. Have faith. Find the lessons. Trust the journey.” Peace, Love and Smiles~

I don’t say “Trust the journey,” it comes down to a trust in God.

Most of us want to be in control. When I started out on my journey I had it all figured out. However, just like the meme says God kept leading me on a journey I never would have gone on. What I had figured I wanted wasn’t the journey I had. And as the Apostle Paul said, I am what I am by the grace of God.

“Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.”(Job 42:1-3)

By God’s Grace

“He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock…” Luke 6:48

green grass field near mountain

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Most of us know that grace is unmerited favor, and God’s grace is God’s benevolent unmerited favor. Another quote is, “But by the grace of God, there go I.” How many times have we seen people suffering from their foolish decisions, and realized that we have made unwise decisions as well?

My father-in-law passed away on Father’s Day twelve years ago. My husband, at the time of his father’s passing, wrote a poignant memory in his journal.

We have been adult children for a long time now and, thankfully, as an adult child, things that were—have become more clear.

At some point, if you actually grow up and become a thoughtful adult, you realize your parents were young people at one time. That time usually encompasses when you were children.

So, technically, you all grew up (and grew older) together. When we ponder on that we should realize many things. When I open that box, my mind is like a Pandora’s dream or nightmare and creatures from the mind fly or float out.

If you back up in history in my mind at least, parents parented the way they had been raised. Historically, there probably were early Doctor Spocks and their theories in other generations, we just aren’t aware of them.

Yet, most advice probably did come from old wives, doctors, and such. I’m not researching just guessing.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.” Proverbs 25:11-12  “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28

I have seen several articles lately on “gentle parenting.” They may also use the term “compassionate parenting”. Whichever term used I haven’t figured out what they are selling yet. This technique does not use spanking or time outs. As of yet, I have not figured what they use for discipline, but in the art of nurturing our children discipline is a necessary tool.

Are there things I would do differently in raising and disciplining of our children? Of course there are. The scriptures above hint of a gentle discipline, but there are other references to a bit more direct punishment—not that a parent would want to literally ‘beat’ a child, yet there is reference to spanking.

However, I’m sure when my not so adorable cousin Cathy threw at me the one egg the hens had laid that day and when it hit my shoulder and I became incensed. And as I kicked the tire on our Buick in anger, and my Grandfather grabbed and set me forcibly on the chair outside.

Then he went and took care of my cousin. I don’t know what went on between those two but she never did that to any of us again. I also know when my Grandfather got angry and when he spoke… we all listened. And as the old man says, “Sometimes you’ve got to get their attention afore you can talk to ‘em.”

I don’t endorse the cry method that Spock recommends for babies. There are too many variables. A baby could be sick, or could have something wrong. Crying is their way of communicating. However, until there is an understanding about the ‘gentle parenting’ discipline and what they are advocating I wouldn’t endorse that either.

Back in the day when my children were growing up, the spanking is bad theory was popular. Where did that lead? I’m not sure it led anywhere good. That era didn’t have discipline and was more violent than previous generations.

As someone confided to me, “For all their talk, why is it that our generation that was spanked when needed, was less violent than the current one?”

Children are small drops of humanity needing to be molded and nurtured into responsible adults. Some children only need words as a ‘reprover’, but as Proverbs 25:28 says, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

I tend to believe children arrive with a program, not a blank sheet. They still need nurtured and mentored in order to navigate the world. They need the guidance to know how to use their talents. Not just understanding manners but also knowing right and wrong, the difference between good and evil, and the relationship of morals.

“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful, and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” Brooke Hampton

“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6

This scripture isn’t referencing speaking to children but it is a good thing to remember to treat others with kindness. At one time I had a T shirt with the words, “Children are People Too” on it.

Balance. As a Christian there were some things we deemed untenable. We didn’t go down to the local swimming pool put on our little suit and play in the water as if it were normal to wear our underwear in public.

The object here was to have fun and cool off in the hot summer. Our children on summer afternoons would often have water fights or splash in the creek. It was easy to fill up the old washing machine rinse tubs, or just run water from the hose to fill their buckets and voila! Throw them at one another. We found things to offshoot things we didn’t do.

Adults look at life as a race to be run. Daily chores, jobs, running errands— living life is important and as we jog through our life doing our everyday necessities we drag along those rascally kids. Then one day we wake up and the rascally kids are grown and gone and we realize the important thing in life was raising the kids and they are flat gone—for better or worse they are gone.

Why do we spend so much time on the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up? When we are children only one in ten of us or maybe one in a hundred know what that means.

What should we be asking or what should we plant as goals? I want to grow up to be a responsible, good, honest person. In order to do that I need to believe and trust in (Jehovah) God, because… and teach children why that’s important.

I submit that teaching people the heart issues is the important thing, not just children but especially children. Why do young men not aspire to be good people, good husbands and fathers? Why are we not encouraging our daughters to be good people, good homemakers, wives, and mothers?

If we aren’t right with God all of our life will be wrong. What we do with the rest of our time will be skewed and out of kilter. All of us need to build on the right foundation.

“He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” (Luke 6:48)

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45)