Sunday, July 31, 2005

How do you do?

At this site (, I made a score of 94. How did you do?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Things that bother me. Things that make me happy.

Things that bother me:
- Gum on the sidewalk, when I step in it with a decent pair of shoes. Hot days make it worse.
- Stopping at a stoplight and noticing great breaking surf-waves of cigarette butts at the curb.
- Sub-woofers in the car behind me that ruin my medieval music. (This can be mitigated however, by seeing the woofer-car's windows jiggle and thinking about the listener's eardrums scarring and inner ear hair cells dying like mad.)
-Having housework to do when there is a book I've wanted to read for months sitting in the family room, waiting, calling...
- Having to not eat the M&M's in the closet for my daughter's birthday party. Yes, I ate some, but I had to stop, and that bothers me.
- When a plant designated by my gardening books as invasive dies. I was hoping that that lamium would be invasive, that's why I planted it.

Things that make me happy:
- When the cat climbs onto the back of my chair, leans against me, and starts to purr when I talk to him.
- Knowing there's Gretchen's fabulous Key Lime cheesecake in the fridge...such a wise choice by my daughter for her birthday!
-Having an entire afternoon with no one to talk to and nothing to do but read the book I've been wanting to read for months.
- Listening to a new CD by the Chieftans or medieval or Renaissance-era music.
-Leftover M&m's. Yes, sometimes it happens.
- All of the above happening at the same time.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Resurrected World for Resurrected Bodies

In his online article (, Derek Thomas writes:

"Peter’s words [2Peter 3:12] do not imply the complete destruction of this world, but its transformation through purging — the removal of all that is corrupt so that what remains is holy — have entertained a far more positive view of our involvement in this world as well as suggesting the shape of the world to come. ...If, as Calvin suggested, fallen man’s reflection of the imago dei is akin to ruined castles which only faintly reflect their former glory, the new heavens and new earth will beautify what can be faintly glimpsed even now in this world order.
In order to picture this in our minds we have to do several things: we must try and eradicate what sin has distorted..."

About a year or so ago, I got to thinking hard about what the new Heaven and new Earth will look like. It's confusing to think of everything getting destroyed and something entirely new and different getting made. But if you think about it, death and decay must be a picture of what will happen to the earth. God is not unable to make new, glorified bodies for us out of the old stuff that was once the atoms and molecules that made up the earth. Though billions of bodies have been laid to rest and are physically no more (or have been totally destroyed in other, more violent ways), what limits God from using the 'stuff' that was corruptible, redeemed, inspired by His Spirit, and glorified...I don't know how, but according to His promise, to make new glorified bodies? Didn't Christ have a material body on the Mount of Transfiguration? As Mr. Thomas points out, didn't He eat fish after the Resurrection?

Thomas, in the above paragraph, speaks of what the world could become. This has also long been a theme of thought and wonderment to me. For example, imagine a tree. Now, we all know that trees have bark to protect the xylem, and cuticles on their leaves to prevent loss of water and for UV protection, among other things (if I understand my husband correctly). What if it were not possible for the xylem to be damaged? What if there were no harmful bugs to damage the tree, to bore through it: What if the Light were not harmful, but only purely beneficial? Would trees still have bark? Would they still have leaf cuticles? There would not even be a medicinal need for these things. If they remained, their purpose would of course to make the tree a delight to us and a glory to God. What will spiders be like? Will they be (shudder) impossibly adorable? Maybe they will sing incredible songs of praise? And if it has no defense for an non-existent threat, what will the rest of Nature look like? What else can claws, spines and fangs be used for?...will turtles be naked? Will they dance?

The consequence of the Fall on Nature must have been a crushing devastation to Adam and Eve. But, as I am talking like a child, perhaps it would be prudent to shut up about the subject.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Impressive People II

Here's another hymn that I sang this week which brought to mind another dear sister of mine. This hymn comes almost directly from Isaiah 41. You know it: "How Firm a Foundation"...why not sing it now?:

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

This hymn, as is the Scripture from which it comes, jam-packed with promises! And I do love those promises which God has given us. My sister Cindy, lives these promises, and her life shows that she believes God. Cindy suffers from Dercum's disease, which is a rare disease that afflicts nerve endings with lipoma-type tumors. These tumors can be removed, but they grow back, so surgery is not a permanent solution. There is no known cure. In the meantime, I'm sure anyone can imagine how painful such tumors are. No position is comfortable, not lying down, nor standing, nor sitting. Constant pain is a drain on energy, so she arranges her day according to how much evergy is available to her, which is severely limited because sleep is so hampered.

Cindy also suffers from cellulitis, which is a condition in which cells become inflamed and infected by staph (which is present in everyone's skin tissue, but her immune system is impaired so that she is unable to effectively ward it off.) Much of the time she is on antibiotics, and is constantly on the alert for flare-ups, which rob her of still more energy and make her feverish. Often she has had to be in the hospital as a result. One particularly nasty consequence of her cellulitis is that doctors have to have very serious reasons to do any kind of surgery on Cindy...which limits surgery on those lipomas I mentioned.

As if that were not enough, Cindy also recently discovered that she has a blockage in a major artery. Is it possible to limit her activity any more? Now she must take cholesterol drugs, and struggle with water-walking in order to lose some weight to take strain off her heart.

Yet, the Lord is so present, so near. Cindy has this amazing Spirit within her that enables her not only to not complain about all these limitations, but to give love and support to those around her. She is a constant encouragement to her immediate and extended family (which is large) and spends time making these amazing little clay figurines that just reek of her joy in the little delights of life like carousels and beloved pets and log cabins. She gives them away to avid collectors among her family and friends. Not only that, she's always praying for her friends and her family, several of whom have their own serious struggles. Certainly Cindy prays for healing, but her submission to God's good and sanctifying will is such a sweet aroma in the Kingdom that hardly anyone can keep from inhaling it, whether they are in the Kingdom or not. How evident it is that the King of Love has set His banner over Cindy, and will never, no never, no never forsake.

Don't think that Cindy is without any blessing in this world. Like Joseph, who was blessed even in prison, so is Cindy blessed in her prison. She has a passel of sisters who stick to her like glue, and nieces and nephews and great-nieces and nephews on top of an amazing husband and son, not one of whom doesn't love and serve Cindy whenever they get a chance. That's not even including her church! Heaven will look like this in some incomprehensible way, but, oh, what joy when the Spirit makes His people look like this here.

I guess the neatest thing about Cindy, to me, is that she knows she is going to be healed, and that God will make good on all His promises for her future. God says that He makes good on our cheerful suffering according to His will. There will be payback, except that it will be way beyond mere healing-- it will be nothing less than glory, and that glory will be His and ours together at last. I can hardly wait, can you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time a ditzy lady neamed Eleanor got a new car. It was her first new car, a '95 Ford Taurus wagon; she got to decide what to put on it (within reason, said her husband, who had more sense than she, generally), and it was new because they both decided that it was going to be babied until it fell apart. It was a great car: it seated lots of children at once, and one could fit the whole extended family into it. It had a low profile so that it wouldn't get blown all over the flat Midwestern roads like a minivan. She used it for carpooling, and it was also used for her first road trip across the country.

Eleanor took very good care of that car. She salved off road tar from its white finish, patched tiny nicks in the paint, got the oil changed religiously and the tires rotated regularly. She brought it in on schedule for all its checkups, and never, ever gunned the engine out of stoplights. All the fender-benders she ever had were minor ones, and none were her fault. Having low deductible ensured that the car would be speedily fixed, which it was. Having heard all those stories about million-mile cars, she had big plans for this one. Hadn't she seen classic cars on the road? Those people took great care of their cars, and so would she.

Each year the value of the car went down, but that was OK. She figured that fixing this car would always be cheaper than a new one, even used. The car hit 90K, then 100k, then 110K. Eleanor was pleased.

One day, right around 117K (the tires were due to be rotated in about 400 more miles) she noticed that the car was knocking a bit more than usual going up a hill. Checking the engine temperature, she saw to her alarm that the engine was beginning to overheat. Fortunately she was near home, so she drove carefully and put it away. She told her husband about it and he said a valve in the radiator likely needed replacing. So she made an appointment date with the Ford dealership and headed off there when it arrived. There were one or two other minor problems which she would fix at the same time, like a wierded out speedometer, which had been replaced before, expensively.

The repairman called that afternoon. She pretty much needed a new engine: The head gasket needed to be replaced, the radiator was cracked, the oil pan was rusted and the speedometer would cost over $700 to fix. Total cost: over $2500. Market value of car: $2300.

Eleanor has learned a lesson: Taking care of a car does not mean that expensive parts won't wear out because their quality is poor to begin with. The body and maintanence was nearly perfect. was a Ford.

OK, she said, stiffening the old upper lip, we'll buy a used car. That's what Click and Clack say you should do. We'll buy a used Toyota, and it will be a smaller car, and we'll save money on gas. But when they researched the matter, they found that small used Toyotas are very nearly as expensive as new ones. In the meantime, they began to notice that their other car, which was a year older and still doing very nicely with almost as many miles on it, was a Toyota.

So they got a new Toyota Matrix. And they hope the next one to learn from this story will be Ford.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

More thoughts on Suffering.

Then Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper. Genesis 39:20b-23

I seem to think on this subject alot, but I think it's more about preparing myself than it is about having a habit of thinking like a pessimist-- a habit, incidentally, that I am endeavoring to break.

I find it interesting and instructive to note here that it is possible that while one is going through suffering, one one can at the same time experience blessing in other arenas. For one thing, Joseph was protected from Potiphar's wife just by being in jail. For another thing, his integrity made him a trustworthy standout, and whatever he did while he was there prospered. He may have been in prison, but the Lord made sure he had a chance to shine there and catch the eye of important people. In fact, if Joseph had not gone to prison, it's likely that he would not have eventually found himself in a position to save Israel...and Egypt, while he was at it.

This isn't a bad thing to remember when we remember those who are suffering in our prayers. We can still ask God to bless them in other ways, and remember that there is quite possibly more going on than the saving of one skin.

The Truth

"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

"As Christians, we are called to stand firmly in truth, yet it is not our own conceptualised reality in which we are to establish ourselves. Rather, we are called to establish ourselves in the reality that God Almighty has set forth." -Burk Parsons

Some things are true of everyone. It is not possible to escape the fact that all humans need food, drink, and air in order to survive. When I was a college student in the 1970's, it struck me that life is full of universal truths. I was so hungry for the truth, something that would stand and never, ever change, no matter what time you lived in or where, or who you were. I became almost obsessively drawn to the idea that there had to be spiritual truths as well as physical ones: Either God was real or He was not. Either Jesus was truly God, or He was not. And if He was, either something was required of me, or it was not. How could I live my life without having something outside of myself to build upon that would be the foundation of everything I did? If I did not have a foundation, how could anything at all that I could ever accomplish ever last? First things first, said I to myself, find out what the First Truth is, then get on with building my life on that. So God drew me to Himself (little did I know Who was feeding me these thoughts!) by posing the First Question in my soul.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Someday I'll understand this.

You mean I'm more beautifully clothed than these?? Help me to get this, Lord!

The Hope that I Have

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you... I Peter 3:15a

One thing I've overlooked until now in this passage is that it takes place in the context of suffering. At this writing I feel abundantly, even uncomfortably blessed. I am praying for grace in time of need, because I know that a needy time will again appear. May God increase grace in me, that I may endure any suffering with such a steadfast hope as to attract attention to the glory of God.

O God, make me strong while I have abundance. Let me not neglect the feeding of my soul, and the service of others. Help me to not just stop altogether and enjoy the view from this place. I do want to stop from time to time, but I don't want to stay in this place for too long; I don't want to make treasures of the things of this world, wonderful as they are. Help me to give thanks and praise for this place, but "to press on to the goal to win the prize for which Gd has called me Heavenward in CHrist Jesus".

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Dreams and Visions

Acts 2:17 " 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

In Middle Eastern culture in the OT, dreams were a big deal. You paid attention to your dreams. The same is true today in that region. I have a friend from Iran who remembers his dreams and tries to interpret them, and this, he tells us, is common. We aren't talking about visions here, which are something else entirely. Why don't Christians pay more attention to their dreams? Are we afraid of Freud? Are we too scientific? Do we say that we have the Scriptures and no longer "need" dreams? If I have a dream with strong spiritual content (and both I and my husband have) how much attention should I pay to it? Whom should one tell their dreams? Why am I reticent to share my dreams?

I remember reading somewhere that dreams are for people who are not quite as mature in the Lord, and that the Lord uses dreams in less mature Christians because they are more likely to get that young Christian's attention, while the more mature Christian lays great store by Scripture alone and knows his Master's voice in it better than in nay other way. But I'm not so sure that that is an idea borne out by the example of Scripture.

Are dreams a help or a hindrance to the Body today?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Still getting my head together over jet lag.

Here's a promise that bears some thinking on.

"For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father's glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done." Matthew 16:27

The natural reaction to this is to get busy doing something "important". I think the whole thing is much simpler than that. I think it's just to be faithful to do the task which is presently at hand. Perhaps that means that I ought to spend less time in front of the computer and more time at the ironing board. If all my thoughts are taken captive, my actions ought to follow. But perhaps my time is best spent at this particular moment reminding myself of His presence in my life, and His right to how it is spent. Sometimes what He wants me to do happens to be what I also want to do. Doing it here keeps me accountable: is this a rewardable activity on which to be spending part of my threescore and ten? Do I really have time for this? Does it make a difference in your day to read anything here? But even if no one reads this, I will have spoken good things to myself.

Rampant Paganism

One of the things we discovered about eminently discoverable Hawai'i is that it is a very spiritual place. Spiritual like Ephesus, that is. The Hawaiians are a very New-Agey bunch, and their islands are full of "sacred" places and objects which you can't miss because they are all marked with signs so that you will show respect for them. These include sacred trees, rocks, and the whole notion of Pele, the volcano goddess of the Hawaiian islands. We frequently saw platforms of lashed-together poles on which offerings had been placed-- fruits and flowers, as far as we could see. We read articles about people finding 'spiritual fulfillment' in the old religions of Hawai'i.

We attended church at Berean Bible Church in Hilo, where we heard a church planter preach (in the absence of the senior pastor due to illness). Afterward, we asked him what the greatest problem of church planting was in Hawai'i. His reply was that there is "rampant paganism" everywhere, and it is nearly impossible to get people there interested in Jesus Christ. I gathered that pretty much anything goes in Hawai'i, but Pele is certainly big, and folk there take her very seriously too. As time went by and we read a bit more about spirituality on Hawai'i, it became evident to us that Pele is real, but she is no 'goddess'. Pele is a demon, one that enjoys being treated with respect and cherished as a symbol of the Hawaiian people, who seem to enjoy being enslaved to her. Some disasters have apparently been averted because of these people making timely offerings during eruptions.

Well, it's understandable, I suppose. There's no place one can go on the Big Island where one is not acutely aware that volcanic activity is at work and imminent at any time and in any place. They date the flows there with signs, even. The earth splits apart regularly and things get wiped out. There is no volcano insurance. If your multimillion dollar resort burns, it burns...too bad, so sad. And if a volcano doesn't get you, a tsunami will. These have hit the Big Island no less than 13 times in the past century. Pele's sister is the sea-goddess. Naturally, a people on a capricious, dangerous island will worship a capricious and dangerous demon-goddess. You can't take a piece of lava off the island, they say, or Pele will have her revenge. If you get off the island with one, and you start having bad luck, you can mail it back to a certain place on the island and they will make appeal to Pele for you. Satan is only too happy to comply with our fearful desires.

Even the National Park Service seems to endorse this stuff, and the visitors' center for Mauna Kea Observatory was not about to pooh-pooh it either. As for me, I sang the doxology in the throat of a fuming volcanic crater. So there.

I did have a bit of fun with it though, after all. This is a picture of me creating a small "Zen garden" on a black-sand beach. Afterwards I sat about 15 feet away to enjoy being with Rich. As I sat there I noticed that people would walk by thoughtfully, almost reverently, considering the 'meaning' of my 'Zen garden'. Two even stopped seperately to take pictures of it. I declare, I expect that if I had gone back the next day, I might have found an offering left there.

At the same time all this was happening, Rich and I were eating a simple lunch of cheese, apples and bread. Three ducks saw this activity and stepped right up to invite themselves for luncheon. They looked so ridiculous that, added to the silly behaviour over the 'Zen garden', I simply collapsed in such helpless laughter that several people stopped to stare.