Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Rich Young Ruler, as translated by Jen (a person of undefined age).

Sometimes a story I've read hits me anew.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  This is why we read the Bible over and over again, because it speaks to us differently every time.  Or not.  I've been lax in my reading because I've been bored reading the same thing over and over again.  It bothers me a lot that the God of the universe might bore me.  But I have to say that time away has given me a fresh perspective (especially on what a sinner I am!).

So here's something I read today that I understood differently:

From Luke 18 -

The Rich Young Ruler

18 One day one of the local officials asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?”

RYR:  "Let's just see what this guy thinks of politicians."

19-20 Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God. You know the commandments, don’t you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honor your father and mother.”

Jesus:  "Don't patronize me.  I hate that."

21 He said, “I’ve kept them all for as long as I can remember.”

RYR:  "Hey, I'm a good person." 

22 When Jesus heard that, he said, “Then there’s only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Jesus:  "OK then.  Perhaps you should try doing what "good people" do."

23 This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.

RYR:  "Uh . . . NOT!  Who IS this guy? (rationalizes with reasons times a bazillion).  God does not require me to step outside my comfort zone.  I'm going back to my own church where we believe the BIBLE.  I TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN.  This guy is an extremist.  See, this is why people aren't Christians.  Guys like this ruin it for everyone."

24-25 Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God’s kingdom? I’d say it’s easier to thread a camel through a needle’s eye than get a rich person into God’s kingdom.”

Jesus:  "See this is what I am talking about.  Stuff is hard to give up for the stuff you can't see and possibly may get in the future but there are no guarantees.  Faith, people.  I'm talking about faith."

26 “Then who has any chance at all?” the others asked.
27 “No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”

Jesus:  "So quit trying.  You can't do it on your own anyway.  That's why I'm here."

28 Peter tried to regain some initiative: “We left everything we owned and followed you, didn’t we?”

Peter:  "Well I DID IT.  What is the big deal?  Seriously, people?  Why is this hard?"

29-30 “Yes,” said Jesus, “and you won’t regret it. No one who has sacrificed home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children—whatever—will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!”

Jesus:  "Seriously folks, Peter has a point.  I promise that you actually WILL get all that stuff you can't see.  I guarantee it.  I bet my life on it."

I love it when God translates the scriptures in my head.  Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pretty Is as Pretty Does.

There is an expression down here in the south that I really like.  I had never heard it before I moved here - but it is so fitting.  It goes something like this:

"Well, I don't want to be ugly, but . . . "
"And then she just got ugly with me . . . "
"You don't have to be ugly."
"He was just ugly about it."

The expression essentially means hateful, mean, judgmental -- take your pick of negative words.  "Being ugly" is not a thing you generally want to be, and I don't just mean that you don't want to look ugly in your physical appearance.

I like this so much, because it is just what we become when we are arrogant or spiteful:  ugly.  I am finding this in myself a lot of late.  I've been judgmental, careless in my words and thoughts, and especially careless in my liberal use of the freedom to express my negative opinions.  Of others.  In a word, I've been ugly.

Ask any of my family members and they will tell you that I have a horrendous self-image.  It stems from childhood, has been made slightly better by therapy, is never going to change that much because of my personality - whatever.  Suffice it to say that while I believe that God did not make me defective or wrong, I don't like myself most of the time.  So it doesn't help when I find myself being "ugly."  I really hate myself when I realise that the sin in my life has been allowed to run rampant, and no amount of makeup or losing weight is going to fix it.  The only fixing this kind of ugly is repentance; a humble admission that I have been wrong.  The cleansing grace of my Savior comes in, and although I wouldn't go right to pretty, at least I'm not ugly anymore.

I've also been wondering lately just what we really do look like.  Not the body - but us, the true selves.  Are we just wisps, or thoughts?  Does God look at us and admire the curve of our joy, or the slant of our generosity?  I've always had great hair (it's my one feature that I really do like about myself).  It feels like a crown that I wear.  Is there some spiritual equivalent of this that God has given each of us?  And what is with this whole idea that the physical body tends to look like the outward appearance of the inward soul?

I do believe that God is delighted in the good we reflect back to Him, like He's able to see some tiny aspect of Himself in the mirror of us. And the amazing thing is that He is able to overpower the ugly in us like light extinguishes darkness in a room.  It simply cannot exist in His presence.  So when I am looking at Him, I am not ugly.  I am forgiven and loved.

So while it takes hair color and good conditioner to make my "crown" of hair look good, that's really all smoke and mirrors.  It takes my repentance and humility to make the real me beautiful - just like the Saviour whose love changes me daily.  True beauty really is in the eye -- His eye -- of the Beholder.

Monday, October 8, 2012


This is getting to be something I'm good at in life - moving.  I moved again about a month ago, from Ohio to North Carolina.  I may move across the street in a few weeks.  I will definitely move from North Carolina to Indiana next August.

Moving causes you to travel light.  With every move, I toss off more stuff.  Boxes go to Goodwill and stray, unused things get sent off to the kids in college.  I've learned to pack the books and the fabric into small boxes, because they don't weigh as much.  And although I do take all this stuff with me, I am becoming increasingly aware of how little of it I really need.

I think about death all the time.  Makaela says it makes me morbid - but it's really just like moving.  When I consider the friends I've lost, I don't think of them as "dead."  Or maybe "dead" simply means a change of address in my mind.  Death, for me, has become less about a status of being and more about location.  It is a change in a place of residence.

The thought of moving makes me tired.  Pulling up stakes is a bit like pulling a band-aid off the skin.  There are spots where I've gotten attached, and it hurts to pull away.  Worse, I know it's going to hurt, and the thought of what it will feel like is always worse than the actual pain.

The loss of someone to death is like that too.  That shock of the quick ripping away of the bandage is enough to make you faint.  We all have these relationships stuck all over us, and to pull one off suddenly is unbelievably painful - even when that beloved is just relocating.  We know they're not moving back.

I will move someday to that far country, we all will.  I'm just hoping that I will have so little to pack that I will just fly away.  If nothing else, I'll have gotten good at it by then with all this practice.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Gay marriage?  Immigration rights?  Tax the wealthy or cut taxes?  

Enter Paul to address everything, to hit us right in the face with the truth (just like he did the very liberal Corinthians).  He defaults to the Christian's view of "company policy."  We all need to get over ourselves.

From Second Corinthians 5:

 "14-15OUR FIRM DECISION IS TO WORK FROM THIS FOCUSED CENTER: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

 16-20Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. 

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. 

The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. 

God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you."

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Today, I am convicted.

There are so many times I read about someone who is in the hospital, or facing financial struggles, or who has a broken heart.  Sometimes I pray for them, often not.  Granted, if I don't it's usually because I don't know them.  Or it's a casual "arrow prayer" and not something sincere or deeply felt from my heart.

Today, I went down my Facebook page and read "love my new iPhone!" and "the view from Cancun is gorgeous" and "happy anniversary!" and even a quote from Dr. Seuss.  Am I happy for these people?  Well, yes -- but only in a way that it makes me smile for them.  I'm not hopping up and down or anything.

In the meantime, my heart is breaking for two reasons -- one, because I am so often that person, talking about how something so momentary makes me happy, and two, because I am still waiting on God to lead us to a church family where my husband - and I -  can just love people.  It's been over a year and still, here we are.

It's kind of a big deal for us.

So I take today as a reminder that no prayer goes unheard, and no situation is unnoticed by our God.  And although life's pleasures are sweet, they are also fleeting.  I cannot live from one of them to the next, and casually shoot arrow prayers at those things which are so deeply felt by others.

I get it, Lord.  I get it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Be Ye Glad

Last weekend, for the first time in a few months, my daughters who sing were together.  Although they all 5 can sing -- I will not be convinced otherwise -- only 3 of them will actually do it and/or profess to be any good at it.  Of course they are fabulous and should all be famous.  Not that I'm biased or anything.

So every time we're with the grandparents, they sing.  Awhile back, I asked them to learn a song, which they did, and then because they haven't done it in so long, they had forgotten most of it.  It's called "Be Ye Glad." The song is 20+ years old, and the only video I can find it the group from the '80's.

This song may be my favorite song ever.  It's because the words are so incredibly powerful; they move me to tears almost every time I hear it.  I would sing it with the girls, doing the bottom harmony, but I literally choke up every time I hear it -- every single time.  Maybe I could play it for them, but Jenna likes playing it so much I just hang back and listen.

It's the chorus that gets me -- "every debt that you ever had / has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord / be ye glad, be ye glad, be ye glad."

Mom and I were talking after the girls went back upstairs, and I was saying how the girls really had no grasp of the power of those words.  Mom said "yep, they don't have enough debts behind them yet."  In their young lives, how true.  My Mom is so wise.

When my friend Gary was dying in a hospital room, the second verse kept coming to me.  But rather than quote it for you, I'll just put the song below and the words below that.  Close your eyes and listen --   I hope it moves you the way it has moved me.  Through my tears, it makes me glad.


In these days of confused situations 
In this night of a restless remorse 
When the heart and the soul of a nation 
Lay wounded and cold as a corpse 
From the grave of the innocent Adam 
Comes a song bringing joy to the sad 
Oh, your cry has been heard, and the ransom 
Has been paid up in full, be ye glad 

Oh, be ye glad, oh, be ye glad 
Every debt that you ever had 
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord 
Be ye glad, be ye glad -- be ye glad 

Now from your dungeon a rumor is stirring
You have heard it again and again 
Ah, but this time, the cell keys are turning
And outside there are faces of friends
And though your body lay weary from wasting
And your eyes show the sorrow they've had
Oh the love that your heart is now tasting
Has opened the gates -- be ye glad

So be like lights on the rim of the water 
Giving hope in a storm sea of night 
Be a refuge amidst the slaughter 
Of these fugitives in their flight 
For you are timeless and part of a puzzle 
You are winsome and young as a lad 
And there is no disease or no struggle that can pull you from God
 be ye glad 
(c) Michael K. Blanchard, ASCAP, Paragon Music Corp. 
Gotz Music & Diadem Sky, ASCAP

Thursday, July 5, 2012

So Good to Know

A fresh reminder from Paul in I Corinthians:

7-9Just think—you don't need a thing, you've got it all! All God's gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.