Sunburned Forehead

>> Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On vacation … in Tahoe … spending time with my daughters. We were busy seeing … doing … and talking. Then we took a break and sat on the deck at Starbucks.  

Time passes quickly when you are just enjoying yourself.  

I failed to take into consideration that we were at 6,000 feet elevation … and that I never am really in the sun very much. It never occurred to me as we sat and visited that my forehead was being baked.  

I’ve had a beet red forehead for several days … and now I’m peeling. It’s lovely.  

 But life is just like that. We can get so involved in what we are doing that we lose focus on important things … like protecting ourselves from the damage being done by outside forces. We let the foul language from a television program wash over us as we sit unprotected in our spirit. Or we watch a movie that has no morals and forget that our soul is being burned.  

There is a product called sunscreen. I’ve been using it since that fateful day and I’m not burning any more … and I’ve been in the sun a lot. But as Christ-followers, we have a powerful Sunscreen that will protect us from those harmful rays of evil. But just as sunscreen wears off and you have to slather more on … we need to be in close contact with Christ as we go through our day.  

Once or twice a year just won’t cut it.

"Every promise of God proves true; he protects everyone who runs to him for help.” Proverbs 30:5 (MSG)


Crash Dump

>> Sunday, June 24, 2012

It happened again. The blue screen of death … crash dump.  

I try to live a good life … be a nice person … and treat my computer right. Yet I’ve now seen the blue screen of death on at least five different computers. My heart does a little lurch when I see the words “crash dump.”  

The first one took me totally by surprise. I lost everything. I began to rely heavily on advice from our computer technician. He scheduled backups to a disk so if the blue screen happened again I would still have my information. Sure enough … it did. But I had no worries … I had my backup disk.  

But guess what? The new computer could not restore from the disk. It was unreadable. All was lost again.  

And so over the years I have learned about backups and external hard drives and cloud storage … all information I never wanted to have to learn.  

Isn’t life like that?  

We never know when the blue screen of death may occur. We live our lives being nice and treating people right. And then one day we experience a crash dump. My first one occurred with the word divorce.  

And so I began to rely heavily on Someone who knew all about crash dumps. I turned to Him again and again … learning all about His restoration program … that never had a glitch.  

As long as He is my backup, I never have to worry about that blue screen of death. I have the perfect cloud storage … heaven.

“And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven…” Matthew 13:11 (ESV)


Do You Trust?

>> Thursday, June 21, 2012

Perfect weather … 70’s … no wind … contrails from passing airplanes marking a giant tic-tac-toe game on the large blue canvas overhead. And the forecast was for the same tomorrow … and the next day … and the next.  

Perfect for motorcycle riding.  

My husband, John, and I arrived at the motorcycle rally Thursday afternoon … me in my car (loaded to the gills with our motorcycle club’s stuff) … and him on his fairly new motorcycle. We were both looking forward to the next two days. He would be going on group rides each day … and I would be reading and relaxing.  

Friday morning … and they all geared up … ready to head out. John’s motorcycle wouldn’t start. With several hundred motorcycle riders in attendance, he received a lot of advice on what was wrong.

Nothing worked.

Long story short, his bike was placed on a towing truck and hauled to the nearest BMW dealer … Boise, Idaho. He and I spent the day together. The call came about 5:30 that it was repaired and he could pick it up tomorrow. No problem. That was just a four hour drive away.

We headed out at 5:00 on Saturday morning. By noon Boise time we were ready to head back … me driving and him on his motorcycle. Arriving back at the rally at 3:00, that day was pretty much gone.  

Sunday morning there was a stir of activity as we all took down tents, rolled up sleeping bags and emptied the coolers. One problem. John’s motorcycle wouldn’t start. We did the same drill … same towing company … hauled to the same dealer in Boise … and adjustments had to be made in what I was taking in my car. I now had to make room for John.  

Motorcycle riders … especially those with off-road motorcycles like John’s … go into the back country where there is usually no cell phone service. They need to be able to trust their bike is going to start. Trust. Right now we aren’t too sure about the reliability of his motorcycle.  

But there is Someone who is always trustworthy. No matter what journeys our lives take us on, the trust is never broken. He is there when we need Him … every time.  
Do you trust?  

“God's a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you're never sorry you knocked.” Psalm 9:9-10 (MSG)


Conduit or Crimped?

>> Monday, June 18, 2012

It was a special weekend away … with my husband, John … and several hundred other motorcycle riders. And I knew just where I wanted to eat in the town of John Day, Oregon … The Outpost. I ordered my food and an iced tea. The drink came complete with a straw in a clear plastic sheath. Thirsty, I reached for the straw … ripped open the end of the covering … and paused in motion on the way to my glass.  

One end of the straw was crimped shut. How was that supposed to work? As the waitress passed by, I requested a usable straw. I was given one that had an opening on both ends. It would be a useful conduit for my tea. The waitress removed the unusable straw and threw it away.  

And then my mind went into overdrive. When she returned with our food, I asked if she could retrieve the worthless straw for me. It was already in the trash, but she willingly returned it. As we ate, John and I carried on a heavy duty discussion about that straw. We know people like that.  

As Christ-followers, we are designed to be a conduit for the good news about God and His love. But some have been crimped in some way … maybe by abusive parents … a legalistic church … or unfaithful spouse. They’ve shut off the flow of goodness in their life … and many have been thrown away … worthless.  

For 30 years I lay in the trash … crimped and empty.  

But worthless straws can be fixed by cutting off the crimped end. That would make it a little shorter than other straws, but still able to contain a flow of liquid from drink to mouth. Crimped Christ-followers can also be fixed.  

The length of the straw is not the important part. The question is … long or short … are you a channel of blessing … allowing God’s love to flow through you to others?  

Or do you have a crimped end?

 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.” Deuteronomy 30:19 (TNIV)


Digging in God's Dirt

>> Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It happened again. I learned a lesson about God from my dog.  

We’ve had Charlie, our dog, since April, 2011 … and he’s never been a digger. So imagine my surprise when we returned home from church on Sunday to discover the contents from one of my planters on the patio … spread around like decorations on the concrete.  

My investigation of the damage showed some of the plants no longer had roots. He’s suddenly become a vegetarian?  

Even though he was disciplined … we had to remember that after all … he is a dog. Those were my thoughts as I tried to salvage the uprooted plants. The pot still needed some work … only 2/3 full. But it can be restored with the purchase of more flowers.  

Rising from my knees, I noticed that the water in Charlie’s dish was dirty and almost empty. I cleaned it out and gave him fresh water. That’s when it hit me. As a human being, trying to follow Christ, I mess with God’s plan. I dig in His dirt and uproot what He has designed. I leave a trail of damage.  

After all … I am human.  

But God cleans up my messes … and even gives me fresh water for my soul. He surveys the 2/3 full pot and restores it to fullness … filling it with beauty and life.  

Have you been digging in His dirt lately?

“Human effort accomplishes nothing.” John 6:63 (NLT)


Legally Blind

>> Saturday, June 9, 2012

The doctor’s words sort of echoed in my head … legally blind. This was my eye we were discussing, not some documentary on t.v.  

For several months I had been aware of failing eyesight. Lying on the bed one day, I realized with my right eye I couldn’t even see the light fixture in the ceiling. My left eye clearly told me one was there. But legally blind? It sounded ominous.  

Only momentarily was I distracted by those words, because the doctor didn’t stop there. His voice continued right on with words like cataract … surgery … 20/20 vision. My blindness wasn’t permanent.  

A cataract is a clouding of the lens, distorting the flow of light and causing dim or blurry vision.  

Are you legally blind?  

I’m not talking about your physical eye … but your spiritual one. Has your lens grown cloudy with legalism? Has your flow of Light become distorted? God may have given you some specific guidelines for your own spiritual well-being. They may or may not apply to someone else.  

Don’t be legally blind.  

How is a cataract removed? The official word is phacoemulsification. This means the cloudy part of the lens is gently washed away. Then a new lens is implanted.  

You can see clearly again.  

Jesus is in the business of phacoemulsification. And His implants always give 20/20 vision. Schedule an appointment right away.  

“He looked up.”I see men. They look like walking trees." So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus.” Mark 8:24-24 (MSG)


Travel Agents for Guilt Trips

>> Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I’m not sure where my mother received her training … but she had it down pat.  

“Shame on you for not cleaning your plate. There are children starving in China who would love to have that food.” And so I cleaned my plate and weighed 140 pounds in grade school.  

“Do you understand there are people who live below us in this building? Don’t you care that your heavy footsteps across the floor just bothered them?” And so I basically tiptoed my way through life.  

“How could you possibly think of wearing a skirt that short? You are supposed to be a Christian. What kind of message do you want to send to others?” And so my skirts and dresses never rose higher than my calf.  

If I had a certain look on my face, I offended her … and others. If I asked (once only) to listen to something else on the radio besides sermons, again the Christian club came out. Only sinners would listen to anything else. God would be ashamed of me.  

I lived my life under the cloud of guilt.  

When I emerged from that life, I resigned as a travel agent. My children had already been on many guilt trips. We were through with that kind of traveling.  

Guilt is a useless emotion. Even if you did do something wrong … it’s already been done and you can’t undo it. Repent … apologize … whatever you need to do … and then get on with life.  

If it is someone else who is trying to manipulate you with guilt … surprise them. Don’t take that trip.

“Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work. Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.” Psalm 19:12-13 (MSG)


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