Old Things, New Things

PicMonkey CollageFrom L to R: the company logo, my parents, my brother getting in a last hurrah.

Gentle Reader,

Last night we honored my dad, Steven, for 30 years and 10 months of exemplary service at Valley Best-Way Building Supply.

And yes, we did try to figure out how to remove the gigantic beaver from the side of the building. It would make an excellent, and slightly creepy, trophy.

There are a lot of things about how this transition went down that make my family angry, but instead of writing about that, I want to take a moment to publicly thank my dad. He worked so hard all those years, without much recognition from his bosses and definitely without fair pay. He did so because that’s his nature. He’s loyal. He’s trustworthy. He tries to build up rather than tear down. He’ll do whatever he thinks necessary to support his family. As he moves into a new job, I know that he’ll bring all of these qualities with him and the business will be that much better.

Thank you, Dad. Thank you for teaching me the value of hard work. Thank you for being a man of decency and integrity. Thank you for putting up with all the stuff you put up with to keep the bills paid, a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. I’m privileged to be your daughter. I’m honored to be your friend. Whatever happens next, I know that you will be a success in all the ways that truly matter.

I love you.

My journey to faith. (15)

Advertisements

The Detox Diaries, Five Minute Friday Edition: Nothing

photo-1422433555807-2559a27433bd

Gentle Reader,

Linking up with Lisa-Jo to write about: nothing.

Go.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)

Nothing can separate me from the love of God. I can’t out-sin His affection. I can’t annoy Him and thereby lose His fond gaze.

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. – 1 John 4:8 (NKJV)

Love is His definition, His essence. Love is who He is.

Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last. – Luke 23:44-46 (NKJV)

This great love cost Him dear. He determined that nothing would come between us. He opened the way. He gave the gift. All I had to do was take it.

Nothing will make me give it back. Nothing will convince me to turn away. God is it.

He is everything.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Detox Diaries: Tough and Tougher

photo-1422433555807-2559a27433bd

Gentle Reader,

TOUGH

Last night was awful.

Yesterday was my first day back to work after a week away. I didn’t feel that great when I woke up, but that was expected. No new or frightening symptoms. My head hurt a little and my stomach was queasy. This has been my basic experience for weeks now.

I hoped that the headache would go away, but it just hung out with me all day, like an annoying relative who is prone to overstaying his welcome. Still, I was not alarmed by this. Headaches are the prize in the genetic lottery that is my family.

But when it was still there at 7:00 p.m.? And the pain was so intense that I started crying?

That’s tough.

I can only recall one other headache that made me cry, and that was before Chris and I got married. Have I had nasty migraines? Sure. Have I had them to degree that part of me longs for death? Only twice. Last night was the second.

I’m not supposed to take any painkillers at the moment, so I tried a turmeric pill. (A friend suggested these). Well, turmeric can bite me. It did NOTHING. Desperate, I gave in and took 4 ibuprofen and a Phenergan (a prescription anti-nausea medication). My liver probably heaved a great and slightly-distressed sigh, but I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. Call me a weenie. I’ll agree with you.

It’s really hard to be forced into position where you have to learn new ways to deal with pain. It “involv[es] considerable difficulty or hardship; requir[es] great determination or effort.”

TOUGHER

I’m not sure if the connection I’m about to present will make sense to you, but it’s what I’m pondering right now. For a long time I have asked God to make me a Barnabas. There’s something about this man, written of often in the first half of Acts, that has always appealed to me. I like the meaning of his nickname (he was actually named Joseph): Son of Encouragement. I want to encourage others. I want to build them up. Don’t always succeed and sometimes chose the opposite, but this is a personal goal of mine.

Lately I’ve been thinking about another aspect of Barnabas’ character, though. He wasn’t just a encourager. He was “strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling.” When Paul showed up in Jerusalem claiming to be a Christ-follower, it was Barnabas who stepped in and brought the former persecutor of the Church before the apostles (Acts 9:22). He fought for Paul, and don’t think for a second that there wasn’t at least some concern about this fire-breather suddenly claiming to be a brother.

Barnabas apparently traveled by himself from Jerusalem to Antioch and on to Tarsus (Acts 11:22-26) at a time when being a Christ-follower in that Jewish area of the world wasn’t popular. He fetched Paul and brought him back to Antioch where they ministered among the believers. The two of them then brought aid to the believers in Jerusalem (Acts 11:30) before setting out on the first of many missionary journeys (Acts 13:3).

Barnabas was willing to go and preach to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47), a spankingly brand-new idea among the Jewish Christians (notwithstanding earlier interactions described in the book). He endured persecution and got kicked out of the area (Acts 13:50).

He refused to be worshiped as a god (Acts 14:12-18). He battled through the conflict over circumcision (Acts 15:1-29). Then Barnabas had a fight with Paul, a fight so bad that the result was the two of them going their separate ways (Acts 15:36-40).

Most reckon that Paul had a big personality. A forceful one, even. Based on his writings, I don’t doubt that he was a passionate guy. He was certainly a leader in the early Church. We today owe him a great deal of gratitude for his obedience to the Spirit’s prompting in composing a good chunk of the New Testament. So, the fact that Barnabas stood up to him and refused to go with what Paul wanted? The fact that Barnabas was willing to take on John Mark, who had previously abandoned him?

That’s a tough guy.

TOUGH AND TOUGHER

We don’t have any details about Barnabas’ life. We don’t know what he went through. But I have a sense that the two definitions of tough referenced above provide something of a picture. The “considerable difficulties and hardships” that Barnabas faced, those moments “requiring great determination and effort” became the catalyst, in the hands of God, to make him into a man “strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling.” Certainly he had emotions. Certainly he wanted to give up sometimes. Certainly he wasn’t perfect. But I just don’t think you get to be a person whose word is good enough for apostles, who will travel alone, who will preach to strangers, who can withstand persecution, whose ego isn’t the least bit stroked by being seen as god-like and who’s willing to disagree with and leave a friend for the sake of a second chance without being tough.

Yeah.

I want to be like Barnabas.

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Detox Diaries: All is Well if God Be Mine

photo-1422433555807-2559a27433bd

Gentle Reader,

There is something about the King James rendering of the first part of this verse that gets me: My flesh and my heart faileth. The term “may” in all the other major translations leaves us with some mental wiggle space. We see the word “may” as “this might happen, but it might not.” No. My flesh will fail. My heart will fail. I will come to an end.

That’s a super-morbid way to start off, isn’t it?

When you deal with chronic illness, whether it’s migraines, M.E., liver disorders, Fibromyalgia, POTS or anything else, you’re faced with mortality. Your body doesn’t work correctly, no matter how much you want it do. The broken, fallen nature of this world is apparent every time you look in the mirror and see the bags under your eyes. Or when a wave of nausea washes over you. Or when it feels like someone smashed you across the face with a brick.

My flesh and my heart faileth.

BUT.

And “but’s” really are holy things.

The word “portion” here in this verse is the Hebrew cheleq (khay’-lek), meaning “portion, share, part, territory…tract, parcel (of land)…one’s portion, one’s possession…award from God.”

My flesh and my heart faileth…BUT…God is my possession.

He is my reward.

I find that immensely comforting. All this suffering, it isn’t for naught. There is a prize at the end and it is the Lord Himself.

We don’t necessarily understand the importance of family and inheritance rights during the time when this Psalm was written. The Promised Land was carefully and specifically divided up amongst the various Israelite tribes. Those broad divisions were further broken up along family lines. Even women could inherit land, a radical concept in the ancient world (see Num. 26:33; 27:1-7; 36:1-12; 1 Chr. 7:15; and Josh. 17:1-6). Each person had a place to call his or her own. Everyone would inherit something, whether by blood or by marriage.

According to the Psalmist, the Infinite and Majestic Creator puts Himself in the position of being an inheritance. When all is said and done, when the heart ceases beating and the brain stops waving; when the spirit exits the body, those who walk in relationship with God will not lose anything. Instead, we gain everything.

In his commentary on this passage, Matthew Henry writes:

 All is well if God be mine.

Yes.

Comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (NKJV)

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

This post also appeared on the Far East Broadcasting Company Gospel Blog on June 2, 2014.