The Great Pretenders

>> Friday, April 4, 2014

Today I have a guest blogger, my daughter Lorri Lane. 

After many years of expressing his desire to learn the German language, my dad recently received the Rosetta Stone software program as an early Father’s Day gift. Beyond excited, he immediately immersed himself in the language-learning process, repeating words and phrases into a microphone as he progressed through each lesson. As mom passed by his office, she would hear dad having virtual “conversations” in German.  “Bitte” dad would repeat after hearing the computer-generated voice.  “Ich möchte bitte eine Tasse Kaffee.” Her heart smiled as she listened to him thoroughly enjoying himself, like a child with a new bike for Christmas.

When I returned home during a break from my teaching position in Georgia, dad was eager to share what he had learned about the German language with me. After briefly demonstrating how to navigate through the program, I observed the listen/repeat sequence several times. “Would you like to try it?” dad asked. Since I had acquired some foreign language skills during my overseas travels, I accepted his offer, confident in my ability to speak basic German. Pulling my chair closer to the microphone, I began the lesson module.

“Die Blume ist gelb.” I knew the meaning of the phrase (The flower is yellow) before I repeated the words. “Die Blume ist gelb.” I replied. Much to my surprise, the computer made a sound that indicated an incorrect response.  I repeated the phrase again: “Die Blume ist gelb.” Again, my response was not accepted. Time after time, phrase after phrase, the program would not accept my responses. Baffled by my lack of success, I eventually managed to complete the lesson module after multiple attempts. Was ist passiert?

The next evening,  I participated as a guest in the Experiencing God  small-group study hosted by my parents.  At one point, we were discussing ways in which Christians should not only seek knowledge about  God and the Bible, but should be immersed in His love, grace, and mercy as well. During the conversation, dad began to discuss his new language-learning software, and a correlation was formed between immersing yourself in a new language, and immersing yourself in a relationship with Christ. Just as foreign-language fluency is not achieved by the ability to speak a few out-of-context phrases, or use single words while pointing at an object, a relationship with Christ is not achieved by the ability to memorize a few verses of scripture, or throw out a “Halleluia” or an “Amen” once in a while, so that others may be impressed by your fervent devotion to the Christian faith.

Just as the computer program was not impressed by my attempts to speak German, Jesus is not impressed by our attempts to “speak Christian-ese” Although we might know all of the “right” words and phrases, He knows who the counterfeits are. He knows who is full of self-confidence, but lacks sincerity.  You might be able to deceive others, but you can’t deceive Jesus.  He knows.  Danke, Jesus. Vielen Dank.


“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.” 1 Corinthians 13:1 (MSG)



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Fearplugs

>> Friday, March 28, 2014

I’ve tried. I really have. One block. Two blocks, but my breathing becomes labored. Three blocks and I can’t take any more. I begin to run…away from the terrifying sound…the ocean.

I grew up in Kansas. No oceans.


It’s the overwhelming noise. I’ve missed out on walks on the beach with my husband…with children…with friends. I compare my feeling of terror to what the people running from the tsunami must feel…those running from a wall of mud flowing over them…those who scream as a tornado rips a child from their arms. I just can’t describe the feeling. Now my husband and I have made plans to go to the ocean for a few days with friends. It’s weeks before we go, but I already know I won’t like my behavior.
 
Earplugs have been suggested. But I would still know it was there.

So I’ve decided to begin praying now for fearplugs. There is something deep within me that is out of whack. If I knew what it was, I would fix it. But I know Someone who has a supply of fearplugs…plugs that restore calm. I have taken from that supply for many other situations in my life.

I need another set now.



“The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.” Matthew 8:25-26 (NLT)

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I Know a Guy

>> Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In this morning’s paper, a cartoon caught my eye. Garfield is looking at a caterpillar crawling on the ground. The caterpillar tells Garfield “I’m going to be a butterfly.” Garfield asks, “And just how are you going to do that?” 

“I know a guy.”

That’s when my mind took off. Caterpillars are not lovely. They crawl along the ground. Sometimes they get stepped on…so vulnerable. Do they know that one day they will be beautiful? They are hungry little creatures…stuffing themselves. In the next stage they hang upside down and encase themselves with a shiny chrysalis. And here comes the fascinating part. While they are hanging upside down inside their protective casing, they are being transformed.

I love the word metamorphosis…such rich meaning. The caterpillar knows a “Guy”.

I’ve spent time crawling along the ground…and being stepped on. I had no idea that I contained the makings to become beautiful. But as I passed through the stages of my life, I became hungry…hungry to know more than just crawling along the ground. It was not of my own doing that I became isolated…inside a protective armor. But my time there was not wasted. Slowly…slowly…the transformation occurred.


I, too, know a Guy.

My loving Father caused a metamorphosis to occur. My ugly parts were discarded. Negativity turned into positivity. Judgments turned into empathy. Fear was replaced with peace. Laughter bubbled forth.

You, too, can know a Guy. 

“Don’t run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters. … God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6-7 (MSG) 

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Stinky Messes

>> Sunday, March 16, 2014

It’s a repulsive job.

As I walked the back yard…eyes searching for the next little present…I thought about what it must be like to have someone available to pick up your messes.  Dogs give no thought to the disposal of their excrement. They play, sleep, smell, eat and poop.

But before you get too disgusted at my topic and me…just hold on.

What about us? We go about our daily life…working, playing, sleeping, eating…and making messes…and I’m not talking about the mess left in the kitchen. Who cleans up after us? Sometimes our spouse or friends come to our aid. But when the fallout of our actions produces consequences in other’s lives and there seems to be no restorative answer, where do we turn?

In my life, I’ve had what I consider to be some rather large messes. I’m so grateful I learned about Jesus, who cares about the details of my life…and my stinky messes. He never turns away or holds His nose.

He comes alongside and helps me clean up my life…one mess at a time.




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