Saturday, April 30, 2011

How Do You Deal With Pharisees?

Luke 18:14
 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

    The above Scripture is the summation of the parable of the Pharisee and the sinner. The Pharisee had been acknowledged as the holy one in the church. Indeed, his deeds were good: he prayed, read Scripture, tithed, gave to the poor. His problem? He made sure no one--not even God--forgot. He probably even corrected those who lacked in their faith in efforts to make them holy or get them saved.
     The other guy? He didn't have a resume. He knew only one thing: he was a sinner and unworthy of all God gave. He admitted where he was weak and asked for help.
     I wish I was holy, but I'm not. I hear people disparage those who do egregious things, and shame burns because I know that I certainly am capable of doing the same things--both as a sinner and a Pharisee. I can envy those who know their faith is flawless and they please God in every detail, that their salvation is irrefutable and that God is lucky to have them on His side. I'm lucky Jesus accepts me--warts and all.
     And I write this in grief because I am a sinner and I am who I am and others must remind me of my lacks. Without Jesus I cannot change.
     And I do you deal with the Pharisees in the church?

Friday, April 22, 2011

In Death We Find Life

     After 92 years full of giving and loving and caring, my husband's Uncle Neil passed away. He was a man who knew his own mind right until the end--sometimes to our own chagrin. For example--he had to be hospitalized in Potsdam--not Massena--he refused to have a will, yet took meticulous care that his funeral was taken care of, and will be laid out in a flannel shirt--so he'll be comfortable for eternity. We watched him fail for nearly a year, and watching him become increasingly helpless hurt almost more than his passing.
     Tomorrow the McClain clan will gather at Hammill Funeral Home to say good-bye. Yet, there's a sense of celebration. My Neil has found old pictures of his family in their youth to share--times when they looked gawky or the fashions really needed to rethink themselves. Unc Neil's niece and nephews and great-nephew will travel long distances to say their final farewell--and these are distances they traveled for Unc Neil when he could still appreciate them.
      Over the past year, we've shared tales of Unc Neil's strengths, his character and his foibles. We've been blessed with neighbors who looked at Unc Neil more as their father than a man who lived down the road.
     We'll gather and cry--the family together. Then we'll share a meal and in that time, strengthen the bonds that make the McClain group the family of character (or characters) they are. We will rejoice in our lives and the memory of one that touched us all.
     How significant that Unc Neil died on Maundy Thursday--and will be laid to rest over the Easter weekend. I can't help but think of another man whose death brought life.
     Have you found joy in dying?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

God Created the World for Women: The Proof

     God must be crying over the irony of the patriarchally driven world when the very opening of the Bible shows us the world was created for us--the women. I do not expect you to take this thought in blind faith, so I will demonstrate it exegetically. (Go to the source, and see that I don't err).
      EveImage via Wikipedia
    •  Day 1--Every woman knows she looks best with a sun-kissed tan, thus day 1, God created the sun.
    • Day 2--What better place to get a tan than on the beach? Day 2,  God separated the water from the land and thus gave us beaches.
    • Day 3--I covered this in depth yesterday. Coffee, chocolate, wine and golden Oreos all come from plant life.
    • Day 4--(Do notice how creation gets more complex as it goes along--this is an important point). We now have moonlight and starlight for a little romance in which to enjoy our chocolate.
    • Day 5--What good is a red wine without the red steak? Or an excellent book without a kitty cat purring on our laps?      On Day 5, God created the animals.
    • Day 6--the complexity builds--and here I'll separate two components. God creates man who all alone cannot deal with life. But he is necessary to provide for God's crowning achievement--the beach house and fine foods and romance. Once man is finished--along comes woman, His crowning achievement. With the creation of woman, what else can the good Lord do? He's done it all.
    • Day 7--He can finally rest.
    Therefore, woman was the sole reason the world was created. I am so glad I am a Bible scholar! No one can refute this.
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    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    The Third Day Proves God's Love For Us

    Gen 1:11-13
    Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so.
    12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
    13 And there was evening, and there was morning — the third day.

    How do I know God's love for us? Genesis 1:11-13 prove it. Man didn't come along until day six. But God prepared the way. Vegetation!

    • Chocolate comes from the cacao tree.When a rotten mood hits, what makes me feel better? Chocolate. God knew he'd make a woman in three days--He made sure we would have something to delight us.
    • Coffee comes from the coffee bush. How could I wake up in the morning and smell the roses without my jolt of caffeine. A strong cup of black java is ambrosia. A latte or cappuccino is divine. and someDouble-decker Golden Oreo of you have to adulterate it with sugar? 
    • Sugar cane is also vegetation. Because of it, we can eat golden Oreos.
    • And of course we have flowers. Any man knows the way to a woman's heart is with sweets and flowers shared over a steaming cup of coffee.
    Gen 1:29
    Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

    Oh the immeasurable love of God!

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    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Bellyaching Gives you a Bellyache

         Sulks come and sulks go--people will always annoy me in some fashion. Yesterday I thought I'd air my pet peeves on a daily basis--but one problem: I can't get specific enough without hurting someone. Hurting others is the last thing I want to do because it's only through family and friends and the God who made them that I can overcome.
          And how am I blessed? Let me count the ways:
      Golden OreoImage by Timothy Valentine via Flickr
    •  I NEED Oreos. It's cold and late, and my husband leaves the warmth of our torn apart house and dashes to Price Chopper returning with Golden Oreos and milk. Can life get better?
    • I sulk on Facebook--and the outpouring from friends makes me cry--my pastor reminds me of all who love me--including the Great Lover of us all. Another friend emails me. My sister calls. How can I grieve?
    • My blonde soul mate encourages my writing--we both suffer the pangs of rejection and although I'm not demonstrative, she always lifts me up. How can I fail?
    In one day, three things remind me I am not alone. Our Father God cannot allow me to forget love patterned on His so I can see it.

    And so I ask--how have others encouraged you?
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    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Can You Help Me?

         I have a question. You're in a group of friends and you are asked a question--asked to respond honestly. You begin, and a member of the group--one who always is the expert, jumps in, interrupts and asks: "How can you say that? I could never..."
         And you can fill in the blanks as to what he/she says. How do you respond?
         I can say honestly, I don't respond well. Unable to finish my sentence, I listed my credentials--credentials my critic didn't have and would never have, forced out my thoughts and shut up.
         What would you do?