Jesus, life

Order Your Burgers Well Done.

I was thinking today about that thing Jude wrote, about certain individuals infiltrating the church.

And as that train of thought chugged along, it stopped at something Keith Green said:

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.”

And that thought rounded the bend to the e-coli that gets ground into beef when it is not butchered carefully.

And about all the crap that gets ground into the church by those “certain individuals” – crap that drives people away from Jesus.  Crap that gives real Christians a bad name.

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian, and that includes some pastors, is a Christian. So don’t equate what “certain individuals” say with Christianity.

If you are looking for Jesus, you have to read what He actually said for yourself, so you know what’s crap and what’s not.

The Light at the end of the long, dark tunnel is Jesus, follow Him.

And order your burgers well done.

2222269171_2e8a44cc3a_ophoto: cyclonebill, Creative Commons

#packedasuitcaseandjumpedaboardthethoughttrain

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life

Risks, Rewards & Friendships

My first husband was a small business owner. Through him I learned that most small businesses fail within the first five years.  His didn’t, but most do.  It’s all part of the risk/reward.

It just occurred to me that the high failure rate must have an effect on chamber of commerce meetings. When local business owners come together on a regular basis to support one another, friendships are bound to develop. And then a business fails and a new friend is forever absent.

When my grandma was alive, I would spend a week with her every year around her birthday. She loved to play cards so that’s what we’d do, pretty much all day long, for the entire week.

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Birthday visit March 2001. 101 years old

One evening, as we were slowly walking from her small apartment to the dining room, a pleasant looking woman, who was heading into her own small apartment just down the hall from grandma’s, smiled and said hello. Grandma completely ignored her. It wasn’t the first time I had seen grandma snub the woman.

“Grandma, it looks like that woman is trying to make friends with you. Maybe she likes to play cards, why do you keep ignoring her?”

Grandma, who was 99 that year, said, “I’ve lost too many friends, I can’t lose another one.”

She had outlived her husband, all of her friends and, just about six months earlier, even her son, my dad. It was too much.

When I was a new blogger a year and a three-quarters ago, I met other new bloggers. Fell in love with some of them. I didn’t know then what I know now – just like small businesses, most new blogs fall by the wayside.

It’s a tricky thing taking bloggers into your heart.

I guess I just miss my friend.

#tricky

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Food, life

The Making of Huevos Rancheros

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As I was whipping up a simple guacamole about an hour ago – red onion, avocado, lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper and the slightest wisp of cumin – I started thinking about people who have nerve. Nerve has been off and on my mind since it arrived in my inbox this morning. From WordPress. To prompt me.

I kept thinking about nerve as I followed the making of the guac with the making of a 3:00-in-the-afternoon huevos rancheros. My first meal of the day. And you are correct if you are guessing that I am not yet dressed.

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Ordinarily I would grate the cheese directly onto some tortilla chips and then melt the cheese/toast the chips in the oven, but I’m lazy today so I grated it directly into the egg pan. So as not to dirty a cookie sheet. I agree, I need to stop being lazy and clean my stove.

Anyway, I was thinking about a young woman I met a few weeks ago.

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I was hoping the cheddar would become crisp – like grated Parmesan in the fry pan does – but it didn’t. So I just globbed it on.

The young woman, upon learning that I am an abstinence speaker, asked how long I have been speaking on the subject. I told her I started my ministry 13 years ago, and that I was speaking on the subject long before that as the director of a crisis pregnancy center.

I’m not sure if any of my answer registered, because she then asked, “Have you ever heard of Pam Stenzel?”

I smiled and nodded yes.

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Make sure you keep the eggs over easy so the velvety, buttery yolks run onto the chips below.

Her  question reminded me of all the times during the twelve years I was directing the pregnancy help center, appearing in promotional videos for Right to Life and writing letters to the editor on the subject of abortion, that people, upon discovering the work I was doing, would ask, “Have you ever heard of Roe v. Wade?”

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Put a little jarred salsa on there. Organic.

The young woman proceeded to tell me all about abstinence; all the things she tells the high school cheerleaders she coaches.

I smiled and nodded and, when I could quickly squeeze a word in, said, “They are fortunate to have you.”

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Now pile on the guac you just made and sprinkle a little extra cilantro on top. Because you can never have too much cilantro. Just smile and nod you cilantro haters.

Why do people do that?

Is it just plain old nerve?

Or do they think they are always the smartest, most well-informed person in the room? Even when there are people in the room who have been devoting their lives to whatever-the-subject since they were in diapers?

Or do I just look like I’m a moron?

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See what I mean about the yokes running? Ya’ gotta’ have that. The hub doesn’t like runny yokes. His loss.

Please God, don’t let me ever be so eager to show off what little I know (I do hope I’ve aged beyond that) that I cause someone I meet to nod and smile.

#nerve

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life

What Price My Soul?

I stopped at Kroger on my way home from Bible study last night to return a movie (late) to redbox. The End of the Tour. It was good.

As long as I was there, I decided to grab a bunch of bananas, because yesterday my daughter mentioned nutella and, as soon as she did, the 2 and 1/2 jars of nutella in my pantry started begging for bananas. I bought a green bunch, since I gave up sweets for Lent…

And a red onion. Because I used the last of my red onion at dinner.

It was 9:00 pm and cashiers were scarce so I used the self check out. I typed in the code on the bananas, set them on the scanner and then bagged them.  Just as it should be.

Then I typed in the code on the onion, typed the quantity and placed it on the scanner. What? Cucumber? 79 cents?

I hit the button for assistance. No assistance was in sight. I waited. Still no one came.

Maybe I should just throw the onion in the bag and finish checking out.

I waited a bit longer.

Maybe I SHOULD just throw the onion in the bag and finish checking out.

I waited.

Just as I was about to throw the dang onion in the bag and pay, I saw a young woman in a Kroger smock approach. She was holding a scanning device.

“I must have punched in the wrong code because it came up cucumber.”

She voided my item and I re-punched.

Red onion. $1.65

Only 86 cents this time.

What a bargain.

#boughtataprice

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life, Light

Lordy

Last night I snagged The Big Short from redbox.

In the end I shook my head: Only ONE person went to prison?

I was a little bit sick: The bankers used the bailout money to give themselves BONUSES?

I already knew that. But it still made me sick. Again.

Oooooh I wanted to smack that smugness, that utter lack of concern for others. The fact that they weren’t held accountable, the fact that they are right back at it, same crookedness, new packaging, makes my head just about explode.

And then this morning I read Revelation 18, the fall of Babylon. Do you know Babylon?

I’ll give you a little history in case you don’t.

Except for Jerusalem, no other city is mentioned in the Bible more often than Babylon.  Scripture refers to it 290 times.   It represents the epitome of evil and rebellion against God. Throughout Scripture Babylon has been Satan’s headquarters and in the end it will again be the seat of his power.

Babylon is first mentioned in Genesis 10. It was the capital city of the first world ruler. His name was Nimrod.

When I was in high school, Nimrod was the name we gave to fools – as in, “What a nimrod.”

The first time I read his name in Scripture, I thought he  was a good guy. I thought he was a mighty warrior for God.

“Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord…”

But then I took a closer look at his name.  The name Nimrod comes from the Hebrew verb marad, meaning “to rebel.” Therefore, “a mighty hunter before the Lord” means he was a mighty hunter “in God’s face”.

The hub and I were driving through the Upper Peninsula a few summers ago. As we drove through one of its small towns, we were stopped at a traffic light right in front of the town’s high school.  Emblazoned on the side of the school in HUGE letters was “Home of the Nimrods.” I’m guessing they didn’t do a word study before they chose their name.

So, Babylon was founded by a rebel.

And remember the tower of Babel?

“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves…”

They wanted to make a name for themselves. They wanted to make their own way to heaven. A way that didn’t involve The Way.

Babel became the city of Babylon.

What does Babylon have to do with The Big Short?

Revelation 17 called Babylon “The Mother of all Prostitutes.”  She is where all the selling of souls began. And it was definitely the selling of souls that created that housing bubble; that  enormous Ponzi scheme.

It reminded me of the Bernie Madoff movie I saw recently (with Richard Dreyfus) – of the smugness and glee on the faces of all those who thought they were getting rich, making easy money.

That smugness I wanted to smack last night?  No need.

Because today I read this:

Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’
She has become a dwelling for demons
a ghost town,
a haunt for every vulture,
rat and rodent.
Nations were taken in by her.
Kings have committed adultery with her.
A myriad of merchants have made a fortune off of her.

She thought she was the queen bee,
she thought she would get away with it,
she thought nothing could touch her
“the housing market has always been secure”…
but she was wrong.  (my paraphrase)

So wrong.

God knew what she was up to all along.

“Get away from her,” He warned, “don’t get caught up in her demise.”

And just like that, plagues overtook her and she went up in smoke.

Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said,

“With such violence
the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
never to be found again.

Such a shame.

I like the what Eugene Peterson wrote about Revelation 18 in Reversed Thunder:

Whore-worship brings us great gain: we get what we want when we want it… Throughout the Revelation, the great scenes of worship show God being served – the people come to him, giving themselves in praise. At no place does he entice them with easy promises. In the great lament of Revelation [18] over the Great Whore’s demise, the longest and most detailed lament is from the merchants and sea traders (Rev.18:11-19): in Whore-worship they got everything they wanted, their lives overflowed with things, and now it is gone, wasted, up in smoke. They are bereft of everything they were promised and invested in and enjoyed. It is not their businesses that have collapsed but their religion, a religion of self-indulgence, of getting. Now it is gone: salvation by checkbook is gone, god-on-demand is gone, meaning-by-money is gone, religion-as-feeling is gone, self-as-(temporary)-god is gone. They are left with nothing but themselves, of whom after a lifetime in the whorehouse they know nothing.”

The laments of Revelation 18 fade out as the hallelujahs of chapter 19 begin to build.

The Whore is gone, the Bride has come.

Hallelujah! My head doesn’t have to explode.

#itisnotmyfight

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life, Light, Revelation

Ignorance

There’s a story I heard years ago about a young girl who was walking through the woods on a glorious spring day. Suddenly a snake appeared in her path. She turned to run but the snake called out to her:

“Please! Don’t run away. I’m lonely and I need a friend.”

“But you’re a snake,” the girl replied. “you’ll bite me.”

“I won’t bite you,” the snake promised.  “I’m a bit cold and I’m very lonely and I just want a friend. Besides, I’m one of God’s creatures, too.  Won’t you be my friend?”

The tenderhearted girl looked upon the lowly creature of God and had compassion.  She stooped down, scooped up the snake and tucked it under her light jacket to warm it, pleased that kindness prevailed over fear.

Of course, the snake bit her immediately and the girl dropped him in horror.

And as the pain and poison coursed through her body she cried out, “Why? Why did you bite me? I thought you wanted to be my friend!”

The snake turned, as it slithered down the path, and sneered, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

I told that story to an assembly of sixth graders last week.

I thought of it again last night as I lead a group of high school students through a discussion of Revelation 17.

Evil united to wage war against the Lamb. The scarlet beast, the mother of all prostitutes and a cadre of kings pooled their power to defeat their common enemy.

But of course their unity was short-lived.  The beast and the kings threw the prostitute under the bus – left her naked, ate her flesh, burned her with fire.

Because the snake is never your friend. His promises never mean anything. No matter how sweet his speech, no matter how much honey drips from his smooth-as-silk words. No matter how pathetically he appeals to your Christian compassion. No matter how well he exploits your sinful desires.

We are nearing the end of our study of Revelation and we’re finally getting to the good stuff, to the Hallelujahs!

Last week we took a little side trip away from Revelation to look at how God’s justice and mercy have always been woven together – throughout the Old Testament and the New.

The cross being the perfect balance of the two.

The cross. The focal point of Lent.

Some “friends” mocked Jesus on Facebook yesterday.

Ordinarily I would have ignored it, but it’s Lent, and no one ought to mock Jesus during Lent.  I mean, show a little respect.

So I reminded them – in a light, one sentence reply – that Jesus took a huge one for the team.

I don’t hold it against them, though.  Some of Jesus’s last words as He hung there were “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

My gut tells me that those young friends don’t know what they are doing.

God told Moses that He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He forgives wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished. (Justice intertwined with mercy.)

Perhaps it was only sin that was forgiven on the cross.

“Forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.”

You can sin without knowing what you are doing.

Those who don’t know what God’s standards are sin all the time without knowing it.

But, by definition, you can’t rebel without knowing it.

You have to know what God’s standards are in order to defy them.

No one is accidentally wicked. Wickedness is deliberately harming others – harm that includes enticing them to rebel against God.

All who are wicked and rebellious are sinners, but not all sinners are wicked and/or rebellious.

Jesus plead forgiveness for those who don’t know what they are doing – which doesn’t apply to the rebellious and the wicked.

Do you get what I’m saying?

I wonder whether Adam and Eve merely sinned – Eve said she was tricked, perhaps she didn’t know what she was doing – or whether they knowingly rebelled.

I’ve often wondered why God didn’t spell it out more clearly for Adam back in the garden. When He said, “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die,” Adam had no experience with physical death (not human death anyway) and he had no experience with spiritual death.  So why didn’t God get really specific?  Take Adam’s face in His hands, move in close and lay out all the ramifications for him?

Perhaps He did, and Scripture just didn’t record it. Or perhaps He knew that it wouldn’t make any difference.

Whether or not He laid it out in the beginning, He’s certainly laying it out in the end.  That’s what the plagues and bowl judgements of Revelation 15 and 16 are all about – God making the choice perfectly clear. The judgments and plagues are designed to show those bent on rebellion exactly what life will be like without Him.  And He’s asking with each one,

“Are you sure this is what you want?”

No one is going to hell by accident.

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Those outstretched arms welcome any sinner, any rebel, any doer-of-wicked-deeds who one day says, “I was such an idiot.”

May that day be soon.

Let Go of the Dang Door

#dropaseed

P.S. It’s been a really busy couple of weeks – working round the clock on a project, preparing presentations and trying to keep up with life. Plus a car accident.

Life is still life, but the project is finished, the presentations have all been presented and I finally have time to catch up on some blogs.  Missed you guys!

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