Friday, July 20, 2012

Why is there fighting among you?

I love birds.

I usually put up a hummingbird feeder each summer.  This year, i put it up in the usual spot, but no birds came.  So, this past Saturday I moved it.  

Today (Tues) I saw the first hummers had already found it.  I say "hummers" because there are at least two of them flying around.  IF you have experience with hummers you know what that means- fights!  Yep, as i watched, one hummer was so busy trying to run off his rival that he had no opportunity himself to feed.

You'd think a hummingbird would know better, wouldn't you?

But we do the same, just more subtly. 

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. (Ja 4:1-2).

How ought we then to live?

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.(Phil 2:3-4)  and...If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom 12:8)
Were it only so easy!!

But here is where we find ourselves: 

 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom 7:21-25)

Thanks be to G^d, indeed!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Mystery of Sleep

I am awake at a bit after 0400.

A week ago, I would have blamed it on jet lag, but we have been in this time zone (-7) for over a week, so that probably isn't the issue.  BUT, disrupted sleep raises a Question:

"Why did G^d create mankind with a need for ~8 hours of "lost" time, in the form of needed sleep?"

Were I designing the human body, I wouldn't have included a requirement that everyone sacrifice about one-third of their life to sleep.

And, if you are like T Edison, or B Franklin and don't need but about 4 hours sleep per night, that isn't the issue.

I can only think of a few reasons that G^d gave us a need for sleep:
  • 1) For people like me, it's the only time we are quiet enough to hear from Him.
  • 2) It is another "equalizer".  Rich and poor, smart and not-so, we all need and want some sleep.
  • 3) When we are sleepy, sleep is a cheap, healthy pleasure.
  • 4)In sleep we are dependent upon G^d to protect and sustain us.  It is a good illustration of our helplessness, if we pay attention.

One of my favorite verses that I memorized in the early 1980s is,
"Psa 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep."

I recommend it to new parents, because it helps us keep things in perspective.

In the end, I, and you are dependent upon G^d, and we're better off to simply acknowledge that!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Not here, gone home

Mr. Edwin Messerschmidt was born in 1918, a relative of the famous German aviation family.

His testimony is, that as a young man, he was a pretty rough guy, but came to Christ and underwent a MAJOR transformation.  He was a career missionary.  He was married to a wonderful missionary lady, Ruth, who died a few years back.

Edwin had a hip replaced several years ago, and was never able to keep it in place.  For the last year or so, he navigated via walker, and more recently a wheelchair.

Edwin was different than many of us, in ONE major way.  He was longing for death.  He didn't fear death, he didn't fight death, he embraced it.  A bit odd, eh?

Not really.  Edwin was eager to get to heaven, first to see the L^rd, then to see Ruth, then to see the many friends who preceded him.

Edwin was never suicidal.  He faced his pain and frustration with grace.  Our last conversation, he was encouraging me about a communion I had directed in our congregation.

Edwin went to sleep last night here on earth, and woke up this morning, a bit after 6 AM in heaven.  He lived exemplary.  He died exemplary.

I hope to do so well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I have had two lessons in persistence this week.

Lesson 1:  a young lady from India wants admission to our Ph.D. program.  Somehow her application got sent to Biology.  Through sheer persistence, she persuaded me to 1) Figure out what went wrong, 2) find a copy of her application, 3) reactivate same, 4) scan in her entire app. 5) find her 3 letters of rec (sent to Bio) 6) send our her app for review.  It looks like she'll be admitted now.

Lesson 2: I have just been working in our yard (garden, or as Torgny says, "jungle") trimming back some over-growth.  We have a variety of desirable plants:  native Oak-leaf hydrangeas, American strawberry bush, nandina, and lots of others.  Likewise, we have a list of undesirables (my opinion, which if I hold the trimmer is the only one that really counts):  wisteria, privet, cherry magnolia, and others.  Every spring and summer I use various trimmers to whack back the undesirables to the ground.  BUT... they always come back.  Indeed I can sometimes see the short stump from where I whacked them previously.  As I whack I think, "surely this will be discouraging, in one quick whack I am wiping out their entire spring growth efforts!"

Lesson 3:  They never quit!  They never get discouraged.  They persist, despite my persistence in whacking them.

Oh, that I would be so persistent!  A little discouragement and i am ready to quit.  A setback and i so often give up.  A defeat and  so often surrender.

It really doesn't matter what I consider desirable or undesirable.  G^d makes that decision.  I can read and listen, and attempt to follow.  But what happens when I encounter discouragement, setbacks, defeat?

Perhaps I should take a lesson from the little wisteria.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Startling Confession.

After 28+ years of Teaching in the Uni, I did something entirely new.
So what?
Well after 28 years, it is pretty hard to find something new to do!

I had a terrific group of grad students, five in number, in my Summer I (4 week) term.  Yesterday was the last lecture of the term.  I thought about it, and consulted with an undergraduate confidante.  He encouraged me to go for it.

Yesterday, in a bold, clear voice, I told my students, "I love you."

Strange eh?  I made a short speech thanking them and then ended with that startling confession.

Then I said, "I bet you have professors tell you that all the time."

"Never happened," they said.

Class was over, and as they were leaving one student remarked, "You care about us."


As I walked across campus a student from the class invited me to walk with him.  he told me about his previous drug and alcohol addiction.  Then he told me that he prays every night.  We had a nice short conversation about the value of being in relationship with G^d through Jesus Christ.

Not a bad way to end a term I guess.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Everybody is a Teacher

Everybody is a teacher... whether we recognize it or not.

We teach our children, grandchildren, friends, colleagues, neighbors.  We may be good or bad at it, but we all teach.

We teach intentionally, when we are showing someone how to do something.  Louise and John taught Brenda and I a great card game, without really thinking about it.

Anna Ahman taught Brenda to cook some Swedish dishes, and taught us both about nuances of Swedish culture and language.  In fact, everyone we came in contact with in Sweden taught us something.

I remember the guy behind the counter in the Loppis taught me about the steel in knife blades, and how the color showed steel qualities.  The machine at the Coop taught us that if you press the green button, you donated your bottle deposit refund to some charity, whether you knew that or not.

Some of these lessons are valuable, some are not.  But it is crucial to realize that people are watching us, and learning from us, for good or for ill.

The key question, of course, is what lessons are people learning from you and me?