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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Devotional

Deadlines

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I’m convinced that little to nothing would get done in this world without deadlines. Houses would rarely get cleaned if guests weren’t stopping by, school projects wouldn’t be completed without a due date, and books wouldn’t get published without a deadline from the printer. I don’t know what it is about the human psyche, but we tend not to act until we know our time is limited. I may have a coupon for three months, but it’s not until the day before it expires that I get serious about redeeming it. I can get the hymns for a Sunday service on Tuesday, but it’s a pretty safe bet I won’t even look at them until Saturday night. I can steam mop the entire house in about an hour, but if the kids are in school, I will inevitably drag the chore out to last all day until I’m racing to finish in the final minutes before I have to leave to pick them up. And even though I have all week to write a blog post for Monday, I rarely ever work on it before Sunday afternoon. If I have time to waste, I’ll procrastinate with the best of them. When faced with a deadline, however, it’s time to get serious.

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No Big Deal

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I did the dishes in my kitchen sink yesterday. I know, big deal, right? But in fact it was a big deal. I was grinning ear to ear as I did those dishes. We had been without a kitchen faucet for four and a half days, due to a comedy of errors. I’d never realized how much I used the kitchen sink until I was without one. Washing hands, rinsing fruits and veggies, filling a pot of water, cleaning off plates before loading them in the dishwasher––simple tasks I take for granted suddenly weren’t so simple, and it wasn’t until I didn’t have the luxury of a kitchen sink that I realized how blessed I was to have a working faucet.

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When Everything Goes Wrong

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Yesterday was not my day. We have one of those faucets in our kitchen sink you can pull out on a little hose. Well, we had one. I came out from taking a shower to find that my toddler had broken it. Now it resembles a drinking fountain when turned on lightly and a fire hose shooting across the room when turned on full strength, thus rendering it largely useless. My son, who had been sick earlier in the week but felt better Friday and Saturday, was throwing up again. He’s old enough to leave at home during church, so the rest of us went without him. We returned home to find our house flooded. My first thought was the kitchen faucet, but no. It was the washing machine, which had overflowed. Awesome. So now I’m down a kitchen sink and a washing machine, two things I use a lot. My oldest son and I shop-vacuumed the tile part of the floor and used the carpet cleaning machine for the carpets where it had seeped into the rooms. We pulled up over ten gallons of water. I could have spent all day working on the carpets and steam mopping in the wake of the murky water, but that was not to be. I had to be at our church for the LWML fall rally, which we were hosting. So four and a half hours later, I returned home exhausted only to put in a few more hours on the carpets, and still they are sodden and nasty and have the distinct odor of a wet sock. Like I said, it was not my day.

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My Way

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The three most common words in our household are currently, “I do it!” This phrase is often spoken in an urgent, indignant tone by my two-year-old, who thinks he can do everything. From strapping himself into his car seat to feeding the dogs to pouring milk into his cup, my toddler erroneously assumes he is competent enough to handle every task that comes his way. He gets mad at me if I do something he thinks he can do. He will shut the door to the dryer in protest just so he can be the one to open it again. It’s cute and irritating all at the same time, because clearly there are things he has no business trying to do. Kim John Payne summed up the two-year-old mentality best in his book The Soul of Discipline. He coins two-year-olds “little emperors” and says the following about them: “They are waking up to the world around them, discovering their own willpower and feeling a sense of omnipotence not matched by ability.” So very true. And yet, that’s an uncomfortably accurate description of the attitude of many adults as well, myself included.

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Playing Second Fiddle

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Recently my son joined the high school marching band even though he’s only in the eighth grade. This is a great (and challenging) opportunity for him as he hastens to learn the music and the steps everyone else learned a month ago. In one sense this is, of course, a promotion. He’s moving up from the middle school band to the high school band. But in another sense he’s moving down. He went from being first chair trumpet in middle school to playing secondary parts with the high school, and that’s an adjustment for him. He’s used to playing the melody. The harmony for “Phantom of the Opera” doesn’t sound nearly as glamorous as the melody. My son is learning what it’s like to play second fiddle… er, trumpet.

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Preparing for Harvey

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I was completely unprepared for Hurricane Harvey. Granted, we don’t live in the immediate danger zone, but being only a few hours from Houston, we knew we’d be getting heavy and persistent rains. The country roads in our area get washed out during heavy rain, and other roads flood, making them impassable. Kids basked in the novelty of having their first day of school cancelled. Flash flood warnings popped up all over. Towns not too far from us had forced evacuations due to rivers flooding. In the face of such inclement weather, certain preparations are advised. Stock up on food in case you’re stranded for any length of time. Make sure you have plenty of potable water on hand should your water be contaminated by the fallout. Keep bags of ice handy in case the power goes out and you need to keep your refrigerated food from spoiling. All excellent advice. And I didn’t do any of it.

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Demons who Confess Christ

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met anyone suffering from demon possession. Yet a quick reading of the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, or Luke will show you numerous instances of Jesus driving out a demon from a person who is possessed. It seems to have been a common ailment back then. But even more intriguing is this fact: the demons know who Jesus is, and they confess Him as the Son of God.

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Surviving in a Hostile Environment

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I like to joke that I live in a hostile environment. As a Michigan transplant to Texas, I’m not at all used to the climate down here. It’s much hotter here, and the sun is a lot more intense. Some days I can’t get enough water. When the heat index is over 100 and the AC runs almost constantly just to keep it at 80, even being inside is dehydrating, and I drink water all day long. Summertime is downright miserable. My poor blonde-haired children are no match for the sun, so I need to be extra vigilant about protecting them, lest they burn or get dehydrated or get heatstroke. Like I said, we’re in a hostile environment.

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Expecting a Miracle

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The disciples should have been expecting it. After all, they’d seen Jesus do it before. But when it came down to it, they still doubted Jesus could fix the problem. Mark 8:1-4 gives the following account:

During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

Sigh. Just two chapters ago, the disciples witnessed the feeding of the 5,000 with just five loaves and two fish. (Actually, it was a lot more than 5,000, since that number doesn’t include women and children.) What’s more, there were 12 baskets of leftovers. And now history is repeating itself. Another large crowd, this time 4,000 men plus women and children, again getting hungry after listening to Jesus’ teaching. But despite the fact that Jesus had already multiplied loaves and fish for an even larger crowd, the disciples balk at the daunting task of feeding so many people. Did they forget how Jesus had provided for everyone last time? Did they think He wouldn’t provide again? Where is their faith? And yet, we so often do the same thing.

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