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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Predictable

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I started a new book the other day. By the end of the first chapter, I knew who would end up with whom and what seemingly insurmountable obstacle would be overcome in the course of the story. It was completely predictable. And yet I continued reading nonetheless, and thoroughly enjoyed the book. A number of books are like this (my own included, one might argue). We know pretty much from the get-go what’s going to happen. And this knowledge helps us through the conflicts and tensions that arise in the middle of the story. We read on, through painful setbacks and embarrassing scenes, knowing that things are going to turn out okay in the end. We trust that the author has the characters’ best interests in mind and will see them to a satisfying conclusion.

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Toning Up

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I used to have toned muscles. Many moons ago when we lived in a bigger city and had two less children, I belonged to a gym, where I split my time between the elliptical and the resistance machines. I went three or four times a week, and with regular use, my muscles got stronger and more toned. But when we moved I didn’t have a gym available, and with the addition of another baby, it was too hard to coordinate anyhow. So my muscles weren’t being used in the same ways, and therefore lost their nice toned look. Recently I noticed just how un-toned they are, so I determined to strengthen them again. I found an app that led me through various exercises, and I felt great doing them––wall push ups, overhead presses, triceps dips. Ah, it was good to be working the various muscle groups. But the next day, those same muscles were pretty sore, and I had to admit a harsh truth––I’m not as in shape as I used to be.

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Taking the Gospel for Granted

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Familiarity breeds contempt.

So goes the old expression. And we get the basic premise; At first, everything is new and exciting, but over time that excitement fades and one tends to take for granted what once was  an amazing blessing. Whether this plays out in a marriage, a job, or even possessions, we can all think of examples. But what happens when you find yourself feeling this way about the Gospel?

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Life on the Plain (from the archive)

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(Originally published in 2015, I found myself thinking of this article as our family vacation draws to a close and we have to go back to life as usual.)

Last weekend I was blessed to attend a pastors’ wives retreat. It was marvelous. It was refreshing. It was uplifting. I was able to meet other pastors’ wives and swap stories with them. I stayed up late with them, sipping wine and eating chocolate. I had free time to walk, write, and relax. I went kayaking. Our group of ladies had wonderful sessions together. We sang together. We harmonized together. We did devotions together. We learned different methods of doing personal Bible study. It was a wonderful weekend. And then I came home.

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What a Pastor’s Wife Wants You to Know

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(Originally posted on Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife on June 2, 2017)

I know, I know. You’ve read it all before. You get it. Pastors’ wives are sick of living in a fishbowl. They don’t want to be compared to the former pastor’s wife. They’re tired of the expectation that they’ll do everything from leading VBS to starting a women’s Bible study to doing secretarial work for free. They hate the stereotype that their children must be perfectly behaved or know all the answers in Sunday school. You know all these things. You’ve seen other blog posts to that effect. And it’s a good and helpful thing when congregations realize this. But honestly, too many articles of that nature makes us PWs seem sort of…well, resentful. So please allow me to share a few other things I’d like parishioners to know that may help you understand your pastor’s wife (and your pastor) better. Continue reading “What a Pastor’s Wife Wants You to Know”

One Common Destiny

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It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.

All roads lead to heaven.

People may call God by different names, but we all still worship the same God.

Nice sentiments, aren’t they? Why trouble yourself too much about religion, after all? What difference does it really make in the end? If we’re all going to heaven, it doesn’t matter what we believe or how we live our lives on earth, right? But is that true? Do we all share a common destiny? Actually, in one sense, yes. But it may not be exactly what you have in mind.

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How to Change the World

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The power to influence the world belongs most of all to God’s children.

The quote made me stop in my tracks to consider the implications of those words. I was reading my devotion in the Today’s Light Bible, working through the book of Amos. Like many other prophets in the Old Testament, Amos warned God’s people that destruction was coming. They would be taken into captivity for their gross idolatry and failure to repent. In Amos 7, God shows His prophet two visions of the future. In one, a swarm of locusts completely strips the land of all crops. In the other, a fire consumed the land. After both visions, Amos cried out to the Lord and begged Him not to send such calamity upon Israel. And in both instances, God listened to Amos and relented from sending the disaster. Amos’ prayer changed the course of history for his nation.

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