Friday, February 27, 2009

Perilous Pets

As far as we know, Sandra Herold never saw it coming. Travis, the chimpanzee, had been her pet for years. Apparently he had never been much of a problem outside of normal primate playfulness. One report spoke of how the chimp “…liked to surf on the Internet and was able to change the TV channel with a remote, according to a Stamford Advocate article. The paper also reported that Travis watered plants, was able to feed hay to his owner's horses, ate at a table with the rest of the family and sometimes drank wine from a stemmed glass” (Stephanie Gallman, CNN). He was the perfect pet.

But all that changed this past Monday. When Charla Nash came to help Herold get Travis back into the house after he had escaped by using a key, the chimp attacked Herold’s friend. The vicious attack nearly killed Ms. Nash, who remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Police who responded to a 911 call for help were forced to shoot and kill the animal after it tried to attack an officer. Although it doesn’t happen often, sometimes pets will turn against their owners or those close to them. And when they do, someone usually gets hurt.

The same thing can happen with our mental or emotional “pets.” What are mental or emotional pets, you ask? I am speaking of the sinful attitudes that we nurture and protect – things like pride, anger, abusive speech, selfishness, grudges, etc.. Over time we can become quite close to these pets. We feed and shelter them. We keep them under control in respectable company. And with such good care, these pets soon grow big and strong. But, then, the unthinkable happens. These pets that have been such close companions turn against us. Suddenly, without warning, we lash out at those around us. Our words and actions injure and maim others. Lives are damaged.

Lord, please help us all to realize the danger that comes with keeping such “pets” in our lives. May we get rid of the sinful attitudes and actions that injure us as well as others.

God loves you!

God Is Still On His Throne

One of the lead articles in the February 2009 issue of the Christian Chronicle dealt with reactions among Christians to the election of Barack Obama as 44th president of the United States. As to be expected, opinions were varied. Some were elated while others were not. Such is to be expected in any political election. The response of one particular woman did catch my attention. Speaking of Mr. Obama’s inauguration, she said: “This means that God is still on the throne.” So…are we to conclude, then, that God would have abdicated if anyone other than Mr. Obama had won? Sorry, but I can’t let that one slide by without comment.

I promise that this won’t be a foray into partisan politics. I realize that Mr. Obama’s election is a historic one and full of meaning for many people. I pray for him just as I have prayed for other leaders of our country. He will have his victories and failures just like every other president in our nation’s history. Will he prove to the kind of leader our country needs? Who knows? You have your opinion and I have mine, but it is much too early to tell.

There is one thing of which I am certain. The election of any particular human leader is not a barometer of God’s sovereignty. God remains on the throne regardless of who leads our country (or any other country for that matter). While God in interested in and works in human affairs (including politics), His dominion over the universe is not dependent upon who occupies the Oval Office.

I don’t sit in judgment over the motives or emotions of the woman who made the statement. I realize it is easy to get caught up in a moment and say something in an interview which you might have rephrased after thinking about it. Perhaps she meant it as it came across or perhaps she didn’t. Either way, I am thankful I serve a God Who remains on His throne regardless of who is on any earthly throne.

God loves you!

Monday, February 16, 2009

President's Day in Fair Oaks

Today was Heritage Day in Fair Oaks. Lane, Taylor, Tessa and I went down for several hours and had a great time. We saw George and Martha Washington, Molly Pitcher, and learned why she was called that, a mountain man, a captain in the army, native American dancers, and a snake oil salesman. The girls fed a goat and watched a woman spinning goat hair, made a homemade doll, danced with the Indian dancers, and laughed their heads off at the snake oil salesman. He also did a bit of magic and was a ventriloquist. There was a fife and drum band playing, popcorn to eat, gold to pan and railroad spikes you could drive in. We also learned about a woman named Debra Samson. (look her up!) And the mountain man told us all about his Kentucky long rifle. This rifle spawned several well know words/sayings-- "spitball" "a flash in the pan", "going off half-cocked" and "lock, stock and barrel". History coming alive- a homeschooling mother's dream!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

God Meant It For Good

Even after being reunited with their brother Joseph in Egypt, the other sons of Jacob continued to live in fear that he would repay them for their evil things they had done to him. After all, they had plotted to kill him and only abandoned that plan when they saw an opportunity to make some money and still be rid of him by selling him into slavery. Who wouldn’t want to get even with someone for making their life so miserable?

Joseph, that’s who! Following the death of their father, the brothers are again fearful that payback time is imminent. And, once again, Joseph endeavors to set their minds at ease. “But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (Genesis 50:19-21 NAS).

What a marvelous attitude! I am guessing that there must have been times earlier in his life, particularly when things were going badly, when Joseph wasn’t feeling so charitable. Surely there were times when he harbored an attitude of revenge toward his brothers. But by this time in his life, he had learned a very important lesson: God can take the negative experiences in life and use them to accomplish something positive.

Bad times still come. Pain, disappointment, and unfairness remain a very real part of life. But I have a choice to make just like Joseph did. I can choose to let the negative circumstances of life make me bitter and vengeful. Or I can choose to turn the negative circumstances over to God and get out of His way! Lord, help me to understand and believe “…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV).

God loves you!

Who Won???

On December 27, 2008, Israeli forces initiated an assault into Gaza for the expressed purpose of stopping Hamas rocket attacks into southern Israel. This battle, which has continued for three weeks, was halted this past week as a tenuous cease-fire took effect. News outlets have reported damage estimates in Gaza as high as 2 billion dollars while damage to Israeli property was minimal. Casualty estimates were also lopsided, with around 1300 Gazans dead compared to 13 Israelis. As would be expected in view of such numbers, Israel is claiming victory. Interestingly enough, so is Hamas. An AP article entitled “Hamas declares victory in rallies across Gaza” reports the following: “Waving green Islamic flags atop the ruins of Gaza, Hamas proclaimed victory in rallies attended by thousands of supporters Tuesday, saying it survived Israel’s military onslaught despite the destruction and massive death toll suffered by Gazans.” Apparently, beauty is not the only thing that is in the eye of the beholder. As this story illustrates, victory also depends on one’s perspective.

The image of a Hamas militant, standing in the midst of smoldering rubble, with perhaps scores of fallen comrades around him, and defiantly claiming victory seems almost bizarre, doesn’t it? But when you think about it, it’s really not all that different from the stance that the human race in general has taken in relationship to their Creator. Ever since the Fall, many have declared war on God and His will for their lives. They stubbornly do things their own way, regardless of the harm it brings to themselves and those around them. And when their lives come crashing down around them, some still stand in the midst of the rubble and claim to be living victoriously without any help from God.

Lord, I live in a world that is full of people who don’t understand that true victory in life only comes with Your help. May I help them to understand the utter futility of life without You. Please help me to be a beacon of Your hope when they begin seeking for a better way.

God loves you!