Saturday, July 3, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling ( Part 2)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Yesterday we considered the father's first bit of instruction. Today we'll look at his second and consider biblical illustrations to flesh it out. 

"If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;"

Don't we all need affirmation? Is there any among us who truly doesn't care what anyone else thinks? Have you ever had to stand alone in a place where all men doubted you? Job did. Jesus did.
Job went from being a highly visible, highly respected, wealthy elder in the town to a penniless and pathetic man, bereft of family, friends, status, and health. His former friends turned on him and accused him of sins he had never committed. Though Job was miserable, he trusted enough in himself not to yield to external pressure. He knew he was innocent and appealed to God for an explanation (his one faux pas.).

Jesus also suffered abandonment of man--He went to the cross a lonely Savior. Even His disciples forsook him and ran for cover. Yet He trusted in Himself as the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Though He pleaded with God to take away the cup of suffering from Him, yet He submitted to the will of God. Unlike Job, he did not ask for an explanation--Jesus knew the reason for His suffering.

Jesus made allowance for the doubting of men. He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." 

After God humbled Job (chapters 38-41) by giving him a glimpse of His majesty, Job no longer felt a need for any explanation. Instead he felt compassion for his friends (who were about to come under God's judgment for their treatment of him) and, like Jesus, made allowance for their doubting and interceded on their behalf.

The interesting thing is that after Job interceded for those who doubted him, his former earthly glory was restored . . . just as Jesus was restored to glory in the highest and given a name that is above every name.

What can we learn from this? When we are doubted by all, the place to go is to the Father who will help us by:
  • showing us where we are wrong and helping us make restitution, or
  • showing us where we are right and helping us to stand alone, and
  • helping us make allowance for those who doubt us until they come to the knowledge of the truth.
If you can do that, you will have accomplished the second of many challenges this earthly father has put to his son. Keep it up and you are on your way to being a man, or woman, the Father can be proud of.

Friday, July 2, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"

I'm going to spend the next few days checking the key points of this poem against biblical instruction and wisdom, beginning with:

"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you . . ."

There are times when, rightfully or not, we become the target of blame in a difficult situation. Perhaps it's the economy or unemployment issues. Or perhaps it's something closer to home - like a family function that's gone awry. 

Due to miscommunication, guests have all gone to the wrong restaurant for your Uncle Buck's hundredth birthday party. You and Uncle Buck are waiting at the Elks, wearing party hats, whistles rolled up beside your plates. Everyone else is at I-HOP wondering where in the world the guest of honor is and hoping he hasn't been in an accident. By the time the misunderstanding is identified, your disappointed uncle has nodded off to sleep and you have taken him home. Everyone else is a-twitter--and they're blaming you!

You may never know how your clearly-stated directions were misconstrued. But, in the midst of it all, can you keep your head about you? Can you apologize for the confusion and do your best to get to the bottom of it? If it's your fault, can you seek forgiveness? If the event was sabotaged by someone intending harm to you or Uncle Buck, can you respond as Jesus would? 

Consider Jesus, who committed no sin and no deceit was found in his mouth.Yet they accused him coarsely.

"When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate. 
When he suffered, he made no threats. 
Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly"
~ I Peter 2:23

This is how you answer your critics. Don't retaliate. Don't gossip. Don't make threats. Instead, entrust yourself to him who judges justly. And he will take care of you. 

If you've been wronged, consider this from Romans:

"Do not take revenge, my friends,
but leave room for God's wrath,
for it is written:
'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord.
~ Romans 12:19

Furthermore, this passage says we should actually do good to our enemies, feeding them if they are hungry, giving them something to drink if they are thirsty. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

If you can do that, you will have accomplished the first of many challenges this father has put to his son. Keep it up and you are on your way to being a man, or woman, the Father can be proud of.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Adjusting to the New Normal

Following Dick's close call last week we've made some changes--some are temporary and others, we hope, will last until the Lord takes us home. The temporary ones involve physical restrictions imposed until his health is stabilized . . . like no lifting or straining, and getting plenty of rest. The permanent changes include things that will help him/us stay focused on things that matter in the long run.

We are spending more time in the Bible, reading, meditating, and listening to taped messages of well-known preachers. We are spending less time watching television.

We are spending more time considering God's eternal purposes and his power to bring them to completion. We are spending less time considering possible responses to the evil we see around us.

We are spending more time in prayer, committing ourselves to the One who judges justly. We are spending less time talking with others about the injustices in the world.

Some may consider this a cop out. They may say we are sticking our head in the sand, hoping the danger will go away, hoping danger won't see us because we can't see it. To that we'd have to say, "No, you are wrong. We are painfully aware of the danger out there--danger is crouching at our borders, lapping at our shores. But the tide has turned. Our Ship of State has run aground. Without God's help, we cannot turn this great country around.

Today, with the stakes so high, we are choosing to spend more time with God, humbly admitting that we need him. We need him to judge the evil that surrounds us and to give us strength and encouragement while we wait. We believe this is the most effective way to handle the problems of the world.

Of course, we'll still study the issues and vote. That is our privilege and responsibility as citizens of this once God-fearing country. But God has told us to "occupy until I come." We're taking that to mean we are to busy ourselves with what he deems important--doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On Blogging

On September 5, 2009, I committed to blogging every day (except Sundays) for one year. If others could do it--think Julie and Julia--I should be able to do it, too. It would be good discipline and, perhaps, I might say something that would bless someone . . . out there.

Well, it has been good discipline. By September 4, 2010, I will have forced myself to put BIC (a technical writing term meaning "butt in chair" LOL) for 313 days. During that time, I've made many new friends and have been blessed beyond measure by your comments.

Most of all, I've been blessed by thoughts and insights which I believe originated with God, for He says "My tongue is the pen of a ready writer" (Psalm 45:1). I try to come to the desktop each day a ready writer: prayed up, confessed up, BIC, and listening for Him to speak. Anything good that has shown up on this blog is a gift from God. The not-so-good stuff? I alone take credit for that.

Thank you for being there. As we round the corner and head toward home, I look forward to hearing from you more than ever. God bless you, dear reader.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Whistle While You Work

Glory hallelujah, it's another sunny day! Does anyone ever get used to this? Do people who live in the sun belt wake up and say, "Ho hum, another sunny day. Guess I'll go back to bed." Of course, they do.

Boredom seems to be a central component of natural man's thinking. It's only when God enters our lives--showing us a glimpse of all He has for us in the heavenlies--that we begin to view our days on earth with anticipation. What will He show me today? Who will He send my way today? How will He conform me to the image of Christ today?

God doesn't like it when His children are bored anymore than we like it when our children are "bored." One wise mother said, "Only a boring person is bored." With all that awaits us, let's face the future with anticipation, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Rain or shine, we have a job to do. Let's whistle while we work . . . and rejoice evermore.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Undergirding of Praying Friends

Sometimes we have a problem and are amazed at how well we've risen to the occasion. Then we find out two things:
  • God has called our friends to pray for us,
  • and they have obeyed Him.
What a blessing to have friends and family who pray. What an even greater blessing to have a God who listens to our prayers--and ACTS upon them.

How long has it been since you've asked people to pray for you? Don't miss the blessing. But if you are too enmeshed in trials to even ask, know this: God will prompt them to pray for you.

"The one who calls you is faithful
and he will do it."
~I Thessalonians 5:24