Samuel and a Teachable Moment

I have spent so many hours watching the Olympics this past week. I have let my reading and writing slip to the periphery.

Then I read my friend, Evelyn Mann’s article about an incident that happened with her son. Read it here: Miracle Man

If you have children, work with children, or live near children take time to consider Evelyn’s suggestions for ways to bridge the wonderment and answer the questions.

Samuel is an amazing child. Catch his joy!

 

A Gentle Request for How You Respond to Jim’s Passing

I have admired and respected Rebeca Seitz for several years. This blog post is so profound and necessary I couldn’t not reblog it. As a pastor, I am tasked to comfort families at the death of loved ones. It’s not always easy and sometimes I do play the heaven card too soon and too easily. I’m keeping a copy of this post as a reminder to myself and an encouragement to those I serve. Read and share.

Rebeca Seitz's Blog

Jim James D. Seitz

On Saturday, July 30, 2016, at 11:33am, my fantastic father-in-love James D. Seitz finished his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 82 years old. I loved him dearly. I am not loving something about the response to his death, so I’m writing.

Three years ago, the Hubs and I moved the kiddos down to Naples to help out with Jim’s care. He and Grace allowed us the honor of being a real part of this journey and, while I won’t lie and say it was anywhere in the same ballpark as easy, I’m glad we did. I’m happy we got that time with him, that my kiddos know the amazing grandfather they had, that my mother-in-love and I grew closer as we cared for the love of her life, the man she was married to for 55 years.

Now, most of my Facebook friends are actual friends…

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On Complaining…Or Not

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. (Psalm 23:6, NRSV)

On a past trip to visit my mom in Arizona I came to a new awareness. It wasn’t completely new, but it sure hit me in a new kind of way: I have very little tolerance with complaining. Let me clarify. I believe that there is room for dissatisfaction and the proper communicating of that. My problem is with people…like a woman at the movie theater.

Mom and I decided we were going to see the movie, “The Proposal.” Romantic comedies are one of my favorite genres of films (followed closely by Disney animation). I was pretty excited to see the film, partly because I like the star, Sandra Bullock, but also because it was nice to see a grown up movie (a grandma’s dilemma). We were standing in a line waiting to buy our tickets when a woman came in with a group and immediately began to complain. The line was too long. She wasn’t going to get a good seat. Couldn’t they afford to get adequate help so she didn’t have to wait? On and on she went.

When we got into the theater, even though it was a multiplex, she was seated right behind us. I don’t think she skipped a beat and went right on complaining, loud enough for everyone around her to hear (which was pretty loud, keeping in mind this is a retirement community). The upcoming movie ads were too long. The theater was too cold. The seats were too hard. Sandra Bullock was too thin. The movie was too predictable.

When I had enough, I leaned over to Mom and told her I was about ready to stuff a sock in the woman’s mouth. I wouldn’t have done it, but it was a tempting thought. After the movie Mom and I were laughing about it. Then she turned serious and informed me complaining is a way of life for the people down there. That ended the discussion, but not my thinking about it.

I am still mystified why retired folk in Arizona would be complaining. Sure it’s warm, okay hot, but it’s a dry heat. On that visit people were complaining about 30% humidity while the humidity back home in Ohio was over 100%. They live in beautiful homes, surrounded by amazing scenery. They are retired so all they have is time, but they complain about waiting. I just don’t get it.

I decided to make sure that it was complaining that I had the biggest problem with, so I checked the definition out on dictionary.com. The distinction that stuck out most clearly to me was the between expressing dissatisfaction and a constant whining complaining about everything. It wasn’t occasional dissatisfaction that bothered me, but that seemingly total frustration and complaint about everything that really grates on me. One of the descriptions is “to whine like a spoiled child.” And that hit it right on the head for me. Whiners and complainers walk around exuding some kind of sense of entitlement that irritates me to no end. That’s what got to me about the woman at the movie. She seemed to feel she was entitled to immediate attention, and seating, and the perfect movie experience.

As I read all the way through the definitions I found that they listed an antonym at the end. The antonym for complain is rejoice. How perfect is that! Paul admonishes the Philippians to do all things without grumbling or complaining. He moves through a discussion on growing spiritually deep and hits with pretty solid intensity their need to rejoice. And he says it again, probably louder and more forcefully: Rejoice! James echoes the teaching by telling the readers of his letter to “count it ALL joy.”

At one of the darkest and most shame-full periods of my life, not even my typically optimistic and sanguine personality seemed to be much help. I had to make a conscious effort to be thankful. I had to look for things to rejoice about. The more I looked, the more I found. The more I found, the better I felt, and the more joy that became apparent to others. The shame wasn’t erased, but the heaviness was lifted. I was surrounded by much whining and complaining but all I could feel was an abiding gratitude for the way God was bringing me through. I was in a dark, dark valley, but goodness and mercy walked me enabling me to avoid the grumbly pitfalls and come out on the side of joy.

Maybe that’s why I get easily irritated by the complaining and whining of others. I know where I’ve been and how easily it would have been to give up. But honestly, what good does whining and complaining do? I haven’t seen one occasion where it has made the situation better. Whereas, I have seen the insertion of thankfulness and joy into an otherwise abysmal situation make all the difference—for the good—in the world!

So don’t make me take out my sock! Things not going well? Look for what is and plant the seed of thankfulness. Who are your traveling mates on the journey? If they aren’t Goodness and Mercy, then beat feet away from the negativity and soak in the grace that will release you into joy! Who you travel with and how you travel is really up with you. You want some control? Control that!

 

 

Teaser: A Mary Like Me

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I’m not ready to review this book. But I want to let you know that what I’ve read is wonderful. I’m so excited about it, I would love to find a group of women who want to dig in and find God’s word.

I couldn’t get past the subtitle: flawed yet called. Who can’t relate to that?

Here’s what I know for sure: the author, Andy Lee, is a student of the Word, a lover of Jesus, a servant with a huge heart and burden for women. I follow Andy’s daily bites of bread on Facebook and look forward each morning to her breaking open the Word live on Periscope.

This one is going to be good.

Book Review: The Apocalypse Within

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I have never been interested in studying Revelation. The most I have ever done is give attention to the letters to the seven churches and the wonderful imagery in the final chapter. As far as I was concerned, the most important word was Maranatha—come now, Lord!

DiTizio’s book claims to be different kind of study of Revelation, one that “is about what happens inside of us when we accept Christ into our life.” He asserts that the imagery throughout the book are “about our sinful nature being destroyed by the blood of the lamb.”

To say I was intrigued is an understatement. I quickly tune out those who espouse the contemporary fulfilments of the players in revelation. I just felt there had to be more. We spend so much time trying to explain what will happen in the end times. The imposition has always felt stilted and contrived.

While I don’t completely feel that this book has answered all my questions, it has given me much to consider.

One of the things that I found interesting—enough that I will do more research—is it’s analysis of the Aramaic language. The author draws on experts in this area, as well as many others.

In the very first chapter, the author makes an unusual statement. He says that it is his hope the book will prove useful, but if it doesn’t then go back to what you’re comfortable with, and he makes reference to 1 Thessalonians 5:21: Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.

It’s rare that I finish a book and not have a solid yay, or nay opinion. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. This book has put me in a place where I just might have to do more studying of Revelation.

This book was provided to me by BookCrash in return for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: Choose, Fulfill Your Created Purpose

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One of my favorite things to do when I’m in a library or book store with someone is point out the authors that I know personally. I’m going to let you know: I know David Brannock.

But more than just know the person and the author, I know this man’s heart–and it shines through in this book.

Choose is straight from his heart.

Finding purpose and direction may not rank up there with college choices, prom dates, and summer jobs in the minds of many graduates, but David understands that what they decide about Jesus truly is the most important choice they’ll every make.

This is not a long book, but it is a rich one. There is a lot of scriptural foundation that backs up the authors points. Each chapter has questions that will guide the reader as he or she considers their future.

The book claims to help the reader chart their course wisely. And I think it clearly delivers on that claim.

I would recommend this book as a gift for graduates. Churches, pastors, and Christian Ed Committees would do well to consider it for all their graduates. It would also be a great small group study. It’s one I will consider for the graduates in our church.

Book Review: The Imitation of Christ, Classic Devotions in Today’s Language

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One of my favorite movies is a sappy romantic comedy called, “Kate and Leopold.” In the movie a character from the late 1800’s ends up in the 1990’s. In one conversation the stars have, Kate asks Leopold what he misses from his time. His response is that he misses the pace. Modern time is to fast and chaotic.

Perhaps that is why I love Peterson’s translation of Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:29. We are invited to “catch the unforced rhythms of grace.”

As I began reading this modern translation of The Imitation of Christ, I felt the pace change. I sensed an unusual, but very comforting rhythm. I found I couldn’t help but slow down–and in the slowing, go deeper.

There has always been a timelessness about the message of the original work, but now people can more easily hear it and hopefully be changed by it. I love how the messages flow from the Christ and from the Disciple. We are so naturally tuned into the message and pace of the world and this books speaks to that…and to us.

I would strongly recommend this book for personal study, but also see how it could be beneficial to study it’s message in a small trusted group. There is much to be gained from the accountability with other believers.

The only thing that would made the book better was more room to write in the margins. I found many times when I wanted to respond to the Christ as the disciple did.