Monday, July 31, 2017

Horrible Mercy

"It's not fair!"

Those were the words I yelled as the green snake attacked the woodpecker on the side of the tree.

A video has been circulating on Facebook showing a woodpecker on a tree trunk with his head inside a hole in the tree.  Suddenly a large green snake darts out of the hole and grabs the bird.

The bird thrashes, the snake holds on, and after quite a tussle the bird breaks free.  The snake retreats back into the hole, feathers and a piece of bird belly in his mouth.

Unbelievably, the bird returns and pecks at the snake.  Apparently her eggs or her baby birdies are in the hole, and she bravely risks her life to save them.

Again a strike by the snake.  Another shaking.  Feathers fly.  The bird breaks loose again, stunned.

As the bird comes back yet again, it's obvious the snake has the upper hand, and both the babies and the mother woodpecker will not fare well.

"It's just not fair!" I cry.

These were nearly the same words spoken by the prophet Jonah many centuries ago.

This weekend we traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to see Sight and Sound Theatre's production of "Jonah."  In case you're not familiar with the story, God called Jonah to go to the evil city of Ninevah and tell them that God would destroy them in forty days.

After much avoidance of doing what God wanted, including running the other way to a different city, Tarshish, a major storm at sea, a three day adventure in the belly of a whale, and some other dealings between himself and God, Jonah finally relented and went to Ninevah.

He told the Ninevites the message God had given him to deliver, then went and perched himself at a safe distance to relish the city's destruction - almost like setting himself up in his comfortable lawn chair for a grand display of fireworks.

When the fortieth day came and went, God did not destroy the people of Ninevah, for they had repented and turned back to Him.  Jonah was irritated.  He was disappointed.  Frankly, he thought it was terrible that God had extended mercy to those who didn't deserve it. 

Horrible that those people should receive God's mercy.

I want to laugh at Jonah.

I want to tell him to wake up.

I want to tell him to look at himself.

Yet, I need to look in the mirror.

I need mercy, just as much as Jonah and every one of those Ninevites.

Unwarranted favor, so graciously provided by the One who loves me.  Not one of us deserves His mercy.

The least I can do for this One who has given all for me is face my own "ninevahs," those things in my life that He calls me to stop ignoring, but that I keep avoiding.

Lord, give me the willingness to do so.

Do you have any "ninevahs?"

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Killer Coupon

The entry that follows is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Risking it All:  One Woman's Adventure Giving Away Her Income.  I'm writing the book in journal form, and I expect to complete it early in the Fall of this year.

Journal Entry - Saturday, July 15, 2017

That 30% off coupon almost did me in tonight. 

It’s not often that a department store coupon takes me down.  It didn’t win this time, either.  I’m still standing, but let me tell you – it was quite the battle.

Tomorrow I leave for a writers’ conference.  It will be the first time I attend this conference, and my mind has been full with all the preparations to leave home for a week.  My suitcase is packed, and I have completed all of the pre-assignments.

That coupon sitting there on my desk has really interfered in all of it.  That bugger has really given me a run for my money, an attack on my self-confidence, and a test for me of what’s really important in the end.

After seeing that coupon this afternoon, I was having thoughts I don’t usually have.  I became convinced I wouldn’t be appropriately dressed at the conference.  I started thinking I won’t be dressy enough to meet with those important people – agents, authors, publishers, and the like.  The thought passed through my mind that I shouldn’t even be going to an event like this one.  After all, why would I even think I could call myself a writer?

Sometimes our enemy, Satan, is so subtle.  Other times he’s obvious, and I’m just dense.  This was one of the latter for me.

I seriously considered canceling our other evening plans, dashing out this evening, doing some shopping for “professional wear” clothing, and using that darn coupon.  It was still sitting there taunting me and facilitating those lies from the enemy about how worthless I am and how underdressed I’d be.

But then I had that “Wait a minute…” moment. 

I AM a writer.

My clothing IS appropriate enough.  Maybe not the two-piece polyester pantsuits that I assume I’ll be seeing, but so what.

I DON’T need any more clothing.  My clothing is plenty good enough and certainly appropriate.  People wear pretty much anything nowadays, and what a person wears just isn’t that important.

I would think that after spending the majority of this last year focusing on social issues and writing an entire book about my journey, a battle of this magnitude over a selection of clothing for a conference would NOT be an issue. 

From this little battle, I’ve been reminded again that the enemy is crafty.  His plan is to kill and destroy.  He doesn’t want me to stand strong in the knowledge of my worth as a daughter of the One True King.  And he certainly doesn’t want me to write and point people to Jesus.

But write I will.  Tell people about Jesus, I will.  Worship Jesus, the King, I will.  And I’ll happily wear what I’ve got. 

That silly coupon went into the trash just now.  And it was launched into there with a confident, victorious, Michael Jordan-type hook shot.

God:  2.    Satan:  0

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Musings

I just returned from my second Writers' Conference of the year, and I had every good intention of getting up early and getting productive.  It's Monday, after all, and the possibilities for this new week are wide open.

It just didn't happen as I planned, though.  I guess I didn't count on the fact that my body is still tired and recovering from the conference week.  Like most conferences I've attended in the past, I didn't get enough sleep.  I was simply more interested in talking to people and doing other non-sleeping things.

I've heard so many people over the years griping at the end of a weekend about the Daily Grind coming back around on Monday morning.  I saw this yesterday on an Instagram post, and I've hung it on my wall to help me keep things in the right perspective:

And so I have gotten myself busy here at my desk this morning.  A little later of a start than I had wanted, but there are still plenty of good hours left in this day.

As you can see, my study into the book of JOB is well under way.

I've got my coffee (nothing happens well in the morning without it for me), and I'm delving quite deeply into the background and the structure of the book of Job for now.

When I study a new book in the Bible, I always start with a little bit of prayer.  I ask for understanding, revelation, and application to my life.  I also remind myself to read slowwwww.  Unless I slow myself down, I'm likely to miss some of the important details.

I typically read a chapter several times, and I write notes of things that come to mind or verses that particularly stick out to me as I read.  I allow myself time to think about what I've read.

After I've done that, then I get out the STUFF.  I open all my map books, commentary books, and other books I have collected over the years that help me better understand the culture and customs of the time period.

Before I close it all up and go on to my other daily chores, I pray and ask for whatever takeaways there are for me.  There is always something new that I need to apply in my life from what I read each day.

If you are a faithful blog follower of mine, you know about the four Bible Study books I have written in the past:  1 Samuel:  It's Always About the Heart, Esther:  For Such a Time as This, The Miracles of Jesus, and Philippians:  Paul's Joyful Letter From a Prison Cell.

For those of you that want an update, I'm currently writing a fifth book about a one year money adventure.  I'm getting toward the end of the project, and I thankfully have an agent that wants to represent me with that book.  More details on that to come - stay tuned!  It has been quite the exciting journey!

Might a study on the book of JOB be my next project?  Hmmmm, please pray along with me on that one.