Tuesday, June 20, 2006

LEARNING TO BE CONTENT IN OUR OWN PASTURES: Part 1

One of my blogging friends, Mike Ratliff, has just completed a wonderful series of articles on the timely topic of "the pilgrim heart." One of the articles in particular has caused me to pause and ponder the idea of genuine contentedness in our pilgrimage to that Celestial City. And it got me wondering.....are we, at times, like the sheep in the above photo, peering through the fence at the patch of land on the other side, wistfully longing to be out of our current situation, thinking how wonderful it must surely be across the fence--how marvelous it would be to be over "there," and free from a current burden, trial, or time of suffering?

I'm going to begin with a few selected quotes from Mike's article, as he explores the "gift" of contentment in our Christian lives.

He writes: "We must follow Jesus instead of doing what we want. We must become content with who we are and what our circumstances are. He will teach us how to suffer and sorrow for His glory. We must see all suffering before our Lord as sweet pain. Those who learn to endure will emerge purified, humble, and selfless. With each patient victory, Christ-likeness grows. He will teach us how to be content through it all. When our hearts become circumcised and we become Spirit-led we take a huge step in becoming selfless. We must ask God to develop this wonderful gift of contentment in us. Ask God to show you how selfless you are. "

"What is the key to developing a selfless heart? The key is total submission to Christ’s Lordship. We must give it all up. We must not cling to any of that old worldly stuff. Our fulfillment must come from our relationship with our Lord and from NO WHERE else." (Let me type Mike's last line again, this time in bold text): "Our fulfillment must come from our relationship with our Lord and from NO WHERE else."

Oh, what a profound truth my brother Mike presents here. The last sentence could expand the topic to include not just our sufferings, but longings and desires, as well....but why is the concept so hard to grasp? Or on second thought, maybe it's not a failure to grasp, maybe it's an unwillingness to let go. (Oh my, I think I may be on to something, here). To hold on too tight to the things that we need to loosen our grips on......specifically.......desires or dreams, i.e.: I want this, I want that, and I want them now. (Or at least a glimpse of hope that I'll get them someday).

Are we prone, in our shallow humanness, to sometimes view discontentment in itself as a trial, or as a time of suffering? I think we can find ourselves guilty of that mentality. Do we find ouselves thinking, on occasion, "Is this it? Is this all there is? Have I reached the pinnacle? Have I 'peaked' in this life?"

As we explore this, let's consider the word "content," and all its variations (i.e., "contented," "contentment.") How would you define them? What do they mean to you? A nice house? A good job? Watching a beautiful sunset? Kids who never get in any sort of trouble? A good book & a warm, cozy fire on a cold winter night? A perfect spouse who constantly gives you their undivided attention? A great vacation? Enjoying an elegant meal at an expensive restaurant? Relaxing with relatives after a delicious Thanksgiving meal? A peaceful, starlit night? Drifting on a float in your own swimming pool? A tall glass of lemonade on a warm summer night? What does true "contentment" consist of? Paul told Timothy that he would be content with food for his stomach, and clothes for his back.....merely the very basic necessities of life would be sufficient for his contentment.
"6Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7for we brought nothing into the world, and[a] we cannot take anything out of the world. 8But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content." (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Let's say that you are experiencing a season of discontentment, and you are viewing it as a fiery trial or time of suffering. What do the scriptures have to say about it? Paul suggests in the book of Romans that we should view our sufferings as a time for rejoicing. "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." (Romans 5:3-4). He went on to say in the 8th chapter, that we should not dwell on our sufferings: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18) In James, we are implored to count trials as joy: "2Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4) So, rejoice in them, be content in them, count them a joy, and then move on. Don't wallow in your sorrow.

Mike closed his article with the following prayer, which I think is one we can all relate to:

"Please burn away all of us that is not of You. Give us the grace to submit and patiently endure the sweet pain. Do not take away the pain Lord, but give us the ability to endure it for your glory. In Jesus precious name Amen!"

In the next installment, I'll explore further the purposes of suffering, and factors that could contribute to our feelings of discontent, which we may interpret as "suffering," (as well as the dangers and pitfalls of such a mindset).

Friday, June 02, 2006

RECENT RANDOM RAMBLINGS

***My youngest is quite inquisitive theologically, at a very early age. I'm so proud of him, as I am my other son, and I always welcome his questions (and often marvel at the depths of them). This last weekend, he asked me, "Momma, if God always lived in heaven, why did he have to make heaven?" (Pretty introspective for a 4-1/2 year-old). I pray that he always maintains that desire to learn more of God and His ways.

***Word to the wise: The speed limit on I-65 in Kentucky is 65 mph. And, Memorial Day Weekend is not a good time to test the enforcement of said speed limit.

***Never allow a Westie near a pond with ducks and geese, ESPECIALLY, if you have any slack in her leash, you're talking on a cell phone, and you are out of state staying in someone else's home. Dogs REALLY smell badly when they're wet with pond water.

***Taylor Hicks became America's newest "American Idol" recently. (Finally, my "underdog pick" on that cheesy show came in first). I did see a disturbing trend begin to develop as the season went on, however. People began treating the contest as a kind of religion, as I encountered many individuals who were attempting to spread the "Taylor gospel," (for lack of a better term), in order to garner votes. Mentioning Taylor to cashiers in stores, calling in to radio shows to say how wonderful he was, loaning his CD's to co-workers in order to to convert them from supporting their favorite contestant to supporting Taylor.....it was getting pretty ridiculous, actually. This thought kept gnawing at me in the back of my mind: "If only we shared Christ's gospel as fervently and boldly as I saw people promoting Taylor." Hello......wake-up call!
(And, is it just me, or did the stylists seem to be attempting to morph young Taylor into a Benny Hinn clone as the show progressed?)



^BENNY ----------------=-------------- TAYLOR^

***"Prince" appeared on American Idol's finale....(hey, at ONE time, I seem to recall that this was being touted as a "family show!") Prince's appearance brought to mind a story I once heard Steve Camp relate, wherein he recounted an encounter he'd had with the pop star in an elevator. I won't repeat the story here; it would demand its own post, but suffice it to say that Prince HAS heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. ;-)

***Speaking of Steve Camp, he still finds himself, on occasion, in the role of "lightning rod." (That's symptomatic of what transpires when you boldly speak the truth, and then stand steadfastly by it).

That's all I have for now. Have a great weekend!

Under His Love,

THE (DA VINCI) DIET CODE


***Apparently, author Stephen Lanzalotta has discovered a diet secret hidden within the pages of "The Da Vinci Code." He has written a book called, "The Diet Code," in which he reveals the "magic formula" he found to melt off pound after pound. Oh, please--enough, already!

I'm considering taking a ride on the Da Vinci cash cow myself by writing a book about a housekeeping secret I discovered in the Mona Lisa painting-how to keep socks from losing their mates through washing/drying cycles. I'm thinking of calling it, "The Laundry Code."

Anyway, if you're a glutton for punishment, here's a summary of this math whiz's "diet discovery," which he claims was embedded in Da Vinci's masterpieces (click on the graphic below to enlarge).




















Thursday, June 01, 2006

Da Vinci Claims vs. Historical Facts

The good folks at NewsMax have come up with a handy-dandy comparison chart to aid in making the distinction between fact and fiction as it relates to The Da Vinci Code. Click on the chart to enlarge, wait for the "expand to regular size" icon to appear at the bottom,
and click on the icon.















Wednesday, May 31, 2006

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES IV: "The Leonardo Code"

Ah, yes, yet another opportunity to practice my Photoshopping skills!


First off, I'm sorry, but I refuse to take "The Da Vinci Code" seriously. I do, however, recognize that it could yield some wonderful opportunities for us to present the real Gospel that we maybe wouldn't have otherwise. For some serious discourse on "The Da Vinci Code" from a biblical perspective, visit:

http://www.spiritualdisciplines.org/dvcode.html,

http://www.albertmohler.com/commentary_read.php?cdate=2006-05-19,

and http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/2006/05/da-vinci-code-moviemy-review.html .

Meanwhile, here are my most recent thoughts on the movie:

I noticed that over the Memorial Day weekend, "The DaVinci Code" only took in $43 million at the box office, whereas, "X-Men: The Last Stand," (the action-hero flick), took in $120.1 million. So, I'm thinking, maybe "Opie" should have combined the two concepts, and created a flick to appeal to a larger audience. Here's what I came up with:
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES IV: "The 'Leonardo' Code." (Hey, it's more realistic than "The Da Vinci Code"). ;-)

So, here's the plot. The ninja turtles-Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo, are called to the scene of a brutal murder-a turtle has perished, and only his shell remains! Scattered about are used take-out pizza boxes, which hold clues that lead to a shocking discovery. A mystery, which has been protected by a secret society for hundreds of years-and it could shake the very foundations of what has been long considered a truth in society and all of the television-viewing public: Professional wrestling.......really is REAL. Not only is it real, but it was secretly brought to the small screen by none other than a bizarre, covert business relationship between Simon Cowell and Donald Trump. Professional wrestling was their joint venture, the "baby" they concocted together in a moment of heated brainstorming. And the networks will stop at nothing--including murder--to keep it a secret.

I think it could work.....



So, from this:

To this?:

Oh, Aunt Bee, where did we go wrong with "the boy? "

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Gimme a Break.......Psychotherapy for Infants, Now?

Now researchers have concluded that there could be long-term benefits of providing psychotherapy to patients in infancy. (Yeah, the long-term benefits could include a country club estate and a sports car in the psychiatrist's future.......wink, wink).

Here's a link to the entire article on MSN's website:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12037118/
Meanwhile, I'm including some "choice" quotes from the article.

"With a growing amount of research focusing on early brain development, more youngsters — even infants — are being targeted to receive the services of mental-health professionals."

"Psychological research on this age group is a hot topic at major universities, and last year the American Academy of Pediatrics launched a task force with at least part of its purpose to push more infant/toddler mental health intervention."

"This may cause some readers to roll their eyes — especially those who believe Americans have a tendency to pathologize and treat the slightest blip of a bad mood. " I confess....I'm one of those "eye-rolling American readers." You've got me pegged! I do give creedence to the scriptures, Isaiah 26:3, Romans 12:2, and Romans 8:6.

"With the right therapy and care, many conditions can be helped significantly and often swiftly. 'Sometimes one session or two sessions and a couple of phone consultations are all you need to take care of a problem,' Dr. Thomas Anders says." Phone consultations? With an infant? I can't even have a coherent phone conversation with my 6 year old! (By the way, Dr. Anders is an "infant psychiatrist" from the University of California).
Here you go, Dr. Anders:
Psalm 139:13-16 "13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them."

Proverbs 20:24 A man's steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?

Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

ETA (6/7/06): I noticed that Carla over at "Reflections of the Times" has posted an article regarding the offspring of strict disciplinarians with low levels of sensitivity, and how they (the offspring) are more likely to be fatter children by age 6. I wonder if researchers will eventually determine that failure to provide psycotherapy for your infant and toddler contributes to childhood obesity as well? (Ooops, my eyes are rolling again).

Monday, May 22, 2006

MOMMY POST-DRAMATIC EXPRESS SYNDROME

My wonderful friend Lisa, over on her Deo Volente blog, posted the following comment a few days ago, which pertained to dealing with short-term memory loss.

She writes: "Another thing I struggle with is memory. I can't seem to blame the MS on this. I have always struggled with it. Most of the time, I consider it a blessing. But the way I deal with it is that I am a "list" person. I make lists, write things I need to remember down on my calendar and cross things out so that I can remember I did them."

Well, I can totally relate! I call these "Mommy Moments." And I have a dented, screeching garage door; dented countertops; a scratch that runs the length of my minivan; and numerous other household imperfections to prove it. I thrive on lists, too. Do you ever forget to put something on your list, realize that it needs to be done, and then after you complete the task, add it to the list so that you can have the immediate gratification of crossing it off your list?

Many times, I find myself setting out for downstairs to do something, and forgetting what it was by the time I get there. So, I have to go back upstairs to the exact spot in the same room I was in when I originally thought of it, so that I can "jog my memory" (by returning to the scene, I guess). Do you ever do that?

I'll tie out our dog on the back deck, then forget to let her back in. Then, when I do finally remember to let her back in, five minutes later, I return to the back door once again to let her in (completely forgetting that she was already back in the house).

Someone emailed me a "textbook case" of a fictional disorder called, "Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder (A.A.A.D.D.), but I renamed it "Mommy Post-'Dramatic Express' Syndrome," (MPES), and re-wrote it to make it more of a personal account of one of my typical days.

This is how it goes: I decide to clean out the van; I start toward the garage and notice the mail on the kitchen counter. OK, I'm going to clean out the van.

But first I'd better go through the mail. I lay the car keys down on the kitchen counter, discard the junk mail and I notice the trash can is full. OK, I'll just put the bills on my desk and take the garbage out.

But since I'm going to be near the mailbox anyway, I'll pay these few bills first.

(Yes, it's a very brick mailbox that etched a huge scratch down the passenger side of the van because I pulled way too quickly out of the driveway when I was running late one afternoon). Now, where is my checkbook? I go upstairs to my computer to find my checkbook. Oops, there's only one check left. I'd better call the bank and order more. Oh, there's my coffee I was drinking.
I'm going to look up the phone number to the bank.
But first I need to put my coffee further away from the computer, oh maybe I'll warm it up in the microwave. . I head downstairs to the kitchen and the dog catches my eye, she needs to be fed. (Yes, she's one of those ->"adorable" West Highland White "Terrors)." I put my coffee mug in the microwave and notice my bottle of vitamins. I was looking for them all morning! I'd better put them away first.

I walk down the hall to the bathroom to put away my vitamins, and notice that the laundry hamper is full (again); I need to start a load of laundry. I load the washer and turn it on, and on the way back, I notice that my houseplants need water.

I fill a container with water and head for the flower pots. Someone left the TV remote in the kitchen. We'll never think to look in the kitchen tonight when we want to watch television.

So I'd better put it back upstairs in the family room where it belongs. I splash some water into the pots and onto the floor. I throw the remote onto a soft cushion on the sofa and I head back downstairs trying to figure out what it was I was going to do.

End of Day: The van isn't cleaned; the bills are unpaid ; my coffee mug is still in the microwave ; the flowers are half watered ; I still have only one check in the checkbook with no more on the way, there are clean, wet clothes sitting in the washing machine; the remote has fallen under the couch cushions, and I can't seem to find my car keys!

When I try to figure out how come nothing got done today, I'm baffled because I KNOW I WAS BUSY ALL DAY LONG! I realize this is a serious condition and I'll get help,
BUT FIRST I think l'll check my e-mail.