Archive - January, 2009

Remix: Philemon – Biblical Goodness for the Short Attention Span

Okay, yeah. This is a repost of an earlier post. I originally wrote this way back in May of last year. But it’s kind of cool for me to reflect on it now at a distance. Specifically the part where I say “Distracted by all the things going on in my life right now…” because part of “all of the things” was that we were knee deep in the early stages of planting a church and had been thrown a few curve balls in the process. What a difference a few months can make. I know I said this yesterday, but it bears repeating: God is very, very good! BTW – I never did write a post about Hebrews, but if you haven’t read it in awhile, it is an awesomely good book.

Truth be told, this entry was going to be about Hebrews. I even have a rough draft floating around in my head somewhere and a title, “Why I’m loving’ me some Hebrews”. But every time I sit down to write about it, I end up going down several rabbit trails and have difficulty staying on topic. (Yes, shocking, I know.) I promise I’ll write about it soon, because I AM loving me some Hebrews!

Distracted by all the things going on in my life right now, and knowing I couldn’t wrap my head around all the ways that Hebrews is helping me look at said life with some biblical clarity, I resigned myself to blog a couple of quotes or a quick Top Ten List. Just as I was closing my bible, I noticed the book right before Hebrews — Philemon.

If you’ve never read Philemon, you should. Go get your bible and read it. I’ll wait right here………………Pretty good stuff, huh? Wedged between bible heavyweights Titus and Hebrews, Philemon is a short letter from the Apostle Paul that packs a punch. Now, Philemon is a friend of Paul’s, a model Christian, an active worker for Christ, and a slave owner. While imprisoned, Paul meets Philemon’s runaway slave, Onesimus. Onesimus has apparently stolen something from his master and has fled to Rome. Under Roman law, Philemon had every right to put Onesimus to death.

Paul writes this letter to his friend to convince him not only to forgive this runaway slave, but to welcome him home as a brother in Christ. There are a whole lotta lessons in this short letter, but to keep me on task, I’m going to focus on one train of thought.

“Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul — an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus — I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and me.” (2:8-11) Because Paul was an elder and an apostle, he could have commanded that Philemon welcome Onesimus home with open arms. But instead, he chooses to appeal to his friend’s Christian commitment. He wanted him to want to take Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as an equal in the Body of Christ. I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me I have to do something, my mind goes into overdrive coming up with all the reasons why I don’t have to. When you counsel a friend about overcoming sinful behavior, do you blast them with bible verses, or do you appeal to what you see as their strengths? Do you give them some wiggle room and trust that the Holy Spirit will have a say in the matter? I hope we all do that.

“I am sending him — who is my very heart — back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good — no longer a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.” (2:12-16) Paul is saying, “This is a great guy, I’d love for him to stay with me, but because I love you both, I’m sending him back so that you can be blessed by what he has become. You haven’t lost a slave, you’ve gained a loyal friend and a brother in Christ. But again, the ball’s in your court.” Again — ample wiggle room.

“So, if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back — not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.” (2:17-21) When you know someone that’s new to the faith, do you personally invest in their lives? Do you “cover their bets”, so to speak? Or do you give them a big hug, welcome to the family and say, “Good luck with all of THAT!”? You wouldn’t teach your child to swim one day and then let them go to the pool by themselves the next. You hang out in the shallow end, cheer them on as they tread water, and make sure you’re there in case they get into trouble. Which, by the way, the usually do. Trust that people will do the right thing, but don’t be offended or surprised when they don’t. Forgive them as Christ forgives you, help them up and get them back on track.

There’s a whole bunch of good stuff in this little letter; many rabbit trails I could go down, but for now, It’s enough for me to reflect on just a few of them. We never learn how the homecoming turns out, but I imagine a really cool reunion, where we see Onesimus walking toward Philemon (whose hoping that Onesimus will find his way back, but doesn’t know for sure). Philemon looks up from what he’s doing, recognizes Onesimus from a distance, stands up, starts walking toward his old slave and new friend. The camera zooms out for a wide shot, then fades to black….think last scene in The Shawshank Redemption.

Tuesday, January 6th – Where have you been all my life?

It’s a rainy, cold (that’s relative I guess – in the 40’s) Tuesday morning. I’m still in my pj’s, drinking my second cup of coffee. The house is quiet. The kids are back in school:

“>

Oh, I’m just kidding…I’m actually gonna miss the little ankle biters! But it’s time to get back in the swing of things. I’ve got to finish up a job I started before the Christmas break, and I have a project due in two weeks sitting on my work table that needs to be completed. I have a carousel horse that needs painting for a silent auction, and I have to make a giant state of Texas, an oil derrick and a boot for a boy scouts dinner in February. I also need to finish my studio. Lots of stuff to do. But for now, I’m just going to enjoy a few self-indulgent hours of relaxation. Thank you, God. You are so good to me!

P. S. – How bad do you feel for the organist on that video? OUCH!

Whatever happened to Customer Service?

When I worked in retail sales MANY years ago, the saying “the customer is always right” really meant something. It meant that you did whatever you had to do to ensure a loyal, repeat customer. Today, not so much. Case in point:

“>

The Creative Process: A step by step guide

(Subtitled: Why my laundry still isn’t finished.)

  1. With the full understanding that leaving the house today is on the agenda, you decide to wear something a bit more formal than the fuzzy polka dot pajama pants and the bright green “Whose Your Daddy?” t-shirt.

  2. Attempts to find a pair of clean jeans prove futile. Instead, you hastily decide on a pair of red cotton capris circa 2001 and a peasant type t-shirt the same color as Oscar the Grouch. A gigantic claw hair clip and black flip flops complete the ensemble. Make a mental note that the laundry fairy has ignored numerous requests. Drastic measures must be taken.
  3. After “errands”, i.e. – getting your kids out of the house before they drive you to drink, you reluctantly return home and begin tackling the huge piles of laundry.
  4. Lots of random things happen, you manage to wash and dry 2 loads of whites and 2 loads of jeans. Hang up jeans and begin sorting underwear and socks.
  5. End up with an inordinately high number of mismatched socks. Suspect the dog has found a “special place” for their sock mates.
  6. Decide to put the socks in a basket on top of the dryer. Hate this idea because how are you supposed to remember which socks are in there? You may throw their sockmate right in the same basket, and that ain’t right.
  7. Begin to feel bad for the socks. Serenade the socks with the 3 Dog Night Hit, “One”. “One…..is the loneliest number that you’ll ever know. Two can be as bad as one, it’s the loneliest number since the number one, Ahhhh Ewwww!”
  8. Frustrated that you have no fabulous ideas about how to store the socks until reunited with their drawer mates, your mind begins to wander…
  9. You notice a metal sign that you bought at Ross on the clearance aisle a couple of months ago. It says “Children are the anchors that hold a mother’s heart.” Which you hate, because it reminds you of that children’s book “The Giving Tree”, which makes you want to leg drop that selfish little kid/man in that book. But, it was 2 bucks, and there’s no law saying you have to keep that dumb saying on there once you own it free and clear, now is there?
  10. Get the Goo-Off and scraper from your handy dandy tool bag and get to gettin’ on that quote. Oh, yeah. At this point, the wheels are turning in that little ADD mind of yours. You have begun the actual labor portion of the creative process.
  11. While the Goo-Off soaks in a bit, you manage to get the SWSO’s (socks with significant others) and the miscellaneous unmentionables (underwear) safely to their assigned drawers. (HA! Underwear humor.)
  12. Over the next 2 days, hem and haw over what kind of lettering you want to use on your “sock sign”. Waste an incredible amount of time and energy on this.
  13. Finally decide on the size and type of lettering. Print out new quote, and put on sign using a stylus and transfer paper. Fill in letters with paint pen. Clear coat.
  14. Hot glue clothespins to sign.
  15. Hang sign above dryer, hang sock singles on clothespins.
  16. Stand back and admire your work. You are pleased, but something is missing.

  17. More random things happen — New Year’s Eve party, etc.
  18. Friends come over for dinner. You show them your work. Since they are weird like you, they like the sign very much.
  19. Moments later, one of your friends gives you an idea that will be the “piece de la resistance” to your sock sign.
  20. After your friends leave, you immediately begin working on the final piece of your sign. It takes only a few minutes, but you are well pleased.

    As a matter of fact, you’d go so far as to say that it was…

SOCKTACULAR!

(Oh, come on. You knew that was coming!)
Page 3 of 3«123