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Month: November 2012

Forget Not His Wonders

The Elijah story (1 Kings 17-19) tells how God surprises those who receive his Word.  When God heeded Elijah’s prayer and stopped the rain, the crowd sought refuge in the cities, but God sent Elijah into the desert.  Elijah did not ask the obvious questions like “How can God protect me by making my desolation worse?  A fine protection that is!  A great reward for my loyalty!  Thank you so very much!  With a Protector like this who needs enemies?”  To common sense it seemed like a death sentence, but Elijah let the command of God be enough.  He drank from the stream that the Lord showed him and the ravens brought him food.  According to the Deuteronomic law, ravens were defiled…

Careful Ears

Be Careful How You Hear I bought some voice dictation software in the early days of that technology and I trained it by reading to it from the devotional classic the Imitation of Christ.  The software did pretty well overall, but it didn’t always get things right.  I read to it “We cannot have joys whenever we want.”  The machine wrote “We cannot have Joyce whenever we want.”  Both statements are technically true, (whoever Joyce may be) but they imply very different aspirations in the speaker.  A little change had the effect of perverting the truth. The Bible trains us to recognize what the living God’s voice sounds like.  Jeremiah 23:33-40 describes a slight change in pronunciation that revealed Israel’s aspirations. …

Even When the Sparrow Falls

Jesus tells us to consider the birds of the air, how God feeds them and that not one falls to the ground without his notice (Matthew 7:26 and 10:29).  Yet, we cannot take Jesus to mean that because God notices, sparrows will not fall.  That would contradict plainly observable facts. Recently, I saw a robin build a nest in a tall hickory tree.  It seemed like a good choice – a strong tree, far out of range of our family cat.  A few days later, inexplicably, the nest lay on the ground, a freshly hatched robin nearby, and the mother robin vainly flying about, attentive to her offspring, but helpless to preserve its life.  The doomed fledgling, too weak to walk,…

Goldfinches and Thistles

God’s way of doing things doesn’t often make sense to me.  Who needs kudzu, mosquitoes  cancer, or infant HIV? Doesn’t the management of the universe need a suggestion box somewhere to find out how to run things a little more efficiently? The Canadian Thistle, for example, is an especially annoying piece of creation.  In Indiana, it is such a pest to farmers that state law requires its destruction, but it scoffs at human law.  I used to grow a large garden in Indiana and the thistles there always found a way to stab me.  The Goldfinch, on the other hand, is a beautiful creation.  Decked out in bright yellow gold and black they dart through the air, every glimpse providing evidence…

Relevant Irrelevancy

Bible Lecture North Carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers) September 2nd, 2007  It has been seven years since I last stood in this spot, and I have been thinking about the things that have happened during those seven years.  One thing is that this past year I turned fifty-six.  So, the government now officially recognizes me as a senior citizen.  Linda and I took a vacation this summer and I found myself for the first time ordering off the senior menu.  I wanted someone to ask to see my ID, but nobody did.  In fact, we went into one restaurant and we ordered the buffet.  The young woman behind the cash register looked at us and turned to yell at…