Monthly Archives: February 2013

“Where Does the White Go When the Snow Melts?”

 

Ah, we’re snowed in today, and I love it! Image

I am a snow man, no doubt about it. Not the abominable kind, I hope. Just the very ordinary kind. (“Snow person” might have been clearer, but that would be dangerously close to the politically correct ravaging and neutering of the English language evidenced by such atrocities as “chairperson,” a term that should be relegated to bad science fiction movies.) 

I just love snow. Whoever said that “there is nothing in all of nature more beautiful than snow” was right. I never get enough of it. Of course, we never get enough moisture of any kind these days, so I’m even more thankful for the frozen kind that’ll melt and seep right on in. 

I grew up in Amarillo, Texas, where we had really fine and frequent snows. Minnesotans wouldn’t be particularly impressed, but by Texas standards, our Amarillo snows were noteworthy. (As I write, my grandkids are snowed in there with 11 inches thus far and a possibility of 18! I wish I was snowed in with them!)

But the snow we got last night in the Greater Muleplex was significant, and pretty much all of our townsfolk who can stay home ARE home today. The kids and teachers were treated early on today to the special joy that comes when you see your school district’s name scrolling along the TV ticker tape-ribbon list of cancellations. Seeing what you can do with snow is plenty educational (a few years ago, I built a snow dragon!), and, as Mark Twain wisely said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” 

Lubbock, to the east, got half as much snow as we have, and they’ve pretty much shut down everything. That’s smart. 

When the good Lord dumps that much white stuff on us the best thing to do is give thanks, stay home, and enjoy it! Or, better, if you’re blessed enough to be in the mountains when the white stuff is falling, strap on the sticks and head down the hill! 

We’re way short of mountains here, but the snowdrifts covering the little hill upon which I live are doing a good imitation. Snow is good at that. It makes the ordinary wonder-full! 

Alas, I thought I’d prepared for today by lugging in some firewood, but, when I started lighting the fire, I soon was treated to billowing evidence that blowing snow has stuffed my chimney shut! I was tempted to try a couple of Tim Taylor-like approaches to fixing that situation, buy my wise wife intervened, so no fire yet. 

Once this column is written, I’ll be starting to cook some stew which will be enjoyed, as the good Lord intended, with milk and cornbread. (Clam chowder, chicken and dumplings, tortilla soup, chicken pot pie, and a number of other things would also make nice main courses for a snow day like this. 

Someone asked on the Internet, “Where does the white go when the snow melts?” Hmm, I dunno. I just know that I thank the Lord for snow!

 

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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Taking Time to Rest Is a Genuine Act of Faith

 

News flash: SABBATH-BREAKING HAS NOT BEEN DOWNGRADED TO A MISDEMEANOR.

Oh, for years most of us have heard amateur theologians and Bible “pseudo-scholars” asserting with the kind of loud confidence always reserved for the most seriously mistaken, that, of the Ten Big Commandments, we could certainly forget about #4. After all, the “old Law” that used to so tie people up in knots has been done away with, and now we’re under a new law, by which they generally mean the New Testament, which they contort into an upgraded system of law to use to continue to tie people up in pretty much the same old knots.

Well, what Jesus has done on the cross has indeed released us from slavery to a written code and established a completely new covenant based on the Spirit and not the law. But it has most certainly not altered God’s character as revealed in those Ten Commandments. Up might as well become down. Lies and murder might as easily become as godlike as truth and love. Don’t look for the truth of those commandments—God’s very nature—to change.

And that Sabbath commandment? Well, there’s mystery here we’ll never fully understand, but I think we can be sure of these things:

*God gave us this “Sabbath” commandment, this principle of rest, to bless us, not to tie us up with a picky law and tempt us to become piety police. I’d not at all bind rules about particular days and what constitutes “work” on anyone, but . . .

*If even God needed to rest after the work of creation, isn’t it incredibly arrogant for me to act as if I never do?

*Regularly taking time for rest is an act of faith proving that I trust God to be true to his word to care for me and keep the world spinning even when I try to stop my own spinning for a few moments.

*Taking time to truly rest (and being wary of making even my rest a kind of work) is an act of creaturely humility, a dose of the Creator’s antivenom for my poisonous pride.

*A time of rest recalibrates my perspective and helps me better learn to separate what is truly important from what is only “urgent.”

*Taking time to rest is an act of discipline. You may know some lazy people in danger of starvation or poverty, but I’ll wager you know hundreds more who along with their stressed out families live near the brink of exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and a multitude of relational dysfunctions—largely because they don’t have the discipline ever to stop and be still.

Most families, by the way, have a “barometer,” a person who most quickly registers pain or discomfort when the family is under too much pressure. Even if I have a need to think that following God’s commandment to rest is only for those who are weak (It most certainly is not!), I need to ask God to help me love the “weak” people around me enough to obey him in faith, give them and myself a break, and soak up a little “Sabbath,” a little rest.

God wants that for us. And in a thousand more ways than I can list here, he’ll use that intentional rest, that move toward balance, that simple act of faith, to bless us and those around us as we obey our Father. He knows best.

 

 

 

 You’re invited to take a restful visit to my website! http://www.Curtis Shelburne.com  

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Some Thoughts on Valentine’s Day and Love

Uh oh. It seems that the date for this column should probably indicate its content. Rats! If the whole thing reads like it was written by a Valentine’s Day grinch, I should just plead guilty. 

It’s almost certainly good for husbands like me to have a deadline that calls for something on the order of flowers, gifts, candy, seriously over-priced cards, etc. I have difficulty appreciating the Madison Avenue manipulation, but I don’t doubt that clods like me need the shove. 

It’s not particularly what the pseudo-holiday has turned into that bugs me; what really bothers me is the reminder that so much in our society that masquerades in second-rate song lyrics and steamy TV as “luuuuuv” bears no resemblance to the real thing. 

I listened as a famous singer on a TV morning show opined that he and his wife had just split up because “the sparkle wasn’t there anymore.” He was way past fifteen, so “puppy  love” was no excuse. He evidently had actually believed too many of his own songs and was confusing love with “warm fuzzies” and body heat, the kind of “luuuuv” that bears precious little resemblance to genuine commitment that really means “in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer.” The love god was originally an old Greek one, Eros, as Sheldon Vanauken (“The False Sanction or Eros”), C. S. Lewis, and I’m sure others, have noted. Eros has never lacked for worshipers. 

Bowing before this god, our society has unleashed a demon who offers easy sanction for anyone wishing to commit almost any wrong, shatter any vow, break faith with God and society, and, in the sordid process, break the hearts of countless spouses and children. And the “luuuuv” god blesses the whole mess brought on by unvarnished selfishness. 

How does our society respond? When we should turn away in nausea or shed tears, we turn to tabloids and gossip magazines that glamorize the carnage. 

God help us to be both wise and merciful. When we fail in our marriages to love as we should—and we fail often—may we turn contrite hearts to our spouses and our God as we seek his grace and seek renewed power to share with each other our Lord’s genuine mercy and forgiveness and love. If we can’t share those things with our mates, I doubt that what we’ll share with others will be worth very much. 

Oh, and let’s be merciful, too, to those who have fallen and failed seriously in this regard, and whose genuine sorrow shows that they know it, lest we find ourselves looking down our noses when we need to look inside and realize that we too are totally dependent upon mercy and grace every moment. 

Fellows, you really ought to invest in a card and maybe some flowers or candy, too. (My wife prefers cash.) But your gift will mean a whole lot more if your beloved knows that behind it is the kind of genuine, unselfish love that helps with dishes and diaper-changing before it forks over the flowers. 

 

  

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Christ’s Unfailing Love Is Still His Gift Whenever We Fail

The Apostle Peter was about to foul up. And not just a little.

Any Christian with an ounce of spiritual sensitivity knows that we all “deny” Christ whenever we choose for self and not for God, hurt others, live selfishly, make poor choices, commit sin, etc. We all have, and we all do. In some way, we “deny” him every day by some poor attitude, word, or deed.

But Peter, the first to confess out loud that Jesus is “the very Son of God,” Peter of “rock-like” faith fame, Peter who would later see visions, preach the Good News to the Gentiles, write Scripture, perform miracles, die an “extreme faith” death, is about to loudly deny his Lord three times (“I don’t even know the man!”), and cut and run, at the very time Jesus needs him the most.

It was world-class BIG on the scale of human foul-ups. Few people ever mess up in a way any worse, larger, blacker, fouler, than this one.

And yet what I find most amazing is not that Peter was weak or that the mess was rotten and real. What is most amazing is not the way Christ will deal with Peter and the “train wreck,” as impressive and instructive as that is: three times Peter denied his Lord, and three times Jesus will, for Peter’s sake, have him verbally affirm what Jesus already knows, that Peter does love him.

What I find most remarkable is the way Jesus deals with the situation and his friend and disciple even before the denial.

At that “last supper,” Jesus says that the hand of the one who would betray him was there present. But he wasn’t talking about the hand of the one who would deny him. One disciple would betray and then wallow in a sick sorrow that leads to despair and death. One disciple would deny terribly and then weep bitter and genuine tears but allow the Lord’s hand to lift him up and lead him through.

On that same amazing night at that table, Jesus will tell Peter three things—first, that Satan has asked to “sift” him like wheat, which is no fun at all.

But, second, Jesus tells Peter that he has prayed for him that his faith would not fail. Amazing! Imagine Jesus the Lord praying for his friend. And then realize that the same Lord prays for you. Notice also that, though Jesus knows Peter will indeed fall and deny him, that Peter will in a very real sense “fail,” Jesus does not consider Peter’s failure the same thing as Peter’s faith failing. Jesus’ prayer will be answered. Even in the midst of failure and tears, Peter’s love for Christ and Christ’s love for him will still be real. And Jesus will not let him forget that.

Ah, and then comes a third amazing reality. Jesus tells Peter the “end of the story.” Christ’s love will lead Peter through. He will not despair. And that warm assurance is wrapped up as a beautiful gift, love’s “action plan,” in these simple words: “When you have turned back [repented, gotten back up after the fall], strengthen your brothers.” God always uses those who know they are wounded far more mightily than those who think they are whole.

Forgiveness. Hope. Power. Those are Christ’s gifts to the one he loves—before, during, and after the messes we make.

 

 

 

You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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