Monthly Archives: March 2017

Storms on the Sea of Galilee and in Robert Lee, Texas

 

“Quiet! Be still!”

Those words from Christ did the job that day in the midst of the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4). Jesus was sleeping peacefully in the stern of the boat when his terrified disciples had disturbed his repose.

“Master,” even the seasoned seamen had opined, “don’t you care that we’re about to head to the bottom and drown?”

It certainly sounds as if the Lord was not particularly pleased at being roused. His question for the disciples: “Don’t you have any faith at all?” (The Message).

And to the wind and the waves, he casts a stern gaze, as if commanding an unruly child, “Enough! Be still!”

If Christ had been a supposedly enlightened modern parent, oblivious to the fact that a properly and lovingly administered spanking in the face of willful defiance is not even in the same universe as child abuse, and unaware that much closer to real abuse for parent, child, and everyone else unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity, is the common situation where the parent rarely expects to be obeyed, if at all, until the parents have “reasoned” the child, themselves, and everyone around them into a truly dangerous state of utter frustration and exhaustion . . . Well, I suspect the stormy sea would still be tossing and the awful wind still roaring, the boat long since at the bottom of the sea and all aboard drowned but thankful for finally finding some blessed relief.

But the elements argued not at all with their Creator. The storm was immediately stilled, and the disciples were immediately amazed: “Who is this? The wind and the sea at his beck and call!” (The Message).

For a couple of days this week I’ve been about as far away from the Sea of Galilee as it’s possible to be. The only body of water nearby is Spence Reservoir which in the last few years has managed to get from less than 1% “full” (which is pretty darn close to empty) to being now, I think, at a staggering 14% full (86% empty). A disciple, or anybody else, wanting to put a boat out on that lake today will find it a challenge, the forlorn boat docks bone dry and about a day’s journey from anything wet. I’m sure you could still drown in the lake, but you’d have to be pretty serious about it.

My brothers and I, spending a few days at my grandparents’ old   home place in Robert Lee, Texas, have dealt this week with a rare but frustrating “stormy” situation. Dead dry but maddeningly constant and raging, crazily high winds have for two days just about blown us off the acreage. We’re all pastors. My estimation of these fraternal colleagues would have increased immensely if even one of them could have stepped outside, looked up, sternly pronounced, “Enough! Stop it!” and achieved some success. Alas, none of these “clout-less” clergymen even tried.

I’m heading home. It’s finally a beautiful day. The wind has tired out and shut up. High time.

In the midst of storms it’s good to remember that one day the Lord of the universe will command and all tears, all fears, all storms will be over. Finally and forever. The  Cross says our Creator has the clout to get it done.

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


A Tweet From the Apostle Paul: #WhateverIsAdmirable

 

If, like most folks, you deal with email and its accompanying blessings and cursings, you know that the first step after you open your inbox is to obliterate 90% of it by clearing out a ton of junk and deleting a few nefarious attempts to set a hook in you through phishing.

I’d love to change email addresses to try to buy 30 seconds worth of a cleaner inbox, but my trusty ol’ address is emblazoned on everything from a few thousand music albums to business cards to newsletters to coffee cups to . . . (An AOL address was really cool when I got mine. Cool marches on.) I’ve actually got several addresses, but all get a preponderance of junk and none more than my primary address.

Like you, I’ve long ago learned that anything marked “urgent” isn’t. I know that anything from the FBI isn’t. I know that Dame Nastasia Ambrovada living in exile in Nigeria and sadly short of relatives and heirs really does not want to deposit a million dollars in my account.

Most of us are all too accustomed to the daily task of hacking through our inboxes with DELETE key machetes to whack away stacks of dreary deadwood, knowing that a serpent or two lurking therein will need to be deleted and dispatched as well. But sometimes, I’m still surprised.

This morning, after clearing out the usual mess, I couldn’t help but notice two items. The first, purporting to be from “NFL Cheerleaders,” promised in the subject line that “these cheerleaders will delight your eyes.” “Delight” is not the word I would have used, but I have no doubt that my eyeballs would have been engaged had I chosen to be reeled in by that one. I try to remember that those gals probably have grandpas who’d much prefer that they wear clothes.

Also eye-catching was the exclusive email opportunity to own a bobblehead figurine fashioned after a more or less famous sheriff in Milwaukee. Evidently, the figure is very large by bobblehead norms. And it talks. Since our world is in no short supply of bobbleheads already, and since bobbleheads that talk are never farther away than a button on a TV remote control (C-SPAN is a great place to look if you find yourself in desperate need of a bobblehead), I deleted that offer, too.

Of course, it’s not just email that requires a little literate discernment. Most of us still receive plenty of Spam-equivalent paper via actual mailboxes. What we rarely receive are real letters. Do they still teach letter-writing in school? Lots of folks these days are as likely to write a good letter as they are to pen a treatise discussing alliteration in the Declaration of Independence. If letters, considered antiquated anyway, are far beyond our capability and a 350-word email is unbearably long (and even email is becoming “old school”), and if a twit with no attention span can hardly string together 140 characters cogently and almost never gets closer to opening (or downloading) a book than reading a two-screen text message . . . Well.

But some things don’t change. Whatever we let in our souls via our eyes, and whatever we expound or affirm via our words, written or spoken, says much about the condition of our hearts. By the way, the Apostle Paul recommends some great hashtags in Philippians 4: #WhateverIsTrue, #WhateverIsRight, #WhateverIsNoble, #WhateverIsPure, #WhateverIsPraiseworthy . . .

 

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

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


To Lose Faith’s Focus Is Both Dangerous and Tempting

 

When I was a little lad, old enough to ride a bicycle but not nearly old enough to drive a car, somewhere in the pre-teen larva stage, my family and I (those of us who were still at home) spent some evenings doing what families now almost never do: we rode bicycles together around the block, around the neighborhood, for fun and a little time together.

I know it’s hard to believe, and it gets harder. We even on regular occasions took time to sing together as a family.

I don’t want to misrepresent things. My dad worked most evenings, but somehow we still managed to have a good bit of family time together. In our world today, it seems that 1) many families don’t really want much time together, and 2) every conceivable activity under the sun (not bad things, just lots and lots and lots of things) conspires to make sure families almost never have any real time together.

I’m fairly sure it was clear to my parents early on that I was almost certainly not heading to the NFL or the NBA no matter what degree of attention we paid to such things. In those archaic days, kids’ sports actually had seasons and year-round wasn’t much of an option. Family time was a bit easier to come by.

Anyway, our family went through a stage where the family thing we often did was to ride bikes together.

I remember one evening’s ride—at least, most of it—fairly vividly. We’d gone south down our street, Goliad Street (named for the famous Texas battle), and we were riding along one block east on what passes for hills in the flat high plains, riding down Palo Duro Street.

I think we’d passed the house of the weird family I remember, one of whose sons had an iguana lizard for a pet who, on one memorable occasion, jumped out of a tree onto the back of a very surprised postal person.

We weren’t quite to Granville and Daisy Kizer’s house when I suddenly became distracted. Maybe I was interested in the view, or just talking, or looking upward for an iguana in the trees—but I piloted my two-wheeled craft straight into the rear end of a parked car.

Just for a moment there, I’d quit looking forward, put the bike on auto-pilot, and plastered myself and the bicycle all over the back end of that car. I wasn’t going really fast, but I was going too fast to make running into the back of a car the kind of pleasant experience I’d care to repeat.

I hit hard—first vertically, and then horizontally, rearranging most of my spinal column. (And, no, I definitely do not want to repeat anything like that as an adult on my motorcycle.)

In what has become one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 73 (which you can read for yourself), the psalmist begins by talking about a great way, in a spiritual sense, to end up stopped dead in your tracks, flat on your face, bruised and bleeding, biting asphalt, derailed, de-biked, and demolished.

It’s a focus thing. You see, it is as dangerous as it is tempting for Christians to take their eyes off the Lord who should be their focus, and to start looking instead at all the multitude of distractions and problems around them.

It’s tempting. But I can tell you from oft-repeated experience, you can get hurt that way.

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Unless You Become Like Little Children . . .”

“Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

So said the Lord Jesus to his disciples as he “called a little child to him.” No doubt, one of my favorite things about our Savior is that the children seemed to always flock to him. When his apostles tried to shoo the kids away, opining to their parents that the Lord was far too busy to mess with little folks, Jesus quickly disabused his disciples of that way-off-the-mark notion.

In fact, as he laid his hands on the children and blessed them, Jesus had those intriguing words for his followers: “Unless you become like little children . . .”

My back hurts, and I’m a little achy today. Not bad. Just a little. Some trampoline time, some rolling-around-on-the-floor time (thank the Lord our floors are carpet-covered and not bare!), some doing fun experiments sitting on the concrete (no carpet) in the garage time, some lift-them-up-and-hugging-them time, some crawling around in the living room sheet-constructed cave/castle time—all of these contribute to some soreness. But mostly, it all adds up to wonderful memories for grandparents and grandkids alike, a sweet recipe for one beautiful little word: joy.

Our deepest joys are usually best just experienced and accepted with deep gratitude to their Giver, but some reflection is also occasionally in order.

Why does time with the little folks so renew our souls even as it tests our backs? A million reasons, I’m sure, but . . .

Unconditional love. You learned about that holding your newborn children; you learn even more about it with their children. You for them and they for you. Just spending time together adds up to sheer delight. No strings. The upstretched arms of that little 18-month-old mouthing “PawPaw”? Worth more than gold! You can live for a month just on one smile, and a giggle will make it two.

Purity, simplicity, and trust. The littlest folks have no qualms about “asking” for what they need, be it bottle or “blanky” or diaper change or nap on your chest. What looks bad in adults and, may I say, completely pathetic in high-officed politicians—neediness and almost no impulse control—is not only okay in the littlest folks, it’s appropriate and shows their absolute trust in us. As God cares for us all, continually doing infinitely more for us than we can possibly know, we gladly provide for the little ones he’s put in our care.

Wonder and joy. Everything is new to them. Everything is beautiful. Everything is full of wonder. That grass beneath the trampoline is a magical forest filled with mythical creatures. Those Christmas lights are as beautiful as twinkling stars. And PawPaw is a noble and valiant unicorn (with wings) who doesn’t at all mind being christened Buttercup if the little folks are doing the naming.

Long after we’ve grown to adulthood, it’s one of God’s most beautiful surprises to use little folks to help us grow back into children and much more like the Son who so delights in them and us.

 

 

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

 

 

Copyright 2017 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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