Monday, March 23, 2009

What's Your Story?

I'm planning an Easter show for Woman to Woman® with women who came out of faith systems other than Christianity into Christianity. I want to know what life was like before and after! What's your story?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. How did you celebrate Easter before you became a Christian?
2. Describe your faith life then and how it played out in your everyday life.
3. How did you learn about Jesus? Did you want what I offered right away or later on?
4. What is your life like now that you follow Christ?
5. Did you come against any opposition from family or friends? How serious was it?
6. How do you celebrate Easter now?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

“Don’t Have a Cow!”

When I hear that phrase, I know it’s really saying, “keep a lid on it” or “cool your jets.” I always think of a restaurant in our town with a huge sign out front that reads, “Our cows died happy!” I can’t eat there; I just can’t stomach it. I’d think oh, cud, I mean, crud. I can’t chow down on a cow that somehow someone knew was happy dying. I’m not that comfortable looking my food in its face when it’s still alive. Sure, I’ve been to the Curl Up & Dye beauty shop in town, but that name was just a pun. People didn’t die; they dyed.

It reminds me of a joke: farmer Jones’ cows had stopped giving good milk. So he went around asking for advice, and someone told him happy cows give good milk. Every morning he would go out and tell some jokes to his cows, and they would all laugh. But the rest of the cows in the community thought the jokes were pretty stupid. Because of this, his cows became the laughing stock of the town.

I know, it’s udderly ridiculous! But it’s not as crazy as the prediction by ethicist Wesley Smith that by 2010 the European Court of Human Rights will declare chimpanzees to be legal persons in Europe. I wonder if they’ll get medical benefits and public education or if they’ll just be allowed to monkey around in zoos and the wild? Just when you thought you’d heard everything! Sure, I don’t like seeing the cow that’s going to become my steak, but I also don’t like thinking of that cow being bestowed legal personhood.

The future is coming fast. Are we going to embrace it or fear it, cave in or steer it? As someone once said, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.” I echo the words of the Psalmist speaking to the Lord, “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15a). Knowing we can trust Him, we can breathe easy and remind ourselves, “Don’t have a cow!”

Monday, March 2, 2009

Caller ID

My daughter’s landline phone went on the fritz. After repairs, it performed correctly except for one thing -- it no longer lists incoming calls as anything but “Incoming Call.” The caller ID forgot how to identify calls, and no one knows why. So it was with excitement my daughter picked up the phone the last time I called and said, “Mom! You popped up on our caller ID!” I don’t mind being identified correctly, but what’s funny is I’m the only caller identified on their phone. Nobody else enters their ear space with a name badge on but me! It’s an honor I singularly possess.

We don’t have it on our phone, but I understand people use caller ID to screen out unwanted calls -- mostly telemarketers and irritating family members, according to my friends. One girl told me if her dad’s name appears after 6 p.m., she knows they’ll have the same conversation they had last night, so she ignores the call. It’s a protective device that saves time and irritation by giving her control.

Wouldn’t it be convenient for some kind of caller ID to warn us when bad stuff tries to invade our lives? A person who could suck the life out of you with unreasonable demands or abusive treatment would appear on your screen as an identified threat to your sanity and well-being. You’d have a choice: answer; don’t answer, or answer with reservations.

But then again, maybe it wouldn’t be enough. Didn’t you have that when you were 17 and your mom warned you not to get involved with 'whatshisname' and you did anyway because you knew your mom didn’t have a clue? Yeah, remember that one? Or what about the advice of health professionals who say eat colorful vegetables for more nutrition; cut out sugar, and be sure to exercise to improve yourself physically and mentally? I can ignore that warning even without having caller ID.

There’s a proverb in the Bible that reads, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). That sounds great, but we can’t realistically expect a voice to always pop up and warn us, “Guard your heart! There’s danger ahead!” But since the Bible is where we find this advice, it’s also a good place to find guidelines to help set up an internal caller ID. We can read in the Bible about what works against us and what works for us, and then we can anticipate that if we do A, it will lead us to B. A Scripture memory verse from my confirmation days pops into my head here as an example. It’s in the first verse of the Book of Psalms: “Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…or sit in the seat of mockers” (Psalms 1:1). So, if I do A (hang out with and adopt the attitude of people with bad ideas), then I get B (won’t be “blessed,” which means “happy”). If I fall into the trap of put-downs, sarcasm, or fun at the expense of others, then I won’t be blessed. Guarding my heart against negative influences helps to ensure my own happiness and the cheerfulness of others.

Come to think of it, reading that advice from the Bible is a lot like caller ID on the phone. When it works, it’s worth noting. My daughter’s caller ID only identifies me; she has to guess about everybody else. The good news is when you read the Bible, you know it’s God calling. And that’s an ID you can always count on.