Monthly Archives: September 2012

Cross Training

“Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.” (Proverbs 23:23 NIV)

Solomon advises us to get truth, wisdom, discipline, and knowledge. The last time I went shopping, I didn’t see these treasures flying off the shelves. If they are so important, how do we get them? And what happens when we don’t?

Sand Traps

 It’s a cloudy day on the Garden of Eden Golf Course. On the front nine, Eve sets up her tee shot. The hole is a straight-forward par three. If she obeys God’s command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she stays in the fairway, hits the green, and putts out for par or better. Her caddie recommends truth as her club of choice. God says don’t eat the fruit ‘cause if you do—death. (Not so good for the scorecard.) Let’s take a seat in the gallery and watch the action unfold.

“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), . . . or you will die.’” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. (Genesis 3: 4-6a NIV)

There’s a sand trap in the way and a lying hiss in her ear. The light shimmers off the luscious fruit as she breathes in its fragrance. And the voice whispers, “You will be like God.” She takes the club back and . . .

Used correctly, the club of truth can keep Eve out of the bunker:

  • Gen. 2:9 tells us goodness surrounded her. This fruit wasn’t her only option.
  • Gen. 1:27 tells us Eve was like God, made in His image.
  • Eve desired wisdom, but wisdom is not the knowledge of good and evil.

Scripture tells us the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Though the hole and the truth are in plain sight, this lack of fear sends her shot to the sand.

Lessons from the Sand Trap:

1) Sand traps sit between the hole and the golfer in plain view. Have you ever known the truth but still wrestled with making the right choice?

2) The ground is firm on the fairway and green. The sand trap is, well, sandy, and it’s a hard place to get your footing. How do your shots differ from each spot? Likewise, how do your spiritual decisions change from a position of truth versus lies or half truths?

3) A golfer adjusts his drive to avoid the bunkers. When has fear of consequences or a respect for God helped you adjust your choice?

4) Solomon tells us to get truth. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am . . . the truth.” Is He in your bag?

5) What should you do when you can’t see the hole (or the truth) from your tee? Stay in the fairway and consult the Course Director.

 

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Cross Training

This month, I am trying some changes to my blog. Cross Training will post on Mondays. The format will be a devotional or short Bible study with an eye towards adults. I’m including a series of questions you may use for introspection or to spur discussion with your children over the coming week. I plan to drop the book reviews to focus on Cross Training. I will post an occasional Gayle’s Gable and Zuno’s Pick to let you know what Zuno and I are reading and to let you share your favorites. Any feedback regarding the new format would be appreciated.

Chase What Matters

Murky green slime oozed from my precious boy’s blond hair. Wet and wide-eyed, he dangled from my grasp as I hoisted him from the duck pond before climbing out myself. Engaged in full duck-chasing mode, my two-year-old realized he’d been outwitted by his quacking quarry. He had hoped to catch a feathered friend, but now the only thing he might catch was a cold. How had such a great attempt ended in such disaster?

My quacker tracker possessed many qualities that stood him in good stead:

* He chose a specific target. He wasn’t running willy-nilly after every living thing. He spotted the duck and made his choice.

* He focused. Neither his mother’s words of warning, other ducks, or the nearby zoo held any interest for him.

*He gave the necessary effort. Catching a duck who is not interested in being caught makes for a difficult task. He chased his prey around trees, under picnic tables, and sadly, into the lovely green waters of the duck pond.

And therein lies the problem.

He didn’t think about what he was chasing and where it might go. Though I noticed when the duck headed for water, he didn’t. All he saw was duck.

Sometimes, I go chasing too and find myself not only wet and slimy, but with a wounded wing as well. The world dangles its goods before me and I chase, only to discover it was a decoy and I’m the one captured.

Proverbs 21:21 NIV says, “He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor.” Many seek life, prosperity, and honor, but they certainly don’t go about it by pursuing righteousness and love.  Yet, if these are things worth pursuing, how do we achieve it?

  • Choose righteousness and love as your targets; release everything else.
  • Focus. Be intentional with your time, your thoughts, and your words. Actions will follow.
  • Make the effort. Pursuit doesn’t take place on the sofa. Get moving, one choice at a time.

And the prize?

Life with meaning and purpose:

“. . . I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10 NIV)

 Prosperity:

“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’” (I Corinthians 2: 9 NIV)

Honor:

“ . . . But now the LORD declares, ‘. . . Those who honor me I will honor,. . .’” (I Samuel 2:30 NIV) 

So get your ducks in a row. Are they worth the chase or is it time to set your sights on something higher?

Discussion Questions for the Week:

Day 1: What are you chasing? What prize does it offer?

 

Day 2: What will it cost you to get it? In the choosing (giving up other things) and in focus and effort (giving of yourself)?

 

Day 3: Can this target deliver or is it an empty promise? If it can deliver, is it worth it?

 

Day 4: What distracts or dissuades you from chasing God and the things that are important to Him?

Have you experienced any benefits from following Him or have you known others who have?

 

Day 5: What will following God cost you? Do you think it’s worth it?

 

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Cross Training

This month, I am trying some changes to my blog. Cross Training will post on Mondays. The format will be a devotional or short Bible study with an eye towards adults. I’m including a series of questions you may use for introspection or to spur discussion with your children over the coming week. I plan to drop the book reviews to focus on Cross Training. I will post an occasional Gayle’s Gable and Zuno’s Pick to let you know what Zuno and I are reading and to let you share your favorites. Any feedback regarding the new format would be appreciated.

Bubble Trouble

A single bubble rose from the bottom of the beaker. The frog sat undisturbed. Pop! Pop! Lone bubbles became pairs and trios as they multiplied. Eyes blinking, the frog shifted and watched the bubbles ascend. The flame flickered beneath the beaker. Pops grew to a rumble as the water began to churn. The sound was lost on the frog. He ceased to hear. He ceased in general, boiled alive as he watched the bubbles go by.

Psalm 36 echoes the warning:

“An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good. Even on his bed he plots evil; he commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong.” (Psalm 36: 1-4 NIV [italics mine])

On first reading, I almost dismissed the passage as one of those “wicked’ versus “righteousness” passages.

Then, I noticed verse 3:

“. . . he has ceased to be wise and to do good.”

Why had he stopped? Verses 1 and 2 tell us:

“There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”

Yikes!

Not only that, but he has moved from wise and good past a state of neutrality and into wickedness. He no longer rejects what is wrong and actively plans and commits himself to sin.

Though written by David, this psalm could have been written of Solomon. Solomon remains the greatest king in history. His early reign is marked by God-given wisdom and great deeds. In the end, he’s remembered as an idolater, a kingly frog whose passion for women led him away from the one true God and boiled him alive.

So, how do we escape the boiling beaker?

  • Cultivate a fear of God. Meditate on who He is. Get a picture in your mind. Remember His deeds and His power. He is holy. He is Abba Daddy, but He is also the Almighty.
  • Cultivate a spirit of humility. He is the Creator. We are the creatures. He is the Father. We are the children.
  • Be quick to confess and repent. Give thanks for His mercy and grace.

Stay out of the beaker.

Discussion Questions for the Week:

Day 1: We easily identify the faults of others. Why do we tend to be blind to things in our own lives?

 

Day 2: What does it mean to have a holy fear of God? Does our culture’s lack of respect for those in authority affect your attitude towards God?

 

Day 3: Search for Scripture that reinforces a healthy awe and respect for God. (Revelation 4)

 

Day 4: Ask the Holy Spirit as well as your family to lovingly uncover your blind spots. Pray for each other and encourage one another as you address them with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Day 5: What wrong have you tolerated? How can you actively reject it? Continue to pray and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance and revelation.

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Zuno’s Picks

Zuno’s recent reads are:

Art and Max by David Wiesner

Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen

Come to the Fairies’ Ball by Jane Yolen

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

Bear Feels Scared by Karma Wilson

Bear’s New Friend by Karma Wilson

Miracle Melts Down by Rosemary Wells

What’s your favorite picture book?

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Cross Training

This month, I am trying some changes to my blog. Cross Training will post on Mondays. The format will be a devotional or short Bible study with an eye towards adults. I’m including a series of questions you may use for introspection or to spur discussion with your children over the coming week. I plan to drop the book reviews to focus on Cross Training. I will post an occasional Gayle’s Gable and Zuno’s Pick to let you know what Zuno and I are reading and to let you share your favorites. Any feedback regarding the new format would be appreciated.

Leverage

 Leverage. I’m hooked.

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but Nate Ford, a modern-day Robin Hood, and his merry men (and women) captivate me. Nate Ford and his crew help the little guy, someone who has been picked on or taken advantage of by someone with power, position, and money. Ford and his team of former thieves, hackers, and con-men methodically study their bad guy to find a weak spot. The Leverage team uses their unique “gifts” and “skills” to develop a con that exploits his weakness. We get to watch the little guy get justice and the bad guy’s empire topple.

When I read this verse in my quiet time, I thought of Leverage:                           

“A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust.” (Proverbs 21:22 NIV)

Watch TV for five minutes and count the number of “strongholds” flashing across the screen: beauty, popularity, power, money, position, intellect, athletic skill. While these things look impregnable, on closer inspection, they are only fake fronts and they topple easily.

The thought crossed my mind, “What if your stronghold can’t be pulled down?”

Hmmm.

Let’s look at the one, true Stronghold:

“The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1 NIV)

 

“If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23, 24 NIV)

 

“He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” (Psalm 144:2 NIV)

 

When God is your stronghold, you stand secure.

Discussion Questions for the Week:

Day 1: In what are you tempted to place your trust or security?

(For kids and teens, their trust may be in parents and other adults. How can we honor that yet help them to eventually look to God for all things?)

 

Day 2: Look at the verses above. List the things you gain when God is your stronghold.

What fears do you face? How does God help you face them?

 

Day 3: Where are you weak and vulnerable in your character?

How can making God your stronghold protect you against your personal weaknesses?

 

Day 4: Who might seek to pull you down? Do you believe in a force of evil?

When God is our stronghold, how do we work this out practically when faced with a choice? Temptation? Trial?

 

Day 5: How do you maintain a sense of peace and security even when things are tough?

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Gayle’s Gable

Summer Reading Samples:

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

SEAL Warrior by Thomas H. Keith and J. Terry Riebling

The 39 Clues Book 1: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

                            Book 2: One False Note by Gordan Korman

                            Book 3: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis

Sasquatch by Roland Smith

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U. S. Military History by Chris Kyle

Wrecked: When A Broken World Slams Into Your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins

Straw into Gold by Gary Scmidt

The Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength) by C.S. Lewis

Brotherband Chronicles, Books 1: The Outcasts and 2: The Invaders by John Flanagan

Currently reading:

The 39 Clues Book 4: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black (YA novel, language warning)

Godless by Pete Hautman

Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster

What book is in your gable or favorite reading spot?

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Cross Training

This month, I am trying some changes to my blog. Cross Training will post on Mondays. The format will be a devotional or short Bible study with an eye towards adults. I’m including a series of questions you may use for introspection or to spur discussion with your children over the coming week. I plan to drop the book reviews to focus on Cross Training. I will post an occasional Gayle’s Gable to let you know what Zuno and I are reading and to let you share your favorites. Any feedback regarding the new format would be appreciated.

Hide and Seek

“You’re it!”

The family scrambles as “it” begins counting. Our kids love Hide and Seek. When they were little, they hid in obvious places, often with hands covering eyes so no one could “see” them. As they grew older, their hiding places improved. They became better seekers too.

Jeremiah 29 reminds me of Hide and Seek:

“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD . . .” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV)

God tells us we will find Him, but our heart must be in the seeking. In fact, God’s version of Hide and Seek reminds me of another family favorite: Sardines. In Sardines, one person hides and everyone else searches.

In the dark.

No cheating with your cell phone flashlight.

Once you find them, you join the hider in their hiding spot until the whole family is crammed under Dad’s desk or in the linen closet like—sardines. I think God plays Hide and Seek like Sardines. Not only does He want us to fervently seek him, He wants us to draw close once we find Him.

So, get your game on. How is your Seek?

 

Discussion Questions for the Week:

Day 1:I can go for days without hearing a word from God, yet there He is when I least expect him and often when I most need Him. Does God seem hidden to you at times? Tell about the times you found Him.

 

Day 2:When our children were small we hid in easy places for them to find. What are some “easy” places where God can be found? How does His hiding change as you get “older” in your faith?

 

Day 3:How do you seek God? Is this method effective?

 

Day 4:How do you seek God with all your heart? What helps keep the seeking from becoming routine or rote?

 

Day 5:What is your favorite way to “sardine’ yourself or draw near to God?

 

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