Tuesday, February 22, 2005


When you hear the word "Pharisee," what comes to mind? Hypocrite. Enemy of Christ. Blind. Legalistic. The church has unswervingly, unequivocally cast the Pharisees as the bad guys--nothing but contempt for their surface-level religion-without-relationship. Now I'm not saying I want to be a Pharisee...but I am saying that in the past few months, I've developed a strange sympathy for the religious leaders of Jesus' time.

Until Jesus, the Word made flesh, made His dwelling among us, Israel had gone four hundred years without one word from Yahweh. Pause and let that sink in: 4800 months. 146,000 days without hearing from God. Did they still manage to get out of bed each morning and have quiet time? Did they have any vestiges of hope that He'd speak to them, knowing that the last time His voice had been heard was by their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great...you get the picture, grandfather?

I did a Beth Moore study not long ago, and in the first lesson, she examined what would have happened to Israel during this "famine of hearing the words of the Lord" (Amos 8:11). The first was that the Israelites would have experienced "unparalleled insecurity." Their whole identity as a nation was wrapped up in their hearing the words of Yahweh--it was what distinguished them from all other nations on earth. They could hear the words of the Lord.

In this study, Beth suggested that perhaps Pharisaic legalism resulted from this famine. Perhaps this sect of Israelites turned to the security of legalism--after all, it gives a person some sense of control and stability to systematically follow a complex set of rules--because they couldn't hear God. Perhaps life as a Pharisee was the only way they could hold onto the remaining threads of faith that had frayed to almost nothing after more than three million hours of silence from God. 146,000 days--twenty generations without so much as one word from Him. Do you feel the weight of that? The oppressiveness, the despair of such silence?

The Pharisees were misguided and ignorant; they missed the Word made flesh when He finally appeared before them...but can you blame them, honestly? If you hadn't ever heard God speak for yourself, and relied only on the distant memories of your ancestors from 400 years back, passed down by word of mouth until they were almost rumors, fairy tales--do you think it'd be easy to recognize Him when He came? Do you think there's a chance you'd cling desperately to silly rules because they provided some shell of security, some concrete reality you could grasp? Do you think deep down they were scared? Do you think that in moments of stark clarity, they realized the emptiness of their rituals, but just pushed down the fears and the tears so they could get through another day of deafening silence?

Call me crazy, but I think I have some compassion for those blind Pharisees.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Valleys Fill First

Funny how you can have a CD for years, and then hear a song on it for the first time. Caedmon's Call, Long Line of Leavers...

This is the valley that I'm walking through
And it feels like forever since I've been close to You
My friends up above me don't understand why I struggle like I do
My shadow's my only companion and at night he leaves too

Down in the valley, dying of thirst
Down in the valley, it seems that I'm at my worst
My consolation is that You baptize this earth
When I'm down in the valley, valleys fill first

Down in this wasteland I miss the mountaintop view
But it's here in this valley that I'm surrounded by You
Though I'm not here by my will it's where Your view is most clear
So I'll stay in this valley if it takes 40 years

And it's like that long Saturday between Your death and the rising day
When no one wrote a word, wondered is this the end
But You were down there in the well, saving those that fell
Bringing them to the mountain again

Down in the valley, dying of thirst
Down in the valley, it seems that I'm at my worst
My consolation is that You baptize this earth
When I'm down in the valley, valleys fill first

Hiccups: A Foolproof Cure

I hate the hiccups...but I have found a foolproof method for getting rid of them. I would like to share it with you today, free of charge.

Get a cup of water (or any drink, probably). Bend at the waist so that your head is upside-down. Then take a sip of water (obviously you'll have to drink from the far side of the cup, or you'll spill it all over yourself--and no, Brother's Keeper, I am not speaking from experience!). Swallow it while you're still upside down...and no more hiccups!

Holding my breath never works, and I can't always find someone to scare me. But this works every time.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Hand in Glove

Last week on the radio I heard this analogy/illustration that was really kind of cheesy...and yet for some reason has stuck with me, coming to my mind now and then for the last several days. The gist of it was this:

Imagine a yellow rubber glove--like the kind you might use in the kitchen. Tell the glove to wave to you. It can't, of course. Now put your hand inside the glove, and tell the glove to wave to you. Now it can--your fingers wiggle and the glove waves.

This is how God works in us. By ourselves, our feeble attempts at righteousness are filthy rags. We're empty rubber gloves, incapable of waving, until the hand of the Holy Spirit moves within us. It's not the glove that really does anything at all...only the fingers within that glove.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Wedding Planning, Schmedding Planning

Really, is it any wonder I hate wedding planning? Drama, drama, drama, every step of the way...

First we couldn't find a church. Mine and Steve's are both too small; some churches won't let non-members use them; others will, but will charge you an arm and a leg; others will, but won't let you use your own pastor.

Then, after much indecision, it was time to set the date. We did, and then the photographer wasn't available that day. More research, more indecision and frustration, finally end up changing the date.

Next, I need to find a dress. So I go shopping three times, six stores, 50 dresses. Finally find The Dress. And it's set to be discontinued December 31--thankfully I got it ordered just in time.

Tonight was an appointment with a graphic designer who does custom invitations. See, my problem is, I'm too picky for what's in the standard albums, too cheap to have them custom designed, and don't have time or desire to do it myself. But I had finally decided that I would try to see if this designer can work within a budget, and had also realized that I am paying not just for pieces of paper but for my own sanity. Worth much $$ at this point.

So we (my mom and I) drive an hour today for a 4:30 appointment with this girl. And she's not there. Turns out she wrote down FRIDAY at 4:30. Definitely her mistake--I have it in writing (from her via email) that it was supposed to be today. So we show up, and no Heather. Are you kidding me?

If anyone wonders why I am less than enthusiastic about all these wedding details, now you know why. Is it any wonder? Every step has been a frustrating headache, not fun and exciting. BLAH!! Why didn't we take my dad up on his offer to pay us to elope?!?!