Monday, January 26, 2009

Lessons Learned on eBay

Once upon a time there was a girl who had a red, KitchenAide 4-slice toaster that she loved. The color of it made her smile when she walked into her kitchen, and it had a bagel button that made everyone in the family happy. That toaster breathed its last one day, and she began searching for a replacement. She was surprised to find that the folks at KitchenAide don't make that exact toaster anymore, but then her parents found a 2-slice version, pretty and red (also not made anymore) marked way down at their local department store.

They brought her the new toaster at Christmastime, and inside the box was a catalogue of other lovely items that KitchenAide made at the time the toaster was packaged. But ooh, something caught the girl's eye in that catalogue! A coffee mill/grinder! With a hopper that holds 16 ounces of beans; a grinder that has 16 different settings, from espresso to coarse; a design that replicates a 1938 (or 48, can't remember for sure) design, very fun and retro; and that comes in that same beautiful, smile-producing red color! "Hmmm," thought the girl, "I wonder how much that is? I love it! It would look great in my kitchen! It would fit right next to the coffee maker! I wouldn't have to take out the beans and grinder everyday...they'd be right there at the ready! I want it!"

Alas, KitchenAide doesn't make this mill/grinder anymore. She couldn't find a store anywhere that still had one laying around, marked way down like its cousin the 2-slice toaster. And this is how the girl found herself looking for this item on eBay. It was her first time to shop on eBay. And yippee! She found one--though it was stainless steel, not red--with a starting bid of only $9. "Wouldn't that be awesome," she thought. And even her husband agreed, a handy thing like this would be nice to have for twenty-five bucks or so. Yes, well. Um, as the bidding battle got down to the last two minutes, the girl finally surrendered to some other crazy shopper, who "won" it for $365!!! What happened?! How had she let herself agree to pay a whopping $360 for this thing? And it wasn't even red!

She found two others listed on eBay, one pink (not for her kitchen, thank you very much) and one....hear the music swell...RED! But this time, she had experience, and typed in the amount she'd be willing to pay, and walked away from the computer. She prayed about it, and in a moment of clarity, realized it's just a thing. If she got it, it would be fun, if she didn't, she would be ok. She thanked God for the new toaster. She asked God for forgiveness for getting swept up, for being so selfish and unwise. A few days later, she got an email announcing her "victory" for much, much less than $360, And today, her coffee maker has a friend standing next to it, and her toaster is no longer the lone red pop in the kitchen.

I believe God honors our prayers. I believe he honored mine about this purchase. Are you picturing Bruce Almighty suffocating in the mountains of post-it note/email prayers stacking up and thinking, "God doesn't want to be bothered with this kind of silliness, whether or not I buy this..." God is not Bruce. He wants us to move and make decisions thoughtfully. He wants us to think about good things, and if we take everything to Him, there's room in the noggin for the good things. He wants to hear about everything. It says so in the Bible:
Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:5-9

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm intrigued by the life of David, one who was so highly esteemed that Jerusalem was called "the city of David" and yet along with his great deeds are the recordings of some of his naughtiest moments. He was God's anointed one, appointed to the throne of Israel by God Himself, and still so completely human, prone to get caught up in pride just like every person you know. Kind of a relief to know that we don't have to live the perfect life for God to use us.

In 2 Samuel this morning, I noticed a recurring theme about the importance of seeking God--asking Him what to do, going to Him for wisdom. Twice in the 5th chapter, David asks God about attacking the Philistines, and both times, God answers him. Both times David attacks the Philistines when and how God instructs him, and the people of God see tremendous victories.

Then, in the next chapter, David wants to reclaim the Ark of God from some bad guys who had stolen it when Saul was losing his mind (and apparently, his kingdom and Ark). David moves ahead with his plan, thinking he's doing the right thing, and a good man ends up losing his life because he touches the Ark. They hit some bumpy ground, and Uzzah reaches out his hand to steady the Ark, and well, you've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, right? No touching the Ark, baby! it's HOT!

David and his men abandon their original plan to bring the Ark to Jerusalem and instead leave it (I'm assuming) where they are, at some guy's house. A few months later, they go back again to get the Ark and move it the rest of the way to Jerusalem. What's interesting is that the second time around David says, "When we transport the Ark of God this time, no one except the Levites may carry it. the LORD has chosen them to carry the Ark of the LORD and to minister before Him forever." (1 Chronicles 15:2--emphasis mine--this story is told in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles) I am thinking that David asked God about what to do the second time, but maybe not the first. Maybe he thought he was doing an honorable thing, and seeking God in all of it didn't occur to him. And this second time, David is following some very specific instructions.

Hmmm. I never enjoying having to re-do things. Help me remember Lord, to ask you the first time!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This was not my idea...

but I like it, so I'm copying from a blog I like to read. Well, except I'm going to modify it a bit. She reposted the first line of the first post of each month last year. Beck writes beautifully, really poetic. My first lines are so boring, I won't make you look at them again. One of the dangers of conversational writing? I'll try to work on that in the future...a resolution!

So, in the spirit of yesterday's post, where I learned that remembering what the LORD has done for us is an essential piece of living a God-centered life, we'll look back over 2008. But I will re-post the LAST sentence of the LAST post of each month, because it took me a while to get to my point in these writings. My goal for this blog was to record God's activity in my life and let you, dear reader, "make of it what you will." So, we shall see if I stuck to it...

This is supposed to be fun, these childhood things, why can't I have fun with it?

...on Santa and the Tooth Fairy.

So with God's help, I'm gonna' be strong and courageous, baby!

I love the way he suggests here that surrendering our selves is a process, and he gives some practical, first steps to take.

Holding on to that junk is getting in the way of the affirmation of being God's child.

Well, it's good to verbalize your expectations, right?

Maybe it'll work for you, too.

...the plan to have the kids do "jobs" everyday this summer. It went pretty well. The plan, that is.

And yet, God has graciously given them to me year after year, and patiently waited for me to realize the blessing.

I need to be looking into that pot on the back burner and stir it up, tend to it a little bit before there's nothing there, for all of our sakes.

And he is truly a blessing.

...a post on Lars's birthday.

I can't think of any more words to add.... I mean, you know, he's too much!!

...a post on Luke's birthday. :)

It could be a chance for us to get to know God better, together.

...on the Sabbath

She is waiting and watching....

...the ONLY post for the month of December, on our cat Thora finding a perch in the Christmas tree.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Careful What You Ask For

Would it be alright if I just skip the excuses about why it's been such a long time since I posted and just get back to the writing? I think that's what I'll do. You can figure it out that I've been too busy, without routine or inspiration....

So, it's back into the Old Testament I went this morning. I would like to have a better understanding of the ways of God's chosen people, would like to know the little stories that occur in between all of the familiar ones. So I started in 1 Samuel, which begins at the end of the period of Judges.

The Israelites still want a king, they don't want to have God as their leader, or, I think, a priest/judge whom God has called as their leader. They want more than a king, I think. They want a Royal Line. They want to know who will be coming next. They want to be like other people. (1 Samuel 8:1-5) So Samuel is kind of the last judge. It grieves him that the people keep telling him to ask God for a king, and God finally tells Samuel not to take it personally, that this is not a rejection of Samuel, but of God Himself, and to go ahead and give them a king. Warn them of all it will mean, God says, and tell them how a king will treat them. And so God appoints Saul as the first King of Israel.

There's a swearing-in of sorts for Saul, and then Samuel makes his final address to the people of Israel, where he reminds them of all the great things the LORD had done for them and their ancestors. (1 Samuel 12) He tells them God is giving them what they've asked for, but that obeying His commands still needs to be their way of life. And just to kind of add an exclamation point to it, Samuel asks God to bring rains and thunder to show them how wrong they were to ask for a king. Well, that freaks them all out. They are afraid, and crying out for their lives.

Our messages at church yesterday (for both the adults and for Lars in the junior high service) were about living a God-centered life. About what we need to do to tap into the supernatural power of God, have access to it daily. And for Lars, it was about what it looks like to be a lukewarm Christian, and how displeasing that it to Christ. I want to be God-centered. All the time, everyday, all day. Until I get distracted by, well, it can be anything. And then I get discouraged.

I think God drew me to the following passage this morning, as an encouragement:
"Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him. Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless! The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.
“As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you. But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away.”

So, yes, I will not always get it right. I will need to adjust my focus, and readjust it. I will ask for the wrong things. God says to keep on keeping on. Love Him and obey Him with everything I've got. It pleases Him to call us His children. And the real key to keeping on? Thinking of all the wonderful things He has done for us.