26 August 2014

Burnt Breeches

“He done burned his breeches with me.” 

 What does that even mean and why is it keeping me awake at midnight when I have an early morning ahead? I received an email just before bedtime from some one called Bob. The communication included nothing offensive, but everything about it is really hacking me off. Why? Well, because Bob has burnt his breeches. 

 Have you heard this expression? I laughed when the thought first crossed my mind.  I heard the 14-yr-old version of myself say it with the immense southern drawl that I flaunted in my youth. Is this even something that people say? Google says yes. My first hit was in reference to a political candidate who had officially “burned his breeches in The South.” The fact that the expression has been stated by at least one other individual gave me the go-ahead to explore the adage—what did that child in my head mean by burning the breeches? What follows are only the results of my musing. Thank you for obliging me as I go around by Laura’s house in search of a point. 

I’ve heard this cliché stated in two ways: (1) breeches being torn(or more accurately “toe’”) and (2) breeches being burned. After expending more thought than I would have liked to this matter, I have come to the conclusion that the latter is the more severe condition.  Torn breeches must be easier to fix; a simple patch could conceal a tear or a rip in breeches and restore them to like-new condition. Burnt breeches are going to result in a much bigger problem. Burnt breeches are going to have the stench of burnt fabric and most likely burnt flesh. Burnt breeches are going to leave a much larger hole and possibly a scar. Burnt breeches, although patchable, will always bear the mark of burnt breeches. If anybody ever sees you wearing those pants, they will know that you done burned your breeches. 

Burning the breeches is not only the more severe condition, but seems also quite irreversible. You can’t put those ashes back together and restore the garment to the original condition. Ever. 

Breeches are important. Breeches cover from the waist down, and when you expose yourself from the waist down, ain’t nobody ever gonna look at you the same way. Another probably southern-in-origin expression says “He showed his arse.” This refers to someone who has acted in a way which has revealed the worst of his character. Burning the breeches then, as far as I can surmise, refers to a breach in behavior which has been witnessed by numerous individuals and reveals the worst of one’s character to an irreversible and unforgivable degree. 

 All this considered, I can say with full confidence that Bob has indeed burned his breeches. When I think of him, I only see the ways he has offended me and others. His character has come to to be defined by his conniving and belittling ways. I now feel quite comfortable giving myself permission to go back to sleep with the satisfaction of knowing that my hard feelings are justified. My human understanding of fairness and reciprocity give me permission to settle in for blissful dreams of karma and retribution. 

 But my faith won’t allow it. 

 It really doesn't matter what Bob did last year, last month, or last week. I doesn’t even matter what Bob does tomorrow. Bob is a citizen of Earth. But I am a citizen of Heaven. I am called to live above the laws of this world and to Love Bob unconditionally, just as Christ loves me. This does not excuse Bob’s behavior and doesn’t mean that I stand by and watch as Bob destroys others.  It means that I fight Bob.  However, I fight with—and only with—those weapons dispensed by The Spirit—the sword of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and as coverings for my feet, the gospel of peace.  

The truth says Christ loves Bob and gave himself for Bob just as He gave Himself for me.  The truth says show this love to Bob.  Not because of what Bob has done or who Bob is, but because of Who God Is and What Christ Did.  If I don’t fight Bob then Love doesn't  win.

And so it seems that The God of the universe desires to perfectly mend Bob’s burnt breeches.  Just like he mends mine.  I suppose he can put those ashes back together after all.  And the recycled version will always be better than the original.

All Praise to God, The Father of Jesus Christ my Lord, Who does not deal with me according to my sin, nor repay me according to my iniquity.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove my transgression.   (Psalm 103:11-13 paraphrased)

Pray for Bob, whoever he may be.

05 April 2009

Home again, Home again

Hey everybody! I've been home for 10 days now and I finally feel like myself again... well, maybe those aren't the right words. I don't feel like "myself" at all, because it was truly a life-changer, but I am rested.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank all of you for reading and supporting me while I was there. I hope one day you will know what it meant to me. For now, I hope you know I love you each very dearly.
It's so crazy to think that I was so scared of going on that trip by myself at first. Everyone asks "what was your favorite thing?" I'm sorry, but for now, there is no answer to that. Maybe someday I'll figure it out, but currently, I have a hard time even talking about one specific site without jumping on to something else. It's driving Jimmy crazy!
So I can't say my favorite thing, but I can tell you the craziest thing. I don't think I really learned much new while I was there. Sure, I saw the settings for all of the stories that I've heard since childhood. And that was really cool, but those sites aren't what changed me.
This is the good stuff: I put myself in an environment that allowed me to hear from Him for the first time in such a very long time. Once I got there, once I was alone with Him, I began to remember His promises. I learned them all when I heard the stories so long ago, but I stopped standing on them. Prime example, "He has not given us a spirit of fear." Yet, fear almost kept me at home. Once I was there, alone with Him, I realized that the fear I felt beforehand was never ever from Him. He reminded me of lots of things, mostly of His promises.
So, I hadn't intended to write anymore on this when I got home, but one last post. I want the final message of this blog to be that what has happened in me is not because I was in "The Holy Land." It's not about my geographic location at all. It happened because for the first time in so very long, I was alone...with Him.
Please be encouraged. Stand on His promises. You, who have read this, for as far as I can tell, you are a lot like me. You know His Word. You've known it since childhood. So remember it. Get alone with Him and remember all that He has done, and all that He has given. Remember His promises--stand on them, live in them. That's the place. It's not a spot on the globe! It's not a place at all. It's Him. Anywhere, alone with Him, is a good, good place. It is fullness.
God bless you all!

22 March 2009

Out of Sequence

I haven't posted for the past couple of days because I've been wanting to put pictures up with descriptions, etc., and just haven't had the time, but there was something today that I can't get off my mind, so I wanted to share it.

We toured the city of Jerusalem today and we saw too much for me to describe each site. As I said, I've had this image of this wonderfully organized scrapbook-style blog so I've taken pictures like crazy each day, but today was very different. The first stop inside of the city gates was at the pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the lame man, telling him to "take up his mat and walk." We read the story at the side of the pool and then said a prayer for healing for those in our group and others that we know who are sick. Most of you know Pam Bell (Roxie and Suzann's mom) was recently diagnosed with leukemia and is currently at M.D. Anderson. Immediately she came to mind during this prayer. (Please pray for her now, even if you don't know her.) The coolest thing about Mrs. Bell is that she is always SO EXCITED about what God does. She is ever aware of His presence, and is a constant testimony to those she encounters. She tells these beautiful stories of what God has done for her lately with joy radiating though her expressions. When I think of her, this is what I think first. She often starts the conversation by saying "Hey! Guess what God did!" with the tone and exuberance of a kindergarten teacher.

After leaving the pools at Bethesda, we headed to the place where Jesus was likely taken to trial before Pilate prior to the crucifiction. At this spot, there was a beautiful reading of the story from Luke 18:28-40. Maybe it's because of my thoughts of Mrs Bell, but during this reading, I put my camera away as the words of Mrs. Bell resonated in my mind. Wow. Guess what God did. He sent His only son into this world. And He willingly came, knowing all He would endure, He still came. For you, for me. Guess what God did. And with all of the evil abounding, in His death He did not condemn us, but instead, redeemed us. Who would have thought?!

We walked the way of sorrow, the way of the cross, and I kept my camera stowed. I hope that I get a chance to walk it again someday, camera in hand, but today was not the day for that. Today was not a day to walk the road focussing my camera on the scenery, but rather, a day to focus my heart on this thought. I know it's redundant, but I must say it again. Wow. Guess what God did.

20 March 2009

Day 2- Thursday, March 19

Today we toured areas all significant in the life of Jesus nearby Tiberias, where we are staying. Our first visit was to "the Jesus boat" which is a fishing boat that archeologists uncovered in the Sea of Galilee dating back to the time when Jesus was here. The site is in a small town called Ginnosar, very close to Magdala. Our tour guide, Shraga, says "some who believe that the Garden of Eden is here in Israel call this area the gate of the garden." Those are better than any words that I can come up with to describe the appearance of all of the sites we visited today.

After visiting the museum, we went to the Mt. of the Beattitudes, where Jesus gave the sermon on the mount. We gathered together in this area and read Matthew 5. It was very moving.

Next, the site of Multiplication, where Jesus fed the 5000. There is now a church standing in the place that was constructed around 1700 years ago. The original mosaic floor is still intact, displaying the fish and bread.

Our third stop was at the church of Peter's Primacy. This is the third place Jesus appeared to his disciples after His resurrection, where He told them to cast their nets on the other side. Also, where He asked Peter 3 times, "do you love me? then feed my sheep."

On to Capernaum, the town where Jesus lived after He was rejected from His hometown of Nazereth. We visited the Synogogue which is in the same location of the Synogogue of Jesus' day, on the original foundation. We were also able to see the ruins of the Synogoue Jesus would have attended.

We stopped for luch next at a restaurant specializing in "St. Peter's Fish" (tilapia), with the
head intact. I had pizza. After lunch, we went for a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. The boat stopped and we had a short devotion, reading Luke 8:22-25. The challenge of the message was 'if Jesus is able to speak peace to the winds and they obey, then shouldn't we ask and TRUST Him to speak peace in our lives, no matter the situation." The sea was like glass.

Our last stop was at the baptismal site on the Jordan river. So I know this sounds crazy, but I was so shocked that the Jordan river looks exactly like a RIVER! I guess I just have the image stuck in my brain from my childhood Sunday school literature that shows the big body of bright blue water. No no. Not at all. We had a short time at the banks where we were to remember our baptism, and recall the significance of it. This area was a little disappointed to me, because of the commercialization and the crowd. However, when I moved away from the crowd and was able to look up the river away from the busy crowd, I was able to "feel" a bit more.

I really thought this trip would be something that I would want to do once, but "once you've seen it, you've seen it." Boy, was I ever WRONG! There is so much to take it. I can't imagine how many trips it would take to really take it all in. Even if we had time to see it all, it seems there's not enough time to really let it all soak in. And this was only day #1 of touring!

Much love to you all!

Arrival- Wednesday, March 18

I'm posting this late... this is from day 1 (arrival)

Today was good. The bus ride from the airport was about 2 hours, and as tired as I was I dared not close my eyes for fear of missing something. I had no idea how beautiful the landscape would be. The seasons are changing. Spring only lasts a few weeks here, so it’s a big deal to the people. Our guide told us that most of the "poppies" will be gone in only a couple of weeks—which is amazing because the vibrancy of color has been the most amazing thing to me.

I mentioned that our hotel is just across the way from The Sea of Galilee. It’s a bit of a hike from the hotel to the water, but I walked down this afternoon. To get there, I took a wrong turn out of the driveway (lol) and ended up having to walk through a field crammed with wild flowers. It was absolutely incredible, and I almost missed it. I was so cranky from the flight and lack of sleep that I wasn’t even taking it in. Here I was, mountains in front of me, mountains behind me, the Sea of Galilee just ahead, and surrounded by a sea of wildflowers… but I was too frustrated about taking the wrong turn to even notice. Thank God for my new I-pod. The song playing stopped me dead in my tracks. I must share the lyrics (greg and megan gave me this cd for my birthday. thanks guys-- You’re the bestest of the restest!)

He is here for the broken, life for the one who’s undone.
He is peace to the wounded and hope for the helpless one.
And He is here. He is Here.
Be still, my soul, be still.
Wait patiently upon the Lord.
Be still, my soul, be still.
When waves rise against me, and the wind tries to draw me away,
I will stand on the mountain, safe in your arms, I will sing.
Be still, my soul, be still.
Wait patiently upon the Lord, be still my soul be still.
Be still, and know His is God, He is here.

There are no words to express what I felt as I stood on the banks. I couldn’t quit staring at my feet, and thinking that they could very well be in His footprints. It is incredible.

18 March 2009

Day 1: Travel thoughts

Just before midnight on Monday night I sat down at my computer to begin this blog, but just couldn’t do it. I was FREAKING OUT! I was questioning whether or not to even come on this trip, all the while meditating on the scripture “the Lord has not given you a spirit of fear, but of a sound mind…” I walked away without a blog, but I slept peacefully, with no fear.
Now I’m on the plane and the “freaked out” feeling has returned. However, this time I recognize that maybe this isn’t fear at all. It’s excitement. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m so sad that Jimmy is not here. I miss him so much. However, I am comforted. I discussed my fear of being lonely during this trip with my friend Andrea on Monday. I begged her to please e-mail me everyday because I knew I would be lonely. I was quite serious, but she laughed at me! Can you believe that? What kind of friend is she, right? Well, she’s a fantastic friend. She said “Sally, I will e-mail you if you want me to but you know Jesus is with you everywhere you go, if he’s in Arkansas he’ll for-sure be there with you in The Holy Land.” I think that is when the knot formed in my stomach. I can only compare it to the I used to get when a cute boy passed me a note in Jr. High… and at times it feels as strong as those butterflies I had in my stomach on my wedding day. The point is, those butterflies aren’t always signs of something bad. I have decided in this case, they are there because I am incredibly aware that I’m embarking on an adventure like I have never known. I’m halfway around the world from my closest friends and family with 16 acquaintances (I call them this because I do know all of their names now). My only well-established friendship here is with Jesus. What has me most excited about this “gut thing” is that I can only compare it to what I have felt while being romanced. This thought makes me so amazingly giddy… could it be that I will be romanced by my Lord during these next few days? I don’t see why not. Could it be that He intends to use these days alone to draw me closer to Him. When I consider how many times He uses our weaknesses to make us strong, it makes perfect sense. So… here I go. Nope, here we go!