Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Let’s Chat About Money

God is a God who values logic and critical thinking. We see evidences of this in the Bible, such as the verse in Isaiah 1:18 where the Lord calls His people to reason with Him. In this case, the Hebrew word carries connotations of discussion, debate, conversation. The definite thrust of His call is that He wants to talk with His people, for His people to use their minds and talk through deep issues of salvation with Him.

 

This week, I’ve been studying the parable of the Shrewd Manager, found in Luke 16. The story itself is fascinating: a manager is called in by his boss and fired for mishandling his master’s funds. Because he sees no other options for his future, the manager moves quickly to lessen the debts that people owe to his (now former) boss, before any of the debtors find out about his loss of position. When the boss finds out about the ex-manager’s actions, he praises him for his good thinking! Even more amazingly, Jesus then goes on to look at His disciples and say, for all intents and purposes, ‘be like the manager.’

 

Say what now?

 

I’ll be honest, and admit right here right now that I was flummoxed by this story for many years. Is the ethical Jesus teaching us to cheat people even after they know that we are untrustworthy? Is He telling us to BE untrustworthy? This is all so confusing.

 

When you feel up a creek without the proverbial paddle, it is a good idea to look at the context, the situation in which the story is being told.

 

The parables preceding the story of the shrewd manager all deal with people who are searching for something they’ve lost. Loss taught the hearers about true value. In one case it was a sheep, in another a coin, in still another it was a child, but they all hold a uniting thread: they held value to the one searching for them. And the result of being found? Much rejoicing.

 

So, it seems a bit odd when Jesus shifts His storytelling to the disciples, and tells them about such a dishonest (though savvy) manager. But the real kick of the story comes in the application. Jesus turns His lesson into a series of if/then statements: IF you are faithful in little, THEN you will be faithful in much. IF you are unfaithful in little, THEN you will be unfaithful in much. IF you cannot be trusted with earthly riches (little), THEN who would trust you with eternal treasures (much)?

 

Ah, it makes more sense now. Take away our indignation at the manager’s dishonesty, and you are left with a story about a very smart man. He lost his job, no way around that. He knew himself well enough to know he wasn’t strong enough to go get real work, and he wasn’t humble enough to beg for his living. The only smart option was to create a situation where he looked good, his old boss looked good, people felt indebted to him, and the stakes would be too high for his old boss to undo the actions.

 

All in all, it was a brilliant plan. Which brings me to another question…when was the last time you used logic and critical thinking to that extent for any reason? What about for the Kingdom? When was the last time you plotted to make someone unsaved come to church with you? What was your last game plan for evangelism? Ouch. If you’re anything like me, the answers to those questions aren’t going to bring about any feelings of pride and joy.

 

However, Jesus doesn’t stop there. In all His infinite wisdom, He throws in another lesson application. “No man can serve two masters…you cannot serve both God and money.” At first read it is a seeming nonsequitor, but there’s a reason for the placement. Jesus just told His followers that they should be shrewd. He told them that they should wisely manage their earthly wealth to gain friends here on earth, and eternal treasures in heaven. But Jesus also knows that the siren call of money is strong, and that even those with the best intentions of use can fall prey to its evil enticements. How many ministries can you think of that have experienced set backs or fallen altogether because the leaders took the money they were managing for the Kingdom and funneled it into their own pockets instead?

 

This is the trap, this is the warning. Be shrewd, be sharp, be wise, be trustworthy with little and much…but remember that if you are serving the master of money, you aren’t serving God. In fact, Jesus further polarizes it by saying that you will LOVE one and HATE the other.

 

For me, this parable comes back to my rallying cry for Christians: don’t check your brain at the door! Jesus never asked us to put down our wisdom and take up our crosses to follow Him. In fact, wisdom is a gift He bestows on us, so let’s not waste it. Be as sharp as serpents, as harmless as doves, and may we never lose sight of the true treasure of all our eternities: the Kingdom.

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Children and Cards

Gentle Readers,

Today I made Valentine’s Day cards with the preschool Sunday School class. We had all the fun stuff: pink and red paper, multi sized hearts, flower foam stickers, glue sticks, markers, crayons, and scissors. (For the record, I kept a hold of the scissors.)

They are sweet children. Two girls, two boys, all as different as can be. The sugar rush must have started early this year, because they were WIRED today. So wired. But I digress.

There’s really not much point to this post. Only, as I watched these children put all their scattered attention towards making something sweet for their parents, I found it touching. They are young. They have energy galore. They want to explore everything. Yet, in the midst of all their life discoveries, they were genuinely excited to make something all their own for their Moms and Dads.

This is what love looks like.

Until tomorrow,

Miss W

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New Life

Sometimes it’s really funny how thoughts come together. This Easter season, I’ve been thinking a lot about the significance of new life. Not so much in terms of babies and fresh starts, but in terms of transformation.

You see, about a week ago I found this necklace I’d made and completely forgotten about. It’s a little out of the norm of what I usually wear, but I love it all the same.

Butterflies are often used in Christian circles as a visual representation of the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Butterflies aren’t born, they are made, transformed from awkward earthbound caterpillars to glorious insects able to take flight. The process which turns them from crawling to flying isn’t easy, safe, or effortless. However, the end result is worth all the pain and effort.

Today my pastor preached on the resurrection, and how important it is to the Christian faith to believe that the resurrection really took place. While listening, it dawned on me that in a way, Jesus went through a transformation as well. He started Passion Week as the sacrificial lamb, the One who would take away the sins of the world. It was an important role, vital for the plan of salvation. After His death though, there had to be a transformation.

For Christ to just die for our sins would simply have made atonement for the sins that had come before that moment. His death, therefore, would have been just like the death of any other sacrifice. But something was different about this sacrifice. THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB ROSE FROM THE DEAD. 

Christ rose. He conquered the hold that death had on humanity, He made it possible for all people to access the grace and forgiveness found in the shedding of His blood. He made it possible for us to transform our lives.

So, this Easter, rejoice in His power, love, grace, and mercy…they are for you, from Him. Happy Easter.

50I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58, ESV

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Bad and Good

As many of you know, I review books for people. Sometimes it is through a random online connection, but most of the time it is through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. This year was very profitable in the book department for me, so I was very excited today when my newest review book showed up in its padded envelope!  So excited, in fact, that I took it with me to work in case I had a few spare minutes.

I didn’t get a chance to start it yet, but already it is sparking some conversations among my coworkers. I should have expected that. After all, here’s what it is:

Oh, loaded title there. Instantly, my coworkers agreed. You see, we live in a very “Christian” community. Just last week someone posted a page out of the Bible on our community board (You’ve got me stumped. There was nothing particularly interesting or evangelical in the posted passage). It’s not uncommon to find tracts in our tip boxes. We know that many of our customers are pastors of local churches.

Unfortunately, some of the people most vocal about being Christians treat us the most poorly. In the interest of fairness, I freely admitted to my coworkers that I was not the best example of a Christian. Being nice, they pointed out that I also don’t try to shove religion down people’s throats while tearing them to shreds at the same time. Valid point, I’ll give them that.

All that to say, I’ve not yet read the book. But the title resonates with people, so I’m opening things up here! If you feel up to it, why not take over my comments box and tell a story of Christians behaving badly? Maybe it happened to you, maybe you were the one misbehaving, but I know we all have these stories and it’s good for us to take a serious look at our behaviour and see where we fall short.

Have at it! In the meantime, I’ll be reading this book. Who knows what it is really about, but so far it has served a good purpose: it got people talking about what is acceptable behaviour, and what is not. In *my* book, that’s a winning result.

Be back with a review soon!

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Velocirapture

Gotta love xkcd.

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Enraptured

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Matthew 24:36

There’s a lot of talk about the world ending tomorrow.

This annoys me. Not that I’m not all for the Rapture and all; there are days where my mind constantly echoes John’s cry of “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” However, really people? Do you think that you, and YOU ONLY, have discovered the date of the one event that will change the entire world forever?

Because, let’s face it. Wars affect some people, earthquakes affect others. Some people are influenced by a wedding, some by the fall of a dictator. But nothing, NOTHING, will change the world like the Rapture, the Second Coming, Christ returning to earth. For some it will be amazing, for others it will be terrifying, and I hope and pray that you all are not in the “terrifying” category.

Here’s the thing though. Only God knows when this is all going to take place. In an amazing metaphysical conundrum, even Christ (though fully God and fully man) does not know when He is going to return to earth. Did you all hear that? Christ does not know the date of something that completely centers around His participation! I mean, wow. That’s one tightly guarded secret.

So what makes anyone think that God would reveal to *them* this precious date? The God I know, He doesn’t play games. He doesn’t say in His Word that no one knows something, and then drop broad hints or whisper it in the ear of a man. He doesn’t mess with us like that. He knows the date and time, and that’s enough. We don’t need to know. Let’s face cold, hard reality: we don’t want to know.

Think about how pointless life would feel if we knew the date and time. Think of how apathetic and scared we would become. I mean, all this May 21st stuff is merely conjecture and people are losing it; what if we knew it was 100% real? No. No no no. Bad idea. God knew that it was best for us not to know, so we don’t know. Oh, and remember, Christ doesn’t know, so He’s not going to be providing hints to us either. God told us all we need to know about the end times in Revelation. Quite honestly, that gives me enough fodder to keep my mind occupied…I don’t need to know EXACTLY when it will all kick off.

Let’s stop worrying about the end of the world. Let’s just worry about today. How are we acting? What are we doing? Are we making our lives count? Are we doing things that matter?

Live for today…let tomorrow take care of itself.

The Second Coming

William Butler Yeats

 Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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Rising Glory

Today at church, the pastor made a point about how the sunrise slanting through his windshield this morning reminded him of the glory of God. It is beautiful and radiant, but at the same time it makes you squint and wince. You have to get beyond that initial blindingness, and wait to be able to see God’s glory fully, to let it illuminate and light up your life like the sun lights the day. (Okay, those last thoughts are mine, but it all ties together.)

This song came to mind while he was talking, so I thought that I would share it with you all!

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Pain Into Praise

Life is tough- there’s no denying this. Just when we think we’ve got one issue under control, 4 more rise up to take its place. Remember that ‘Whack A Mole’ game? How you could never get all the moles beaten down at the same time? That’s what life is like sometimes.

We can choose to let this get us down; we can choose to be beaten down by the stress of life. Because, you see, if we are destroyed by this life it is our choice. We have a way out- we have a means of relief.

We can choose to cling to God, to cry out and throw ourselves into His arms.

There’s more than enough room for all of us; all we have to do is reach out.

We have to praise Him in the storm of life….

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Mighty To Save

As I sat down to think over this week, I realized just how emotionally draining it had been. I didn’t realize it while it was happening, but I’ve dealt with friends breaking up, meeting new people, watching new relationships form, watching friendships fall apart, receiving bad news about people I care about, getting ready to go back to school, and the list drags on.

It’s overwhelming.

However, I take comfort in the fact that I don’t have to deal with all of this on my own; I have a Saviour Who can handle all of this. None of it surprises Him, and it’s all part of His perfect plan for the world and my life. So, it’s okay for me to feel overwhelmed for a while, and then I can just give everything to Him and start fresh.

It’s a great feeling.

Everyone needs compassion,
Love that’s never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.

Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour;
The Hope of nations.

Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.

Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

So take me as You find me,
All my fears and failures,
Fill my life again.

I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in,
Now I surrender.

My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

Shine your light and let the whole world see,
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King…Jesus (x2)

My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

My Saviour, you can move the mountains,
You are mighty to save,
You are mighty to save.
Forever, Author of Salvation,
You rose and conquered the grave,
Yes you conquered the grave

Christian lyrics – MIGHTY TO SAVE LYRICS – HILLSONG AUSTRALIA

Peace and grace….

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Midday Bay

I really love the ocean. I mean, really really love the ocean. There’s nothing like standing at the water’s edge staring out into the infinite horizon to realize just how insignificant you are in the scope of time. However, at the same time I love looking down at the minute grains of sand and remembering that God has them all numbered; so how much more does He care about us?

It’s an odd conflict of feelings- feeling both vastly significant and insignificant at the same time.

Then I tend to just stare out into the horizon. It’s so peaceful; there’s nothing there to distract your mind. My imagination is then free to imagine what lies beyond what I can see: more ocean, deep swells, and far-away lands.

I don’t know if I could ever live far away from the ocean. Even though I don’t go to the beach that often, it’s comforting to know that it is there. I love sitting in a restaurant looking over the bay and the ocean, driving over long bridges to get from one place to another, or even just driving by the oceanfront while running errands.

Enough pontificating, on to the picture! This is taken from the porch of one of our favourite local seafood restaurants. The food is amazing (she-crab soup with sherry especially!), but the view is really spectacular. The restaurant is set back into a bay, so this shot is taken from one end of the bay looking out to the other. The infinite ocean is to the left….

Enjoy your weekend! (Click on the picture to see it full size.)

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach

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