Archive for April, 2008


Name This Rose

April 29, 2008

There are those occasions when I get peopled out and I have to get alone to meditate and enjoy the non-human forms of life. I have chosen to cultivate and work with roses in our garden, among other things.

First prize to the one who can identify this climbing rose that is currently showing off by my fence. I know the answer, but do you?

And yes, this is just one rose variety. That should be enough hint for the real rose-ophiles.


The Truth About Angels

April 16, 2008

I think there are some basic misunderstandings about the nature of angels and especially those angels that are mentioned as our enemies. I see this misunderstanding in many places – when people are praying, when they instruct children, when they ask questions about spiritual warfare etc. Not knowing the facts can hurt our lives deeply and also cause us to fight battles that should not be fought. Hold onto your seats for a very quick guided tour to those spiritual beings known as Angels.

They seem to already be in existence when we were created and there are many who believe they are the first of the created beings in this Universe. Who knows? It never says so in the Bible, but when Adam and Eve were the entire population of the first Garden on this planet, there was already an angel there. So what do we know about angels for sure? Hebrews chapter one gives us many clues about angels…but one of the clues is a startling revelation to say the least. In v. 14 we read “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”. The question, of course, is rhetorical. In the original Greek language, the answer “yes” is anticipated to the question. That means we can confidently assert that ALL angels are ministering spirits. That word “all” is not just hyperbole. It really means all. And if it means “all”, then it also includes Lucifer, an angel we sometimes refer to as satan.

Think about that: satan is a ministering spirit. Not only that, but his job is to serve those who will inherit salvation. He is sent to serve mankind. But how is that possible since he is also called our Adversary, Enemy and Father of Lies? This is where the misunderstandings begin. Because he is called our Adversary, we naturally assume it is not possible for him also to be our servant. Servants don’t usually oppose their masters, do they? Well, it never says that we are his masters. God is his master and he must serve God whether he likes to or not.

In Job 1 we read:

6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”

The words “present themselves before the Lord” literally mean “made an accounting before the Lord”. God makes all angels account for their actions and their whereabouts. That includes satan apparently. Satan can also come into the presence of the Lord and speak with God. And he has to obey God. In this account in Job, satan asks to attack Job, but God puts restrictions on that attack. God shows Himself clearly to be the master and satan the servant. But some would say that this is simply a passive service. Is it? Well, let’s look at a few other examples of other fallen angels to see if this trend continues.

In 1 Kings 22 we read “

Therefore hear the word of the LORD : I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’
“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’

22 ” ‘By what means?’ the LORD asked.
” ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.
” ‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’

23 “So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you.”

The Lord allowed a spirit to be a lying spirit. Another time, he allowed another unclean spirit to be a “deceiving spirit” in the kingdom. King Saul had to deal with an “oppressive spirit” from the Lord. It seems that there are numerous examples of unclean, fallen spirits still being used by God to accomplish God’s purposes. But why would God use such evil and fallen creatures to do His work?

In the wilderness experience of Jesus, we see a hint as to satan’s continuing existence. He comes to Jesus in Matthew 4 to “tempt him”. The word in Greek for tempt is “peiradzo” which means “to test”. The testing that our enemy, our adversary brings is a test to see if we will be obedient to God. Jesus passed the test with flying colors. Many times we do not. In essence then, satan is the Proctor of the test that God wants to bring to us in order to see if we will be obedient in all things. We are told in Scripture that “to obey is better than sacrifice”. There is no way to obey unless there is an opportunity to disobey. Since all humans are free agents, we must therefore be tested to see if our free choice will line up with God’s will for our lives. And the best thing is that we can learn from these tests and clearly grow through them. Testing can be one of the best learning environments there is.

This is why Paul can say on two separate occasions in the New Testament that he was handing certain people over to satan. He did not do this because he hated them and wished for satan to torture them. Satan cannot do anything that God will not allow. Paul hands people over to satan to be tested and taught…in one case, to be taught not to blaspheme. Our adversary is a very good teacher for sure. We have nothing to fear from him for God has put him on a short leash.


A Cool Stewardess

April 8, 2008

The stewardess had us wave to dad out on the tarmac as he was working to direct the flight out of the gate. His 9 year old son was on-board the plane and was crying as he left. We all waved excitedly and dad hid some of his tears.

During the flight, the stewardess allowed the young man to help her with several of her in-flight chores. I was delighted to see that he did so with gusto and joy. As I gave my plastic cup to him and allowed him to put it in the garbage bag, he beamed with delight. I have no idea what the situation was with his dad and him, but her actions certainly lit up the life of this young man, helping him to put off his pain for awhile.

Kudos to you flying waitress in the sky. You made a difference in his life and showed the rest of us that a little act of kindness goes a long way.


Advice from an Old Husband

April 7, 2008

The best part about boring airplane trips is that you can sit around and listen in on other people’s conversations (especially when they think a tune is actually playing on your ipod). In a ten minute stretch of snooping around the floating conversations, I caught two younger husbands making some fundamental mistakes in their marital communication.

This got me thinking about the things I would have loved to know when I first got married that I should pass on to other men. If any of these is new to you, you’re welcome, and please pass them on. None of these is meant to slam or in any way denigrate my wife. That last sentence is actually the first thing you should learn as a husband: Never slam or denigrate your wife. The old adage still stands – never piss off the person who helps prepare your food.

1. Never start a conflict after 9 p.m. This should be obvious, but you would be amazed how many men do it. For the most part, men are usually winding down mental acuity earlier in the evening than this and we don’t stand a chance being good listeners at night. Plus, depending on your bed-time, you will weary of the battle and not accomplish anything before both of you are exhausted.

2. Looking after your children is not called “babysitting the kids”. You put the seed into the equation, therefore you are a caregiver as much as your wife. Mutually shared exhaustion, especially in this day of mutually shared income, is a given. I never knew that and paid a medium-sized price for it.

3. You both can be good at different things and still be a couple. You don’t have to do everything together, dress with the same colors and spout the same philosophy in life to have a good marriage. If both of you agree on everything, one of you is unnecessary. Also, you will annoy the crap out of the rest of us.

4. You don’t have to tell your wife everything. Oh, I don’t mean have dark secrets from her. What I mean is, you don’t have to tell her about every person you’re angry at and every person who is angry at you. Some things really are your yoke to bear in life…our wives tend to defend us if they sense we are being attacked. We might get over an imagined offense in a couple of days and wonder why, two years later, she doesn’t want to hang out with that person.

5. It is okay to ask your wife if she is agreeable to having more sex. Just as it is okay for her to ask you the following:
a. Can you please shower first?
b. Can I wake up first?
c. Can I be warm, and assured that no one, including our children, will walk in on us?
d. Will your ego handle it if I don’t react with delight after 14 hours of looking after little people with dirty hands?
e. Can we avoid any positions that require me to know the five basic ballet moves?

6. If she says she likes flowers, buy her lots of flowers. Don’t ask why she likes them, just do it.

7. Don’t let your wife put a scale in the bathroom, unless you want to deal with a regular bout of “I just need to lose five more pounds”. If she owns one when you get married, then break it or set it back monthly. Remember, no one is sexier than the person who likes the body they currently have.

8. You ask her if you can pray together each evening. Don’t make her ask. She will be in love with you forever if you do this.

9. Asking your wife ten straight questions when you are doing finances together is intimidating to her and usually ends up badly.

10. The phrase “all I said was” is a rationalization…always. If you want to communicate as well as she does, learn to recognize tones of voice, body language and timing…your own!

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