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A Pharisee’s Cheer… “Go Big Law!”

(I was reminded this morning of this article I wrote in 2009. I thought it was an appropriate read 6 years later and thus, decided to add a bit at the end and re-post it. Enjoy!)

When I was in sixth grade there was a realization that came to be in my life.  It was the fact that I was a Kentucky Wildcat. (For those reading outside of the Bluegrass State, I’m talking figuratively not literally.) I’m not sure exactly how I came into that knowledge. Maybe it was when I  traveled numerous times with the Follett family to Kentucky football games and that pride of having a car horn playing the school theme song while others cheered it on did it. More than likely, it may have just been the fact that I thought some of the Wildcat basketball team guys were quite nice looking in their Converse shoes and striped tube socks… (Yes, I signed my name Nancy “Macy” on all of my notes to friends and yes, I am showing my age.)   Regardless of how it came to be…..all I know is that sixth grade brought about my first true conversations of the University of Kentucky Wildcats, their rivals, their players and statistics. with all of mjay_shidlery friends at lunch and that had never been before been an experience.  Sixth grade was also the year that I, maintaining my tomboy image,  decorated my bedroom in Wildcat Blue and White.. I was then the envy of all of my Kyle Macy, Jay Shidler loving girl friends and the envy of all of my UK basketball player wannabe guy friends… I was, without a doubt, a blue-blooded, ‘don’t talk bad about my Wildcats’, type of follower.

As I grew older (and wiser) I maintained that passion and enjoyed watching a game with others cheering right along whether at a live game or on television…. or even on the radio.  I just didn’t want to miss a game.  However, something happened years later that began creating a bit of confusion for me…. I was speaking with a family member who lived out of state and I mentioned the coach at the time, Rick Pitino.  They floored me with their response, “Now who is Rick Pitino?”  This was a well educated, former Kentucky resident and she had no idea who Rick Pitino was nor did she have a clue that he was the UK Basketball coach!  I was stunned… You mean there are people out there who don’t follow Kentucky Basketball? You mean there are people out there who think UK means United Kingdom? You mean there are people out there who don’t schedule their C-sections and wedding plans and vacations around the Final Four or the SEC tournament? It can’t be! But it was true… It didn’t dishearten me, but it did open my eyes a bit.

ukA few years later I moved to Illinois, just a few minutes away from the city of St. Louis, Missouri.  I was completely disappointed that they rarely showed a University of Kentucky basketball game there and that there was far more talk of Cardinals baseball and Rams football than any college program…. I just couldn’t understand.   As years passed, I began to not be able to keep up with UK ball like I wanted.  I tried to catch as much as I could on the radio, internet and national broadcasts but eventually it kind of began to fall out of my interest as I started to see the fun of following the Rams or the Cardinals.  I was losing my blue.  (Do you hear the moans?)

But now we are back in Kentucky and I’ll have to say that I was excited to be back in an area where there was such passion and enthusiasm about a nonprofessional sport.  However, for me, something is different now…. it is not that I’ve become necessarily less of a Wildcat; UK is still always my top team.. it is not that I’ve become disinterested because I still love a good game. It is just that my perspective has changed.  I was once totally consumed with being on the inside of the Big Blue Nation. I sent out Wildcat trash talk with the best of them and didn’t think for once that there might be others out there with passions focused in other areas.  My thoughts were, you are either a Wildcat fan or you are wrong….My perspective has changed because I have now been on the outside looking in.  It is still fun to cheer. It is still fun to have rivals.  It is still fun to wear blue.  Still yet, my perspective is different….

Today in Kentucky there is talk of a new coach… the rumor mill (or possibly the fact mill) is telling of coach John Calipari’s interest in becoming the next UK Men’s Basketball coach.   Sports talk is everywhere… people are either super excited with the change or people are super upset with the change… regardless of their stance, it is everywhere.

(Disclaimer- I am not advocating that UK fans are like Pharisees…… this is not about “the fans”  but about one fan…. read on…)

I realized something today as I was reading about Jesus and the Pharisees…. I think my lack of ability to think outside the Big Blue realm for years could have been comparable to the faith of the Pharisees…..the Pharisees were huge “Big Law” fans.  Though the law was given as a way for salvation, it became flawed when the law began to become more important than loving God.  Those same people who were so focused on obeying and protecting the law were also breaking the law by their lack of love… enter Jesus.  He came to fulfill the law and in doing so he ruffled a few feathers and made some people pretty angry in the process.  They were so focused on their Law Love that they couldn’t really love others. They were so focused on their Law Love that they couldn’t hear the truth though it was right in front of them.  Until they stepped outside and looked in they couldn’t see that there was authority in the truth that Christ spoke and that he was offering them fulfillment of their beloved law.  He was the salvation they needed but they couldn’t get past the thought of  “You either follow all of the law… even the ones we have thrown in there…. or you are wrong”  (Are you seeing the comparison?)… I’m saying my UK fanatic ways were comparable to the fanatical ways of the Pharisee.

Jesus offered salvation to a man who was lowered by friends through a roof in order to be healed.  The Pharisees were so focused on Jesus offering salvation that their thoughts consumed them and they totally seemed to overlook the amazing fact that this man who was paralyzed was now walking.  Truth in front of them and they couldn’t see it.

Now in comparing myself to the Pharisees,…..Though I couldn’t have said it at the time, I’m glad now that I had the opportunity to step outside and look in…I appreciate the new perspective.  Had I not had to step away and take a look from another direction, I would have totally been one of those folks who would have wanted to run a coach with a poor record out of town. I would have considered it nothing other than being a loyal fan.  However, lowering myself to the level of meanness or hatred toward a coach who possibly had a bad year or two, an athletic director who has to make incredibly tough decisions, or a team of students (yes, pretty much kids) is not the true sportsmanship of a loyal fan.  Instead, it would be my blindness of not looking at the picture from the outside and considering what the correctness or truth of a fan really is.  Is it possible that the Pharisees didn’t consider their anger or hatred toward Christ as anything other than being a loyal follower of the law? ….However, it was when they became hateful and mean that they stepped away from their law and were blind to what was true….

That is what I’ll call a Pharisee moment…A time when I am so focused on one thing that I can’t see what the truth is. (And, you know what?  I’d probably even cheer my focused notion on… “Go Big Law!”)… The only redeeming thing about the Big Blue Blooded Die Hard Pharisee moment, It didn’t have an ounce of eternal value. It was just a total non-important Pharisee moment.

Here’s the tough thing though… Unfortunately, that same “Go Big Law” mentality can seep into our lives and while we are cheering it on, we miss our opportunities of seeing what Christ is showing us.  We can easily be so fired up about the law that we forget the people… the people who God placed in our lives.. the people who He saves.  We can also get so caught up in law pep rally that it turns into our own idol… and our own sin.  Thankfully, just like Paul, God loves and forgives a Pharisee too… … all we have to do is ask.

God, show me your truth.

Luke 5:17-26

17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.

21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Devotions, Faith

 

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Tell me about it, Moses P. Diddy Hall…

flipperI don’t know why I have such high expectations for the animals that I choose to own.  Maybe those expectations were formed because of reruns of great shows such as Flipper (though I never owned a dolphin), Lassie or Fury…. or maybe it was Lady, my cousin’s collie who was incredible well behaved… or Babe, my uncle’s dog that was showbiz intelligent…..or Benji. How could I forget Benji? Whatever the reason, with a little training, I knew it couldn’t possibly be that difficult for my very own dog to become something of legend… nothing short of a human on four paws.

So let’s see, first there was Gustavia.  Gussy was a little white poodle who chased cars, chased cattle and rolled in manure… smart dog.  Then later came Rascal.  An adorable little dachshund that turned out to be an incredible bully in the amateur dog show circuit.  Then there was Sam.  Another poodle who, for all practical purposes, was a pretty good dog, but he did bark at himself in the mirror. (Wouldn’t it be funny if people acted surprised to see themselves in the mirror each time?) There were more pets down the line… Buddy 1, Buddy 2, Bandit… and some cats, hamsters, and even a skunk (Yes, you read that correctly) but none have met the superstar expectations that I have believed in for so long… that is, until recently… .

Now, our ever-lovable shih-tzu, Moses P. Diddy Hall (a.k.a. Moe) is a dog that when told to sit, he sits…. well,  he might lie down…. or  possibly he will continue to go about what he was doing.  He is also a dog that wears a diaper… well, technically it is a “belly belt” but you get the idea.   Moe also knows to get in his bed when told, he knows to “hit the rock”(our family’s ultra hip term for shaking paws), he knows to go to the car when the van door opens.   He even hates hanging out at the dog park… he waits by the exit gate until we are ready to take him home.  See, it is hard for me to decide if either Moe is very intellegent and just pretending to be a dog to get out the whole “work dog” group, or if he is just like all of my other dogs in the past…. just a regular ol’ dog.   I have been leaning toward the regular ol’ dog thing for quite some time, that is, until one night not too long ago. Moe at Dog Park Gate

Moses P. Diddy Hall is not allowed to be on the couch.  He has his bed. He has his spot near our feet.  He is totally fine not to be on the couch, but on occasion there are those special times where we give in and give him some supervised couch time.  Such as it was on that evening when I was certian that Moses P. Diddy Hall would be paying for my children’s college education.  I was sitting on the couch and Moe was comfortably resting on my daughter who was on the couch next to me.  Allison’s position was perfect as she laid on her back because if I turned my head slightly then Moe and I were face to face.

As Moe and I looked at each other, just as usual, I said something to him.  I can’t even remember what it was but when I said it, something amazing happened.  Moe began to talk back!…. and I’m not talking barking kind of talk… it was conversation kind of talk.  Now, I might not have thought anything about it if I hadn’t seen the youtube clip of funny talking dogs but I knew Moe was trying to tell me something.  I kept asking him, “What is it, Moe?” And he kept voicing something that was clearly a concoction of vocal movements that were trying to form words.  To get him to continue his talking ability I started looking at him and saying things like, “Mama” (I never think of my dogs as kids so this was very awkward for me) and ” I love you.”  Moe would look at me and try to repeat it.

I was so excited I could hardly believe it.  I had a plan. He and I were going to work on this daily until he could speak in conversation.  I started counting the dollars in my head.  I called my husband, who was out of town (explanation of the couch time that Moe was getting), and told him the whole story.  He didn’t share my enthusiasm.

The following day, Moses P. Diddy Hall and I went to work.  I got down in his face and began talking to him.  “Mama,” I said.  Moe looked at me.   “Mama,” I continued.  Still Moe looked at me.  I changed my pitch.  I changed my tempo.  Moe looked at me then cocked his head and looked away.  It was time to change my game plan.  I began the whole, ” I love you” verbiage.  Moses P. Diddy Hall looked at me and walked away.  I didn’t get it.

I began telling my story to anyone who would listen.  My husband, my other daughters, but it was while I was telling a friend about my incredibly talented, Hollywood bound dog that would surely be whisked away to star in his own movie, when my hopes and dreams for him came to an abrupt halt.  Allison felt it was time that she stepped in and prevented me from the inevitable… making a fool of myself.  She quietly pulled me to the side and said, “Mom, I was blowing in his face.” It seems that the only reason Moe was “talking” was because he apparently doesn’t like to have someone blowing in his face.  I was stunned. Moe is just a plain ol’ dog …. he is no different than any other dog that I have ever had.  After the initial shock of the whole confession, I found it all quite funny.  Fortunately, I was halted from looking like a fool and fortunately, I listened to what she had to say.

I wish faith was that simple.  You know, something like….we may be a bit out of line, acting foolishly, forgetting to include God in our everyday life and then we are told we are being a bit foolish and we fall back into line…. that would be simple.  I guess sometimes it might be that way, but there are those other times when we get so busy doing the right things in life that we may not realize we are doing them on our own…..depending on our human ability rather than trusting in God’s ability.   In Galatians, Paul comes down pretty hard on the people.  He even states that they are being deceived and they don’t even realize it because they are so caught up in living by the religious law that they have forgotten about what Christ did for them/us all.   Still today, we may not be in Galatia, but we still tend to lean on our human ability, thoughts and decisions rather than allowing God to guide our way. I wonder what would happen if we all began to lean on the gift God gave us rather than wearing ourselves down and eventually looking foolish……

If Moses P. Diddy Hall really had the gift of gab, I’m sure he’d have the answer.

Galatians 3

1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

6Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a] 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[b] 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! (Must say it with a Gomer Pyle drawl)

surpriseI realize that not every surprise is a pleasant experience.  Yes, I’ve been on the boat of unpleasant surprises many times…You can ask the boat pilot whose name just happens to be Officer Gotcha  A.K.A.  Mr. “Can I see your License and Registration, please?” …Anyway, I am not naive to the fact that people may tend to connect surprises with a negative emotion, but I am also aware that surprises can be a wonderful thing.

Sometimes the unexpected is a great way to show someone that they are loved or a great way to feel that you are loved.  Here’s what I mean…You know you are loved when:

  • You go to work to find a surprise drawing on your computer wallpaper from your daughter that says, “I love you, Mom.” (Happened even with a post-it note this morning)
  • Your seven-year-old surprises you with a shoulder massage. ( It was actually a job well done)
  • Your co-worker brings to work your favorite dessert just to surprise you (Banana Pudding…. she is so thoughtful)
  • You receive an unexpected phone call from your friend who just called to say that you are loved (Makes me miss ’em)
  • Your health conscious husband surprises you with Krispy Kreme donuts on a Saturday morning while you sleep in.  (Okay, that one didn’t happen.. but it might if he sees that I wrote this)
  • Your husband surprises you by cleaning your office while you are in a meeting  (that one did happen!)
  • You wake up to a surprise of hundreds of plastic forks sticking up in your yard….. (Yes, you read that correctly… My neighbor and her accomplice put Howie Mandel, Allen Funt and Ashton Kutcher to shame)

See, not all surprises beat to a negative drum… some are just great reminders of how much you are loved… Okay, some might beg to differ about the whole fork thing but I’m leaning on the love side of the prank…forked yard

I’ve always felt that if those surprise moments were common place then they would mean nothing.

Take for instance the the story of Paul and Silas.  Here are these two guys in prison, chained up, praying and singing their hearts out … probably pretty annoying to the non-believers in earshot and the jailer who has to listen while he does his job… but they were singing praises while chained up when all of a sudden an earthquake type event happened… their chains are broken off and they, along with others, are now free.  I would imagine that the area was dark, possibly the jailer had a rock bump his head or maybe just in the panic of the situation, he, the jailer, had fail written on his forehead… he was ready to kill himself for slacking on the job and not keeping the prisoners in their places… earthquake or not.   Now, Paul and Silas were given the opportunity to flee… to get out of there fast.  But instead of running they surprised this man.  They, along with the other prisoners were still there.  They told him to not harm himself that everyone was still there and they weren’t going anywhere.  The jailer was shocked.  Their surprise stopped his suicide.  Instead of his tragic intention,  he was so blown away by their actions that he wanted to know more about who they were singing about.  In reality, I guess their surprise showed so much love that he was changed then and there.  He had Paul and Silas come to his home and he became a follower of Christ.   Had this guard been used to seeing prisoners who had the opportunity to flee and didn’t……if this had been normal behavior that Paul and Silas had shown then their actions would have meant nothing.

Just like my family… if they did all of those things mentioned above on a daily basis then I would probably soon forget the importance of what they were trying to show me.  Maybe it is not so bad to surprise others…

I think I know who my surprise “victim” will be today ….and I won’t even use forks.

Who needs a surprise from you today?

Acts 16: 22-40

22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.

35When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”

37But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”

38The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Life is a highway… Can we stop at the next rest area, please?!?

t2010camaro2You could probably say that if I was a car then I would be a 2010 Camaro.  Totally able to take on any other car and never feel ashamed or embarrassed of my ability.  I would zoom down the highway just racing by all of those minivans and family cars. .    I wouldn’t even have to refuel because I might also really be a Transformer!  Nothing would slow me down… every goal and objective that I aimed for would be reached without any hesitation because my speed and accuracy would threaten or take down any obstacle…. Yep, that is me…. a red, 2010…. I should add, convertible… Camaro.  Vroom……vroom.

Oh, who am I kidding…. I would never be believable as a Camaro…. a VW bug maybe… a 70’s model, at that…. but never a Camaro. 1978-vw-beetle-convertible Actually at this point, I am more like a scooter…well, maybe  a scooter going up hill… or more likely a scooter going up hill  with an oversized load…. okay, a scooter going up hill with an oversized load on a gas fumes only…. I really should pull over and call for help but instead I’ll push myself on up the hill at whatever the cost….At least I’m a red scooter….

The point here is that my summers are crazy… my job requires my summers to be quite impressive… filled wih potentially fun things but those things tend to drag tons of energy right out the door with them…they tend to make my sleep schedule totally mixed up… my mind in overdrive and my hands constantly working to show others how to do more…. So, when does it slow down?  Not for a few more weeks and then unfortunately my summer is over…and fall is here with more activities and events…

Because of the craziness of camps, planning activities for summer and fall, for coordinating events and other goodies… I tend to truly be that scooter… I forget to refuel….and I tend to push myself up the hill when things could be so much easier…

The refueling is the important part of all of this… often times I forget that things can be easier if I remember to refuel…

I was reminded of that during staff meeting the other day…. It seems that because of what I do I tend to forget to stop and really soak in the fuel….I love my job and what I do… I love to create things that in some way help others see God or deepen their faith or walk…It would seem like since I am helping others fuel up I shouldn’t have to refuel myself.  Oh, I read and pray and do the things that I should but it is the message that gives me the fuel to continue to do what I do at the pace I need to go….

I slowed down enough during staff meeting to soak in these words from Paul ….

Ephesians 3

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[e] 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[f] 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

There is the fuel that I needed….to be reminded that I am loved….not just to serve and serve …. not just to hear the words …. but to truly soak in the thought and  be reminded of how wide, how long, how deep his love is ….

That was the rest area I needed to finish my summer…..


 
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Posted by on July 2, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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