Which Letter is Yours?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving….

Whenever I read the short book of Philippians, I am struck by the apostle Paul’s gratitude and corresponding joy.  Whether or not you celebrate a particular day of Thanksgiving, take the time this week to read the short book of Philippians—focusing on Paul’s thankful attitude and the joy that flows from this attitude. Now, think about the circumstances he faced as he wrote, especially his imprisonment.

If Paul had not been a grateful person, I imagine his letter would have sounded more like this:

Chapter 1  It’s me, Paul.

So…I guess there’s not much to say…not much hope.  While you are enjoying your freedom, here I sit chained to a prison guard. This stinks… and there is nothing I can accomplish from here.

Not only can I do nothing to reach out to and share with people, but there are lots of people out there preaching wrong things, undoing the good I’ve tried to do.  It irks me, and I am totally depressed about this.

Chapter 2    Nobody really cares about me…everyone is just thinking about themselves.  Well, except maybe Timothy and now he’ll likely go to you and then you will “need” him.  Sheez…what else do you want?  Of course, I do have Epaphroditus, my one fellow worker and friend.  You might as well take him too while you’re at it.  Besides, while here trying to help me out he went and got sick on me. It’s just one lousy thing after another.

Chapter 3  You know I had a lot going on before all this.  I was somebody significant…but I’ve really lost everything now. God must hate me.  I’ve tried to give everything…and look where it’s gotten me. There’s really not much more I could possibly do ..it’s over …and besides–look where sacrifice has gotten me anyway.  In jail.  Just sitting here–shackled.

Chapter 4  And…if all this is not enough, my “friends” Euodia and Syntyche can’t even get along.  For cryin’ out loud…. All the whining.  Will someone tell them to shut it? Can’t anybody get along anymore? Problems everywhere.  And I’m tired, hungry and poor to boot.  I’d ask for help, but you’d probably just respond like everybody else has.  When I asked before, almost no one wanted to help.  Well, gotta go…not feeling so good.  And the more I remember all this bad stuff the worse I feel.   Maybe I’ll get lucky and die. Meanwhile, I sit here chained to a stinkin’ guard..

Now ask youself….what would your letter sound like?  This is a convicting and challenging question for me.  Would it be as you read the book of Philippians in your Bible?…Or would it be written more like the “rewrite” above?  The difference between the two lies in our attitude of gratitude—or lack thereof.  May you have a week (and life)  filled with gratitude and the overflowing joy that follows.  Happy Thanksgiving.IMG_2923

Marking Wars

I’ve faced a lot of “big deal” things that have tested my faith and perseverance.  Sometimes however, it’s the “little annoyances” that take the wind out of your sails and test your faith and perseverance  seemingly more than some big issues.   These can sneak up and take your joy by surprise.  At least this has happened to me.  Can anyone else relate?

I’ve had my spirituality severely tested of late by “marking wars.”  The wars go like this.  (This will make more sense if you read my previous post.)

Granddog Reilley moves to our home with his family and says, “I’m displaced…my kids are here so I’m claiming this as my space,  too.“– lifts leg.  Blackie (remember aka “Jackie”)…our little black cocker-poo says, “Who do you think you are…this is my house! “ – lifts leg.

Millers move upstairs.  Blackie sneaks upstairs….”People, you are in MY rooms…these are mine I tell you…” – lifts leg.  Reilley says, “Wanna bet? These are my kids, they are sleeping here…I’ll show you whose rooms these are!”-lifts leg.

Reilley knows the owners of the house are the key to his ownership…He sneaks into our room and says…”If I take this room I get it all…”- lifts leg

Blackie comes behind him, “These are my people I tell you…get outta here.  I’m the boss here”-lifts leg.

“Ahhh..there’s the toy box.  I get it first”- both lift leg at same time

I come behind them all (Equalizer Stain and Odor Eliminator in hand….$9.86 per bottle on Amazon…greatest pet odor stain remover EVER…been through about 15 cans…I hope we don’t all die from the chemicals) and am filled with fury and tears.

Me – “Why can’t you just get along? Deal with it.  You’re killin’ me!”

So, they are 12 years old…fully housetrained for years but are full of “one upmanship,”  territorialism and certainly not understanding Philippians 2.  So I sat down and read this chapter to them. IMG_4405

Philip. 2:1-8

    If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, [2] then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. [3] Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. [4] Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

    [5] Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

   [6] Who, being in very nature God,

        did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

    [7] but made himself nothing,

        taking the very nature of a servant,

        being made in human likeness.

    [8] And being found in appearance as a man,

        he humbled himself

        and became obedient to death–

            even death on a cross!

Somehow, I think they misunderstood the parts about “emptied himself” and “poured out like a drink offering” that are part of this chapter.

Come August, this carpet is gone!  I hope I can hold it together until then.

Meanwhile…I’ve thought about the ridiculousness of this war, asking myself what ways I might have figuratively lifted my leg to have the “last word” or “ demanded fairness” or  “wanted to be right” or have failed to consider another’s needs above my own…especially when it is costly and humbling.

It seems ironic that I follow the dogs around these wars with my spray can of “Equalizer.”  Perhaps that is what is needed with us – a spray of Equalizer,stain and odor remover… as we are all equal at the foot of the cross, in need of God’s mercy. Without it we are stained and stinky.  Once again, Jesus’ example is such an inspiring, convicting and high calling.  I am so grateful he shows us how to do this, and walks with us and lives in us to teach us and enable us to “put down our legs.”