What’s in a Package?

Love.  I have packed a box as full as I could get it, and then added just a few more things.  And as I wrestled it closed with the miracle that is packing tape, I thought, “The postage is going to cost more than the contents are worth.  If the postage is over $50 I’ll just unpack it and send the cash.”

But no.  That didn’t seem right.  Because you can’t put a price on Love.

This package is for my daughter Rebekah, at Bible College in Fort Worth, Texas.  She has friends coming for a tea party and a movie, but no tea things, no bedding if they want to spend the night on her air mattress, and no movies to watch, which is what they’ve suggested they want to do.

She has one plate, and nothing on her walls.  “Mama, I want you to come and visit and help me with my little house,” she said over Christmas break.  Code:  “Mama, I want you to come and visit.”  (She calls me Mum via e-mail, Mom in person, and Mama when she’s lonely.)

Well, OK.  I will.  But for now I’m sending Love in the form of a package.  And now that it’s all packed and addressed, I feel that ridiculous sense of joy and accomplishment that sending Love in the mail always brings.

I’m thinking over what I’ve sent:  two sets of sheets, a lovely kitchen painting of a giant red pepper, and then a sacrificial gift –  the collage Rebekah made as a child that shows me her heart every time I look at it.  It brings me joy, but it is now hers.

Then there is a tea set, a Pioneer Woman plate (also VERY sacrificial giving) to match the one she has, two other personality plates, a sack of hanging paraphernalia (stick pins, hooks, nails) along with safety pins, tape, scissors, and a Leatherman-type tool.

What else?  There is some gourmet summer sausage, canned meats, two beautifully wrapped gifts from a friend (I know what’s in them, but I can’t say), and a book she’s going to love.

And then a favorite movie per her request:  Amazing Grace.  Well, why not add two or three others?  I chose National Treasure, Letters to Juliet, and Enchanted.

There are a few more items for decorating, and a love note to go with the Love.

So, as I have now convinced myself that I will send this package regardless of the cost of postage, I will also urge you to put a little something in the mail to someone you know.  Someone who might enjoy a bit of Love.

It costs fifty cents to say, “Hi.  I love you.  Bye.  P.S.  Please write back soon.”

Don’t Butt Heads with Buttheads, or with Granite-Skulled Mountain Goats

goats

There is Door Number 3, the door where I don’t go to jail.

Door Number 1 goes into Strife City, and the path leading there is Stupid Street.  Someone says something idiotic and offensive and devoid of all logic, reason, and wisdom, and I act accordingly.  That is, I decide I am going to set them straight.  This is idiotic and devoid of all logic, reason and wisdom, and I end up even more offended than when I started.

“Don’t butt heads with a butthead, Bev,” I admonish myself and promise never to do so again.  I know!  I shall (once again, even though it’s never worked before) try Door Number 2.

Door Number 2 is the High Road, where I pay them no mind whatsoever.  At first.  But I keep thinking about what they said, and vainly imagine (the Bible says to cast down “vain imaginations”) what I coulda, shoulda, woulda said.  I stew, and simmer, and stew, and simmer.

And then I murmur, and maybe gripe a little about it to someone else.  Then comes the fun had by all:  the rant.

Which leads me to, finally, mature spiritual genius that I am, Door Number 3.  I think I know the way, and what to expect, based on past (admittedly rather limited) time spent here.  I take the path marked “Forgiveness” and follow it to “Pray for them” and finally bask at a high place:  Mount Victory.

But, lo, what is this heretofore unnoticed path?  And what do I see here in this high spot but a Granite-Skulled Mountain Goat?  I look to the left and to the right and there are others.  I turn around, hoping to go back the way I came.  Another goat.

I’m surrounded.  I did the tried and true.  The Formula!  I forgave and prayed for any and all buttheads in my life – past, present and future.  And what did I get?  Another version of the same animal.

I look to Heaven.  That’s the joy of Heaven!  No buttheads allowed!  Sheep, not goats!

I look around me again, hoping the goats will go away.  Instead, one is moving toward me, a little one, making tiny “maaaaa” sounds.  I can’t help but reach out my hand toward it, and suddenly it becomes a sheep, a little lamb.  I look at its anxious mother, and she too, is morphing into a fluffy sheep, fretfully following and nudging her baby away from me.

I squat and gather grasses into my hand, reaching and gently calling.  “It’s OK.  Here you go,” I whisper.  I turn toward the fretting mother and reach to her.  She sniffs and gently nibbles the grasses in my hand, then backs up and lets her little one approach.

And I hear our Maker’s voice on the mountain breezes:  If you think in butthead, you will see in butthead.  Don’t be a granite-skulled goat.  Be my sheep and feed my sheep.  And I felt His hand stroking my fleecy head, and maybe even scratching behind my ears.

The mama sheep and her baby stand before me, at attention.  I feed them more grasses, pat and stroke their heads, make lovey noises at them, and even scratch behind their ears.

The goats watch to see if such treatment is only for sheep.

I repent.

Create in Me (and especially in that other person) a Clean Heart, O God.

I recently heard two very different sermons – one was an admonition that if you don’t do what your pastor says you are in rebellion, and the other was a preacher accused of rebellion himself, because he was preaching not to do what the world does, or what anyone says, but to do what Jesus says: to trust, love, forgive, and to take dominion by faith-filled, absolutely fearless, uncompromising words and actions.

The sad thing is that the attempt to squelch and squash and force people into doing whatever they’re told, and saying if they don’t they’re rebellious, is a surefire, tried and true, works-every-time way to push people into rebellion.

Satan’s ways. They don’t work very well, folks.  We try to force our spouses into behaviors based on what our vision is.  Usually when we’re under that controlling spirit our vision amounts to this:  you agree with me on every single issue and we’ll all be happy as larks.  That controlling spirit is a spirit of rebellion, and so blinding it makes us think everyone else is in rebellion.  It walks hand in hand with pride, and therefore, goes before a fall.

That spirit comes after us when we give into fear – fear God can’t or won’t handle this, we must take it into our own hands, do it like some other book, certainly not THE BOOK, says to do it: Childrearing 101; Husband-fixing 101; Basic I know best; Making others behave so I don’t have to for dummies who think everyone else is a dummy.

Disrespect is what this amounts to.  Listen, if you’re gonna take that line you had better be the second perfect human. Of course you’re saying that you’re actually more perfect than that one perfect man, Jesus.  You’re ignoring Him, disrespecting and disregarding Him, and in His Name, Glory Hallelujah, you’re spouting Satan’s lies, and going his way.

But please don’t let us judge anyone else for doing this, because the more horrified we are about it, the more susceptible we are to going from a place of grief and prayer to a place of anger and judgement. And then we, too, will be easy prey.  All of a sudden no one will want to be around us, all of a sudden we’ll be lecturing our kids, and dishonoring our mates, and thinking no one is as smart and wise as are we – just like the behavior we so recently abhorred in someone else.

John Maxwell talks about this in How Successful People Win. He says it was hard for him not to buy into his own press, his own place of leadership, without becoming prideful and unwilling to listen to others’ gentle corrections.  The problem, as he said in so many words, is that once you disdain what someone prayerfully and carefully and in love, tries bringing to your attention, they’ll stop.

It’s an untenable position for the one wanting to help. There is only one answer and that is faith in God through prayer.  The flesh and every logical thought says, “Fine.  See if I try to help your know-it-all self again.”  But after prayer for this attacked and fragile human, remembrance of the real enemy comes, we get revelation about what the enemy is up to, and what’s going on in the precious heart of the one we love.

And, we are ready to fight again.  This time, however, we will let God handle it.  We will only speak if He says to speak (if you’re unsure and have no peace about it, keep still), and we will only say what He says to say.  And . . . we will do it under the anointing, the very love, of Jesus.

If you try and try and try again, and all you get is trampled for your efforts, as the one you love is acting less like a friend or lover, and more like a swine, you can remember two things: 1) God doesn’t expect you to get beat up and disrespected and disregarded; and 2)  He really can handle it.

And here’s where another fear must be faced and fought and brought DOWN.  It’s the fear that this person is going to have that promised fall that follows pride, and that the fall will be too great to be borne, the damage beyond repair.

But when all else fails, it is a clear sign that it’s time for the only thing that never fails: Be still and know that He is God.

About this time is when the object of your prayers starts asking you what’s wrong, what’s on your mind. But unless you know they’re in a place where they really want to know and to do the right thing, rather than in  a place where they simply don’t want the discomfort of you not being all about them, just keep still.

You can say, “I’ll tell you if you really think you want to know, and are ready to listen, and you promise not to get upset.” There’s a good chance here, and be ready for it, they will not respond well to this.  That’s OK.  It’s time to trust God, remember?  He is so much more than able.

What a difference 24 hours can make. You can pray and declare and do warfare, and it looks like it didn’t do a bit of good, and then one or two days later you find yourself trying to keep up with this person set free, and about to sail away to a higher place in Jesus.  Set free.  This is not the time to say, “Ha!  You’d still be acting like a pig in a pen if it weren’t for me, and my super-anointed, spiritual giant prayers!”

All this requires harnessing the tongue to the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Bible tells us in the Book of James that no man can tame the tongue.  But the Holy Spirit can not only tame it, He can make it a powerful weapon against the enemy of our souls.  I like to pray David’s words from Psalms: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

When we get too focused on the wrong spirits operating on and pressuring and having a high old time in other people, when all we can see is their stupidity and ignorance and stubbornness, it can mess up our own spirits. Not only that, it can make us prey (judgement does this) to those very same problems in our own sweet selves!

Let us not focus on what the enemy is doing, but on the Greater One who can whip him every single time. Amen!

P.S.  Love is Patient.  Love is Kind.  And Love is Fearless, which is why, as we know, Love never fails.

P.P.S.  Remember to get your copy of “The Maker’s Marriage” right here on homefrontshow.com just by clicking on the picture of the book!