When Frustrations Rise

I’m grumpy this morning.  My body hurts all over.  Sinuses are running and the decongestant I took is making me sleepy.  I’m on my 3rd mug of coffee.  If it’s helping, it’s not enough.

NOT Wilton Springs Hdwr, but similar.

I went to fill a propane tank yesterday, so I could keep Scout and Camden warmer at night. It’s supposed to be down in the 20’s at night all week.  I took an empty tank to Wilton Springs Hardware, went inside to let them know what I needed. They made me prepay. That’s new, but understandable. The way things are laid out, it would be easy for someone to just drive off without going back in to pay.

Paul hooked the tank up to their pump and turned it on. The rolly-gauge thing did not roll up. To save time in the telling of this story: he tried a variety of things, including turning the tank upside down and banging it on the concrete, but each time the read-out stayed on zero.

“The valve in your tank is jammed, I can’t get gas to go in.”

This was the first time this winter that I’d tried to fill this particular tank, so it’s possible it corroded. I have several, so I went to get another tank.

I returned with a tank that was not quite empty. Paul was busy helping a customer in the store so a tall, young fellow (Justin, I think they called him) came out to help me, and we got a repeat performance.

I seriously doubted that this tank was bad because I had been using it before I put the last freshly-filled tank on the furnace. Gas flowed through that valve just fine. But … if they can’t get gas to go into it … they can’t.  Another fellow drove up to have a tank filled.

I loaded mine up to go get a refund. I was thinking I’d drive out to JCCUD and see if they could fill the tank. That’s way out the other side of Newport, but I need propane to keep the doggos warm in this cold.

While I was working on loading and strapping-in, this other fellows tank was pronounced “bad”. Three tanks in a row, just like that? No way! The other fellow agreed, said there was nothing wrong with his tank.  The owner came out and checked the pump and the hose. The pump was producing pressure and he could send a plume of propane out the end of the nozzle. Not clogged. He stood there scratching his head as I drove back over to get my refund.

While I was inside doing that the young fellow came running over, snatched the 40 pound cylinder (which weighs more than 40 pounds, especially when it still contains some propane) out of my truck and ran off with it. Mitch, the owner, came in and explained that the cogs on the meter wheel were stripped. The wheels don’t roll, but gas is flowing and they can go by weight instead of gallons.

The cashier quickly aborted my refund.

So I drove back over to the filling station and backed in again. The strong young fella hoisted the now full tank up into the back of my truck for me and I strapped it in, then drove back over to the main building. They still owed me money because I paid for a full 40 pounds and there was a little less than 1/4 tank still in this one before the fill-up. So they calculated it out and gave me back the difference.

I left a little frustrated by the wasted time: I had several other errands to run that morning and needed to be back home by 1:00 to connect with Marie. As it turned out, I made it.  But only because the other stops went exceptionally well.  I’d say God was smoothing the path for me.  So I’m glad I didn’t grouse at anyone about the issues. I remained pleasant and cordial, even though I really wanted to choke someone. But it all worked out and Da Boyz were warm last night. And now we all know that when the wheels don’t roll, look at the scale to see if the tank is getting heavier.

Before I started typing this I went to get another mug of coffee. I just picked it up off the mug warmer to take a swig and … it’s EMPTY!

“Alright, which one of you dogs snuck in here while I was typing and drank my coffee?”

A Prayer of Preparation for Bible Study

It is the assigned task of every true Christian: followers of Jesus, to diligently study the Word of God.  Listening to a sermon on Sunday mornings is not “studying” the Word.  This may prove enlightening, but God desires to speak directly to each of His children and He does that through Bible study.

2 Timothy 2:15 says:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (NKJV)

The King James version says it more directly: Continue reading “A Prayer of Preparation for Bible Study”

Points to Ponder On the Prodigal Son

In Luke chapter 15 Jesus tells three parables involving the loss and recovery of precious items.  One of those is the story we know as the parable of the prodigal son.  Before we begin it is important to understand something about servants in the Jewish household in the time of Jesus.

There were three types of servants employed by Jewish estates.  The first was a bondservant: which was treated like a family member, they ate with the family, dressed well, and were given responsibility to conduct the affairs of the estate.  Bondservants hired household servants, who also lived in the home, but ate separately and were not treated as family members.  Household servants  were the cooks, maids, personal attendants, gardeners, etc for the family; doing the bulk of the day-to-day work of the estate.   Hired servants or hired men, were per-Diem workers brought in on an as-needed basis and paid their days wages at the end of each day.   Typically a full-day worker would be fed at mid-day.  These workers helped at harvest time or to accomplish some major task.  They were disposable workers.

Although most Bible translations do not use the word “prodigal” (which means “reckless or wild spending”) this title has become common for this parable.  Whether we refer to him as the prodigal son or the lost son, it is unfortunate that we look to the younger son as being the topic of this story; for indeed Jesus intended it to be about the gracious and forgiving father.  He was using the parable to illustrate why He was associating and eating with sinners, a practice that incensed the Pharisees.

A rich man had two sons.  The younger son demanded his share of the family wealth.  This was an audacious demand!  He was, in effect, telling his father “I wish you were dead”, because family fortunes were not normally distributed until the father was dead or close to it.  This one was very much alive.  This had to hurt the father. Continue reading “Points to Ponder On the Prodigal Son”

Counting the Cost of Discipleship

In Luke 14: 26-33  Jesus is telling the throng of people who were following Him around to count the cost of discipleship.  They were claiming to be devoted to Him but He knew their motivation.

By this time the crowds had seen Him heal many hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who had been diseased, crippled, or demon possessed.  He had raised a child from the dead.  He had fed thousands of people from what amounted to a sack lunch.  And He stood up to, and confounded, the Pharisees and Scribes.  There was talk among the people that this man, Jesus of Nazareth, was their long awaited Messiah: the one who would, according to their tradition, throw off the manacles of Rome and restore Israel as the preeminent nation of the world.  But He would soon dissuade them of that notion.  Continue reading “Counting the Cost of Discipleship”

When Led Into the Wilderness

Sometimes life as a Christian is a mountain-top experience: life is going our way and it is easy to be content and at peace.  Other times we encounter difficulties and we may ask God, “Why am I going through this?”  We may wonder if we are being tested or even punished.

Does God Test His People?

Personally, I have a hard time accepting that God needs to test us to see if we are ready to move to another level.  God is omniscient: meaning He see’s everything, not just now but past and future as well.  As such, He knows us better than we know ourselves.  Why would He need to test us?  Further, I cannot find anything in the Bible that says we are being “tested”, as in an examination to determine our knowledge of a subject or proficiency in a sport, when we encounter difficulties.  But that does not mean there is not a purpose behind it.  For in fact, even God’s own Son was subjected to trial. Continue reading “When Led Into the Wilderness”

Whitewashed Tombs

whitewashed tombsIn Matthew 23 Jesus launches into a verbal assault on the Pharisees and scribes: the religious leaders and lawyers (interpreters of The Law) of the nation of Israel.  He calls them hypocrites (several times) and blind guides, saying they would strain out a gnat and swallow a camel: meaning that they pick at details but ignore the main concept of faith.  His most striking analogy, however was to call them ” whitewashed tombs “: painted and pleasing to the eye on the outside, but full of death and decay on the inside. Continue reading “Whitewashed Tombs”

Ask, Seek, Knock in Prayer

Prayer is a Christian’s most powerful means of effecting change in our own life, the life of those around us, and in the world.  Having said that, there are some caveats to bear in mind.

  1. Most importantly, when we pray we must have a right standing with God.  We cannot expect God to heed our requests if we are living in rebellion to Him.
  2. We must pray in accordance with God’s will.
  3. We are to pray with confidence, knowing that, as long as 1 and 2 are true, God has already granted our request and it will come to pass in our physical world.
  4. We are to be persistent in our prayers; accepting that, as humans, our perception of time and the world around us are limited.  God may well be at work granting our request but in His own time and His own way to maximize the benefit.

Right Standing

Continue reading “Ask, Seek, Knock in Prayer”

Stepping Stones

Each of the four gospels tells about the ministry of Jesus, but each comes at the story from a different angle, being aimed at a different audience, and for a different purpose.

Matthew describes the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as Jesus walking along the sea shore encountering a group of fishermen cleaning up after a night of fishing, and shouting, “Follow me!”  Peter, Andrew, James, and John immediately abandon their boats and nets and fall in behind Jesus – seemingly without a clue of who Jesus was or why they were going with Him.

Luke goes into much more detail, starting with Jesus going home with Peter (then called Simon) for a meal and healing Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever.  In a later incident, Jesus was teaching one morning along the sea shore where these four fishermen were mending and drying their nets.  He asks Peter to take Him in his boat out a short distance from shore so He could speak without the crowds pressing in around him.  Peter complies.  Afterward, Jesus tells Peter to let his nets down for a catch. Continue reading “Stepping Stones”

Where Your Treasure Lies

You have heard it said that money is the root of all evil: that is incorrect.  Money, wealth, possessions themselves are not evil, but the pursuit of these things: greed, spawns evil.  For where our treasure lies, here also will be our heart.

What is treasure?

treasure chest gold jewelry wealthThe traditional image of treasure  being chests of coins and jewels is a little archaic for a modern discussion of this topic.  Today’s treasure tends to be comprised of things like a fat bank account (modern-day equivalent of a chest of coins), a big fancy home, a snazzy car, a killer wardrobe, and all the latest tech toys.  When taken individually they may not seem terribly imposing, but when taken en masse they can indicate a problem.

The real question becomes one of want vs need and where your focus lies.  Matthew 6 says: Continue reading “Where Your Treasure Lies”

Finding Rest for Your Soul

A bench to give restMany years ago I built a pair of English Garden Benches to go in a therapy garden at a church.  When I delivered them they spoke of having plaques made and attached that quoted Matthew 11:28 “Come unto Me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  I don’t know if that was ever done, but it seemed like a nice idea.

A comfy bench can give rest for the body, but how do we find rest for a weary soul?  The rest of the passage quoted above holds the key.  Let’s look at that today.

Continue reading “Finding Rest for Your Soul”