Saturday, October 25, 2014


A Fable about a Fable

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the kings men
 couldn't put Humpty together again.”

In the late 1700s, this little ditty began as an English nursery rhyme about an anthropomorphic egg. It seems that Humpty had a mishap. What was he doing on the wall in the first place? Whose wall was it? Was Humpty perchance disobeying someone's rules about wall climbing? Was this wall around a garden that he wanted to peep into but lost his balance? Did someone push him off? Did he jump? The rhyme doesn't tell us. And kids don't ask such questions anyway.

Too bad he was such a softy. It would have gone better for him had he been hard boiled. Some say the rhyme had political overtones, that perhaps it was about King Richard III who was defeated in battle. Such a pity that his entire army couldn't help him. The analogy has been exploited in political cartoons around the world. Ole H.D. has even been used to demonstrate the Second Law of thermodynamics describing a process known as entropy—about the order and disorder of properties.

But the point of this is to explore the matter of order and disorder in our Christian lives using a personified Humpty Dumpty and his newsworthy event as a launching pad. What does it say about our human condition?

"Order" has many definitions. It is an authoritative communication or command, as in giving an order. It also describes something that is working well, as in good order. Or an orderly system of arrangements in a sequence, as in lining up in order or according to priorities. Order can mean a state of neatness or efficiency, as in putting one's affairs in order. Or denoting inner orderliness and peace, a sense of spiritual harmony.

Humpty must have experienced most of those definitions in his own eggish way by his catastrophic tumble. It certainly rearranged and disordered his properties—there was the CaCO3 shattered shell, the vitelline membrane, germinal disc yolk and chalazae spattered all over the place. It wasn't very pretty! Actually a mop was needed, not a military attempt for damage control. After such total egg disorder and disharmony, it figures that no one could help him reconstruct his former standing—or sitting, in his case. It permanently changed Humpty Dumpty's integrity.

Thank God that in salvation history the "great fall" of our first parents didn't permanently change our integrity! God created man in perfection and destined us to live with Him for eternity. Although long-term disorder did set in, God, in His infinite love and mercy, didn't leave us without hope. He is in the business of spiritual reconstruction and into the miracle of unscrambling eggs. 
Through His plan from before the foundation of the world, reconciliation with God was offered to us through the redemptive sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We could become new creations in Christ and experience His Holy Spirit's indwelling. Our disorder, our need to be put together again, could be remedied through our repentance. Forgiveness of our sins, peace, harmony, and order could be restored.

King David described this marvelous spiritual restoration in the Psalm-songs as being redeemed from the miry pit and set up on a rock. Our "Rock" isn't the material wall of the Humpty Dumpty rhyme, but the solid Faith Foundation of Jesus Christ as our Rock. God intends for us to keep abiding safely on that Rock-wall in close communion with Him. 

No analogy is perfect, of course. The compounding problem is our generous gift from God of our free will. Moreover, we have to keep living in a fallen world. Even as new, restored creations we have the freedom to jump off of our Rock-wall. Or we might inadvertently slip off of it. When we do, we become uncomfortable and feel out-of-order. That is as it should be. It can happen to us even during the course of a day when the stresses, responsibilities, the unexpecteds, and interruptions threaten to overwhelm us and throw us off kilter. Our peace flies away if we give in to anxiety. If our priorities get skewed, pressures of life can push us off the solid foundation wall of trusting and abiding in God. We can lose our balance by not keeping our eyes focused on the orders for the day that God has given us. 

Humpty's summons of all the material and military resources of his human (or barnyard) kingdom didn't do him any good. Unscrambling scrambled eggs was above their pay grade. Vain is the help of man or of poultry. But our situation is never hopeless in Christ if we find ourselves temporarily out-of-order. Our King of kings wants to draw us back to Himself, and He has provided a way out of our discombobulation and disarray.

He wants to keep us lovingly close and abiding in Him on His wall. If perchance we wander from the paths of righteousness or deliberately take detours from what we know to be His will, we are not irretrievably scrambled again. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The Lord draws us gently back to Himself.

It is easier if we keep short accounts with God. Throughout the day we can carve out slices of quiescent stillness to simply sit in God's presence and let Him listen to our hearts while we listen to His. We need to remind ourselves to “be still and know that He is God” and we are not. We must hush our hearts so that He can examine them and we can hear His whisper as He restores us to His good order again.

In the secret garden of His presence we can recollect ourselves and gather our scattered thoughts and activities to integrate and unite our spirits again with His and restore peace and order in our private worlds.


Propelled by the winds of my times
my inner world whirls with unrest.
I’m driven by impulse and pressed
by the tangible, the visible,
the temporal commitments
and duties that pull at my spirit.
Responsibilities wrestle me to the mat
disintegrating my spiritual discernment
clouding my perception of God’s will.

Lord! I can’t hear You
if my outward world shouts so loudly
that my inner, private world is askew
without order and balance!

Not in the whirlwind of my life,
not in the earthquake of circumstances,
nor in the thunder of my activities,
not in the lightning of my urgencies,
nor in the fire of my passions
for accomplishment and success,
can I sense God’s peace and direction.

Only when I withdraw
to my secret garden
within the hidden chamber of my heart,
my innermost place of rest
where Christ abides
and graciously beckons me,
can I settle down attentively
with a hushed heart
to listen to His still, small voice
without the maelstrom of stress
and tension of my outward burdens.

When I sup with Him
privately, intimately
and in communion with His Family
as He breaks the Eucharistic Bread,
His Body given for me,
He nourishes me so tenderly,
helps me sort out the disorder of my life,
and blesses me with peace and focus.

Only then can I go forth
and * “let my ordered life confess
the beauty of Thy peace,”
and I can confidently face
the public day ahead,
or the year ahead, or my next step
as God opens it before me.
*From the Hymn: “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”
Text: John G. Whittier


1 John 1:9; Romans 8:1, 11, 35; Romans 14:19; Psalm 27:5; 62:7; 46:10; 2 Samuel 22:3, 47; 1 Corinthians 15:22

Friday, October 24, 2014


May I take Your order, God?
Would You like meat or cereal?”

God ordered meat.
He had divinely ultimate reasons
that would take centuries to recount.
Abel gave Him what He ordered.
It took longer to prepare
but it was worth it. God was pleased.

Cain substituted cereal.
The fact that it was whole grain
and fortified with vitamins
didn’t cut any ice with God.
It wasn’t what He ordered.

May I take Your order, Jesus?
Do You prefer service or sitting at Your feet?

Jesus ordered sitting at His feet.
He had divinely ultimate reasons
from the foundation of the world:
He created man for communion because
He already had angels to serve Him.
Mary gave Him what He ordered.
Jesus was pleased and it was worth it
but it sure disrupted domestic tranquility.

Martha substituted service.
She felt that no one appreciated
her extravagant dinner party
which she put on without adequate help
and now leftovers would spoil
without a refrigerator
but that was not the point Jesus was making.
It wasn’t what He ordered.

May I take Your order, Lord?
Would you rather have
faithful church activity or first love?”

Jesus ordered first love.
He had divinely ultimate reasons because
He ordained the pattern of Bride and Bridegroom
to reflect the Church and Himself.
The Church at Ephesus didn’t give Him
what He ordered. They switched the menu:
hard work for Him
faithfulness to Him
separation, doctrinal purity, perseverance
—all for Jesus.
After all, emotion in religion
wasn't so cool in those days.
But their good intentions didn’t count.
It wasn’t what He ordered.

May I take Your order, Lord?
The chef has so many exotic dishes
and gourmet delicacies.
Here’s today’s menu."

You don’t want a new menu?
You still want the first love You ordered?
To obey is better than sacrifice?

“Me? Certainly I do.
Me? Yes, of course I do.
Me? Lord, I’m really embarrassed
that You had to ask me three times.
You know all things.
You know that I love You!

“What did You say?
That You delight in me?
You want me to sit down with You
at Your dining table to talk
and to share Your dinner?

“Oh, Jesus, Lover of my soul,
I will. . .I will!”


Song of Songs 4:7,8,10; Ephesians 5:25-27;
Isaiah 43:1,4,7; Revelation 2:2,4,5 and 3:15,20;
Zephaniah 3:17

Thursday, October 23, 2014


“Lord, I want to do great and important things for You, not trivial things. I've heard it said that when hounds are trained for the hunt, they are trained not to be distracted by the frisky bunnies they would have fun chasing. They must concentrate on pursuing the big game. That's what I want to do for You, Lord--BIG things!”

“That’s a nice pious thought, My child. But you aren't a canine I am training, but a human person with free will to exercise discernment. Are you sure you can tell the difference between deer tasks and rabbit tasks?” asked LORD GOD.

“Sure. Everyone knows that deer have antlers and long, skinny legs to run fast; bunnies are small with long ears and they hop along the ground.”

“Wrong. Not all deer have antlers and both have long ears. I’m in the miracle business you know. I could even cause a rabbit to grow as large as a deer.”

“Something like Harvey, the man-size rabbit in the movie?”

“Perhaps. Let me remind you that a newborn fawn is smaller than an Australian jackrabbit,” He added.

“What are you getting at, Lord?”

“I’m trying to help you understand that big doesn’t necessarily mean important. I have divine priorities. I may not always want you to go after deer-size tasks for Me.”

“But wouldn’t it bring You more glory if I pursued big, important things for You?”

Whose glory are you really thinking of?”

I was silent as I examined my motivation.

“If I want you to pursue something that you think is a rabbit-size task, don’t despise it. I reserve the right to assign your priorities. Don’t presume to know what service I want you to do in My Kingdom just because of the size of the task. Prominence in the eyes of men doesn't cut it for me.”

“I guess Your ways are higher than my ways, Lord.”

“You are beginning to see the light. I look upon maturity not as leaning independently on your own understanding but by your total dependence upon Me. That is the reverse of your world’s value system. That is My higher way.”

“That’s pretty heavy, Lord. It does sound upside down.”

“I may prepare you for deer hunting tasks by first training you in rabbit tasks. When you are faithful in the small things, in the least, I will commit larger things to you. On the other hand, I may want you to pursue a deer task even before you are experienced. I want us to have such a close relationship that you will ask Me each time what I want you to pursue.”

“So when I hear a rustle in the bushes, I should ask you whether I should go after it or not? And that it shouldn't matter to me whether it is a deer or a rabbit.”

“Finally! Now you get it!”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean 
 on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make 
your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5, 6
“The Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth comes 
knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6
“For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, 
and He watches all his paths.”
Proverbs 5:21

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I opened the spice cabinet in my kitchen one day and came upon a heated argument. My spices were debating which was my favorite among them, which could add the best flavor to my ordinary cooking.

Oscar Oregano nearly came to blows with Billy Basil. Genevieve Ginger, always feisty, was contending with Patrick Parsley. Chloe Chili and Paula Paprika, both temperamental red heads, were having a shouting match. Terry Tarragon, Donna Dill, and Norman Nutmeg had gathered a group of spices in a corner to discuss the contest rules. Salina Salt and Polly Pepper stood aloof hand in hand refusing to join the fracas. They pointed out that no one but their duo was always on the table ready to give a lift to any dish that I served no matter how bland.

Dominating the disputation, however, was one seasoner whose name was Adolph. He strutted and bragged brashly that he had exactly what I needed whenever I prepared a meat dish. He claimed that he was able to “turn commonplace cuts into gourmet products!” His full name was Meat Tenderizer.

I decided to let him have the floor so I could find out exactly how he would be able to live up to his extraordinary promise. 

“The instructions are right here on my label,” he offered. 

I was intrigued not only by the prospect of transforming my cheaper cuts of beef or bargain hamburger into something more tasty and tender but by the spiritual implications as well. You know my heart, Lord, I’m just a commonplace cut, but I’d sure like to be a gourmet product fit for the Master’s use.

“Tell me, Adolph, how can that happen?” 

Adolph said I must follow five simple steps:

“Moisten all surfaces.” Ah yes, the loving dealings of God in my life may sometimes produce tears. The hurts of life are real and painful. My heart first needs to be moistened on all surfaces. Okay, Lord, top to bottom, I surrender every part of my life to You. I hold nothing back.

“Sprinkle tenderizer generously.” The Holy Spirit is my Tenderizer. He is always at work in my life. He transforms my heart of stone into a tender heart of flesh. He makes me docile and obedient to God. He liberally sprinkles God’s promises on my hurting heart to encourage me and lift me up. Lord, help me accept Your loving process for my good.

“Pierce deeply with a fork at ½ inch intervals.” Pain, affliction, and sorrow have a redemptive purpose in my life. In the scriptural account, the heart of the Mother of Jesus was pierced deeply as with a sword. Her will was compliant and united with God’s. But my tough, stubborn will needs to be made malleable. God doesn’t break my spirit, however. He loves me and desires to bring out His best in me. Sometimes trouble seems to invade all areas of my life at once. Every ½ inch of my world cries out for relief! Nevertheless, I open even the deepest recesses of my life to You, Lord.

“Marinate.” Lord, waiting is so hard! Your work in my heart takes time, but I’m in such a hurry to get out of my difficulty. Nevertheless, my Heavenly Father knows best that I need time to accept what He is doing in me. Give me patience, Lord, while You marinate me.

“Bake, broil, barbecue, roast, or microwave immediately.” I cry, “Enough already! Surely I don’t need more heat!” But I know that my Lord must apply heat to separate my imperfections and bring forth purity. The fire of affliction is the refiner’s fire. My oven experience is essential. When God’s time is just right, when I have learned the lessons He has been trying to teach me, He will deliver me from the oven of my affliction in His own way.

The result of this painful process? I will be a gourmet product fit for my King! I will have a tender, sensitive, responsive heart toward my Lord, a heart that joyfully, quickly, genuinely responds to Him with a fiat, “Yes, Lord, YES!”

Adolph proudly drew my attention to the label on his jar. “I'm 100% Natural,” he bragged. Here I part ways with the spiritual analogy because God’s dealings with me are 100% Supernatural! Man can’t duplicate it; the flesh can’t counterfeit it. Only the Holy Spirit can prepare my heart to please God and unite me with the passion of Christ.

I looked at Adolph's label again. The ingredients in my recently purchased little jar of Meat Tenderizer had been somewhat modified. The label now read: “NO MSG.” Mono-sodium glutamate was found to be injurious to our health. In God’s process of maturing me through trials, the Holy Spirit is the only active ingredient. He is perfectly pure, protects me from harm, and always works for my holiness and my good.

All the spices on the shelf stopped their squabbling and applauded Adolph. Hands down, Adolph won the contest in Spice Cabinet for usefulness in my cooking and as a spiritual reminder that God can transform me from an ordinary nothing into someone “fit for the Master's use.”

“...I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you....” Ezekiel 36:26 27
“...Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, 
that which is good and acceptable and perfect....” Romans 12:2
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.” Romans 10:31
“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Brethren, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2, 3

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


LORD GOD called Ministering Angel into the Courts of Heaven one day. “For a long time I have been waiting for the completion of a certain precious garment that requires special skill and patience. Go to Planet Earth and inquire how things are progressing.”

Ministering Angel hastened to do His bidding. He went to and fro on the earth to search out who might be working on the particular design of God’s desire.

He returned to report, “One cannot be found who has been equal by himself for that special task. But I have found two of the human species who are diligently working on it. But those tailors have certain problems. . . .”

“Say on,” said LORD GOD.

“These two of Thy children are different from one another in backgrounds and skills. In truth, one is a man and the other a woman.”

“Does each have My pattern and are they both following it?”

“It seems that each has only half of Your pattern and they are finding it difficult to proceed because they can’t see the whole of it.”

“Is it My ‘Living Sacrifice’ pattern?”

“It is indeed.” Angel hesitated. “There is still another problem. . . .”

“Give Me the full report,” requested LORD GOD.

“Those two tailors live far from one another. How can they complete Your pattern being thus separated?”

“That is part of My plan. It is I who have ordained them to labor apart at present until the fullness of time for its completion. Space and time are as nothing in My Kingdom—you should know that. I am training both of the tailors separately.”

“How are You doing that, my Lord?”

“I have provided both with My Guidebook to insure that each stitch is properly made. I have given them separate assignments to cut and sew different parts of My beautiful garment, each according to his particular skill. They do not need to see My entire ‘Living Sacrifice’ pattern while they are working.”

“And then?” Angel was curious about such a strange arrangement.

“I have required each to work on his special task with obedient heart, following My plan closely. Both must trust Me completely. When each has progressed to a certain point, I have ordained that they shall meet. They will recognize one another by the pattern in their hands. The two parts of the garment will be brought together and I will see to it that they will be fitly joined into one.”

“What will it look like when finished? Will all mortal men see it? And the hosts of Heaven too?”

“It will be beautiful beyond compare. Men and angels will behold it as a garment without seam, as if it were sewn by one alone, not two. What each has done in his quiet corner, when joined, shall be displayed before all, an honor unto Me.”

“How long must the tailors work apart? When will the garment be joined?”

“The time is not for you to know, Ministering Angel, nor for those two of My children either. Their times are in My hands. I have ordained the perfect moment in the fullness of My time.”

“LORD GOD, why do you call this precious pattern by the name ‘Living Sacrifice’”?

“You are an angel and therefore cannot feel the emotion of human love. But that is something that My two tailors understand and must treasure in their hearts with patience until the season of fulfillment. It is lonely for our human created ones each to labor alone without a counterpart heart of love and on a separate task that seems to them to be forever incomplete.

 “That is why I call it a ‘Living Sacrifice.' He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”


“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully know.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

“Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.” Psalm 37:4,5

Monday, October 20, 2014


“Leap, My child....”

“But I can’t leap, Father! Just look at me: I am locked into my infirmity, tied to my circumstances, limited by a mortal body that’s handicapped and marred through life’s unfair happenstance. My world is too small, defined by four walls. I can’t even stand tall. I can’t walk at all so of course I can’t leap!

“My child, you are not outside My sovereign appointment and perfect plan. Your circumstances are not a chance event, neither accidental nor incidental but providential. Certainly not happenstance! No key has locked you in—I have set you free. You are not tied down, I loosed your bonds. You are not limited for I am extending your reach. You are not marred since I fashioned you according to My best plan for you.”

“Father, I am as if in prison by the walls that enclose me!”

“I orchestrate your life. Your walls do not restrict you for I built them Myself—not to imprison you but to keep you close to Me and transform you into My image. Walls cannot prevent My care or hinder My power. According to My plan you shall leap in My perfect time.”

“But I want to leap NOW—or at least walk!”

“Trust Me, child. I chose the best for you for the present—that you should walk with Me. My grace flows to you abundantly, supplying you sufficiently. So leap your walls one day at a time through special opportunities and endowments I have given you and gifts of My Spirit bestowed. I have chosen you to be My instrument of blessing to others and to Me right where you are and just as you are.”

“I just don't get it, Father. How can I leap without physical strength?”

“My child, you can leap each time you enter into My joy through intimate prayer, your heart with My heart, and as you learn the secret of thanksgiving and praise. Disability, frailty, infirmity, confinement, weakness, or adversity are not hindrances to My work in you and through you. None of these things can separate you from My love. They are your opportunities to lean hard on Me.

“So rise in your spirit. Take up your bed and walk. Leap over your walls at My bidding and in My strength to glorify Me by blessing your world and Mine!”


“Then the lame will leap like a deer....” Isaiah 35:6a
“And by my God I can leap over a wall....” Psalm 18:29b
“...and a certain man...lame from his mother’s womb...he raised
him up...and with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk
...walking and leaping and praising God.” Acts 3:2-8
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
 through him who loved us
For I am sure that neither death, nor life, 
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height,
nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God 
in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

Sunday, October 19, 2014


 (Encore post from my archives)

  In this self-centered society in which we live, with its insulation from one another because of social networking sites online where everyone pursues his own high-tech individual pursuits, it would seem that we don’t have time or occasion to know our neighbors face to face. People who live in high-rise beehive apartments in urban areas put multiple locks and chains on their doors and often don’t speak to people who live down the hall in their own “cells” behind closed doors. Fear of strangers often pulls them into seclusion.

Even when people live, as I do, in a more relaxed suburban development of quiet, five-acre wooded lots on a cul-du-sac, we might be hard pressed to name the people who live within sight of our own driveway. If we walk for exercise, as I do, we may know the canines and felines who live behind fences or electrified borders of well-manicured lawns. However, we may know little about the needs and problems of the people who own the pets.

We are all so busy in the particular orbit of our routine lives that knowing our neighbors doesn’t even make it to our list of priorities. Until an emergency vehicle speeds by, and then we may wonder to whose house it is headed. As it did last week.

In my private prayer each morning I ask God, "This day bring into my life everything and everyone whomever You choose--in person, by letter, e-mail, phone call, thought, impression, prayer, event, or in the course of my responsibilities or circumstances for today. Since they are filtered through Your perfect will, help me recognize such encounters, interruptions, and changes as not accidental or incidental. They are my opportunities and Your appointments for me this day."

People may come into our lives for a season but always for a reason. I've tried to live by the principal that when God brings someone into my life, however briefly, it is either to contribute something good to me, or that I may build something good into his or her life.

One of my neighbors down the block came to my door unexpectedly one morning. We had a few contacts through the years but we really knew each other only casually. On a few occasions we met on our exercise walk along our quiet street. I was surprised to see her when she rang my doorbell. She asked if she could talk to me and of course I welcomed her warmly. 

She was a deeply troubled woman with serious emotional problems coupled with some traumatic but not life-threatening physical challenges which had thrown her into dark depression. A beautiful woman with a professional career, she despaired that she had nothing to live for. I asked if I might pray with her and she consented. We hugged and shared some tears, but I sensed some unseen barrier, some seemingly insurmountable struggle that I couldn't penetrate. I assured her that I was there for her and suggested we talk again soon.

I had a busy week or two and didn't follow up on our encounter, although I remembered to pray for her, my neighbor. One day while working at my computer, I was startled to see through the window several rescue emergency vehicles speeding by. Where could they be headed?

An hour later I received a phone call. My neighbor had taken her own life!

In the throes of my own deep emotional shock, I took it personally. I went over and over a roster of "what ifs" and "I should haves." I was blindsided by this turn of events and now it was too late. I admit that I beat myself up about the tragic choice my neighbor made. No, I didn't turn her away in her time of need, but neither did I follow through and reach out further to her.

Her choice was so, so sad, but I have to accept that it was ultimately her choice. I have to leave her to God and trust Him and pray for her immortal soul. I believe that God's incredibly generous mercy and forgiving love covers such happenings when a person's reason is clouded by depression. God knew her heart. I must realize that to focus on "I could have done more" is not always amenable to rational argument.

But where did I miss God's guidance? Or did I? I can't go there. I can't turn back the clock. Perhaps I needed to lay it all out and now I have to lay it all down at the foot of Jesus' cross. I must move on and pray henceforth to become more sensitive, more discerning, and let God show me "Who is my neighbor?" and what He would have me do and say and pray.