How God Is Like Babe the Pig

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Say WHAT? I know. You’ll have to stick with me on this one.

Today I started a 30-day challenge of writing Scriptures. This kind of copywork isn’t something I’ve really done before, but I do like to write out Scripture and quotes to help me really dwell on the words.

The first Scripture is Psalm 95:1-7. It’s a beautiful passage, including the words, “Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,” which I can’t write without singing the tune in my head.

But what caught me today was the last verse, verse 7: “We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!”

Psalm 95:7

It wasn’t long ago that I rewatched Babe, which has always been a favorite movie of mine. And since I don’t meet a lot of sheep in Chattanooga, I guess that’s why that flock popped into my head.

They’re an unruly bunch when we meet them, all baaing loudly about different things, not knowing life without a sheepdog nipping at their heels to bring them to some semblance of order. It turns out all they really needed was a dog who would listen and to respond in return. And they got that in Babe, the tiny, polite pig who ends up being a better sheepdog than any others on the farm – simply by talking to the sheep and asking them to do things.

I feel like this verse is speaking to us sheep, as we wildly roam around in confusion. Look! the author is writing. Just listen! You have no idea how simple it could be! We’re so used to chaos that we can’t embrace the leading of the Shepherd; we can’t imagine a life where things make sense. And all we would have to do is tilt our heads up and listen to His voice.

His yoke is easy, Matthew 11:30 says, another favorite verse of mine. His burden is light. That’s because HE is carrying it – not us. As long as we are letting Him remove it from our own tired shoulders.

So there you go. That’s how God is like Babe, the sheep-pig. I always knew Babe held a special place in my heart.

But I Don’t Want to Sympathize with Pharisees.

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source: chunghow33

It’s easy to get really reproachful about the Pharisees in Jesus’s time. After all, Jesus was pretty critical of them … right to their faces.

But you know what? We’re not Jesus.

I’m doing a read-the-Bible-in-90-days thing, and once again, I’m in Leviticus. (Writing about Leviticus is still what sticks out to me when I remember my 31 Days of The Book series.) And reading last night, I realized that these were the laws the Pharisees were trying to follow. These long paragraphs of blood and kidneys and altars and offerings. Just trying to read through Leviticus is enough to make my brain wonder. What if I had to memorize all those rules?

If I had to try to remember to put the sacrifice’s blood on someone’s right big toe and right earlobe and right thumb …

If I had to remember whether a pigeon was an OK sacrifice or whether it had to be a goat …

If I had to remember which parts to burn and which were for the priests to eat, which parts had to be waved in the air and where the blood had to be thrown or sprinkled …

I might have been a Pharisee, too.

When presented with a long, complicated list of laws, it would be easy to form an obsession about them over a passion for God. I am pretty easily turned to obsessions – I either care about something too much or too little. And I can almost see the wheels in those priests’ heads turning, trying to interpret these laws, trying to remember the right way, trying trying trying. So much trying that little room was left for listening with the heart.

And then Jesus comes along and says, “Hey, stop trying. My burden is light.”

But all they’ve ever done is try.

I don’t want to sympathize with Pharisees. But really, I do.

The Ephod-Making Weenie

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I wrote some about Gideon a few years ago, expressing my opinion that this biblical character was basically a twit. (In Sunday School this week, I believe my exact words were “ephod-making weenie.”) Really, Gideon is pretty easy to hate.

When we first find him, he’s hiding. He insists on testing the angel of the Lord to the nth degree. He doesn’t let the Israelites crown him king … but he does ask them for gold and made what soon became an idol (a “snare to Gideon and his family,” Judg. 8:27).

What really struck me in my reading of these books in Judges this time was chapter 7, verses 9-11. They read, “During that night the Lord said to Gideon, ‘Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.’ So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp.”

Do you see that? There’s no hesitation. God says, “If you are afraid …” and Gideon takes that and runs with it. After all God has done and shown him, Gideon is still shaking in his wine-stomping boots.

I want to call Gideon out. Wuss! Sissy! What on earth is your problem, dude??

And then I step back, and I see myself, hiding in the winepress. Booking it down to the Midianite camp with Purah to see what they are saying about me. Fear can be THE sin, the one that haunts you and won’t let go. Do I really fault Gideon for being fearful? Me, one who worries about car accidents every time my husband is 10 minutes late?

It’s good that the story isn’t really about me. And it wasn’t about Gideon, either. The story – every story – is about God. God takes the weenie, the lowest one, and makes him a mighty warrior. God shows His awesome power by having 300 men triumph over legions of Midianite warriors. And however briefly, Gideon did realize that when he refused to become king, saying, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you” (Judg. 8:23).

May we remember today that this is not our story. And isn’t God merciful with us, knowing our sin issues and showing us a way out, as He did for Gideon?

[Interested in reading more devotions from me? A couple bucks will buy you 30 in my newly released devotional, Parenting Parables, which also includes questions for journaling.]

Parenting Parables

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Parenting Parables

Y’all, how long have I been talking about “my devotional” on this blog? If you’ve hung around awhile … the answer would be since about February 2012. A LONG TIME.

I wrote about it here and here and here.

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the view from here

I listen, in the dark recesses of the morning.

There is quiet. Nothing but the hum of the refrigerator and the tick of the clock. The pages of the Bible turning, the clink of my spoon against the side of my coffee cup, the nectar of 6 a.m.

I need and crave this time, and yet some days I punch the off button on my phone. I do what I don’t want to do, world’s oldest tale, regretting it the minute my eyes fully open and children are jumping on me on the bed.

I am six thousand times more nice when I wake up on my own.

My Bible study this particular morning was a punch to the gut, as most of this study of Malachi has been. I am the teacher but I am also the wrestler. Teaching others to put on their singlets and wrestle alongside.

So clear this morning that I need Thee EVERY HOUR, but the hour I need Thee most is 6 to 7 in the morning. The hour of peace, of conviction, of learning, of writing, of packing lunches or drinking coffee or trying to make a quick breakfast.

In the quiet, He envelops me, and together we face the day.

Parenting and the Beatitudes

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Parenting and the Beatitudes
source: Lou Bueno

John MacArthur wrote, “The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness.”

Parenting isn’t about feeling good all the time.

Make it that, and you’ll have kids who run the house and don’t understand the word no. Some of my best parenting moments are when I feel the worse, I think. Holding a screaming, flailing 5-year-old who is throwing a temper tantrum – when really I just want to shut her in her room and go eat chocolate cake. Taking a deep breath and explaining to my 3-year-old onemoretime that “I need” is not the way we start sentences to ask for things. Not biting back when my 17-month-old decides to gnaw at my shoulder.

Often parenting is going against my human nature and trying to latch on to my Jesus-nature instead, asking for His power to flood me. Because seriously, there is no way I can do this on my own.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus shows us a flip-flop view of His kingdom versus the world’s. He says, “You’re going to mourn. You’re going to be persecuted. You’re going to need to show mercy and peace and gentleness when you don’t want to. But I am going to bless you for it, and it’s how I am going to work through your life.”

How many times as a parent do you feel mournful? Poor in spirit? Persecuted, even, by your children or other parents? Jesus blesses that.

The Beatitudes are everything I want to be as a parent. Gentle. Peaceful. Merciful. Pure in heart. In my study Bible, MacArthur also writes that “gentleness is supreme self-control empowered by the Spirit.”

I’ve seen a graphic around Facebook lately, with a toddler laying on top of his mama on the beach and the words, “You’re never going to be loved like this again.”

Until we see Christ, no one on earth is going to love us with the uninhibited crazy love of a toddler or preschooler. So let’s pour back that love, praying for the Spirit to fill us with mercy, purity of heart, gentleness, and peace, not giving up when we are mournful or feel persecuted or want to hide in our rooms and throw stuff at the wall.

In The Message paraphrase, Matthew 5:3 is, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”

Praise God and Amen!