Saturday, July 14, 2012

Who Is Like Me?

Driving today, I hit up different radio stations.  Every one of them was discussing the political maneuvering du jour.  Apparently one side wants to convince me that a certain candidate is a gazillionaire, so he's not like me.  He has Swiss bank accounts, so he's not like me.  He travels the world, so he's not like me.  He hasn't had to worry about being laid off, not having an income, so he's not like me.  And so forth.  And so on.  And so on.  And so on ....

Now, whether I like or dislike this rich dude, whether I agree with him or with his detractors, that's irrelevant for the moment.  What I noticed is one underlying presumption in this argument:

What's "like me" is assumed to be "what I have."  

Silly me -- I thought that "what's like me" had a whole lot more to do with my values, my thoughts, my opinions, and my perspective on societal issues and political issues and religious issues. 

So, what makes somebody "like me"? 
Having the same stuff? 
Or having the same ideas?

That in itself speaks volumes about the perspectives of those who are trying to woo me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Disliking Hymns?

Again and again, parents & Sunday School teachers & pastors find that they can influence likes.  Generally, we like what we know.  Teach the kids "I Just Wanna Be a Sheep [baa baa baa baa]" and be enthusiastic over that campsong, and the kids will like it.  Teach them "Triune God, Be Thou Our Stay" and be enthusiastic over the hymn, and the kids will like that.

And don't you deny it.  That's the whole psychology behind pop musicians trying to finagle the DJ's into giving their songs a lot of play-time.  What people know is what we end up liking.  

Normally, people aren't as fond of a hymn the first time they hear it as they are the tenth time.  As we learn the tune and have a chance to meditate more and more on the text, normally the hymn grows on us.

So, then, if I find myself disliking a hymn the more we sing it, might that mean there's something wrong with that hymn?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Christ and the Ten Commandments

Okay, we know that the Ten Commandments show us how we have sinned so that we know we need a Savior. 

We probably also know that the Ten Commandments show us what love looks like.  It shows us what Jesus did, how He lived, and what a holy life looks like. 

But there's also something else the Ten Commandments show us about Jesus.  Not just the good He did.  But also the injustice He suffered. 

"You shall not kill."  We killed Him.

"You shall not commit adultery."  We so often go a-whoring after other gods.  We didn't want our Bridegroom.

"You shall not bear false witness."  People told plenty of lies about Jesus during His earthly ministry.  And during His trial.  And during His crucifixion.  And people are still telling lies about Him today. 

And so on and so forth with the other commandments.   They do indeed show us the good He did.  And they show us the bad we have done to each other.   But the commandments also show us, in the cross, the bad that the Son of God endured from us, for us.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I love plumbing.  I love it when I can wash my hands by turning a faucet handle, and the water just comes pouring out the spigot.  I love being able to flush when we use the toilet.  I love being able to do one load of laundry, instead of cramming all the laundry in during the evening while we're taking showers.  I love being able to wet a washcloth to wipe crumbs off the kitchen counter. 

And we don't have water all over the basement from leaks.  We still have an intermittent problem with the hot-water tank, occasionally getting small puddles on the basement floor. But the well's pressure tank is intact and operative -- and not spewing water.  And the well's pump is repaired.  After nine days of struggling with water problems, I am again appreciative of the joys of indoor plumbing that works!  Ahhhhh.....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Whole Truth

Remember the story of the woman with the flow of blood?  When she touched the hem of Jesus' garment, she was healed.  When Jesus asked, "Who touched me?" she came forward with fear and trembling and "told him the whole truth."

I always thought that meant she owned up to having been the one who touched Him, the one to whom His power went out.  Or maybe "the whole truth" even included her history, and what kind of medical problem she had, and how long she'd been suffering with it. 

But that's not really the whole truth, is it?

The whole truth is all that and more:  That she's a sinner.  That she was unclean.  That she made Him unclean by touching Him.  That she trusted in Him to be merciful.  That she knew He could heal and that He was a compassionate lord who desires to heal.  That He came for her.  That's the whole truth.

The Customer from Hell

It was me.  I know the salesmen were talking about how horrible I was, how unreasonable, consoling the poor dude who got stuck with me.  I'm sure the salesman's wife got an earful tonight when the guy got home from work.

Philip has been car shopping.  Late Saturday he found one that looked like a decent prospect.  He asked me to check it out with him on Monday after work.  But with my work schedule, it seemed better if I checked it out Monday morning when I went that direction for groceries anyway.  If it looked good, I could take it to our mechanic to check over.  Then we could discuss it Monday evening and, if all things panned out, he could go ahead and buy it. 

The trouble started when I asked to take it to my mechanic.  Now, understand that this is one of the biggest car dealers in the metro area.  The salesmen assured me that their cars are all perfectly safe, sound, solid, reliable. They wouldn't sell anything less. 

Yeah, right.  He's a SALESman.

I talked to our mechanic to see if he was available this afternoon.  I asked him about the guy's claim.  He actually busted out laughing.  Truly.  He did.  Which confirmed my resolve.  After finishing my errands, I went back to the car dealer and said I would like to take it to my mechanic.  The salesman assured me that it was unnecessary but that they had nothing to hide, so we'd go ahead and arrange it.  He said all I had to do was put down a $100 deposit and sign the sales contract.

Excuse me?  Sign the sales contract?  I didn't say I wanted to buy it.  I said I wanted to have the mechanic check it over, so as to gain information that would help us decide whether Philip wanted to buy it. 

Well, he couldn't just let me take a car.

Understandable.  But he wanted me to sign a sales contract?  With a price agreed upon?  And everything filled out and signed?  I told him I'd have to read it.  Thoroughly.  And that I wasn't okay with it.  Wasn't there any other way?  Nope, there wasn't.

So I'm reading the contract.  Slowly.  Carefully.  He's getting frustrated.  I'm getting frustrated.  I asked if they could drive the car to my mechanic, because I understood they might not trust me to take the car off the lot.  Nope, they couldn't do that either.  I had to sign the sales contract.  When I got to the bottom of the minute-print contract, irritated, near tears, frustrated, I saw the line that said everything in fine(r) print on the back of the contract was being agreed to too.  WHAT?  I said aloud, "You mean I have to read the whole back of this thing too?!"  And I heaved a huge sigh. 

The salesman told me repeatedly, "You're overthinking this.  You're looking at this too deeply.  Just sign the paper, and you can take the car to your mechanic."  And I kept responding, "This is a legal document that obligates me to pay you X-thousand dollars.  This is not a minor deal."  The salesman assured me that it was no such thing, that they wouldn't hold me to it if I didn't want the car, yada yada yada.

Hey, what is a contract then? 

In exasperation he finally threw up his hands and said, "Well, fine, if you don't want the car, just leave."  Boy.  Salesmen don't do that.  I responded, still near tears, "That's just what my husband told me when I phoned him about this situation." 

He talked to the manager, came back to the desk, and told me to just take the car.  Just take it.  Just go.  Here are the keys.  Just tell me where you're taking it and what time to expect you back.  And remember, since there's no contract signed, I could bring the car back, having decided we want it, and find that he's already sold it to somebody else.  He intimated that was a risk I really did not want to take.

Really?  Hey, I was way more comfortable with that risk than with the risk of signing a contract that this SALESman claimed wouldn't be binding. 

Unreasonable of me to not want to sign the contract to buy?  Gary didn't think so.  Gary asked some co-workers, and they all seemed to think it was unreasonable of the dealership to want a signed contract before having the car checked out by a trusted mechanic.  But that is not what the salesmen thought. 

So I was the nasty one.  The one who wanted to read the contract before signing.  (How unreasonable of me!)  The one who didn't want to be arm-twisted into making a commitment that they insisted was no commitment.  How rude of me.

Y'know, I'm not likely to meander through their lot the next time we start looking for a car.

Nearing the end of the day, it appears that Philip is buying that car.  Our mechanic pointed out that the car is in pretty good shape overall but would need rear brakes.   So presumably the dealership will be checking out the brakes tomorrow.  If the brakes were missed in the safety inspection, the business will fix them.  If not, and if the car is legally able to be sold, they will give him a voucher for brake repair to be used later, at their cost, with no profit to them.  But we have to wait another day to see if this is how things actually pan out.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Wonders of a Washcloth

Someone who shall remain unnamed was complaining to me a few months ago about the bath towel getting stinky.  I kept wondering how a towel could be taking on body odor when you just washed yourself, and you're clean, and the towel is only for drying.   A puzzle to me!

I was raised to use a soapy washcloth in the shower or bath.  Some people use just a bar of soap to lather up.  Hey, I remember seeing those Zest commercials back in the day!  I always wondered where the washcloth was!  In these recent toasty summer days (in which people may be adding a quickie-shower or two to the regular daily shower) I made a discovery.  When you rub yourself with the bar of soap, lathering up, you don't get as clean as when you use a washcloth.  Stinky sweaty body doesn't come as clean.  And the towel takes some of that stink from the body.  Ick.

Hopefully this means we have discovered how to keep the towels fresh for more than a couple of days.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Don't Put on Two Tunics

Jesus sends out the apostles to preach (Mark 6).  He tells them not to take money.  Just a staff and the sandals on their feet.  "Don't put on two tunics."  Just the one. 

There is only one robe of righteousness.  Paul tells us to "put on" Christ (Galatians 3).  Yeah, yeah, I know -- Jesus really was telling them not to take a change of clothes but only to take what they had on their backs.  But still ... don't you suppose it might have a dual meaning?