Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

Rules are rules

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 2, 2022.

“The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death” (Luke 22:2).

On the one hand, I easily relate to the chief priests and the scribes. I’m a full-time church worker. I work where people worship. I study and teach the scriptures. It is my vocation. My job. My career. I do it just about every day.

On the other hand, I’ve never conspired to kill someone. So if I’m going to step into their shoes, I need to understand why they were so upset.

It’s all about the Sabbath. The Pharisees are quick to point out that the disciples aren’t supposed to grab grain to eat on the Sabbath (Luke 6:2). In response, Jesus deliberately heals a man with a shriveled hand in the synagogue on a Sabbath (Luke 6:9-10). They were livid. They began to talk about what to do to him.

Everyone knew the rules. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death (Exodus 31:14). When a man is caught gathering firewood on the Sabbath, God commands that the assembly stone him to death (Numbers 15:32-36). Actions have consequences.

Now I get it. I’m a rules kind of guy. What I mean by that is that I usually toe the line because I’m afraid of getting into trouble. Or worse. When someone once suggested that we run an extension cord under an area rug to conceal it, I reacted, “No! Don’t ever do that!” I remember fire prevention coloring books from elementary school warning me to never, ever do that. I never have. Then I saw a guy using a concrete saw with no eye, ear or nose protection. I cringed. How can you do that? Everyone knows you shouldn’t do that.

OK, so here’s what I think is going on. A focus on the rules distracts you from the person.

The chief priests and teachers of the law work tirelessly to help people stay close to the Lord. But what about when the Lord wants to get close to you? Then it’s not about the rules. It’s about him.

Yes, my actions have consequences. That’s why Jesus came. He came to suffer and die for my sin, for my disobedience, and yes, for my disregard for the rules.

That’s why there’s a Sabbath. That’s why we set aside our work. We create a space on our calendars and to-do lists to gather with the church, listen, pray, eat and drink and experience his closeness. In a world where God can seem very far away, he reminds us to carve our a little space to know him as Immanuel, that is, “God with us.”

Thank you, Lord, for being around. Don’t let me get so wrapped up in the rules that I miss your presence, your power and your peace. Amen.

Posted in helping, Life

Rules and rules and more rules

no-smoking.jpgA week ago my wife and I were sitting in front of a crackling fire in a wonderful 100 year old cabin in the mountains of northern Virginia. The fall colors were at their peak and the cool air so worth the long drive from Florida. The one thing that put a damper on a picture perfect evening was a large red “No Smoking” sign prominently displayed in the living room. Just in case you missed that one, another one hung over the front door. And that’s all it took to suck a whole bunch of charm out of the room.

I wondered, “What have people done to this place that makes a sign like that necessary?” In addition, a twelve-page rental agreement pretty much forbid everything a tenant might do, from drugs and alcohol to smoking and parties to long showers and too many flushes. I’ve stayed in other places with no other rules than “please take out a load of trash.” So I wonder what previous renters did to make such regulations necessary?

Yes, I know the answer to my question. Rather than taking out trash, the guests trashed the place. The cistern ran dry and the septic got clogged. A dirty bathroom and a sink full of dishes greeted the cleaning crew. Even though you are extra careful who you rent to and clearly state the rules, it’s hard work to open up your place to total strangers. Airbnb, VTBO and other services have been a great resource for us. But it only takes one bad renter to spoil it for so many others.

We’re not perfect, but we tried to leave the place in better condition than when we arrived. I’ll try and fix small things that might need repair. I hope I can be a renter who gives the next ones a better experience.


Posted in Rant

Don’t do anything!

A few weeks ago when I too a walk through the Indian Trails Sports Complex with my dog, Samson, I couldn’t help but notice how negative all the signage is. Take a look and see if you agree.

No pics collage

Not very welcoming, is it? It’s all negative and frankly, a bit depressing. I know you have to have rules and people need to know the rules and follow the rules, but are’t we getting carried away? I only too a few pictures. My tax money was used to purchase many, many more signs like these.

I’ve walked through the complex many times and never really noticed the signs. Do you think anyone really pays attention to them?