Living out a mandate

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Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28

This is where God asks us to take care of the world He gave us. This is no small potatoes. That means that we each have a mandate from God to look after that portion of God’s creation that we touch.

Today we live in a vast, complex, technologically specialized world, where our dominion has been broken down to the minutest parts. Your dominion or my dominion may seem of little consequence compared to the fish of the seas, the birds of the air and every living creature moving on the ground that Adam and Eve ruled over, but it is no less significant. Whatever you are responsible for in the world is to be considered your mandate from God, and vitally important to His eternal kingdom

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Through the Eyes of a Child

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In light of Mother’s Day yesterday, Marti and I recalled this wonderful poem by Beverly Cunningham, who was without a home at the time we first met her and living at the Isaiah House for Women in Santa Ana, California. It’s a poem that beautifully captures what I shared in our Facebook church message last night — that our mothers are not perfect, but love can win out if we learn to forgive. This is a beautiful poem from a mother’s point of view about how her adult child has forgiven her, and how much that means to her.

The assignment from church was to sit down and write your mom a letter. Might be a good idea for all of us. And write us if you’d like, and let us know how that experience went. Were you able to love her, forgive her even though she may have screwed up your life, and then tell her she’s the best mother in the world because she’s your mother and she gave you life?

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Are you the interviewer or the interviewee?

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I love to be interviewed. I love being asked what I think about such-and-such because I love to talk. I even like hearing myself talk. That may be fine for an interview, but that’s about the only time it’s okay. Most every other time, that would not be a good thing. Certainly not a good idea for a relationship.

Marti and I were out to dinner lately in a restaurant with close quarters, so close that we ended up in conversation with two women who sat across from us. I ended up talking to one of them while she ended up talking to the other. I could pick up enough about her conversation that I got an idea about where it was going compared to mine which was going nowhere. That was because the woman I was talking to liked to hear herself talk just about as much as I liked hearing myself talk. So our conversation amounted to basically two monologues. We were both more interested in what we wanted to say than what the other person was saying.

Marti’s conversation was very different. It amounted primarily to Marti interviewing the other woman. She is very good at this. She has a lot of strong opinions. but she keeps them mostly to herself because she doesn’t want anything to get in the way of getting to know the other person. She will feign like she never thought about a certain thing (when I know she has), just to get a chance to hear what someone else thinks. What someone else thinks is more important than what she thinks because she wants to build a real relationship.

There’s an art to this. I’ve listened to myself for so long I’m not very good at it, but I’m learning. I just know it starts with listening over waiting to talk, and making someone else more important than me. Doing interviews for BlogTalkRadio has helped. Maybe we should all think of ourselves more as interviewers than interviewees.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

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‘I am doing something in your own day’

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“Look, you mockers, be amazed and die! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” (Acts 13:41; Habakkuk 1:5)

This quote is a prophecy first given by the prophet Habakkuk to the nation of Israel, predicting that they were going to be carried off into exile by the Babylonians. It is quoted later by Paul preaching to Jews in the synagogue, announcing the gospel of Jesus Christ had come, and the fact that this good news was now going to be given freely to the Gentiles.

In other words, Paul picked up this prophecy, originally bearing bad news, and applied it to his own day as good news. And if he could do that in his day, we can do it in ours.

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America in crisis

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Os Guinness believes this is an exciting time to be alive. He believes America is at a crisis greater than any since the Civil War. And he believes that what America needs is what you and I have: truth, true freedom, love for those who are different, and a prayer connection with God.

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Living in the lowlands

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“Here’s to fragility and recognizing the treasure that can be found living in the lowlands in the place where faith and doubt, courage and fear, surrender and struggle, bravery and timidity and belief and unbelief happily intermingle and coexist quite nicely without needing to cancel one or the other out totally.”

The quote above came from Robin Frost, one of our regular readers who sends me comments from time to time, and I always think when I glance at the name that I am getting an email from a great American dead poet. But that’s Robert Frost. There must be something in the name, though, because Robin waxed poetic in this comment that I think captures the reality of where we all live most of the time.

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You don’t need the Garden Tour, but it wouldn’t hurt

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On the Fischer Garden Tour

We’re having some pretty strange weather right now for Southern California. When I got up early this morning, the house was 58˚. Marti likes to sleep with the heat off and the windows open, but it’s 52˚ outside right now which is pretty cold for us here in May. I’ve got the heat cranking now to warm up the house, but I’m wearing my black hooded sweatshirt with the hood up. The top of my head and back of my neck are cold, so the hood helps. But if someone sees me through a window walking around the house right now with my hoodie up, they might think we were being robbed.

It also rained this weekend. That’s unusual, too, for May. When Albert Hammond sings “it never rains in Southern California,” he means from May to September. Our new flowers will be so happy. We just planted a few flats of impatiens. The red ones are especially beautiful. They’re a deep velvety crimson.

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In-N-Out gifts of God

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There is a chain of fast food burger stores that began in southern California, and so far has spread to Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Texas, called In-N-Out Burger. They are Chandler’s and my favorite fast food place. The nearest one is about a 20-minute drive and I will think nothing about going out there at nine or ten o’clock at night if we’re hungry. Their claim to fame is that they don’t cook ‘em up until you order ‘em. Plus they pile on the lettuce and tomatoes, and the fries are cut fresh from potatoes you can see stacked in the back of the kitchen. It’s a little longer wait than most other fast food places, but since each hamburger is made to order, it’s worth the wait. The kitchen is clean and in full view, the cooks and servers are all up-beat and friendly, and the choices are few: single or double hamburger, fountain drink, shakes and fries. That’s it. It’s been that way since the first store was founded in Baldwin Park, California, in 1948.

And there is an in-n-out principle that permeates the teachings of Jesus about the gifts of God like grace, mercy and forgiveness. It basically says that what comes in, to be legitimate and real, must go out. The two are so connected that one presumes the other, and you can always work it both ways. For instance, the best known of these qualities, because it is a part of the Lord’s prayer that most of us know by heart, is: “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Notice it doesn’t say: forgive us and then we will go out and forgive others. It says “as we forgive,” which indicates a simultaneous action. One presumes the other. A person who receives forgiveness will be forgiving. Likewise, a person who receives mercy will be, of necessity, a merciful person.

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