Thursday, September 18, 2008

Though the earth give way

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea ..." (Psalm 46:1-2, TNIV)

We read those words when times are good and we find them beautiful and encouraging. I wonder if we can believe them when times are not so good. "We will not fear though the earth give way ..." What about when markets, banks, insurance giants and retirement accounts give way? What about when business slows to a standstill and savings dwindles to nothing?

Someone who I know very well works for a company that has a very large Lehman Brothers bond. Bonds, of course, are supposed to be safer than stocks and Lehman Brothers was supposed to be one of the safest companies in the world, but they filed for bankruptcy earlier this week. My friend is not sure his company will survive the loss of those funds.

I was talking to a church member yesterday who owns a business in a sector deeply affected by the recession. I asked him how things are going. He said that he and his wife are very concerned: "We are

Daily people around here express to me how hard these times are.

I don't have any easy answers for the uncertainties of these days. But I wonder if we can proclaim a protest of hope when times are tough. I wonder if we can join with the psalmist in saying that we will not fear no matter how bad the times get. Can we say that God really is our refuge and strength? If we can then maybe we will be less fearful.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chasing and eating bees


It was clear and 65 degrees here this morning so I decided to go outside and do a little reading before going to the office. Our three dogs, Earl, Maxie and Pickles, were enjoying the beautiful morning with me, although not with books in their paws. As the experience unfolded Maxie engaged in and interesting activity.

She is on the small side of medium size as dogs go and she is ugly. Oh, don't misunderstand, our family loves Maxie and she knows it but she is ugly. One of our church members once asked for a photo of Maxie. When we asked why he wanted it he explained that there was an "ugliest dog" contest going on at his workplace and he was certain that he could win first prize with a picture of her. Maxie is a mixture of unknown breeds with gray wiry hair and legs that seem a little long for her small body. One family member once said that she looks like "a Chinese sewer rat" whatever that is.

This morning Maxie attempted chasing and eating some bees. There is some sort of ugly grass in many yards in this area that seems to spring up overnight to about a foot high. The green stems are topped with mostly black seed heads. Flitting between blades of this annoying grass was a sizable collection of what appeared to be bumble bees. I am not an insect expert, but that's what they looked like.

I noticed that Maxie watched the bees with keen interest. One came within a few feet of her and she chased it and tried to bite it. She missed but then went on a mission catch a bee in her mouth. In short order she succeeded. However, upon accomplishing her goal, Maxie immediately appeared to regret it and she spit the bee out and it flew away apparently unharmed.

I figured that Maxie had learned her lesson but I was wrong. Moments later she began chasing another bee and again imprisoned the insect in her mouth. Again Maxie made a face of discomfort, shook her head and released the second bee which also flew away. Still not satisfied she chased and captured yet a third bee with the same result.

At this point Maxie took a position some distance away from the bees in the grass apparently abandoning the pursuit. But she continued to watch them with what appeared to be longing. It looked like she had decided that chasing and eating bees was not good for her, but she still had the desire to do it anyway.

Maxie's behavior seems foolish, but I wonder if we engage in any bee chasing in our own lives. Are there behaviors that we know to be bad for us that we continue to pursue? "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise" (Ephesians 5:15, TNIV).