Posted in Family, life, Scripture

Some Assembly Required

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. (Psalm 19:7-8)

I came so close but missed it by a mile.  Last year I was checking out the WalMart clearance aisle and came upon a bike carrier thing for your car.  Well, I happen to own two bikes and even occasionally ride them, so I bought it.  I brought it home and put it on a shelf where it happily lived.  And then, I decided to be cool.

Judy and I are regular exercisers but it normally is limited to her doing walking and Refit (something that involves dancing and rhythm so I’m out) and me walking.  We both do some hiking. Well, we decided it was time to expand our horizons so we found a bike trail down at Fort Massac and decided to load up the bikes and give it a try.  So I went and found the bike thing and proceeded to try assemble it.  Note the word try.

I dumped the parts on the kitchen counter (first hint that I am not a mechanic) and then it happened.  Because it involved attaching this thing to my car and the fact that it involved two bikes being attached to this thing and the fact that I didn’t want to get sued if they fell off the thing—I read the directions.  That is the miracle.  Everyone knows that men don’t stop and ask for directions when driving and we don’t read the directions when we are putting something together.  That is not manly.  Ask for directions or read the directions and it is almost an automatic surrender of your man-card.

I decided to risk being disbarred and read the directions anyway.  Now let me say it proved that we men are justified in not reading them in the first place.  Whoever wrote these directions obviously didn’t have a clue about the bike thing or the English language.  But I gave it due diligence and proceeded to assemble it.  It only had about six major parts, so hey, it couldn’t be that hard.  Right? Wrong.

After about an hour, yes, I said an hour, the six parts where assembled.  Judy and I take this thing out and try to strap it to the back of our car.  I have used one of these before and this one just didn’t make sense.  There was one part of the rack that had some sharp parts and I could see this thing doing some serious damage to the car.  Well, after an hour, we had it sorta mounted and even put the bikes on it.  Something just didn’t seem right.  My final thought was, “What did you expect for $15 bucks.  So I took the bikes off, threw the thing in the garage and called it a day.  I didn’t want to ride the bike anyway.

I go back in the work room (aka the kitchen) and began picking up the mess.  When I grabbed the box this thing came in I looked inside.  And there, wedged neatly inside, was a part, a really big part, a really important part.  Oops. As I thought about it I did remember reading something about this middle brace thing but I thought the guy in China was probably on a rant or something. I pulled out the part and had an epiphany…my ah-ha moment.  I brought the thing back in, disassembled too much of it, and attached the new found part.  Ta-da—it all made sense.  Amazing.  Miraculous.

Now the crazy ending to this crazy story is that we put the thing back on my car, put the bikes back on the thing and I still didn’t feel like it looked safe.  I could hear the lawyer calling.  “Yes, we are calling to sue you for everything you have because your bike fell off of this thing attached to your car.  Will you be paying with cash, credit card, or your left arm?”  So, the bottom line the thing is still in the garage and the bikes are still parked.  Stupid directions.  They must be related to the watermelon.

Here is what I learned.  Man-card or not, it is beneficial to read the directions.  I know it goes against everything we men hold dear but we just need to be over-comers and read them.  But, and it is a big but, you really need to read them carefully and then do what they say.  I halfway read them and ended up leaving a big, important part in the box.  That cost me time, frustration and a chunk of my pride.  Bummer.

I asked myself, “If reading the instructions on putting a bike thing together are important, I’m wondering if it is important to read “the Instructions,” you know, the Bible.” I mean the Bible is like the most important instruction manual of all time.  And the answer was a clear yes.  I should, we should, read it carefully and apply it fully.  There is probably a paragraph on the instructions for the bike thing that tells me how important they are…to ready them carefully. I didn’t read that part.

Well, the Bible has a lot to say about, “Hey, read this…it is really important.”  It goes like this, “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” And somewhere it should say you will have fewer calls from lawyers if you read it. Fewer regrets, fewer consequences, fewer disasters.  Yup.  Read them and apply them. So I’m gonna give the bike thing another shot and I’ll tell you now I’m not going to follow the directions.  It might not turn out well but I have to redeem my man-card. I’ll let you know.  But one thing is for sure.  If you choose to read, follow, and apply “the Instruction manual” you won’t regret it.  It says in there that if we follow the instructions we can rest in Him.  Oh and it also says, “I’ve got this.”  He does. 

Posted in missions, Scripture, travel

Peg Leg Sally

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Strange things happen in Africa.  For the past 12 or 13 years, our church has made regular trips to Africa.  We began in Niger and later moved down to Mali.  The last six years or so we have been working in Uganda. Regardless of what country, you can count on Africa to give you plenty of unusual  and strange sights.  So in some ways I wasn’t surprised.

We were on an island in Lake Victoria, Uganda.  On any given trip we visit at least three or four different islands offering free medical care, children’s ministries, ladies ministries and visiting the people in their huts to tell them the stories of Jesus.  The point of it all is to let them hear the Good News that there is a God who loves them—a lot. So we were winding down the day.  The medical clinic was finishing and four or five of us men were sitting in the shade under the “front porch” of one of the buildings.

So, we were talking and like I said you see some strange things in Africa so I wasn’t surprised when my friend said, “Look, there goes a woman with a peg leg.” Well, I turned around to look and didn’t see what he was talking about. I did see a lady some distance away but couldn’t see her peg leg.  I mean, the only peg legs I knew about were in Peter Pan, so my curiosity was peaked.

I turned back around but didn’t say anything.  But, it stuck in my mind.  After ten minutes or so, I just had to ask my friend about this strange sight.  I said, “Tim, did you say something about a lady with a peg leg?” His expression told me I must have missed something. He gave me a perplexing look. All he could manage was a “uh?”  I said, “You know, a few minutes ago you said you saw a lady with a peg leg.” He responded with, “No.  I said I saw a man carrying a stringer of fish.”  Silence. Snickers.  Laughter.

Yup.  Somewhere in the process of the conversation what was said and what I heard were two totally, and I mean totally, different things.  There was no lady with a peg leg only a guy with a stringer of fish.  You are probably wondering how I got “peg leg” out of “stringer of fish.”  All I can say is strange things happen in Africa. I’m glad there wasn’t a crippled lady but the idea of a peg leg like Captain Cook’s sure did intrigue me.

And do you know what?  Sometimes I think this happens with God and me. I think He is saying something and I totally miss it.  Does that happen to you? I think it’s more common than we think. We think we hear Him say, “You have the right to be mad” and in fact He’s saying, “Forgive.”  We think we hear Him say, “Take” and really He was saying, “Give.” Oh, and then we thought He said, “Quit” and He was saying, “Serve.” And it just goes on and on.  We hear “Leave” and He is saying, “Stay.” We hear “Go ahead” and He is saying “Stop, wait, don’t.” Seems strange things don’t happen only in Africa.  Smile.

So, I’m not sure what caused the totally humorous miscommunication in Uganda.  It may have been my hearing, could have been the village noise…who knows.  There may not have been a fix for that, however, when it comes to hearing God clearly there is something that will really help.  It is His Word.  In so many situations (though I’m not sure peg legs are one of them) the Bible gives us clear guidance.

Here is one thing you can count on.  The voice of God (what we think we hear God saying) will not, ever, never, contradict the Word of God.  If you think you hear Him saying, “Revenge” when someone has hurt you, you probably have “Peg Leg Syndrome.”   If you think you hear Him saying, “Be afraid” when circumstances are frightful, you probably have “Peg Leg Syndrome.” You get the idea.

Talking about the Word of God, Paul said that it is good for learning, good for insight about what is wrong in our lives, good for correcting us when we are wrong and good for teaching us about how to live right.  The Bible is an amazing Book. It has stood the test of time and, while there are different translations, there is not a version 4.3 because God got it right the first time. So if you are talking with your friends and someone mentions a lady with a peg leg, you might want to ask for some clarification.  And if you think you heard God say something that sounds a little not like Him, check the Book, go to the source.  Peg leg stories can be funny but withholding forgiveness when it is ours to give, hating instead of loving, leaving too soon instead of staying…well, that can cause a lot of pain.  And if find yourself singing and living that 1974 hit “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” it might just be a bad case of Peg Leg Syndrome.  Just pull out the Book, read a little and rest in Him.  He’s got this.