I Waited for God in a Draw Herding Cattle and All I Got Was More of His Grace


 


“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

“I hate waiting.” — Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

One item that has been on my bucket list for a long time is going on a cattle drive. After years of trying to finagle a way to work cattle, I finally got the opportunity to do it this summer when I reconnected with a high school friend whose family owns a large cattle ranch in the mountains.

Even better (at least in my mind) was that my husband, Chase, tagged along. Freddie, the horse he rode, was the only one of us (human or equine) who had any experience working cattle. Chase joked that we were going to be in the next sequel to City Slickers.

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Chasing Down Justice, Mercy and Good Samaritans in ‘Fantastic Beasts’


 


Spoiler Alert: Stephanie Carney did her best to not spoil any major elements, but we cannot guarantee all major plot points are protected.


As the credits began to roll at the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “I really liked that movie.” At first, we couldn't quite put into words why (it was more than the comfy reclining seats and the XD surround sound that was making my husband a bit giddy). I realize there are many opinions on the “magic” movie genre in general—I understand and I respect these views. But for me, there are three-ish reasons why I love Fantastic Beasts.

The value of understanding the world and culture you live in cannot be underestimated. Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne), a British wizard visiting New York City is also a magizoologist, an expert in magical creatures. He strives to understand magical creatures for their own good but also to educate the magical community so that these creatures won't be killed senselessly out of fear. When his creatures escape, he says: “We're going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They're currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet—humans.”

Later, the President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (Carmen Ejogo), shares this: “Magical beasts are terrorizing no-majs [non-magic people], and when no-majs are afraid, they attack.” I realize we're talking about magical creatures and fantastical people, but these lines resonated with me. Sometimes, we just don't bother to understand people.

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When God Hears (and Answers) Our Unspoken Prayers


 


Some prayers are sort of a given — health, salvation, wisdom to make the right decisions. Other prayers are held quietly in our hearts; too deeply felt for us to dare speak them. Perhaps because they fall in the category of things which seem unimportant in the big scheme of things. Or because they would seem odd to anyone else. Perhaps because we fear to even acknowledge or speak them, lest we jinx them.

But when God answers those prayers, the ones deeply held but unspoken, we recognize that he knows our hearts and uniquely cares for each of us.

Last month my daughter turned 11. She celebrated her birthday with four friends. As they sat outside eating their lunch, I listened in on their conversation. It involved the sharing of silly stories and fun things each one had done or imagined, punctuated by copious amounts of laughter.

For my girl, it was a lovely celebration of her birthday and friendships. For me, that laughter over lunch was a beautiful answer to one of my unspoken prayers.

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Advent Is about Adoption


 


November is National Adoption Month. Even though this is the last day of November, Advent is now underway, and I think there is a clear link between the two.

During the service a couple of Sundays ago, my wife and I shared a bit of our foster/adoption story (see the video below). Last Sunday I started re-reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Advent devotional, and the first paragraph of the first day’s reading connects Christ’s coming with Christ’s demands to love the most vulnerable among us. It reads:

 

Jesus stands at the door knocking (Rev. 3:20). In total reality, he comes in the form of the beggar, of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, makes demands on you. That is the great seriousness and great blessedness of the Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us. Do you want to close the door or open it?

 

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Feel Your Worth: How Christmas Anticipates the End of Futility


 


Editor’s note: Yes, Thanksgiving is still a day away. But Advent begins Sunday, November 27, along with our Christmas sermon series. Pastor Perry Paulding gives us a preview of what to expect over the next few weeks.


Three thousand years ago, the wisest man who ever lived (Solomon) despaired at the utter futility of life “under the sun.” I’m tempted to do the same. For example, just yesterday, after an hour of attempting to blow out my sprinkler, I had to concede defeat and call in an “expert.” A single, two-second “trick” would have saved me 40 bucks. A couple years ago, one of my noble attempts to get healthy and save some money backfired and landed me in the ER with an $8,000 bill. I could write a book on futility. It abounds. Does the gospel offer us any concrete hope that we can escape the stifling sense of vanity that plagues our daily lives?

Futility is part of the curse. We know that when Christ returns, Revelation 22:3 says, “. . . there shall no longer be any curse.” But what about now? 1 Peter 1:18 offers us some hope:

 

“. . . knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers . . .” (1 Peter 1:18)

 

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