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Christian Blog vulnerability

Dog Gone It!

Photo by David Fanatan on Unsplash

We have a dog in our neighborhood that’s a fence jumper. Every so often, even with the gate shut, he just appears in the backyard. He’s friendly enough, but we worry what might happen if he gets in when our two little dogs are out.

We thought we had the problem solved. Our super-athletic trespasser liked to jump the one section of our fence that was four feet tall, so we replaced it with a six foot wooden privacy fence. We now have a tall fence around our whole backyard. “That should do it,” I told my wife.

But wouldn’t you know, one day we looked out and there he was: standing on the back patio laughing at himself in the window. What kind of dog gets over a six foot privacy fence?!

This has to be yet another metaphor for life. We build fences around our circumstances to control them. And then, when something breaches our puny perimeter, we build better ones.

Yet sometimes, no matter how hard we try, IT still happens. They make LifeProof cases for phones, but not for the human condition. And when something jumps the ‘fence’ and laughs at itself in the window, it’s easy to feel violated, unsafe and unsure about the future.

Enter God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, who most certainly understands humans.

He became one.

Psalm 139 makes it crystal clear: the Lord knows more about you and me than all the data mining companies of Silicon Valley combined!

As it turns out, He’s a fence builder too.

You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.

Psalm 139:5

King David doesn’t mention sideways, but surely the Almighty has that covered as well.😀🙏

From the sounds of Psalm 139, and other similar scriptures, God never looks in on one of His children and says, “Well, would you look at that?!”

So friend, can we agree that whatever we’re facing right now—be it good, bad or ugly—God saw it coming and knows what to do about it?

His Word is His bond.


Here are a few go-to promises I turn to when I’m ‘on the fence’ about God’s protection and provision:

“What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

Please share your favorite scripture about God’s watch-care over us, if you’d like.


For another story about setting boundaries, that also involves an uninvited animal on our property, please see “Cat”astrophe.

Categories
Christian Blog vulnerability

Lost Four Words

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

It’s amazing how words frequently used in conversation come and go. During the Valley Girl craze of the 1980’s, phrases like, “Gag me with a spoon” and “That’s totally bogus!” were heard often. These days, we have new words and phrases to convey similar sentiments.

Today, I’d like to discuss a four word phrase that has fallen into disfavor. You just don’t hear it that much anymore.

It was my fault.

Personal accountability makes people feel vulnerable. And according to sociologist Brene’ Brown, vulnerability can be excruciating; people almost universally avoid it. In her popular TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability, she explains why: Vulnerability opens the door to shame— another unwanted emotion—so we look for a way to ease the discomfort. The shortest path is to blame others. Which, again, according to Brown, is a wrong way to deal with vulnerability.

Of course, the Bible is filled with stories of people who grappled with personal culpability. Some handled it well and some did not. I won’t repeat these at length, but here are two of my favorites.

Adam blamed Eve for giving him the forbidden fruit, and she blamed the serpent. But God held everyone accountable.—(Genesis 3) #wrongway

When King David was confronted, after he committed adultery and murder, he blamed only himself saying, “I have sinned.” –(2 Samuel 12:13) He admitted his accountability. #rightway

Back when I served as a worship pastor, I once convinced our church to sponsor a popular Christian recording artist in concert. I assured our parish council that ticket sales would cover the cost of bringing this person in. I was wrong. The concert lost $3000!

The first thing I did was start thinking of excuses. But as my wheels turned, the Holy Spirit burned something into my heart: “Say it was your fault.”

So I did. I stood before the church’s leaders and admitted that I blew it. However, to my surprise, they disagreed! “We voted to do this,” said an older deacon, “It’s on ALL of us.” And everyone agreed!?

I experienced God’s grace with skin on that night. All because, with His help I was able to say, “It was my fault.”

This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

Isaiah 66:2

For a great story about a person who faced a vulnerable situation through God’s provision, please read this post by Musings and Roses.

Categories
Christian Blog vulnerability

Virtual Teacher Bootcamp

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

With school about to start this fall–both in person and virtually–I recently attended our district’s Virtual Teacher Bootcamp.

Frankly, like many who arrive at anything called a ‘boot-camp,’ I wasn’t entirely prepared for the experience.

Day One: First thing out of gate, the drill instructor (technology teacher) handed each of us an iPad. “This is the interface your students will use for virtual lessons,” she said with a scowl. Ok, maybe she was smiling. “Starting RIGHT NOW, you are going to get COMFORTABLE with it.” I immediately envisioned using this particular Apple product as a rather awkward pillow.

Ten Minutes Later: “Now that you understand how to use your weapon (iPad),” said our jovial guide, “we will explore the software used for virtual lessons.”

Now that I understand!? I barely know how to wake the !@#$ thing up and find the appropriate app and we’re moving on!

By the way, !@#$ stands for silly.

A glance around the room turns up nothing but digital native millennials using their tablets with one hand and their phones with the other, chatting all the while about building their bitmoji classrooms. Suddenly, I feel like a tech dinosaur. Just take me back to the chalkboard and ditto machine days of my youth, I thought. This is too MUCH!

Uh oh, the drill instructor is headed in my direction. How do they sense weakness? I just knew I was about to be culled from the herd.

“You don’t have to stick your face in it, you know?”
“Excuse me?” I said. “I mean, excuse me, drill instructor, sir!”
“The fire hose, don’t try to drink from it,” she said with a wink.

My increasingly patient and benevolent teacher then asked a crucial question: “What’s just one thing you wish you understood better?” I admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that I was uncomfortable with using the G-Suite for Education (a cloud-based bank of Google productivity tools). “Well, you’re in luck,” she said. “Google has a Teacher Center with free online interactive training.”

That night, and every evening that week, I spent 30 minutes in my PJs watching how to videos with some sparkly-eyed teachers from Silicon Valley. By Friday, I felt like a pro.

Spiritual Application:

Money gained in the wrong way disappears. But money gathered little by little grows.

Proverbs 13:11

Substitute the word knowledge for money, and this scripture describes my experience. Lack of technological expertise limited my ability to succeed with the virtual teacher software. I compensated by trying (rather pridefully) to drink from the firehose. A better approach, as my teacher suggested, was to make up my deficiencies one by one–to step out of the stream.

The end of the matter is better than the beginning. So it’s better to be patient than proud.

Ecclesiastes 7:8

Few of us like to admit we’re unable to do something–especially in a room full of techy teachers young enough to be your children! How embarrassing.

But when pride eventually gave way to patience, and I admitted my need for remedial help, I was I able to move forward. By the end of boot camp I was almost able to keep up with the young folks!

Lessons Learned:

You don’t have to stick your face in it. Start with what you know and then grow little by little.

It’s where you end up that counts, not where you begin. It’s better to be patient than proud.

You can do it. It just may take longer than you think.

We hope for what we don’t have yet. So we are patient as we wait for it.

Romans 8:25