Listening to Abba: 2013

Every Party Needs a Pooper



I’m hesitant to write this because it has the potential of making you mad. That's not my intent.

Well then, what is?

I’m a little concerned (okay, a whole lot concerned) about a particular verse that is being used as a platform for “positive thinking.” 

Wait, that’s not completely it. My real concern is this: how rarely we do our homework when it comes to interpreting scripture.  If something sounds good, or rings true we take a portion of a verse or passage and run with it; using it to support our teachings.  Eventually, everyone is quoting it and even whole books are written on its premise.

And few ever bother to actually look up the verse and read it in its context.  Sigh.  

I want to wake us up a bit and start to question what we have believed and/or taught.    

My intention is to challenge our hermeneutics. Herm-a-what-ics? Never mind. If this blog post makes us ask, “What does that verse really mean?” and causes us to go back and explore the chapter and book surrounding it, then I will have considered it worthwhile.

Okay. Drum roll. Here’s the verse that I think we are getting wrong (Hear me out before you throw something at me):

For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”  Prov. 23:7

I hear this verse quoted frequently, interpreted as, “We become what we think.”  Now, I’m not denying that our thoughts and beliefs influence our actions, or even that we can change our behavior by changing our thoughts.  But I am denying that this particular verse teaches that.

How can you say that, Kinsey?  It’s pretty obvious, “as a man thinks, so is he.”

I admit, it does look good, and secretly I want to use it just like everyone else does.  But have we ever stopped to read the surrounding verses?  Here they are:

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, "Eat and drink!" But his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, And waste your compliments.…  Prov. 23:6-8

Did you just hurry past that or did you carefully read it?  I’m not going to do a long-drawn-out exegesis here.  Hopefully you will stop and examine it for yourself.

Just a quick glance makes me think the author is warning us not to covet what a selfish man offers.   My paraphrase:  
Don’t be tricked by his smooth talk.  He’s not what he appears.  On the inside he is against you. Don’t be fooled by him, or crave what you think he can offer you.  It will come back to haunt you.  This guy cannot be trusted.  If you want to know what he is really like, take a peek into his greedy heart.
Some might dismiss my concerns and say, “Alright, maybe that particular verse is not the best for teaching about the power of the mind, but since it is true that our thoughts dictate our actions, can’t we just forgive the fact that it’s taken out of context?”

Insert screeching tires, busting glass, and the sound of a car hitting a wall.

Answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

We cannot, must not twist and pull out scripture to support our beliefs. We derive our beliefs from scripture. And if we don’t keep the bigger picture in focus (context), how on earth will we ever correctly interpret the smaller picture? 

I don’t want to be a party pooper. Well, maybe I do. If we are dancing to the wrong music, someone's got to pull the plug.

I hope we have all been challenged. This isn’t my typical story-telling blog post. But it’s what I woke up with at 3 a.m. and now that I’ve written it down, maybe I can go back to sleep.

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.  2 Tim 2:15



Don’t Cross the Line!



When my daughters were small the preacher and I decided it was time that they share a room.  The oldest one, April, age 9, wasn’t too happy about this arrangement.  The youngest, Amy, age 7 was fine with it.  April instantly became territorial.  She drew an imaginary line and posted signs all around her half of the room.  “My bed.” “My toys.” “My side, stay out!”  “Don’t cross this line.”  “Keep away.”

Oh dear.

I confess, we didn’t want to deal with that, so we went back to the original arrangement where Amy shared a room with her baby brother, Timmy, age 5.  Don’t judge; we all have to choose our battles.

My little April did not fall far from the tree.  I was territorial too.  I was territorial about my family, my life.  I had drawn up signs and posted them to the world.  “Keep away.”  “Don’t cross this line.”  “Holy Ground, sin and Satan not allowed.”  I commanded my post, walking the line, carefully screening all that crossed. Foolishly, I thought I was doing a good job. 

It didn’t help that our parishioners would often call upon the preacher and me for help.  Their kids were in trouble, their marriages were struggling, and their spiritual walks were dry or non-existent.  We welcomed them, extended God’s grace and mercy, and prayed with them. When they left I would piously think, “That won’t happen to our family, I’ll see to it.”  Go ahead and judge here if you want.

I can hear you groan.  Hey, I’m groaning with you.  Foolishly, I thought I would be able to shield myself and my family from the consequences of the fall.   
Couldn’t.  Didn’t. Still can’t.

Corruption exists in the Oglesby family; it spills over into our children's children.  The line's been crossed. We are broken family, living in a broken world, and experiencing broken consequences.  

But God.  But God!

This is where He shines best.  Picking up the broken pieces of our lives.  Healing, restoring, reshaping, and making beauty from ashes.  This is why Jesus came.  To pay for my sins. My family’s sins. To redeem our lives from destruction.

He is doing what I couldn’t do, didn’t do, and still can’t do.  He’s the God of mercy.  He’s the God of grace.
Hallelujah!   

Owning my brokenness, and resting in His never-ending mercy has relived me from the vigil of my self-imposed command post. 

Not that it’s wrong to be vigilant and stand guard.   It was just a crazy notion that I could somehow keep our family unstained in a sin-stained world.  I conveniently forgot that sin comes from within, not without. Sinful people do sinful things.

It's good to own my brokenness.  It’s a relief. I like being redeemed and restored by the hand of God.  I love that my family is in God’s great big capable hands and He is at work in all of us to restore us back into His image.  I’m seeing little signs of it.  In me.  In the preacher.  In my children. It’s good.

God crossed the line to rescue us from sin and death.  He crossed the line to reclaim us as His own.  He crossed the line to restore in us the image of God. We all share the same room, the same sinful condition.  We all have only one hope.  Jesus Christ. 

EOY! Huh?


“Are you going to take care of that bowl in the sink?”  

A simple question, but boy howdy did it raise my hackles!  My thoughts immediately went down a dark path “Seriously?  You’re going to point out a bowl to me when I’ve done yada, yada, yada for you for thirty  years? Let me tell you something mister, I could leave a thousand bowls in the sink and you will never, never, EVER match all the cleaning up I’ve done after you!”  I wanted to fling a bowl at my husband’s head (the largest and heaviest one I could find).  

Thankfully God restrained my tongue and my arm. Later, after I quieted down I could hear Him say, “Kinsey girl, you and Rick have not created a safe environment for each other.  Neither one of you can receive correction or instruction because you are bankrupt when it comes to pointing out the good.  Ya’ll need to start observing the good in each other. Notice what each other is doing and point it out.  Once you feel safe, valued, and appreciated, then you can  help each other do better.” (Yes, God says "ya'll").

God is right, (insert eye roll); He always is.  


So Rick and I became intentional about noticing the good. We got notebooks and started recording all the good things we saw each other doing.   What fun to pick up our notebooks and discover that we were being noticed and given credit.  We wrote serious things, we wrote silly things, we wrote kind and even flirtatious thing.  It worked well.  Eventually we tossed the notebooks and opted for email.  Many, many months later we are still doing it. We call it, “Eyes on You.”

The Eyes on You email subject line reads, EOY (short for Eyes on You).  Somewhere along the way we started having on-the-spot-EOY-callouts (pronounced  -i, sounds like Leroy).  

 “Hey, EOY for fixing mom lunch.” 
 “EOY back to you for bringing in the mail”
 “EOY for getting the oil changed.”
 "EOY for getting my clothes out of the dryer." 

We're EOYing each other! (Pun intended). How fun is that?

Now here’s another  little tidbit that I discovered.  When I EOY Rick, I mentally run through the day and take stock of all the good things he did, big and small.  As I type the list my heart grows with love and appreciation.  It’s amazing how the good deeds add up when I stop to look for them. I’m finding that this little exercise pays off in huge dividends.

Eyes on You, nurturing relational safety.  Who knew?

EOY!