Chapter-a-Day Judges 5

Music is metaphor. "That day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:" Judges 5:1 (MSG)

Metaphor (n.) – something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else.

God is a God of metaphor. The Creator expresses Himself in His creation. Made in the image of the Creator, we express ourselves in creative ways, like song. Music becomes a significant metaphor. It not only expresses the thoughts, feelings and emotions of the song writer, but we attach meaning to it. Song becomes a metaphor for a specific time, place, person, or event in our lives.

What songs take you back to a specific place or time? Here's a few of mine:

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by the Andrews Sisters takes me back to the "way back" of my family's wood paneled station wagon as we drove down I29 south of Sioux City on a return trip from my grandparents house.

Reunited by Peaches & Herb represents making out with my girlfriend at an 8th grade party the night the U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviet Union on the way to their miracle on ice.

We are the World is my freshman year at Judson College, VHS movies, and Genesis Players spring tour.

The list could go on and on. There is a reason Deborah and Barak created a song to mark Sisera's fall. It helped the nation remember a significant event. It reminded the people of God's provision, the nation's faith, and their victory. The lyrics of that song are still reminding us of the event 3,000 years later.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and epiclectic

Chapter-a-Day Judges 4

Wendy @ the McNay 2006 LR She said, "Of course I'll go with you. But understand that with an attitude like that, there'll be no glory in it for you. God will use a woman's hand to take care of Sisera." Judges 4:4-5 (MSG)

My wife is a strong woman, and my love for her is boundless. She constantly gives me a broader understanding from a woman's perspective and a greater appreciation for it. There is an amazing, mystical tension in the story of women that is rooted in the Garden of Eden and plays out through the centuries.

That's why I find it so fascinating reading that Deborah is raised up as a prophet and Judge. She led a nation in a time when women had little or no standing in the cultural, religious and political system of the day. She must have been an incredible woman. She was a prophet, which mean she had spiritual leadership. She was a Judge who decided matters of justice, which means she had wisdom and political authority. She was such a powerful figure that General Barak would only go into battle if she came along.

I must admit to being consistently perplexed by women. I love this quote from Dave Barry:

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base.

Nevertheless, I am constantly astonished at the incredible complexity and capability God poured into the complimentary sex (while making them so darn beautiful to boot).

Chapter-a-Day Judges 3

But the People of Israel made themselves at home among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. They married their daughters and gave their own daughters to their sons in marriage. And they worshiped their gods. Judges 3:5-6 (MSG)

I love being at home. I'm comfortable here. I relax here. It's a warm, loving, cozy place.

They say, "home is where the heart is." Jesus took it a step further when he said, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Home says a lot about your heart. Home reflects who you are. Observe me in my home, and you'll get a much clearer picture of who I truly am.

I find it interesting that the people of Israel "made themselves at home." among the people of the land. They got comfortable and cozy. They even adopted their gods. There is archaeological evidence that the Israelites even worshiped the fertility goddess, Asherah, as the wife of Jehovah, who told them coming out of Egypt that they were to have no other gods.

Today, I'm contemplating where my heart is. I've always echoed the sentiment, "this world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through." But do I really believe that? Where have I made myself at home in this world and become too cozy? Where have the eyes of my heart been pulled away from God to become enamored with that which is worthless?

Chapter-a-Day Judges 2

Gen X. Eventually that entire generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn't know anything of God or the work he had done for Israel. Judges 2:10 (MSG)

Yesterday I received a request to write an article for the Journal of Contact Center Management. At the top of the list of topics they asked me to consider was "What are the implications of serving generation Y for contact center managers?"

Generations continue to affect us today. The "baby boomer" generation will soon be retiring and will have a profound affect on long term care and elder care issues in our country. "Gen X" is moving into middle age and coming into positions of corporate and civic leadership. "Gen Y" has filtered into the workforce and is affecting the way companies handle employees and their customers.

The book of Judges could be entitled "Exodus: The Next Generations." After their escape from Egypt and their journey through the wilderness, the Israelites now settle in the land of Canaan. Judges is the story of the succeeding generations over the next 400 years. Today's chapter introduces us to the overarching theme of the book. One generation has a leader who leads everyone to faithfully follow God. When that leader dies, the subsequent generation forgets God and falls into disobedience. Out of the disastrous consequences of their disobedience, the people realize their need and another leader (or Judge) emerges to lead them to turn back to God.

Cycles. Patterns of behavior. Judges reminds me to be mindful of the recurring patterns in my own life. It prompts me to consider my responsibility to my children, grandchildren, and the coming generations. It reminds me that I'm called not only to walk my own journey well, but also to leave a legacy for those who will follow in my footsteps.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and russelldavies

Visit from a Little Pumpkin

It was a fairly quiet Halloween weekend for Wendy and me. We drove to Wendy's folks' house on Saturday to pick-up some supplies from the food co-op there. We listened to the Hawkeyes' amazing comeback on the radio as we drove.

Saturday night was beggar's night. We received a visit from the VL boys, which was hilarious. Wendy had fun holding the little pumpkin.

Wendy & aaron vande lune 103109 LR

Sunday night was our monthly Sunday night dinner with the VLs and Parkers. The Parkers will be moving to Des Moines in the coming weeks. We're happy for them, but it's hard watching them move away – even if it's just to Des Moines.

Chapter-a-Day Judges 1

Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes. My-Master-Bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to crawl under my table, scavenging. Now God has done to me what I did to them." They brought him to Jerusalem and he died there. Judges 1:7 (MSG)

Last weekend, Wendy and I had a Godfather night. A friend came over, we ate a nice meal and watched the first of the three movies tracing the Corleone family and their mafioso saga. In the original film, there's a classic scene in which a certain member of the mafia family, Luca Brasi, is killed. The family receives a package. In the package is Luca's bullet proof vest, and in the vest are fresh, dead fish.

"It's a Sicilian message," they are told, "that Luca Brasi 'sleeps with the fishes.'"

"What goes around, comes around," the saying goes. In three little verses of the first chapter of Judges, we find a short story of a Canaanite King famous in the region for cutting off the thumbs and big toes of his enemies. It sounds bloody and violent, but cutting off various appendages was common in ancient times. Like Luca Brasi's fishy vest, it was a 'calling card' intended to frighten neighboring towns into submission. It usually worked for a while, but vengeance was always around the corner. What goes around, comes around.

In The Godfather, and in human history, there is no end to the cycle of violence, hatred, and conquest. Isn't it interesting that Judges lists among those ancient conflicts the familiar names of Jerusalem and Gaza. The same conflict rages on over a millennium later.

That's why we need a savior.

Today, I submit myself anew to God, who died that I might be free from the chains of destructive behaviors. I commit myself to keep working to change the toxic cycles in my own life and realms of influence.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and wallyg