Our Framework Makes A Big Difference


On Golden Pond


My husband and I went to see a newly released movie back in 1981-On Golden Pond—since we loved the two leading actors, Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn. We fell in love with the movie, the story, the music, and the actors. We were clearly not the only ones as the list of Academy and Golden Globe Awards was a long one for the film and the actors.


I would guess many of you (not all) have seen it. The story of Norman and Ethel played by Fonda and Hepburn details the experience of an older couple returning to their summer cabin together. Though married for quite some time, each of them views the cabin and the return through a different lens.


Katharine as Ethel is excited to hear the loons, uncover the furniture, and find berries in on-golden-pond-movie-cabin-photos-10the woods. Henry as Norman is fearful and preoccupied with dying. Their experiences prior to the opening scene that have affected their perspective are not fully revealed, but we get hints occasionally when their daughter and a grandson come to visit.


I remember so well how much we chuckled at certain scenes in the movie just as we found other scenes very endearing. Watching the relationship of this older married couple unfold included glimpses into their frustrations with each other as well as their deep love. The depth of their love shows through at numerous points including when Ethel fears Norman may have died when he falls and is not at first responsive and when she calls him her “knight in shining armor”.


When we first saw the movie we were in our thirties and we looked through those lenses and experiences. Those affected where we laughed in the movie as well as what we missed in certain places.


We have seen the movie a number of times since then and still love the score and the story, but our lens, our framework, is different now that we are older. Some scenes that show clearly they are “elderly” are not so funny to us now. We are older and though not as old as they are, we have walked with older friends of ours in just such a season. We know each day brings us closer to what Ethel and Norman were experiencing. We see with friends the anguish that poor health and death of a spouse is like so we see the movie differently, through a different framework.



It can be very easy for our framework to affect what we see or don’t see in every aspect of life.


Have you considered how it also affects what you see when you read scripture? We likely do not even realize it when it is happening, but it is important to pay attention. If we don’t, our framework will inform or color the text and may well distort the author’s meaning and intent when it is the text that must inform our framework so the Lord can speak into our lives with the hope only He can offer.


I was freshly reminded of that when I participated in a Simeon’s Trust workshop with my daughter recently. It was one of a number of important tools of “First Principles” that were taught and applied as we worked together in small groups.


As I have been reflecting on this point of how much our framework can affect our view of the text of scripture, I was reminded of On Golden Pond where the view of life is affected by their own unique framework. That framework wasn’t unusual for them and our own framework is not unusual for us, but it is important when I am reading scripture to be aware of it and that it can color or even distort what I am reading.


What are some of the things that can make up our framework when we are reading in God’s Word? The list can be quite long, but let me share a start for you to consider:

  • Your age or season of life
  • Your ethnicity and experiences related to that
  • Your vocation
  • Your denominational background
  • Your gender
  • Your socioeconomic status
  • Your sin patterns
  • Your Christian maturity
  • Your culture
  • Your personality
  • Your misconceptions


That beginning list gives you a sample of some of what influences your framework. Our framework can be helpful or it may hinder the truth of the passage we are reading. The key thing is to identify our framework and to try to approach the text with fresh eyes.


If we pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us and have Him illuminate our understanding of a passage, He will be faithful and help us see what we may very well miss.


“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV


 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17





Are You Connected to the Source?




Five years ago my husband surprised me on my birthday with a new iPad 2. I had not asked for it and knew little about one, but it didn’t take me long to learn to use it and ever since then I have used it more and more. For a little while now it has been sort of chugging along and at least once it refused to turn on. My trip to our Apple store and a diagnostic test let me know the battery was no longer charging completely or effectively. They managed to get it going for me that day. Their advice? Keep using it until it dies.


That was some months ago. Some days it seemed to take longer to for it to wake up, but it is still working. Last week, however, I thought it was on its deathbed. It was plugged in to recharge, but over an hour or so the battery indicator said the percentage of charge was actually going down instead of up. I was certain this meant it was really dying this time.


I told my husband and started looking online at models and prices if I were to replace it.


My sweet husband is ever the practical man and asked me if I was sure that it was plugged in. I assured him that it was setting right on the desk with the end of the cord plugged into the iPad and since we had not been out of town I knew it was plugged into the power strip on the opposite end.


I kept looking and comparing new models of iPads and wishing I could enjoy the speed of a new one while realizing I didn’t want to add that expense after the outlay for a new HVAC system a few months ago.


Just then my sweet husband came into the room and informed me that it was charging just fine. He also added that the end of the charging cord that goes into the power strip was not fully engaged into the outlet.


No, I had not checked on that except to give the power strip a quick look under the back of the desk where it is located. It looked like it was plugged in from the angle I was looking. As I walked into the den again, sure enough the battery showed it had already charged ten percent more than when I had last looked at it.


I was relieved we didn’t need to try to find money in the budget for a new one even though I had already been excited over the new models.


As my husband and I stood there talking and trying to figure out how it had become disengaged enough to disrupt recharging and still look as if it was plugged in, I began to think it was an example of what can happen to us in our spiritual lives.


As believers we can be in church every Sunday, involved in ministry, and fellowship, and have a personal quiet time at least some of the time. Then we start to notice we are feeling more spiritually dry. The sermons no longer challenge or inspire us and we too often just go through the motions during worship. When we look for an explanation we might decide we are just tired, but maybe we are really not plugged into the source and hadn’t noticed.


Which source am I referring to? Certainly Jesus is the source we need as well as the connection with the whole body of Christ, worship, and prayer. But we may still be missing the true source that gives us a consistent flow of connection.


The Word is the big power source and in our busy lives, it can also be one of the things that start to get short-changed or set aside. Something happens one day and we never get to it. Maybe a couple of days later we only manage a verse or a quick read through our favorite devotional. Little by little without realizing it, we start to lose our connection to the life-giving sustaining power of time in the Bible.


If I were to ask for a show of hands out there, I am sure if no one was looking we could all raise our hands. We can rationalize that we are getting the Word in the devotional we are reading or in the worship chorus we have cued up in the car, but from my own experience I know it’s not the same.


I hear a lot of talk about how dark the world around us appears to be and how many challenges we are facing. How did Jesus manage it all when He was here? He responded to all of it by speaking the truth from scripture. He wasn’t carrying around a Bible (It hadn’t been compiled yet.) and I don’t think or hear He was carrying around a scroll. He knew it because He had spent time reading it so it was a part of Him when He needed it. It gave Him direction.


What about us? For me, when I am not getting a steady diet in God’s Word, I start to get malnourished.


Two passages in Psalm 119 speak to its value and importance:

Psalm 119:105 NIVYour word is a lamp for my feet,

a light on my path.


Psalm 119:11 NIV: “I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.”


It’s a new day at the beginning of a new week, how is your connection?


Our Lord’s words are there…a lamp and a light, a weapon and protection against the shadows and darkness that would seek to overtake us. He wants to speak to us and anchor us in His truth, the truth of His Word.














What Channel Are You Tuning In?




I wonder how much we are aware of what and who we are tuning in as we listen throughout the day. I probably think of that more often than some since I spent nearly thirty years listening in a counselor’s chair.


Yes, I sought to listen intently to the person or persons in the chair opposite me. But I was also seeking to listen for the Lord speaking and I was listening to my thoughts as I was putting the information together I was hearing in order to be clear about the problem that needed to be addressed. In that case, I had at least three channels I was tuning into at almost the same time.


How well I was hearing any of those channels depended on a lot of factors including how tired I was, if there were biases, and even if any older channels got in the way such as old parental scripts.


So often very public stories unfold that we are shocked to hear because we didn’t see them coming or expect them. It can happen often and it has happened to me as well. Sometimes it happens because we simply did not have enough information or background information that would have given us a clue. Sometimes it happens, however, because we were tuning into another channel or listening so intently to what we were saying to ourselves that we did not really tune in to the story outside of ourselves.


This week’s general election was a great example of that. Many believed they knew the results before even one vote was cast. There were more than a few that pointed to all sorts of polls, research, and conversations. Clearly, many got it wrong and are puzzling about that, but one clue about that is to look at what channel they were tuning into. In this case as in our personal lives, it can be easy to choose to listen to or look for others who agree with what we think or believe. That is often not too hard to find since we also typically hang out with others who have similar beliefs as we do.


Many times in the Old Testament a king wanted a prophet to tell him what the will of God was in a situation, especially when there was a battle ahead. I am struck about one story in the Old Testament that gives an example about who we tune into and whether or not our goal is truth or someone who agrees with us.


The story takes place in 1 Kings 22. At that time Jehoshaphat was king in Judah and Ahab was king in Israel. When they were visiting each other, the subject of some land area that had been lost previously came up and Ahab asked Jehoshaphat if he would go with him to fight and take back the territory. Jehoshaphat agreed, but only if they sought the Lord’s counsel first.


So Ahab calls all the prophets together (about 400) and asks if they should go to war. They tell him to go ahead and God will give the territory into the king’s hands. But Jehoshaphat must have thought it didn’t sound quite right that all 400 had agreed so easily. The dialogue that follows beginning in verses1 Kings 22:7-8 NIV:


7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”

 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

 “The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.


Jehoshaphat was clear that he wanted to be sure he heard the truth of what the Lord was telling them before he would proceed. He was more interested in the truth than hearing what might be his own preference.


It becomes so clear that Ahab had deliberately not called Micaiah with the other prophets because he knew he would speak truth that might not agree with what Ahab had already determined that he wanted to do.


The story gives us an example that could not be clearer. When we are seeking counsel or an answer about a direction for our lives, what channel or person will we choose to ask and listen to? If we are honest with ourselves, we admit we are prone to ask someone we believe will agree with us and see our side of things. I get that and it tempts me as well, but if I do I may well miss the wisdom of the Lord.


If you read the rest of the chapter you see that as Ahab predicted, Micaiah did prophesy something he did not agree with. He treats the prophet with disrespect and puts him under guard and goes out to war anyway and convinces Jehoshaphat to go with him. If you read the story you discover that it doesn’t go very well for Ahab because the prophet spoke the truth.


Ahab chose to listen to those who were like him so he became more and more of who he was rather than who God called him to be.


 The truth is that we tend to become more and more like those whom we listen to. The choice I make will determine if I become more and more like myself and those around me or if I become the person the Lord has called me to be.



How Do We Respond?



As I consider the things happening around me with a telephoto lens, so often my prayers are smaller than they might be if I were to widen the lens to see more. I think our prayers can be that way as well. I pray for what I wish and desire so many times and hope the Lord will agree that I have sought wisely and answer as I have asked, but in doing so have not always sought His direction for my prayers.


I don’t think He condemns me, as Paul writes “we see through a glass darkly” (some versions say “dimly”) and He knows my frame well. Certainly it is true as Isaiah says that His thoughts are not mine and His ways are higher than mine. He sees everything and I do not. Even so, I am reminded to seek His direction about how to pray many times in situations that I cannot begin to unravel.


Sometimes I have discovered later that it was good He did not answer a prayer I had prayed because He had a “better” for me than I had asked.


I love what Mark Batterson says in his book, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day:


“Many of our prayers are misguided. We pray for comfort instead of character. We pray for an easy way out instead of the strength to make it through. We pray for no pain, when the result would be no gain. We pray that God will keep us out of pits and away from lions. But if God answered our prayer, it would rob us of the greatest opportunities. Many of our prayers would short-circuit God’s plans and purposes for our lives if He answered them. Maybe we should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants us to get out of those difficult circumstances.”


 I confess that doesn’t appeal to me on many levels and I certainly do not pray to find myself in hard places. What I see whenever I pick up my Bible is the truth of how difficult circumstances shaped the character of those we most revere in Hebrews 11.


It was the tough situations fraught with danger and uncertainty that made the timid into the tenacious, the fearful into the courageous, and the uncertain into the sure.


Difficult seasons and times come to us all, but where do you or I place trust and how do I or you face fear?


As believers we should not be surprised that trials will come and with them, suffering. The writers of the New Testament make clear we will face such things. Their writings speak of suffering beyond illness and poverty common in their time and more about standing firm in faith and belief when those things will result in persecution.


When I read those things, I am sobered. I want to think and believe I would stand, but I cannot forget that Peter was sure that he would do so and when crunch time came in the courtyard he failed even as Jesus had told him that he would.


We talk often about that failing of Peter’s, but talk less often about how Jesus used it to a greater good. Peter came to know his own heart and weakness better and Jesus offered him grace and then used his boldness to build His church. The boldness was different than at the start for Peter. Now it was not based on His self-confidence, but rather his God-confidence and love.


I see that so clearly in 1 Peter when he writes to believers who were dispersed in the midst of difficult times. His character shines brightly as he exhorts believers to stand, as he seeks to encourage their hearts in the midst of suffering, and as he gives wise counsel on how to walk during such times. His words show he cares, tends, and feeds the sheep and lambs even as the Lord asked of him after He met him on the shore after He arose.


So how do I respond when difficulties come? When prayers go unanswered or answered differently than I pray?


Do I yield to Satan’s tactics of discouragement and fear or do I face what has come because of who Jesus is and who He is making me to be?


My prayer is found in 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV:


“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”








Today I Will…




I sit here today on the eve of what appears to be an historic election in the United States. It will not be the first one, but it will be one of the most significant in my lifetime and today as I consider that my thoughts turn immediately to my dad.


My dad was likely one of the wisest and humblest men I have ever known and I am more aware than ever of how his life, principles, and training have affected me. I never heard him raise his voice and I never saw him shirk responsibility for any area of his life.


It was he who most influenced me to pursue the Lord and lifelong learning. It was he who valued integrity in a person above fame, fortune, education, or experience because he knew a person of integrity could be trusted. It was also he who taught me the gift of freedom I have as a citizen of the United States and my responsibility to protect it and support it, pray for it, and never to forget to vote.


Today I wish he were here so we could have a conversation about this particular election.



While he was alive, I cannot recall ever not talking with my dad prior to an election. He was a lover of history and knew so much more about it than I understood when I was younger. He never took his privilege of voting for granted and as a believer, he considered it to be a matter of prayer as he considered those issues and people placed before him on a ballot.


When he first voted there was no TV commentary or ads, no iPhone snippets of volatile conversation someone eavesdropped on, no Twitter or Facebook, no Snapchat or Instagram. By the time I was in grade school, beyond the radio there was TV and certainly newscasts spoke about issues and candidates, but far differently than today.


One thing I learned from him was that I was responsible to learn as much as I could about any issue or candidate in addition to seeking the Lord for wisdom. That meant not looking at, listening to, or reading only one source. It meant sometimes seeking the wisdom of others he knew personally. It also meant paying attention every week about what was happening so he wasn’t reliant only on gathering information the weeks and months just prior to election when all sorts of half-truths and lies were mixed with truth. He knew reporters and journalists were human and their biases were going to be mixed in with their reports and opinions often reported as facts.


As a result, even though my dad was not blessed to have a higher education and he blessed me with a college education, he never failed to know something more about an issue or a candidate than I did prior to Election Day. He looked for the thread of truth he found in multiple sources and weighed that carefully in conjunction with what he had been seeing all along and then he went to his knees to seek the Lord’s counsel.


So today I will take what he taught me and use it as wisely as I can on the eve of this election. What he taught me has already demonstrated value in recent weeks and months as I have discovered the most popular media have failed to report or mention things that were important as a citizen and as a believer.


So today I will remember that the United States has turned away more Christian Syrian refugees than other faiths despite the high level of persecution they have endured for years. Ten percent of the Syrian population is Christian and yet less than one half of one percent of those Christians refugees from Syria has been accepted. It is significant enough for a federal appellate judge to consider and issue a sharply worded opinion to the administration.


So today I will remember that UNESCO has passed two resolutions denying Jewish and maxresdefaultChristian ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and the United States did not dissent or stand with Israel.


So today I will remember that neither of these stories were covered by any of the major TV news networks.


I will remember that Franklin Graham and Ann Graham Lotz have been calling for prayer and caution for months as they have reached out to believers in this nation. I will remember that God values life over death and truth over lies.


gwSo today I will remember those who founded this country came here first for freedom to worship as they chose and not bear unreasonable tax burdens. I will remember they did not expect nor want government to take care of them, but would be responsible for themselves and attend to the concerns, burdens, and cares of their friends and neighbors.


Today I will remember we have fallen prey to looking the other way when a pattern of deceit occurs depending on who or what is involved and how skewed our perception is. I will remember that God looked on the heart of imperfect men when He made His choices of leaders.


Today I will remember and recognize the importance of the future of our Supreme Court hangs in the balance as we elect this president and may well affect much of our future as citizens and believers. It will impact more about my vote than other things I consider important because it will represent what kind of future I leave for my children and grandchildren.


Today I will pray and express gratitude to the Lord for this nation and the freedoms it offers me and I will express gratitude for my dad and all he taught me and lived in front of me.


Today I will not be able to talk with my dad, but I will most certainly be able to talk with my heavenly Father.


And tomorrow…I will vote.