Monday, December 30, 2013

Thinking Hearts

So very learned are we in this still new millennium.
We know everything about everything. Or if we don’t we can always Google it. Or YouTube it.
Probably very soon our brains will start growing like aliens into big light bulb heads. I personally have two B.S. degrees bellying up to my dinner table with me. And I know half a dozen other people who are “in school” for higher degrees.

We are getting smarter.

I love learning and thirst for it like a hunting dog after the chase. But we are not only made of brains. We have sensitive fingertips, unquenchable eyes, and slamming fluttering, sometimes dancing hearts that also strive to be counted.

I have studied and learned that the heart is amazing.
A big pump that works as a blood factory.
Never ceasing to keep your body moving, your brain ticking along at warp speed. Mechanical.
but even still Replaceable.

My big lug of a brother in law had a sick ticker. He was born with some ragged edges in his baby heart and now that he is knocking on middle age it was time for another repair.
He went in swinging. My sister was strong but if you looked real hard she was terrified of loosing him.
Cracking open someone’s ribcage and shutting down their heart is no small thing.
His giant chest lay open and exposed for hours. Her heart was also sliced open, waiting, for the jolt that would say, it’s over, everything is ok.
And he came through, like a champ. Amazingly he was home within 5 days. She said she laid her hand on his chest feeling for the old scattered reggae rhythm and was shocked to find it thumping like a high school band, steady and strong.

In our minds we knew the risk. The possible outcomes. The worst case. But what happened was not foreseeable. Completely wonderful quick recovery. And we gave all the credit to the manufacturer: God.

You see, God has this thing for hearts.
I believe he gave Russ special mercy because hearts are very very important to God.
He made them to work in ways that are far beyond the mystery of the brain. The heart is a wonder of mechanical craftsmanship in the way it functions even under duress as it did for Russ. But it is also so tender that it can be crushed by a whispered word and give up without looking back. You see the heart does more than just function as our power plant. It was created by God to hold His very whispers to our soul.

 In the amazing story which is recounted by neuropsychologist Paul Pearsall in his book The Heart’s Code, we learn of a little girl who received a donor heart from a murder victim. After the transplant she began having nightmares and was able, through sharing those detailed dreams with a counselor, to name places and events and eventually identify the murderer.

The heart knows things that the mind doesn’t. It is made to process things that your brain can never ever access rightfully.

God created this way for us to believe and know the mysteries of His glory. Not through our wondrous brain, but through our heart. Romans 10:10 says “For it is with your heart that you believe” Not your logic, or your wit or your reasoning. Your heart must believe.

Jesus assures us that the pure hearts will see God.
The work God treasures comes from your heart.
The music of praise to delight Him must begin in the heart.

The Law that God first gave was surely written on stones and later scrolls to be pondered and debated studied and memorized. But the true relationship with Him begins when His love steadies the very beat of our hearts.

You see, it is impossible to know God completely and be known by Him with our reasoning and our logic. He has a language that only your heart understands.
Sure, we know more now than we ever have. And so many great advances have been made based on that knowledge. But never ever let yourself be deceived into thinking that you can depend on your education to find the rest your soul longs for.

The knowledge your heart understands and your spirit craves is “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of the human heart” 2 Corinthians 3:3

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Treasures at the Kitchen Table

Twenty years ago I tucked a crying 5 week old baby in my lap, sat down beside my first grader and said, “Let’s practice writing your name”
We became homeschoolers.

We did school work in the kitchen. We did school work at the dining room table. We did school in the van, on vacation, at church, in the orthodontists office, at Granny’s, and even in mom’s bed in between bouts of morning sickness.

We learned phonics and look-say. We sounded out and guessed the words. We bought new books and used ones. Library trips often ended in math lessons on how many books one family could carry without breaking the book bag. We read about Wild Things and Runaway Bunnies. We read about Motorcycle riding Mice and Secret Gardens. We discovered British children who talked to Lions and little girls who traveled in wagons across the Prairie. Then we cried over Diaries and concentration camps and lawyers who defended the innocent and Mockingbirds.

We made volcanoes with kool-aid and baking soda lava. We made paper-mache puppets and masks. We counted real coins and tried our hand at selling toys for a profit. We watched sugar plum faeries dance and marched with revolutionary minute men.

We were awash in music. We played piano, guitar, and sang. Three children each taking piano lessons one day a week means 2 hours and 15 minutes of practice every single day. I still hear the echo of Christmas carols being plunked out. One. Note. At. A Time. We also began a kid’s praise band for the children’s church and then sang and played and led worship in the youth band at several churches.

 We worked to accomplish our minimum of 180 school days with a vengeance. We worked through colds and flu. I would wipe their brow give them a Tylenol and ask…Couldn’t you do just one more math problem? We worked through broken wrists, braces, concussions and torn tendons.

We worked hard. But we also took time to play. Every Christmas a blessed 3 ½ weeks of cookie making and gingerbread house assembling. We made paper chains and decorated every square inch of our little house.
Then when little sister came in October we took a baby vacation to make sure everyone got well acquainted before we got back to the books.
And Thank God for Summer Vacation!

We didn’t just sit around. We took swimming lessons and played soccer and football. We took dance lessons and horseback riding. We formed metal head banging bands and bible studies. We worked at church as leaders and mentors. We learned how to build robots and cardboard boats. We worked for Dad’s business and cut mom’s grass. We kept busy.

We made friends. We made friends at church,at field trips and in our neighborhood. We celebrated with a dozen girls at pony themed birthday parties and ran around the park dressed as pirates on a treasure hunt. Most of the kids who joined us for parties and sleepovers when they were 8 are still coming over to our house at 18.

Most of all we learned to love each other as a family.

The decision to begin homeschooling when the oldest was 5 and his baby brother was on the way was just as much about keeping brothers together as getting a better education. I will never forget the little one pulling up on his toes to join his big “Bubby” at his piano practice. Or the way lessons would stop if the boys heard their little sister start to cry from the next room. Every one of us celebrated teeth that were lost and first wobbly steps that were taken. Piano practices that were difficult were made easier by a big brother’s patient explanation. Ribbons won at a horse show, tackles at football games and talent show band performances always brought a minimum of 4 others screaming their approval, cheering the other kid on.

I am beginning my baby’s Senior year of high school tomorrow. Probably will be my last year as a homeschool mom. I am excited for her but pretty sad that this season is ending.

I do clearly remember the days when I would look out the window and watch the big yellow school bus drive by and think…life could be sooo much easier if I just…
Or the days when I would grab the phone and slam the front door behind me as I called their dad and when he answered, burst out crying saying I just cant do this, it is too hard, they don’t listen to a thing I say…
The years when I had to write my own curriculum because our one income family just couldn’t afford another penny for school.
The “mom van” I drove
For. Ever.
It just wasn’t easy. But we were convinced that this was God’s passion and purpose for our children, our family. And so it became ours.
20 years later, I don’t have a career, a degree or a pension… but I have a treasure that moth and rust cannot destroy. I have three beautiful, smart, loving, amazing, God fearing homeschooled children. I am blessed.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It Isn't Just About Pink Ribbons.

I had made a trip home to see my Grandmother in late June.
The baby was turning one and she had never seen him. But my visit coincided with her tests. And before I left we knew it was cancer.
I will never forget her talking about his curly baby hair. (she loved curly hair) And him stretched out on a blanket on her living room floor sound asleep as I had slept so many times in my life. My Grandmother was my anchor in a stormy life. Her home, although it changed every year as she moved from apartment to condo, was my refuge, my sanctuary. I was only home for a week and I had to leave her.

I called her almost every day..
Phone calls really didn't convey to me that this, the second round of cancer (it was a different kind) was fast and deadly. Maybe I didn't want to know or hear. I called her and called her. Listening for a change, a sign that she was getting better.
Finally one day in the middle of September I was talking with her. She could barely speak. I just made out her saying, "you come". I was on the next flight out. Absolutely didn't have the money, left a homeschooled first grader and one year old with my bewildered husband who just said, go we will figure it our later.
I got in that evening. They met me at the airport. We drove straight to the hospital. The hospital where I was born. She didn't recognize me at first. Someone put her glasses on, she looked at me. I held her hand. The aunts were tired and wanted to go.
I wanted to stay.
I didn't fight them.
She would be here tomorrow, she had never not been there for me. I never thought it would be our last visit. I never thought I would never talk to her again. She was in so much pain. But she had waited for me to get there.
One last goodbye.
The aunts were there to drive us back to her house. We joked like old times and I slept.

The call came before we made it back to the hospital the next morning. She was gone.

We arrived, and other family were there. The nurse said, I have to remove her rings. I need someone from the family. No one could go. I will, I said. I stood there tears soaking my soul as she washed Gram's hands tenderly. I said, those hands bathed so many babies. She smiled and handed me the rings. I slipped them on my fingers and clenched my fist.

The hurt was so bad. She was too young to leave us. She had done everything in her life so quickly, married and a family before the end of the war, before her twentieth year. A grandmother in her forties. But it was too soon. I was not ready to let her go. It was out of my hands no though, she was gone.

That is what cancer does to a family. It is more than pink ribbons and provocative phrases. It isn't cute, funny, or flippant.
This is why I hate cancer.

Monday, May 13, 2013

How Do You Know the Truth?

Dear Beloved,
I love you and am so happy that you are exploring your faith with an open and sincere heart but I need to let you know something as a fellow believer.
  I have a caution for you. Don’t fall into the trap that a heck of a lot of people do. That is, to say that they know God and know who or what He is based on their assumptions, opinions, experiences, studies of various alternative writers, and on and on. The only way to truly know and solidify in your mind who God is, is to find out who He says He is. God is saying: "If you want to get to know me, ask me, don’t ask everyone else who thinks they know me. Read what I wrote. Go straight to the source."

You wrote:
             "I believe that we have within us the ability to heal ourselves from the majority of problems but I know that the mind and body can turn against you."

 That sounds real good, but if you are a believer, forgiven and redeemed, that’s a whole lot of unnecessary work. Why try to use your limited powers to work out your problems and healing?? The Bible plainly shows us it’s already been done for us
Isaiah 53:4-6
 Surely he took up our infirmities
       and carried our sorrows,
       yet we considered him stricken by God,
       smitten by him, and afflicted.

  But he was pierced for our transgressions,
       he was crushed for our iniquities;
       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
       and by his wounds we are healed.

  We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
       each of us has turned to his own way;
       and the LORD has laid on him
       the iniquity of us all.

Our healing was made available when Jesus became the innocent sacrifice at Calvary. There is a lifetime of learning we can put into finding how that applies to each person, but the truth is it is there. If we could heal ourselves then why did Jesus have to die on the cross? If it is truly a matter of as you wrote: "Mind over Matter.  It all is controlled by the Mind"…  then one of the gentlest, wisest, and most loving teachers on the face of the earth was murdered for nothing. Our devotion, then, is only to a good man who spoke good words. The fact is He was not just a man. He was fully God as well as fully human. Completely innocent and yet completely aware it was our sins that created the Divine breach between us. There is a mystery to some of the things of God but most of it is expressed with childlike simplicity. It is easy enough for the youngest child to comprehend and wondrous enough for the aged saint to yet marvel over.

Later you said,
            “I have recently come to the conclusion that God is not an actual being like you or   me."

God is an actual being like you. He created man in His image. He has a form that can be seen and a voice that can be heard. In Exodus 33: 14-22 Moses has this exchange with God:

  The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

 Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.... 

  Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."

 And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

 Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.  When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.  Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."

God's face and voice are real. His presence and glory (shekinah) are a beautiful mystery to be sought after privately, individually, it is an intimate experience to know God at this level, but you can know him. Anyone can.

You also said,
" God is an entity, taking the form of a physical being if necessary."

God is triune, in that He is three in one. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. This is why we see Him say in Genesis 1:26
" Then God said, "Let US make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness"
The plurality of God allows Him to interact with us and others throughout time in different, personal ways. Pretty cool. He is more than an entity that takes a physical form at will. He purposefully chose to be fully human and fully God for a specific time and place. It is not a whim or way He sometimes “appears” God is deliberate in how He interacts with us, and not spooky or metaphysical at all.

 Most disturbing to me is when you wrote:
          "There is a strange theory in the Astronomical world about a "glue" that holds the universe together called "dark matter"." 
Theories from other disciplines are like gossip about celebrities, pretty much somebody's opinion, maybe with a little truth, but not to be taken seriously.

You continued:
           "What if this "glue" is the will of God and we just haven't been able to see it yet.  We are still in the dark ages.  God will ensure that soon we will all see the light."

God's will is so clearly and simply written all over His Word. All we need to do is read it. There is no mystery to it, no reason to not see it, and no reason to walk in darkness.
John 1: 3-5 describes Jesus like this:
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it. The light is here and the things of darkness have no more power over any who live in His salvation, mercy and grace.

Ephesians 5: 8-11 comforts us with this promise:
 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

I guess the whole thing is, God knows when we first begin to develop a relationship with Him we stumble and learn daily. We need a whole lot of faith as we plunge into His Word. And that is the only safe harbor for a new vulnerable faith. The enemy knows that God’s Word is a powerful weapon to break down the strongholds he has used to keep us from God. Don’t ever blindly trust what anyone says about the Bible, God or Jesus. Look to the Bible for the final definitive answer to any question.

Be blessed

Saturday, April 27, 2013

More Than Just Living.Hope.

Define Hope.
Not easy.
The very definition of an intangible is that there is nothing there to see. How do you describe something that is not there?
How do you grasp a vapor, a promise, a dream?
How do you curve a letter around a wisp of a thought? A sparkle of a grin?
Hope truly is defined by what it isn’t.

It isn’t a stone or stair but you can climb up on it to reach unsearchable places.
It isn’t wool and leather to guard you from cold but you can weave it about to guard your heart.
It isn’t breathless joy waiting around the corner but it will dance with your expectations in delight.

Hope is a choice we make when our dreams come outside of our sleep filled eyes and wake us with insistence.
“Believe!” it says.
“Have Faith”
The possibilities of hope can bubble inside of us like uncorked champagne.

And hope can burst and fizzle to nothing if not preserved and created anew.

Often those who know defeat the least will hope the best.
Children infinitely hope that distant bells mean ice cream trucks and bright colored packages hold answered requests.

But not all children can keep hope alive. Those whose eyes have aged as they witness too much pain and defeat sometimes just can not.

There is no greater task than to resuscitate that hope and give vigor to a little one as she hopes for more.

As she hopes for enough strength to get up a from a sick bed.
As he hopes for a school uniform and a desk to sit at.
As she dreams of giving back to a grandmother who has given more than she has to give.
As he longs for a night of sleep without terror of the unknown and the sorrow of the morning.
As they dare to look for a future where children will be healthy and dream of success beyond the dirt roads and into the stars.

Won't you join me in giving hope to God's children around the world? I support and

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

VIP...In Training??

Honestly, my first thought on seeing this picture is that our messed up North American thinking is making quite an ironic statement all the way in Kampala, Uganda...

V.I.P. In Training is printed on her tattered shirt.


I have battled for over 25 years with people in Christian leadership over the needs of children only to be subtly or not so subtly told that they are only children and do not count as worthy of time, attention or money.

You see the ugly truth is that most people view children as valuable only as far as their potential...
            "They are going to be valuable someday… They will be of value when they are voting, earning money, and spending money; able to really think and feel..."

                                          “Children are our future”                                               
they say with beatific smiles and placating pats on my shoulder.
                                                                            "We will take care of them."

Excuse me while I scream long and loud in frustration with that twisted thinking.

Listen to me. If children are our future then what you are truly saying is that we are not responsible for their now. We only need to meet the needs that will sustain them in the future, when they are like us, powerful adults whom we must respect. Who can contribute to our lives.
What this is saying is If children are our future how can we selfishly manipulate them to meet our own needs? It is our future after all, our unknown, and they must be made our servants to insure that we will be taken care of.

Please remember that I am talking about and to Christians. So I ask you, when and where does God’s Word say that we are to put our own convenient needs first above anyone else’s?  Why is it that your church has a worship band with expensive instruments, singers and musicians for the adults but your kids are learning how to worship to a beat up cd? Why is it that you can sell cd's of your sermons but you make the children raise their own money for a trip to church camp? Do you provide transportation for people who have no car or driver's license? How are they supposed to get to church? 
        When did God say that we are only supposed to take care of people who can return the favor? 
We just as easily refuse to give time money or a second thought for the needs of children globally for the exact same reason; they have no impact on our immediate life. We say we are not involved in meeting the needs of children  in missions because we need to meet the needs of our community first but we aren’t doing that either. 

The church today has no problem funding Men’s ministries. Men have giant conferences, where we send our guys to buy t shirts and ball caps and learn how to be a man and run the family and the church. Wonderful, training is important and God knows we need strong leaders. But what if we took the $100 registration fee for each man and asked him to pick a fatherless kid to mentor for a month? Take him out to eat, buy him a basket ball and play with him.
Women dump piles of cash into Bible study guides, cute jesus jewelry, and coffee cups. Dear God! What if we took the extra funds and mentored a teenage mother through a crisis pregnancy?   
We take trips to Christian theme parks and plays and buy a ton of books and journals when as little as 40 bucks a month can save a child’s life in a third world country.

It is so much easier to have the children’s minister haul the kids off to an Easter Egg hunt and let you hang with your friends during church than it is to invest your life into a child’s life isn't it?

Are children valuable or are they just waiting to be valuable?

Are they the most Very Important Person? Or are they in training to be valuable when they grow up?

Before you go there and decide Yes, I want to invest in children let me warn you of a few things
  • Children rarely say thank you. They may never stand up in church and sing your praises.
  • Children cannot buy you a cup of Starbucks or take you out to eat.
  • They will walk into your life and walk right back out and you may never know if you made a difference or not.
  • Sometimes they will fight everything you try to do for them. They haven’t yet learned to trust.
  • You will work long hours, very often alone.
  • Once you have seen them with God’s eyes they will multiply like space invaders. You will see needy little ones everywhere you go all over the world, looking at you with Jesus’ eyes.
  • Serving children will break your heart. And it will be a pain like you have never known.
  • Children are the ripest field for harvest. They are so fresh from God’s home that they leap at the chance to go back into His arms. If you take Jesus to them they will accept Him faster and stronger than any other people group.
  • Children will love you with the purest most valuable love God ever made between humans.
  • When they are not flesh of your flesh, natural born children and you love and serve them, a connection to God is formed in your heart that the Enemy cannot understand or penetrate. 
  • When you love a child through adoption, you love most truly as God loves us.

 This sweet girl with her disarming smile and her reticent stance is not by any means a V.I.P. in training. She is the most valuable gift the Father has lavished on us. The gift of life wrapped around an eternal soul created in His image.

Guard your precious valuables with all that is in you and you will see the face of God.

Thank you Friends of TOUCH for the photo.
Friends of Touch is a Christian ministry dedicated to giving children an opportunity and a voice. Our mission is to show Orphaned and Vulnerable Children the love of Christ in a tangible way – to nurse, equip and release them to be leaders and professionals, and to equip them to reach their God-given potential.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Letter to a Lost Lamb

Dear One,
First of all let me say I am very sad and sorry that you have been hurt. Please forgive me if I have ever hurt you. You are a child of God and therefore are deserving of respect and love. 

As a Christian I want to say that I have been ashamed of the words and actions of my brothers and sisters as well. They are a sometimes difficult bunch, but so are the people I have met who don’t profess Christ. So I just try to treat them all the way Jesus did, love and forgive, and move on.

I hear your cry for love. You see it in certain Scriptures.  Paul did write those beautiful words in Corinthians and Jesus was motivated by love but his mission in life was not just to be an example or to spread love. His purpose was to be the Messiah.

In Matthew, Chapter 16: 13-17 Jesus wanted to make sure his disciples knew who he was:
 “When they came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his followers, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" … Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered, "You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because no person taught you that.  My Father in heaven showed you who I am."
Again “Then they all said, ‘Are You then the Son of God?’ So He said to them, ‘You rightly say that I am’” (Luke 22:70).
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

He knew and taught who he was, not just another teacher or good man, but the Messiah, the Annointed One who came to offer reconciliation between God and all people. Why did we need that reconciliation?

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

The word “sin” is used in a lot of ways, but the essential meaning and result of sin is separation from God,  it involves pride -- man thinking more highly of his own ways than God’s. Without Jesus Christ, His sacrifice and resurrection, connecting to God is not possible because of sin. We all have sinned, the results of which are death and an eternity separated from God. Since God is Holy, there can be no imperfection in His presence.

But death was not God’s plan for us. Abundant and eternal life is what Jesus Christ came to bring.
Why? Romans 5:8 says, "But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners."

You wrote that you believe in Jesus. But what does that mean? 
Do you believe parts like Mr. Jefferson and the bible he made by cutting out pieces of the Scripture and pasting them together?
Because to Jesus the only belief that mattered was belief in his ability to be the Savior.

 In John 11: 25-27 “Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

I guess the upshot is the only thing that mattered to Jesus is that his sacrifice not be in vain. I am sure he is flattered that so many people like him and his teachings, but I think the purpose of his life was the atonement he offered for us, or the satisfaction he gained through his death.

I found this interesting from Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary:
Christ's work consisted of suffering and obedience,
 and these were vicarious, i.e., were not merely for our benefit, but were in our stead,
 as the suffering and obedience of our vicar, or substitute.
 Our guilt is expiated by the punishment which our vicar bore,
and thus God is rendered propitious, i.e.,
 it is now consistent with his justice to manifest his love
 to transgressors.

He who was guilt free stood before the judge and took our sentence: Death.
That means the most important thing in your life and mine is what we do with Jesus. No matter how many places we look and see hurt in the church that does not negate the fact that an innocent man loved you enough to cross death and hell to say I love you and I want to spend eternity with you.

Not many people can get past what his “followers” have done to what Jesus actually says. It is mostly and importantly about a relationship with Jesus. The others are secondary, albeit quite distracting and hurtful.
And please, please know I am not belittling your hurt. But just like in a romantic relationship you cannot let one jerk keep you from ever loving anyone else again.

The Shepherd of your soul is calling. He wants to patch your wounds and restore you to a place of peace and comfort.

I hope this is encouraging to you dear one, I do still pray for you.

You are very precious to your Heavenly Father and He thinks of you often, catching your tears in a bottle. (Ps. 56:8)

With all my Love

Friday, March 29, 2013

What Are You Worth?

Greek words are so beautiful. Such allure and boldness in their twists and curves. I am falling in love with a language I cannot read.
The attraction simply is this: these are the words that bring me even closer to what my Lord said so very long ago. A step closer to the breath of God’s voice. His life whispering in my ear. I am so grateful He gave me this hunger and love for words, especially His.

I was making my way through Ephesians chapter one and I saw that the Greek/English literal translation slightly varied from the RSV right here:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. v.7-8

What RSV and many other Bibles have translated as riches, my Greek said wealth.

Riches and wealth are the same aren’t they? For whatever reason riches sounds more holy but the word: Ploutos actually means wealth, an abundance of stuff. Having a bunch of money and not having to worry about a thing.

What a carnal word for us.
We do not often link wealth and riches (possessions, houses, cars, clothes, money, money money )with the gifts God has for us.

(Well, ok I know some people do. What a shame.)

But the more I thought about it the more I was awed by God and how He loves.
The verse says we have redemption according to His riches. What exactly is redemption?
It means
being released from captivity
by someone paying the ransom
according to His riches.
So you understand: the kidnapped child of a corporate exec will be worth more ransom than a teacher’s kid simply because of the riches of the Father.

What do you suppose God’s riches are? Can He pay for whatever He wants? Could he buy you a nice steak dinner without blinking? What about a vacation to the Islands in the middle of winter? Could He pay off your mortgage and your car? Can He stroke a check and write off the hospital bills for your momma’s cancer treatment? Could He build a new school for the orphans? Can He buy medicine for a young HIV positive boy? Can He build a shelter for abused girls?

Yes, and yes, again and again. He can and does perform these monetary miracles everyday.
But the beautiful thing is it is because His riches are not stocks and investments or real estate or oil fields. His riches are His grace.

His Grace

Which He lavishes on us.

You are far more important than anything that can be purchased. A soul is of infinitely greater value than even a hospital for orphans. Your Father could purchase the land and build the building and staff it with doctors and medicine but of far greater worth to him is paying the ransom for your soul. Because if all the schools and orphanages and hospitals are built but a single soul is lost it is all meaningless.

Think about it, there is a soul, a sweet creation of God who at this very moment is sitting in a cell of sin, hands shackled, legs bound, eyes searching for an end to the torment, searching for a Redeemer.

Someone to pay the ransom and release them from their pain.

And even though the price is beyond what you or I could ever even imagine, God from His magnificent, never depleted, storehouse of grace is counting out the price and laying out the riches of His grace one by one like a stack of gold coins like piles of crisp $1000 dollar bills. His abundant riches. His unmerited Grace.

His grace that overshadowed a young woman and breathed life into her, and the child who grew to be Messiah. The Savior who walked and talked and lived to be like you. To know you and your pain. To know your hope and joy. To know your despair and heartache. Jesus, the most valuable thing God purchased from the riches of His grace, Jesus, who in turn paid your ransom with His very body on a cross.

Why could Jesus submit to the cross and feel the precious gift of life drip from Him?
Because He counted the cost and He knew His Father could pay.

He can pay for the most abundant blessed joyful peaceful life anyone can ever have. He has the wealth, the riches, for it all.

And you are worth it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Walking. Just Walking.

 It is a mystery indeed.
I know that God is holy and I know that I am not but how…how do I live in this chasm between Him and me?

Sometimes I think we make Jesus’ story into a movie or a novel with interesting characters and great plot twists. And it plays well as such. He is compelling and the story is fascinating, surprising, heartwarming, heart wrenching. We can leave the theater saying
THAT was a good story
digest our popcorn and go back to futility.

But how do we live this Christian life? How do we move on past the acceptance of His sacrifice and live each day as new, changed, fruit of His labor?

God has explained through the astounding brain and surrendered heart of Paul that it is a give and take, an exchange, a process by which we ease from this world of strife to His Kingdom of light.

Us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:4 

Walking. Just walking.
He challenges us to walk in pace with the Spirit. To learn step by step how to walk each day in this new forgiveness and grace. He knows that a person who is not conditioned or in shape cannot run and the marathon of life is beyond comprehension at the onset. But walking, little by little, building strength, we can do it. You can do it.

You have no good choice really. God says: To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6

Why would we turn away this offer of life and peace? If you are truly in love with your Father God then you must already know that living in step with your flesh, your crazy impulsive feelings and reactionary words never ever brings peace or sustains life. It always results in death: endings, separation, conflict, and sorrow. His Word says the mind of the flesh is enmity against God.

a feeling of hostility or ill will, as between enemies; antagonism… deep-rooted hatred.

Why would we ever allow this to happen? How can we let this God who is love from the beginning of time become our enemy? How can we not bow in obeisance and joyfully follow where the Holy Spirit leads?

Tilt your head to catch his Voice whispering to you. Know the things that have become weapons of war against God your Abba Father.  Tear down the fleshy fattened grotesque ideas and words and habits that have become the foxhole you have suffered in. Surrender to His gentle guidance. He will teach you how to walk into this Kingdom with your head held high.

It makes me laugh with pleasure when I think of enormity of the benefits of walking in His leading, in His Spirit .They are simply:

Life and Peace.
And Family…

you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”  it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-17

And because of this adoption: an inheritance.
A promise of a forever love.

Isn’t that what your heart longs for:
 the sweet gift of the growth of life,
the heart soothing voice of peace
and the comfort of family belonging?
I know mine does. Start walking then.

The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Exceedingly Abundantly Broken

I listened to her quiet crying over the phone. My soul ached to make it better but, as usual, there was nothing I could do right now except listen.
I prayed as she talked, God what can I do? And the thing He showed me is this: I can’t make a happy ending for her. Shoot, she can’t make the happy ending.  This is not consoling. I am frustrated and tired of sadness and hopelessness. As I sat there holding the phone I thought: What is happening here? What are you saying, Lord? Where is the hope?

I saw my tattered-$6-basic-been-around-the-world Bible. I reached for that Light. 
God brought me to Nehemiah. An ancient Old Testament guy, who saw some miracles in his lifetime.
Listen, God said, I am speaking through this old old story:

Nehemiah loved God with all his heart. But he was far from home, his place of worship and his support group of friends who believed like him. He had only his faith in the LORD to keep him going. As a matter of fact, his homeland was destroyed and his temple was in ruins. When he discovered this news, he wept at the enormity of the devastation to his people, his beliefs. So he prayed and fasted to ease his grieving mind. I can just imagine that he pleaded with God to send warriors and skilled craftsmen to rebuild his city and temple. He could just see gifted architects and strong young men rebuilding the fortifying walls around his home again. After all Nehemiah wasn’t a laborer, he was a servant in the royal courts.

His job: cup bearer to the King.


Cup bearer: serves the King drinks. Sometimes must take the first swallow in order to prove it isn’t poisoned. Knows royal protocol and is basically a royal servant on the order of a butler… 

Not a builder. 
Not an architect. 
And certainly not a young buck who can haul stones for a wall.

But God had other plans. He wanted His city fortified. His people called to repentance and taught His Word once again. He wanted to restore them and show His glory to them and through them once again. He chose to make this happen using the most unlikely man in the most unlikely way.

And guess what happened? Nehemiah risked his life in asking the King for some time off to go rebuild this wall…
                             and he got it along with the King’s blessing.

He faced a lot of opposition while he was in Jerusalem, but that wall got built in an astonishing 52 days. (When was the last time you saw a construction project that got done ahead of time?)

Every time I read Nehemiah I hear God say:

Not everything in life turns out the way you expect it to. I am most glorified when the broken, ill equipped, and flawed people are put in situations where they cannot possibly make anything happen on their own. Be open to my way of working in your life. Trust me.

You and I would have never chosen Nehemiah to get this job done. But God did and He is still glorified for it today.

I don’t think you and I would have chosen a prostitute to protect the next leader of the Israelites either.

Or a runty little shepherd boy to be King of Israel.

Or a Beauty queen to save all the Jews from execution.

Or fishermen to be evangelists.

Or a Pharisee to teach about grace.

Or the son of a teenage mother to save the world.

So when life is looking impossibly hopeless and all the plans you have tried to fulfill to make things happen are shattered and destroyed, be encouraged. God is finally able to get to work in your life to make miracles happen. If you will only let Him.

He who created life out of dirt can make hope and happiness come out of the most broken, ill equipped, flawed, and faithful people on earth.

Ephesians 3:20-21
New King James Version (NKJV)
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

What's It Like Outside?

I hate snow
Spring is too cold...rainy...short
I like summer but this heat is killing me
We are all sick because the weather cant make up its mind if it will be hot or cold…

People have copious opinions about the weather. It amuses me to hear people make it a topic in everything from polite conversation to vehement verdicts. I mean it is just the weather.
As God said, “Did you make it?”

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow…
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen? Job 38: 22, 29-30

I am a bit perplexed when people hate something like this so emphatically. The way I look at it is like this: God made this world and everything in it. And it is good. So I look for the good in each day He gives me.

May I challenge you to do the same?
Look for the Creative Creator in a sparkling never repeated magical fall of snowflakes.
Soak in His luxurious love as you feel the tangible heat of a humid blaze of sun.
Lift your face to the breath of His Spirit as a spectrum of leaves dance around you.
Remember His eternal promises as beauty is born anew through a spring rain.
Experience His power as you fear coming storms.
Know His touch as grey catfooted fog slips in at the end of the day.

He who created us to learn in so many ways just wants to teach us through the novelty of each new day. Don’t take for granted the hand of the Creator. He has fashioned this day just for you.