Friday, May 30, 2008

Lifting Anxiety

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

Proverbs 12:25

Most of us have known the weight of anxiety. From owning your own business, to raising children, to making ends meet, to marital issues at some point anxiety meets us head on. And, we don't really need to be told that as Jesus followers anxiety shouldn't be one of our friends. If we have read the Bible even just a little we know that Jesus says, Be anxious for nothing.

Anxiety, no matter the reason destroys our spirit. Even our physical body will eventually begin to exhibit the effects of anxiety through a variety of physical ailments. For something that causes so much destruction it's a wonder that we are willing to entertain it for so long. We know it isn't a good house guest and yet we do so much to make it feel comfortable.

This is where as fellow Jesus followers we need to help each other with a good word. The challenge of this is the necessity to be sensitive to what that good word might actually be. For myself, I too often quickly offer words of Biblical "instruction" about who and what God will do instead of waiting, listening to the words of anxiety and responding with a God given good word that will bring gladness.

Here's a challenge for today. Let's listen and hear what is weighing down the heart of our friend, co-worker, parent, child, neighbor, but, take the next step--wait, listen carefully to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and hear the good word. Today let's make someone glad because of the good word we have given them.
Jesus, thank you for your assurance
that worry is not a responsibility you want for us.
Forgive me for keeping anxiety on as a house guest.
Help me to today, to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit
and speak a word of gladness.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Food for Thought

And he said to them,
"Come away by yourselves to a desolate
place and rest a while."

Mark 6:31

I've been thinking recently how difficult it is to be alone. Feeling uncomfortable in one's "aloneness" is cross generational. Just watch a congregation of teenagers or hear them IM clicking on their phones. Most adults wouldn't dream of sitting in a restaurant eating by themselves. Most often, when we find ourselves with the possibility of being alone, we seek to fill the void.

In the midst of my thoughts came these selected portions from Gifts from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I was struck with how many years have passed since the publication of this book and yet how pertinent, particularly to the life of a Jesus follower.

Jesus faithfully pulled away from the crowds and spent time alone. It was after these times of "aloneness" that miracles happened. If being alone produced such significant results shouldn't we seek it's location more diligently?

It is not the desert island, nor the stony wilderness, that cuts you off from the people you love; it is the wilderness of the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost--a stranger to oneself and estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.

We are all, in the last analysis, alone. How one hates to think of oneself as alone. How one avoids it--it seems to imply rejection or unpopularity. We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen. Even if family, friends and movies should fail, there is still the radio or television to fill up the void.

We must re-learn to be alone.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dig In!

Therefore we will not fear...Though its waters roar and foam...

Psalm 46:2a, 3

Dig in! Dig in! Suddenly the waters turned into a whirlpool and the six of us thrust our paddles into the water feeling our weakness against the water’s strength. Nevertheless, our rafting guide continued to yell, Dig in! We listened. Digging in was what had to be done in order to get through to the other side.

My muscles ached the next day as a result of digging in. At one point I felt myself being pushed off the raft by the force of the water; I dug in deeper. Digging in was the critical element of survival, but it also helped stave off fear. When one is busy digging in there isn’t time for fear.

It would be nice if there was a river guide yelling Dig In! when our life river suddenly turned to rapids. Too often fear overcomes us and forgetting to dig in we become swamped by circumstances beyond our control. We feel our weakness.

But the truth is that we do have a river guide daily encouraging us to Dig in! Abraham and Sarah grieved over their infertility and God said, "Your descendants will outnumber the stars"–Dig in! When Job was put to the test, God said, "who hung the stars in place"–Dig In! Gabriel tells Mary, "Don’t be afraid. God is with you"–Dig in!

In the moment of life’s turbulence, if we are willing to listen, our heavenly River Guide can be heard to say, "You have nothing to fear. I am with you." Dig in!

Jesus, thank you for calling out to me.
I can hear your voice reminding me to
Dig in to God’s strength, your love
and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Good Gifts

If you then...know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.

Luke 11:13

Parenting is the hardest relationship I have yet encountered. It’s like the wildest roller coaster while quickly resembling the tranquil beauty of an ocean sunset. Just about every imaginable emotion lies in between. The crazy part is that even given the uncertain emotional nature of the relationship, when my child asks, I want to give.

The truth is that most parents know exactly what their kids want because kids aren’t afraid to ask. Knowing what is available they believe that they have a ready source able to provide. And, while their requests may not always be granted, parents generally want to give their kids good gifts.

Translating this truth to our relationship with the heavenly Father, just imagine what we would receive were we to simply ask. As the perfect parent the Father wants to give the ultimate in good gifts to his children. But, asking is an important part of the process.

Prior to asking a "need" must first be identified. Next is acknowledging that this "need" will bring about change in one’s life. Asking is the point where "need" and the desire for fulfillment meet. When Jesus says, Ask and it will be given (Luke 11:10a) he recognizes this truth and he wants to fill our "needs."

There’s nothing like receiving a gift that we specifically asked for. The heavenly Father is waiting for your ask. His good gift of the Holy Spirit will satisfy all your needs.

Jesus, thank you for
your willingness to respond to our asks.
Today I ask for your good gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is the "need" that I want
to become real.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Choosing Adoption

You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, "Papa! Father!"

Galatians 4:4-5 (The Message)

The joy of the new parents is evident. Their arms hold the tiny "bit of clay" that has consumed their prayers for two years. Paper mountains have been climbed, intrusive questions have been answered, parent quality evaluations have been addressed, gut-wrenching nerves have been battled; all for the sake of this baby. They have adopted a son.

It can be difficult to wrap one’s mind around the concept of adoption and its significance for the Jesus follower. If we were created in the image of God and belong to him why would adoption be part of this relationship?

Adoption is a proactive, intentional choice. From personal experience, it is a decision that isn’t taken lightly. Here is a relationship that doesn’t have to be. A conscious choice is made to be in relationship with a child with whom you have absolutely no connection nevertheless you love--unconditionally, unashamedly, unreservedly.

When my husband and I were adopting several people asked, "Don’t you want to just wait and keep trying for one of your own?" Absolutely not! We would have missed an amazing relationship with our daughter as well as a poignant spiritual lesson--God chose to be in relationship with us.

We were created "in" God’s image, we were not created "from" Him. God, in adopting us, chooses to make us His own. Instead He is in relationship with us, loving us unconditionally, unashamedly, unreservedly.

It’s amazing! It’s because of our adoption that we can call the Creator of the world--Papa! Father!

Papa! Father!
Thank you for adopting me,
and making me
Your child.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spiritual Memory

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

I John 1:5b

Sitting in inky blackness, illuminated by a bonfire, the camp speaker gave me a truth that prepared me for life as a Jesus follower--Don’t doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light. I was fifteen and still remember.

Being afraid of the dark is normal. Rarely do we enter an unfamiliar darkness without flipping on a light in order to expose all that is hidden. Light alleviates our fears allowing us to move around, confidently.

It’s our memory however, that changes our behavior. Our homes, bedrooms, place of work, or school are familiar places and so, even if shrouded in darkness, we allow our memory of what we know to be in that familiar place, to guide us. Consequently, in the middle of the night we find that we have made it to the bathroom--without a light.

Jesus followers need to rely on a spiritual memory as well. During those moments when life’s decisions are obvious and clear cut we are privileged to stand in God’s well lit room. It is at these moments, when everything is visible, that spiritual memorization is essential. Because the truth is, in an instant the light of the “obvious” could be snuffed out and instead of confidently moving ahead we find ourselves disoriented and confused.

If as Jesus followers we consciously make spiritual memory a priority, fearing the dark should no longer be an issue. Without a doubt we will remember what God has shown us in the light.

Jesus, you were the Light
that God sent to illumine
the darkness of the world.
When darkness envelops me,
help me to remember
what I have seen in
your Presence

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nothing Wrecked

The lastest in the Narnia movies has just been released. Based on the books by C.S. Lewis the movies bring to life the stories and if one knows what is being said, the truth of Aslan.

Recently I saw Prince Caspian and remembered how when quick decisions are made and waiting on God is not part of the plan, things can go very wrong. However, God can intervene and make all things good.

Today's reading is by Charles de Foucauld and aptly illustrates this truth.

Trust nothing, yourself least of all; but in Me have that perfect confidence that banishes fear. Remember how many storms I have quieted by a word, making a great calm to follow. Remember how I held up Peter walking on the waters. I am always as near to all people as I was then to him, and as ready to help and succour in all that is for the good of the soul. Be confident, faithful, courageous; have no fear for your body and soul, for I am there, loving and all-powerful. Never forget that I am there. In this life the tempest never ceases, and your boat is ever ready to sink.

But I am there, and with Me it will never be wrecked.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Way

Commit your way
to the Lord;
trust in him
and he will act.

Psalm 37:5

Trust is at the heart of so much of what we do. We respond to situations and individuals according to our level of trust. Trust is often easily given but, once broken many of us have discovered that trust is not easily restored.

In January I put together twelve verses to be memorized for the year. It was part of a talk I gave for a group of Jesus followers starting out the New Year with an Epiphany dinner—the season for new discoveries.

Of course, what begins as a plan of action for others quickly becomes a life lesson for oneself. While the whole of my life has been a lesson on trust these past five months have thrust me into class full time.

My “way” was my husband accepting a new pastoral call 1500 miles away. The effect was our daughter’s early high school graduation, college preparation, death of a family member, putting a house on the market, finding a new house to call home, a new town, new congregation, even an unexpected surgery, everything has been new. Trust becomes an uncertain commodity in a new environment.

Every morning became a repeated prayer of, “I trust you, Lord.” Today I can confidently shout, GOD IS WORTHY OF TRUST. From a house to meals to safe travel to new friends to fellow Jesus followers, God has acted. Everything that has been needed has been provided as well as some extras.

The house still hasn’t sold, but, “I trust you, Lord!”

Jesus, whatever today holds I commit to you;
trusting that you will act in a way that is best for me

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Total Risk

The moment they
saw him they
worshiped him.
Some, though,
held back,
not sure about
“worship”, about risking themselves totally.

Matthew 28:17 (The Message)

There have been worship leaders, who in their eagerness to get their congregation to “worship”, have by their own admission used a bit of trickery. “Do you love Jesus? Raise your right hand? Do you know that Jesus loves you? Raise your left hand! Ah, hah I’ve gotten you to raise your hands, now keep them up there and let’s worship.” Worship is a response of love and devotion to God, but it should be voluntary!

I feel for the disciples that held back when they saw Jesus, not wanting to risk themselves totally. Worship is a dangerous business—you may lose yourself, completely. A loss of control would be at stake and the uncertainty of what might happen is just that, uncertain.

During our years of ministry my husband and I have heard all sorts of reasons why people hold back when it comes to worship. But all of them are based in worry and the need for control—how they will look or what people will think—if they take a risk at worship.

To abandon ourselves to the act of worship could mean that sometimes we might “look” funny. But, there also might be laughter, joy, energy, new friends, even a new appreciation for the community of believers. One never knows what might happen when we take a risk at worship.

Your risk will look different than mine. But the next time you’re in “worship” take time to ask yourself what is holding you back from risking yourself totally in showing your love and devotion to Jesus.

Jesus, I love you
and want to worship you.
But, sometimes I get caught up
not in your Spirit but in
who might be looking.
Help me to take a risk and
learn what it means to worship
You with abandon.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Food for Thought

The purpose of living is not to learn to make prayer; but to become prayer; to live in and for God according to the divine call, wholly surrended to the Spirit's activity in the soul for the glory of God.

Fr Gilbert Shaw

Every morning I thank God for the day, for my life and pray that he would use my life this day according to his will. On the surface it seems like a very simple prayer, easily said. But at the deeper levels it is fraught with peril. One never knows exactly how God will demonstrate his will through the Spirit's activity.

Yesterday I learned again how one's life becomes prayer. Having purchased tickets, a week ago, to a fundraiser, yesterday, for the local Christian school we drove to the appointed restaurant. It was good to see the crowds in obvious support of their families and Christian education. All monies were going to go towards sending the students on a missions project. We waited for our turn to be seated.

In the midst of parents surrounded by their offspring stood a lone, quiet man--no one was engaging him. Our name was called and we were asked if we would be willing to sit with a "single." Coming forward as the "single", this lone man led the way to our table. Eddie would be our lunch companion for the next 45 minutes.

Introductions were made and with a smile it was apparent that Eddie had lived a life quiet different from our own. Crystal meth had destroyed his teeth deeply affecting his countenance and his speech, conversation was a challenge. But, Eddie loved Jesus. In fact, with great pride he told about his role as the first thief in the passion play at his church. Having gone to a country church as a little boy, he had recently felt the touch of God's redemption.

As we ate our hamburgers I became keenly aware of my inadequacy to relate to Eddie. Our lives were a study in opposites with three exceptions, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In the embrace of the Trinity we were exactly the same--redeemed.

Finishing lunch and saying our good-byes I watched as Eddie once again stood alone surrounded by the crowd. We had prayed together at lunch, but more significantly I hoped that our lives had been a prayer for Eddie. We hadn't asked to be seated with him, but God had intervened and having surreneded to the Spirit's activity we were blessed to live in and for God according to the divine call.

We would have been the "losers" if we hadn't had a meal with Eddie.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Plain Speech

If I don’t address
you plainly with
some insight or truth
or proclamation or
teaching, what help
am I to you?

I Corinthians 14:6 (The Message)

At two and a half years old our daughter had a strong hold on language. As parents we had to be careful what we said around her. Speaking in our parent “code” one day, she confidently declared, “It makes me angry when you talk in a way I don’t understand.” Plain speech is essential to understanding.

Christians sometimes have a tough time talking to each other much less talking to individuals who don’t know Jesus. We find ourselves divided by denominations or “cultures” having developed our own language by which we understand each other. The challenge comes when our “cultures” collide and the language spoken isn’t understood even though the foundation of our faith is exactly the same.

When it comes to talking to individuals who know nothing about Christianity think how confusing our language must be? Plain speech is essential to understanding. If we want our friends to know the Jesus we love we have to speak in a language that they can understand.

Sprinkling the name “Jesus” in one’s conversation doesn’t describe who he is. Telling people, who know nothing of God that “God told me…” doesn’t tell them how one got to the point of hearing God. Quoting Bible verses certainly reveals one’s ability to memorize but does it say anything about what you know about the truth of Scripture? Plain speech is essential to understanding. And it’s harder than it seems.

Jesus, you spoke to each person
in the language they understood.
Give me the gift of
plain speech when I
talk to others about You

Thursday, May 15, 2008


“Lord, if you will,
You can make
me clean.”
And Jesus stretched
out his hand
and touched him,
saying, “I will; be clean.”

Luke 5:12b-13

We got to the hospital before it opened. Having scheduled surgery a week earlier I was eager to get the procedure over. Because my response to anesthesia is negative my prayer had been, “Lord, if you will, please help me get out of the anesthetic fog without getting nauseous.”

Touches filled the morning. My husband, the intake nurse, the anesthesiologist, the gynecologist, the recovery room nurse, someone always had their hand on me. A touch ended my day as well when a friend, trained in healing therapy, came with dinner and left me drowsy on the floor; the result of a pressure point foot massage. From the beginning to the end my healing involved touching.

Touching was an integral part of Jesus’ ministry. Children, lepers, women, in general, the crowds were all recipients. What is amazing about some of the touching accounts is the faith of the individuals. Like the hemorrhaging woman, the leper in Luke also starts from a belief that with a touch healing would flow.

Jesus stretches out his hand and touches. His healing doesn’t depend on the leper meeting him half way with his own hand. He touches freely. All that was required was a belief that a touch would do.

Walking into the hospital I knew that touching would be necessary for healing. I know that Jesus was there too, touching me, bringing healing to my anxious spirit but to my body as well because upon awakening there wasn’t even a twinge of nausea.

Jesus, thank you for your willing touch.
Stretching out your hand you touch life into me
and I believe that I am nothing without that touch

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Firmly Knitted

For you formed
my inward parts;
you knitted me
together in my
mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:13

Having been told that pregnancy was a far reaching possibility, Marilyn was thrilled to discover that the improbable had become reality. The excitement was short lived, however, when several weeks later the doctor declared a miscarriage and a D & C was performed. Dwight and Marilyn left that day with only the weight of sorrow.

When a few weeks passed Marilyn was shocked to discover that neither miscarriage nor D & C had been the reality, but, in fact, the baby was still growing. She was going to be a mother after all. And, after a few more months of womb somersaults, Marilyn and Dwight left the hospital with the weight of a 9 lb. baby.

Several years ago, while a participant in a healing conference in Oakland, California, I was taken back during one session to the point of being in my mother’s womb. As I sat listening to the weeping of those who felt unwanted I became aware that my own senses were in a state of heightened security. I felt warm, safe--protected!

Later, in conversation with my mother I expressed awe by my experience. She reminded me of the circumstances surrounding my birth. Despite a diagnosed miscarriage and D & C procedure, I had remained firmly knitted. And now, that weighty 9 lb. baby Marilyn thought she had lost, was experiencing anew the reality that God had formed and knitted me and no matter what, I could not be unraveled!

Father, thank you for your
creative and durable knitting!
Help me to remember
that what you create
cannot be undone

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Testimonial Living

Many Samaritans
from that town

believed in him
because of the

woman’s testimony,
“He told me all

that I ever did.”

John 4:39

Jesus and his conversation with the Samaritan woman is one of my favorites. Here is an intelligent woman, with a fighter’s spirit, who had a tough life. However, she also must have been a woman of faith. How else could she confidently debate with Jesus the finer points of his “water of life” message? Given the environment of the day the conversation should never have happened and yet it is one of the lengthiest recorded in the gospels.

Several years ago I read Obery Hendrick’s novel, Living Water, based on this conversation. As a New Testament scholar, familiar with the 1st century culture, Hendrick’s version altered my view on this woman.

Normally we’re quick to right her off as “loose” because of her number of marriages. The conversation becomes a testimony of Jesus knowing all and offering salvation. And yet, her multiple marriages account for only 1 ½ verses in the 23 verses that tell us of their conversation. Surely, there is more to this woman than five husbands!

While the details of this woman’s life aren’t recorded, evidence of her possible role in the community is apparent when she returns to town. On her testimony alone “many” Samaritans believed in Jesus.

It’s a humbling thought. There is also a question to consider. How familiar are you with your testimony? When given an opportunity, are you able to clearly communicate the character of Jesus?

The woman lived a testimony of eight words, but they changed a community.

Jesus, you are eager
to be in conversation with me.
Help me to be as
eager to be in
conversation with others about you

Monday, May 12, 2008

Salty Speech

Let your speech
always be gracious,
seasoned with salt,
so that you may
know how you
ought to answer
each person.

Colossians 4:6

I’m a foodie, so I understand the importance of salt in a recipe. It’s the simple, plain ingredient that is essential in bringing out the flavor of almost any ingredient. Too much you have failure but just enough is pure success.

We have discovered that the sticks and stones adage was a lie--words do hurt. Unfortunately, emotions play a role in our ability to choose gracious and seasoned words. When sharp words are said all that remains is emptiness. No one has been helped.

Jesus knew exactly what to say. Accusing, insulting, taunting words were hurled at him, repeatedly and yet his responses were intelligent, clear and concise. His parables may not have been completely understood, nevertheless, those hearing his answers knew that they held truth. Jesus never had a “back at ‘ya” approach.

We’re not hearing gracious words this political season! Sadly, we hear Christians hurling accusations at each other as well. In this immediate age words are instantly transmitted, their affects almost instant. As Jesus followers we need to consider more carefully our saltiness. How we respond to each other no matter our church affiliation is, in part, what will make a difference in how the world views us.

Biblical interpretation may vary, but, we have a common truth in our Creator, the Son he sent to show us how to live, forgiving us our failures and the Holy Spirit who continues to work today. Holding tight to these truths opens the way to gracious and seasoned speech. Making a difference in the world begins with how much salt we’re willing to scatter on each other.

Jesus, your words were
always well seasoned.
Help me to guard my tongue
speaking words that
will bring life to the hearer.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Scent of Rain

Be rainfall
on cut grass,

rain showers.

Psalm 72:6

Shuffling outside with the dog I became aware of the most amazing fragrance. During the dead of my sleep it had rained. And the smells emanating from the earth were invigorating. There was crispness in the air and the morning’s color was a rainbow hue. This is the feeling of being alive!

We are called, as Jesus followers, to be like this morning—a moment of refreshment. Jesus lived his life in such a manner. People were eager to be around him. And yes, while his healing powers drew people, more than anything the presence and character of Jesus is what drew the crowds. He was different than what they had seen.

Growing up I was taught that my life should be lived in such a way that everyone would know I was a Christian. This was achieved by adopting certain “rules” by which to live such as no drinking, smoking or dancing. By not doing these things I would stand out and people would know something was “different.”

Jesus was certainly different but not by virtue of rules. His words, actions, responses were what made him different and attractive to people. Let your light shine…so that they may see… (Matthew 5:16).

To be like rainfall on cut grass, is to possess a fragrance in the core of your being which isn’t produced by rules. It is only achieved by allowing the Holy Spirit to breathe in you the life of Jesus; believing that everyone with whom you speak will be refreshed.

Jesus, help me
be a refreshing rain
for someone today

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Image Maker

I will not set
before my eyes
anything that

is worthless.

Psalm 101:3

Reasons abound for not taking time to study the Bible. Perhaps the most common is time—I don’t have enough time for study and prayer. Schedules are indeed maxed and yet in conversation one hears about recent TV shows that are being followed or movies that have been watched, repeatedly. Indeed, the average American watches four hours of television a day. In a 65 year life span there is a possibility that this “average” American will have spent nine years watching television.

Daily we are confronted with a world that is fighting to make us into its own image. Advertisements show how we can look better, feel more alive and null our pain. A daily celebrity watch elevates being famous to an art form. Talking heads argue over what is right and what is wrong, believing that we’re hanging on every word.

In this environment how do we avoid setting before our eyes anything that is worthless? The psalmist was seeking to walk a life of integrity. Throughout this psalm he lists what he wants to set before his eyes.

As a Jesus follower we should keep a list as well. God wants to be our only image maker. In order to stay focused on who He wants us to become we’ll need to keep in front of us those things that will help us walk a life of integrity.

There is a battle for our attention. Acknowledging this struggle is to begin making a conscious choice between the worthless and the worthy.

Jesus, thank you for
having a vision for me.
Everyday I feel the pull and tug
of the world wanting to make
me in its own image.
Help me to set my eyes
only on You.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Tranquil Life

A tranquil heart
gives life to the flesh,
but, envy makes
the bones rot.

Proverbs 14:30

A hardened mouth, listing a multitude of ailments, sits across from me. On the outside this woman appears outrageously successful; nevertheless, it’s apparent that appearances don’t tell the whole story. She has proven that she can make money and no doubt there are numerous individuals who envy her mountaintop, but, it hasn’t prevented her from being envious of what she doesn’t have. Envy is literally sucking her bones dry.

It’s tough these days to not look at what others have and not be a little envious. The gulf between the haves and the have not’s widens daily. The objects of envy vary—money, job success, high achieving children or grandchildren, perfect marriages—the list goes on. Not a single one of these objects brings life.

Achieving a tranquil heart is an intentional act on the part of a Jesus follower. Bookstores are jammed with books and DVD’s touting that their program will bring about a “peaceful” mind, or the “tranquil” life. Nevertheless they, too, recognize that tranquility doesn’t come without a concentrated focus on the part of the individual.

The difference between the tranquility of a Jesus follower and worldly expertise is that Jesus gives us a picture of how true tranquility looks. When we know the life of Jesus, intimately, we are on our way to a life-giving tranquil heart. It’s the knowing that is intentional. Getting to know Jesus takes time, but, the reward is life itself. Envy will no longer be able to suck out our marrow.

Jesus, you never succumbed
to the society around you.
Thank you for showing me
that it is possible to live
a life of tranquility.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bowed Down

The Lord upholds
all who are falling
And raises up
all who are bowed down.

Psalm 145:14

Date notations in my Bible clue me in as to the state of my life at the time. It’s always interesting to cast my mind back to the time period listed. Sometimes I have difficulty even remembering the events that took place but the verse itself gives some indication as to where I was on my spiritual growth chart.

Today’s verse reminds me that several months ago I was flat on my face. The life I had envisioned had disintegrated and I could see only my feet. All day long God heard my plaintive bleats. It didn’t’ feel at the time that I was being upheld or raised up.

But, hindsight is valuable. That fact that I am able to write today is evidence that the Lord does raise up all who are bowed down. The sands that I stumbled through for months have brought me, today, to a wide and spacious place.

It turns out that what appeared to be the end months ago was actually the beginning. The darkness that enveloped me was what ultimately allowed me to see the light. Loss of dreams produced a clean canvas on which God’s vision was painted.

This was not what I saw at the time but in reflecting back I remember early morning hours of prayer. One day passing into the next and discovering that instead of being on my face I was on my knees. And I find that it’s a good place to be. Besides, hopefully, the next time I won’t have very far to “fall.”

Jesus, thank you
for the press of your hand on
my back—leading, guiding.
I want to stay on my knees
in this wide and spacious place

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Real Human

…so Jesus, wearied
as he was from

his journey, was
sitting beside the well.

John 4:6

In Sunday school I learned about the strength, power, and fortitude of Jesus. Amazing stories were told of his conquering Satan’s temptations, healing paralytics, freeing people from the grasp of demons. Because Jesus was God’s Son he was able to accomplish the spectacular.

Many years later I understood the importance of claiming Jesus’ humanness. As a child the power of Jesus drew me in. It was the human nature of Jesus that drew me as an adult. Knowing that Jesus lived life in the flesh, with all the stuff that goes with it, was what made him absolutely real.

There is comfort in the truth that whatever we experience in life Jesus lived as well—at least on the emotional level. Whatever we have suffered emotionally as a result of loss, illness, rejection, fear Jesus, because he was fully human, suffered. New Testament theologians believe that Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus probably died while Jesus was still at home—Jesus even knew what it means to lose a parent.

The pressures of a hectic schedule weren’t foreign to Jesus. People constantly demanding something was almost a daily occurrence. Jesus was surrounded by people who didn’t understand him. Feel alone in a crowd—Jesus knew that emotion as well.

The deity of Jesus is absolutely important to our life as a Jesus follower. But knowing that he was wearied from walking and took time to sit down should be a solace to us in our day to day.

Jesus, thank you for your willingness to be human.
Because you lived life in the real world
I know that it is possible to not
be overwhelmed but to live
as a reflection of you.


Friday, May 2, 2008


Foxes have holes,
and birds of

the air have nests,
but the Son of Man
has nowhere to
lay his head.

Matthew 8:20

During the three years that I lived without a house to call my own I discovered that owning one’s house is a privilege, not a right. The majority of the world doesn’t own the walls that protect and surround them. Frequently I would complain about my rental digs believing that I was rootless without a house to call my home or the “valuables” that, I believed, defined me.

Then we relocated and I was thrilled when we purchased a house. Those “valuables” however that I thought would make it a home remained in storage for another six months! While sitting on a folding chair eating dinner at a makeshift plywood table my awareness of the significance of my situation dawned on me. My focus had been on not having a place to live rather than on how God wanted me to live.

When the Jewish scribe pledges his loyalty to Jesus, Jesus is quick to tell him what he’ll do without. Basically, following Jesus means not worrying about where one is going to sleep at night. The animals have it cushier than the Jesus follower!

Living life with Jesus could mean giving up many of the things we hold “valuable." But, I have found that I am wealthier when I ask, “How do you want me to live” every time a “valuable” has been taken away.

I presently live in a house, but, the reality is that wherever God takes me is where I call home.

Jesus, thank you for being
patient with me as you teach me
the difficult lesson of
of learning how to live

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Unexpected Requests

And a woman
named Martha
welcomed him

into her house.

Luke 10:38b

Years ago a well known theologian came as a “theologian in residence” to our church. For the next couple of weeks my husband and I were his chauffeurs. He was also a welcomed guest in our home. One morning when I picked him up at his hotel he asked me if I had a washing machine. “Why yes!” I said. “Well would you do this load of wash for me?” was his reply.

When Martha invites Jesus over she probably didn’t have any specific expectations in mind. Like any considerate host she spent careful thought as to the meal she would serve, fully anticipating that after all the preparation she would enjoy an evening in the presence of Jesus. Instead she discovers that she is alone in the kitchen. It wasn’t at all what she had expected when she welcomed him into her house.

For many of us the idea of being hospitable is too fraught with unknowns, so we just don’t do it. We allow the uncertainty of conversation, the meal, the size of our home to become hurdles and instead of making a flying leap over them we simply refuse to run.

Washing the clothes of a respected theologian was not my idea of being a good host, but, my view on hospitality changed that day. I discovered that hospitality isn’t just opening up your home with the right food served on the perfect china. Hospitality also requires an opening of one’s life to the unexpected requests that God brings to your door.

Lord, help me to open my home and my heart
to the life changing, unexpected requests
you bring to me.