Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Handled Carefully

Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,
but dill is beaten out with a stick,
and cumin with a rod.

Isaiah 28:27

Dill is a delicate herb of fibrous branches and yet wispy, thread thin leaves. It’s a marvelous accompaniment with salmon but its preparation requires a tender touch. A tenderizing meat mallet would crush it beyond use. It takes time, but a gentle pull from a forefinger and thumb works best. Cumin seed, on the other hand, requires the mortar and pestle that’s kept on the counter of my kitchen--different herbs require different tools.

Have you ever sat in a public place and seen just how different everyone is made? While we may have been told that someone saw our doppelganger it remains that even twins have distinct differences.

Our God is tremendously creative and his creative genius extends to how he responds to his creation. The only constant sameness is the love he has for each of us. But, how he works in our lives is as varied as the dill and cumin seed.

The wisdom of God is like the wisdom of the farmer in Isaiah. The farmer knows what to plant and how to harvest it. God knows, too, exactly what to do in the life of his created one in order to get the result he desires. Because each of us is unique there is no one way for God to work. Sometimes we may be the delicate dill and at other times we may be as tough as the cumin seed. Different times will require different tools. In God’s wisdom he will know what is best.

Father God, whether I feel like
I am being crushed or plucked
I trust that whatever You are allowing
in my life will produce the end result you desire.

Monday, March 30, 2009

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 thought carefully about 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.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Reading Letters

Your very lives are a letter that
anyone can read by just looking at you.

2 Corinthians 3:3 (The Message)

There is a definite downside to our contemporary culture and that is the loss of the handwritten letter. With e-mail our thoughts become shortened and less, well, thoughtful. It’s a quick medium demanding an instantly quick response. There is little that we would want to read over and over again. I cherish the thick 35 year old letter that is tucked away in my heirloom box with my Dad’s signature. I have read it more than once.

Reading is essential to learning and so the communicated word becomes vital to our growth. We are “read” by whoever we encounter through the day. Our actions, our words, our responses all communicate who we are and what we’re feeling.

Residents of the world can read a hundred books on the life of Jesus but the most impressive will be reading a life that lives for Jesus. How we allow Christ to write on our lives will ultimately communicate how important he is in our lives. It’s a letter that will be read over and over again by friends, family, co-workers, anyone. It’s sobering and deeply convicting.

Each day our lives should be a visible letter that bears the signature of Jesus.

Jesus, write Yourself on my life.
Help me to live each day with the
thought that I am being read and in
the reading people are learning about You.

In honor of a very dear friend who recently reminded me of this particular verse. Thank you.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thomas Merton on Forgiveness

If the unity of Christians in One Body makes the Church a sign of God in the world, and if men tend unfortunately to conflict and division by reason of their weakness, selfishness and sin, then the will to reconciliation and pardon is necessary if the Church is to make God visible in the world. Nor can this pardon, this communion in forgiveness, remain interior and invisible. It must be clearly manifest. So the mystery of the Church demands that Christians love one another in a visible and concrete way...Christ will not be visible to the world in His Church except in proportion as Christians seek peace and unity with one another and with all men. But since conflict is inevitable, unity cannot be maintained except in great difficulty, with constantly renewed sacrifice, with lucid honety, openness, humility, the readiness to ask forgiveness and to forgive.

Thomas Merton, Seasons of Celebration

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Food for Thought

A Christian is one who points at Christ and says, "I can't prove a thing, but there's something about His eyes and his voice. There's something about the way He carries His head, His hands, the way He carries His cross--the way He carries me."

Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shifting Paradigms

But new wine is put into fresh wineskins,
and so both are preserved.

Matthew 9:17b

After 146 years the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its last paper on March 17. Seattle may be the first city in the 50 states to move forward without a daily. Newspapers seemed like they were an indestructible institution. But this is a new world where perpetual change is a constant making the “way it used to be” obsolete.

As the water of the Jordan dripped from Jesus a paradigm shifted. The religious order almost immediately began experiencing the uncomfortable sensation of change. Rituals and structure began to crumble under Jesus’ words, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” They found themselves flailing about as the religious “plates” shifted and they were unceremoniously dumped into the unfamiliar. Jesus was bringing a new paradigm, a new way to live.

Of course, the religious order thought that they had taken care of things when they manipulated Rome into doing their dirty work. In their minds getting rid of Jesus would bring the “plates” back in line but the movement was continuing.

With statistics telling us that 70% of college students walk away from their faith and church attendance is dwindling it might be time as Jesus followers to get busy. If we want the new wine of Jesus to influence our present world we need to start making some new wineskins. It begins with letting go of the way it used to be because the world isn’t the way it used to be.

Jesus, you transcend time,
cultures and centuries.
Help us to be paradigm shifters, showing You
to the world in a new way.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Courageously Strong

Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened…For the Lord your God
is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9b

Moses never saw the land God had promised. He knew about it, however, a series of events denied him entry. Knowing that he would never live a settled life as a result of the choices he had made, he continued to lead the Israelites through the desert, faithful to God’s call on his life.

Joshua was given the monumental responsibility of crossing the Jordan to begin living the life God intended. But before he completes the journey God has a few more promises with provisos—I will not leave you—Be strong and courageous. Four times in the first chapter of Joshua God focuses on the characteristics of strength and courage.

It has taken strength and courage to get to the point where Joshua is presently standing--the threshold of his future. And while it is evident that God has been with the Israelites continually and he promises the same for the future, God emphasizes that continuing to be strong and courageous will be essential to living in the land.

Much of our Christian life is focused on claiming the promise of God’s presence. It’s true--God is with you. However, God asks something in return which demands action on your part—living in the land courageously strong.God fought for the people of Israel as a result of their strength and courage. When they sat back waiting or whining disaster struck. God wants to fight for you. Are you willing to live with strength and courage?

Jesus, thank you for your continual presence with me.
You never promised an easy life,
only that you will always be around.
Help me to live with strength and courage
as a response to your promise.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Slow Down, Grow Still

Be still, and know that I am God!

Psalm 46;10

Slow down, grow still. But how? There are pets and children, mail and friends, jobs and chores, aging parents and spouses, enemies and neighbors, and so forth. Imagine if we really wanted to stop, slow down, grow still, and take a long walk with God.

We need air, but mostly we are just so committed to doing all that needs to be done that even breathing is an interruption. We want to step out of the traffic. We want to get away. We want to know God. We know getting distance from the issues and the persons crowding us will improve our perception.

Away from it all, we might hear our name and remember again our life's purpose. We get that--but how do we do that? How do we stay away when the pressure to stay engaged, to do, to take on yet another duty, is so intense and unrelenting?

Lord, guide me so that I will live according to your will.
William L. Mangrum, These Days

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Plenty of Room

…Samuel, a boy dressed in a priestly linen tunic,
served God.

I Samuel 2:18

“Get out your cell phones,” yelled the 30-something tattoed minister “and text the number of one of our seven Easter services you’ll be attending.” Immediately a pie graph appeared on the jumbotron letting everyone know that over 50% of those present would be at the same service come Easter morning. I’ll never understand the mechanisms necessary to instantly calculate all those text messages. I wondered how many members of the congregation my husband pastor’s even know how to send a text message! We’ll praise God for whoever He brings come Easter!

Ministering has become complex in this age of podcasting, facebooking and web paging. Amongst ministers and church members a single question prevails, “How large is your congregation?” Small is considered unsuccessful while bigger indicates “something is happening.” And yet, not a day goes by where the media isn’t reporting on the collapse of something big.

And then these few words of reminder - great things, big things can come in small packages. Age or size didn’t matter with Samuel. God had chosen him to be the priest of His people. It’s an oxymoron “boy” and “priestly.” By all reasoning they don’t go together. But the message is clear, whoever you are, whatever you do, no matter your size God can and wants to use you in His kingdom.

As I streamed out with hundreds of worshipers I thanked God for using the tattooed, jumbotron church. But, I was also thankful that there is room in the kingdom for people who don’t know how to text message!

Thank you, God, for making
room in your kingdom with no discrimination.

Image--Samuel Brought into the House of the Lord, stained glass, late 14th century

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Food for Thought

It is a sin against the Holy Spirit stubbornly to refuse to learn from other people who know about life in today's world. We can ask them for a drink, as Jesus did at the well in Samaria: he did not hesitate to listen to the Samaritan woman (when His own people would have nothing to do with her people).

We have a message for the world; but we need the world too. Without understanding the world we have no relevant language in which to share that message. Moreover, the world helps us understand ourselves better, especially our need to be open to the newness of the Gospel.Italic

Adapted from Jean Francois Six

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Here is a portion from the Inward Journey by Gene Edwards.

I have observed through the years that most Christians have little understanding of the word 'season'. Our Lord is a seasonal God; He comes, He departs. his faithfulness never changes, but His seasons do! There are seasons when the tree is green, there are seasons when it is dry, and seasons when, for the life of us, the thing looks dead. Now, does this mean you are serving some capricious God who comes and goes by whim? Or, could it be, that it is only through 'seasons' that true growth may come?Paul said, 'Does not nature teach us?'

Fruit from a tree comes to us as a result of three or four seasons. The Christian and the Lord's body both need rain and sunshine, cold and hot, wind and doldrums.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Forgiveness DNA

...as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:13b

Carly never knew how her sister was going to treat her when she came to visit. There were visits when there seemed to be a flicker of hope, but, then it would be snuffed with harsh words, condescension, insults, rebuke. The cycle has repeated itself over and over again for years–emotional injuries and the necessity of forgiveness.

Jesus addressed the need for forgiveness, even at his death, Father, forgive them (Luke 23:34). Forgiveness is an absolute when it comes to following Jesus. He sets the bar of willingness to forgive. Jesus didn’t hold close the repeated hurts, rejection, betrayal that were hurdled towards him. Even knowing the outcome, he kept Judas on as a disciple, never wavered with Peter, and had compassion for the uppity desires of James and John. Forgiveness was a part of Jesus’ DNA.

If Jesus forgave so freely, why do we find forgiveness so difficult? Admitting that our own actions, choices, responses need forgiveness requires that we look inward. Upon discovering that our emotional DNA is lacking we discover we don’t like what we see. Forgiving the individual who has caused so much hurt is to acknowledge that, in the eyes of Jesus, we are exactly the same. To forgive is to acknowledge our need for forgiveness.

Forgiving the person in one's life who repeatedly inflicts hurts isn't easy. But in forgiving we begin to understand the freely given Jesus forgiveness we receive.

Jesus, thank you for instinctively forgiving me.
I need a forgiving "second" nature. I’ve been hurt
but help me to be like You, not holding on but forgiving
in the same way I have been forgiven.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Faith Seed

The apostles said to the Lord,"Increase our faith!"

Luke 17:5

It’s evident that our culture believes that bigger is better. From houses to toilet paper "mega" is the operative word. Consequently, seeing the minuscule becomes a challenge when surrounded by the gargantuan. And yet, we’re surrounded by tiny bits, with humble beginnings, that become "mega" important–a drop of water for a start.

Apparently the disciples figured that bigger was better when it came to faith. In the days and weeks of following Jesus they had obviously picked up on the fact that their "new life" was going to require something more. Especially when prior to this verse Jesus tells them that "temptations to sin are sure to come." They beg Jesus–Increase our faith–bigger is better!

Faith doesn’t have to be big to be worthwhile. In fact, faith changes size in the process of following Jesus. No one begins with faith the size of a California redwood. It’s beginnings are always minuscule but no less effective. As faith is cared for and nurtured through prayer, Bible study, silence and Christian community it’s size and shape alters. Along the way, difficulties, disappointments, discouragements, if embraced, water the tiny faith seed. And while you may feel at times like your faith isn’t big enough to get you through, it hasn’t stopped growing.

Bigger isn’t always better. Flooding is a result of too much rain, too quickly, causing destruction. However, the steady fall of raindrops can fill a reservoir, providing for the future. Faith, when attended to, will be just the right size when you need it.

Jesus, You said that faith the size of a mustard seed
is where I can begin. Help me care for my faith seed
as consistently as I care for all the other things
that are important to me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Open Hand Giving

...as he was reclining at table,
a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment
of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask
and poured it over his head.

Mark 14:3b

Even with the most loved family member there is usually a budget when it comes to gift giving. Hours are spent to find just the right gift within our financial means. Perhaps, while searching, frustration comes to play when wishing that the roof was the limit instead of one’s wallet! Nevertheless, there is a restraint to our generosity. After all, the mortgage is due next month.

The woman who anoints Jesus at Bethany shows no such restraint. She blows the roof off with her gift! Whether the ointment was specifically purchased or was in her closet, she gives a gift that puts a strain on her financial resources. In her mind, Jesus deserved the very best, even if the cost was future stability.

For most of us we have a firm grasp on a variety of things we consider "valuable." Perhaps a monetary value cannot be determined, but, whatever they are it’s certain that losing or giving them away would be painful.

Jesus, didn’t ask for the woman’s gift. She gave it willingly and generously. And while this passage illustrates the preparation for Jesus’ burial this woman also gives us another example. Her action should prompt us to ask, “How generous am I willing to be in response to my loving Jesus?”

From jobs, to homes, to wanting to be married, to children, to spouses, to retirement accounts--whatever it maybe that you hold as valuable are you willing to pour it generously over the head of Jesus? In Mark this woman is nameless but her generous example has endured.

Jesus, I love you with all my heart, soul and mind.
And while I want to give generously to You I struggle.
Help me to remember the woman from Bethany
each time my fingers curl around that which I hold dear.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Safe vs. Misfits

...'the next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your
friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people
who will return the favor.
Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits
from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be–and experience–a blessing.

Luke 14:12-13 (The Message)

It’s comfortable living in a religious bubble, socially. Within its confines everyone "fits" theologically with people that "look" familiar in an environment that "feels" good. Settling into this cozy spiritual cocoon one is tempted to believe that all that is needed is provided. And above all, one feels "safe". There is no one to disrupt this comfortable spiritual existence.

It is a luxury to be able to choose "safe", like-minded friends. My own social religious bubble popped while living in a small, alternative life-style community several years ago. Very few people "looked" like me! Frantically casting about for someone who "fit" I found myself empty handed. Then I began to open myself to the "misfits" that lived in our community. Friends became individuals that absolutely would not have crossed my path if we had been living in a more populated area. My life, however, was richer for their "misfit" involvement.

Jesus didn’t seek out "safe" people. He intentionally looked for the "misfits" in the community. While others attempted to blow a protective religious bubble around him, he’d burst it every time. Jesus wanted to talk, eat, socialize with the people who didn’t "fit." What difference would he have made if he had stuck with people who thought like him?

For every time you invite a "safe" friend over think about the "misfit", the individual who doesn’t "fit" you that could be invited as well. You’ll be–and experience–a blessing.

Jesus, I want to live like You lived, outside the bubble.
Help me to stop looking at who "fits" with me, looking instead for unexpected friends.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Healthy Fear

Moses said to the people, "Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you,
that you may not sin.

Exodus 20:20

Adventurers understand the difference between "fear" and the "fear of" something. When a new rock climber begins initially climbing it is necessary to overcome one’s fear about heights, falling, and climbing in general. Caving into one’s "fear" means staying on the bottom and missing the spectacular view. And while the wobbly stomach at each ascent may or may not go away, a healthy "fear of" the rock, its impenetrableness, and the resulting possibilities should that "fear of" be taken for granted, should be constant. This "fear of" is what will help you reach the summit.

Too often our lives are controlled by fear and those fears prevent us from moving out and living the life that God intended. We figure if we keep things in control and obey the teachings of Jesus our life will be smooth. But then, events take shape and we find ourselves smack in the middle of a crisis and fear rears its head. We’re fearful that we haven’t lived right, prayed consistently, or perhaps talked to enough people about Jesus.

God never intended for us to live life with fear. The moment we made a decision to grab His hand a holy adventure began. Fearing the guaranteed highs and lows of this holy adventure prevents us from fully living a life with Jesus. But, to have a "fear of" the One whose hand you’re holding is to know that joy and sorrow will be a part of this adventure and that nothing can prevent you from reaching the summit of God’s plan.

Jesus, forgive me forthe fears that hold me.
I acknowledge that they preventme from fully
living life with You.
Help me, live in fear of You believing that whatever
You allow to come my way will
help get me to Your summit.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thoughts on Prayer

I will pray with my spirit,
But I will pray with my mind also…

I Corinthians 14:15b

Jesus did not live out his life quietly. Even as an adolescent he was not intimidated by the religious scholars but was confident in who he was and what he knew. From his baptism to the wedding at Cana to the feeding of the thousands the list goes on how Jesus lived his life publicly and noisily. The gospel of Mark repeatedly tells us that "crowds" followed Jesus continually. That certainly isn't a picture of quiet.

We live in a "politically correct" age and given this context I find myself too often following Jesus "quietly." To daily look at each encounter with an individual as an opportunity to speak "Jesus" is a challenge. What I'm realizing, however, is that while I may not have the courage to yell, "Jesus!" while walking down the street I can speak Jesus into the life of each person I meet. It means a very conscious awareness on my part. Each waiter, clerk, telephone order taker, doctor, mortgage broker, window washer becomes an opportunity to not be quiet about Jesus.

How we speak Jesus daily will look different with each encounter. But what I am struck with is the truth that I can do something that takes no time from the other person. I can pray. If I believe that God created everyone then each person I meet is an image of God. They may not know it, but the fact is I do and my responsibility as a Jesus follower is to speak Jesus to them in whatever way possible.Whether "quietly" or out loud the simplest way to speak is prayer.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bad Made Good

...and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab,
and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

Matthew 1:5-6

Living on the fringes of her community, Rahab was the despised woman of the night. An outsider at every level, Rahab’s future looked exactly like her present, hopeless. She didn’t "owe" her community anything given that they had invested nothing to her existence. What was there to lose from a life that had nothing? Her life, however, gains significance when Joshua’s men knock at her door.

She surely thought that the two were yet more customers coming to satisfy themselves. There was never any indication that by opening the door to them her life position would change forever. And yet, as we discover in Joshua chapter two, when she made the decision to open the door to what she assumed was another "taker" of her wares her future was completely altered.

Rahab’s life is the promise that God can, will and does make something good out of something bad. Of course, she had no idea that meeting Joshua’s men was the beginning of her good future. When they came to her door she responded with business as usual, after all life wasn’t fair and had dealt her a very bad hand.

God, on the other hand, took what was seemingly irredeemable and shaped it into good. Despite her bottom rung existence Rahab shows remarkable strength and hundreds of years later we see her name on the royal family tree. A woman, whose life was nothing, becomes a part of the heritage of Jesus, the Redeemer of the world.

Jesus, unable to see any good I find myself settling
into life’s unfairness. Thank you for taking
what I think is hopeless and shaping
it into something good.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


And he said to her,
“Daughter, your faith has made you well,
go in peace.”

Mark 5:34

The Bible means nothing if we can’t live into the stories and connect them to our lives. Weaving throughout Scripture are the real life stories of men and women who have now become our “cloud of witnesses.” Their inner lives are not that far distanced from our own.

What makes these real life stories so compelling are the various approaches that one can take. The hemorrhaging woman in Mark is one of those witnesses whose life offers a multitude of insights. Jesus acknowledges that she is a woman of faith and we marvel at her fortitude.

But between the lines of the story is a woman of determination. Even after years of suffering she determined a course of action and followed through with the plan which ultimately brought her to be in the presence of Jesus. That day when she touched Jesus didn’t just happen. If she had stayed in bed that morning her life would never have changed and there would be no reason to record her encounter.

Here is a woman who lived her life that day, intentionally. She wanted to touch Jesus and that meant she had to not think about all the reasons why she “couldn’t” meet Jesus but instead focus on what she hoped would be her healing.

Our own spiritual growth and healing doesn’t just happen. If we want to touch Jesus and be in his presence determining how we’re going to meet him is required as well as following through with the plan, everyday. Staying in bed won’t get us to our goal.

Jesus, forgive me when I allow
my schedule, my emotions, my “life”,
to stop me from getting out of bed
and running to be in your presence

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Heart, Soul and Mind

...when they could not get near him...
they removed the roof above him, and when
they had made an opening,
they let down the bedon which the paralytic lay.

Mark 2:4

It’s a story of friendship, commitment, determination, faith and hope–four committed friends armed with faith and determination making sure that the fifth of their group didn’t give up hope. How they came to the point of hauling their ailing friend to Jesus isn’t recorded because how they got there isn’t nearly as important as what they did when they arrived.

Undeterred by the swarm of people, they tore up a roof getting to Jesus. N.T. Wright says, that while the five friends represent good qualities that should be evident in a Jesus follower, there is another vantage point as well. Through this story we learn what it means to pray without restraints. Less resilient individuals would have turned around when faced with the obstacles these guys encountered. Instead they keep their eyes on the goal and pursue Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind.

Jesus admires their tenacity and the example they have set. Amidst the rubble of their work, they stand before the One who has the power to heal and receive more than they anticipated. Their friend, for whom they interceded, is healed inside and out.

This is what being a Jesus follower is all about–not allowing anything to stand in the way of pursuing being in the presence of Jesus. When we pray with a "tearing off the roof" attitude we are able to stand before Jesus without hindrances. And, when we find ourselves standing with Jesus the unexpected is bound to happen with his outstretched hand.

Jesus, being in Your presence
makes a difference in how I feel.
Forgive me when the stuff of my life
becomes an obstacle in pursuing You
with all my heart, soul and mind.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Are You Prepared?

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than
you can handle on your own.

Ephesians 6:13a (The Message)

Images of disaster flash across the screen with the words, Are you prepared? Disaster kits should be purchased, lists downloaded of essential supplies, storage bins packed with food stuffs and additional medicines. And, of course, one can’t forget the pets, one must be prepared for them as well.

How about being spiritually prepared? Our world is in turmoil due to a battle being fought. A battle of evil attempting to overcome good. In other words, God and Satan are fighting for our lives. For some the mere mention of evil is an opportunity for scoffing. Believing that an evil entity exists is unnerving. And yet, Ephesians reminds us that we are not in a battle against the things that we see but against the stuff that is unseen. That’s scary! So, how can one do battle against the unseen?

Be prepared. God has given us a spiritual can’t do without list. In the beginning God gave the presence of Himself to His people, Jesus then came bringing a new way of living pointing the way to God. At Jesus’ death a Comforter is promised, the Holy Spirit, who comes and continues the work of God the Father and Son. God has everything in hand. Aah, we can relax!

No! You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Just "believing" in God won’t help in the battle. Knowing God, intimately, provides the essentials (read Ephesians 6:10-18). This kind of intimacy requires one’s personal time–lots of it. But the resulting spiritual preparedness will win the inevitable skirmishes.

Jesus, thank you for being beside me in this unseen battle.
Open my spirit, my eyes, my heart to Your presence.
I want to take the time needed to know you intimately.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Don't Quit

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Hebrews 10:39

The summer heat tried to beat the life out of Gabriela Andersen-Schiess of Switzerland. Having run 26 miles in the 1984 Olympics she fell 400 meters short of the finish line. There was certainty among those watching the runners navigate their way into the Los Angeles Coliseum that Gabriela’s race was over. To the stunned crowd, however, Gabriela proved that she was made of tougher stuff. Crawling forward, waving away all attempts to help her, Gabriela crossed the finish line. There were six runners who had quit the race long before.

Jesus was made of tougher stuff. From the beginning, when the Holy Spirit drives him out to the desert, Jesus demonstrates what it means to not shrink back. At every turn the religious order "heat" was continually turning up the temperature in its attempts to beat him down. Even at the point of his falling under the burden of his destruction he continues to the finish.

If we are following Jesus, we also will feel the intensity of religious "heat." Throughout our spiritual race there will be those who question our commitment to Biblical truth and along with hardships and adversities we'll find ourselves doing a face plant. It will be at these times that all we can do is to keep crawling forward.

Being prepared for these moments is essential. Jesus lived a life that proved finishing is possible. Moving forward, even on our hands and knees, will ultimately give us life. By shrinking back, quitting short of the finish line, will we only find that we have lost.

Jesus, your life proves that hardships are a part of living.
Thank you for never shrinking back from the finish.
Help me, no matter the position,
to keep moving forward to life with You.