Friday, July 31, 2009

Crash Landing

Once, while standing at a congested Los Angeles intersection, to my right came a buzzing noise and then a voice entered my consciousness--"Lady, it may have sounded like we crashed landed, but the engine is still running, the engine is still running." The light having turned green, I quickly moved on, leaving the speaker and his grocery cart of possessions in my wake.

It wasn't the first time that some outrageous comment had been uttered within my hearing but what has stuck with me is that the comment may not have been that "crazy" after all. As I hurried down the street it suddenly occurred to me that, when reading the news or listening to world events, we may think that it "sounds" like we, as a creation, have crashed landed. All the evidence is there--war, famine, unrest, genocide, land destruction.

But, if I believe that God is in control, that makes the Engine still running. As Jesus followers we cannot buy a ticket to the End Times Revue and then scramble for a front row seat to watch the destruction. If the Engine is still running our work is not over and we have a responsibility to be a part of repairing what has been destroyed or broken.

When God says we won't know when He will return, we might want to take him at his word. We will be surprised. God calls us to be diligent workers to the very end. Jesus instructs us, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of people." The Holy Spirit points us in the right direction.

Since hearing the street person's wisdom I have had to ask myself--If the engine is still running what am I doing to help restore what God created?How am I reaching out to broken hearts and giving them the promise, "it may feel like you've crashed landed, but God is in control, Jesus loves you and the Holy Spirit is with you because, you see, the Engine is still running."

Is my heart and spirit open each day to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding and directing me? I pray that it is because, it may sound like we've crashed landed, but praise the Lord, the Engine is still running!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

God in the Ordinary

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

Keeping alert to God's involvement in our lives isn't always easy when difficulty comes or even when the good happens. Numerous times I have heard people say, "If God is good, how could he let this horrible event happen." And, it makes me wonder how many times they acknowledged God for the good things or did they simply take those for granted. God takes alot of blame for the the world's atrocities.

Today I want to acknowledge God's involvement in the ordinary. For several weeks my daughter and I had planned a "get-outta-town" weekend. We made the reservations, downloaded the directions, filled the car with gas, had our water bottles, music, packed our bags for two nights. Everything was in order as we began our four hour drive through God's beautiful empty country of the southwest. And then our car completely died, two miles outside of our destination. That was when God had fun!

God's first angel was the tow truck driver and his beautiful girlfriend who quickly wenched our car up on the flatbed and began the drive to the dealership. It was already 3 o'clock in the afternoon, traffic was heavy and, of course, the service department at the dealership was closing down--for the weekend. Monday would be the day of analyzing our car's woes.

Okay, so, we were in our destination city but how were we to get to the hotel? Wandering around the showroom was God's second angel, Kai, who offered to take a break and drive us uptown. In the car God blessed us with Kai's story and how he wanted to live up to his last name, Evangelista, and he believed God was calling him to ministry at some point in his life. He and his wife had plans, doors were opening, he was being patient. In response to my attempts to give him gas money, "No! All I did was what the Lord wanted me to do."

So, we added another night to our trip and thoroughly enjoyed the food, the sites, the Spanish market--all within walking distance of our hotel.

Monday arrived with a call from Erik, God's third angel, with the news that a new fuel pump was required but wouldn't arrive until Tuesday. We added another night to our hotel bill. It wasn't what either my daughter or I wanted to hear and by this time the charge on my cell phone was quickly disappearing (I didn't bring my charger because we were "only going to be gone two days") and wasn't helped by the fact that I had dropped it in the melted ice of the ice bucket that morning! Another angel suggested we go to the Verizon store which just happened to be a bus ride away and the bus stop was directly across the street from where we were staying.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

With the phone recharged and a bus ride back we walked to what ended up being our favorite lunch but I didn't hear my cell phone ring until we were finished and we were back on the street at 2:30. A message from Erik--our car was ready! How did that happen? Well, says Erik, I figured you didn't need another charge on your hotel bill so I called around, found the part and we got it done! Thank you, Erik!

Rushing back to the hotel, where our story had apparently made the rounds, the manager voided our Monday night reservation even though we were beyond the cancellation allowance--"let her get back home!" Trooping across the street loaded with bags and my new broad rimmed (my daughter calls it my sombrero hat) straw hat we again boarded the bus for our journey to the farthest point south that we could get. Having landed in a mall parking lot we made our way into the cool of the indoors and walked in what we thought was the right direction, laughing at how we must look to the other shoppers, especially when I set my bags down in the middle of the mall to look at a map to double check the name of the street we needed. Three different people helped us get going in the right direction and we, laughing all the way because of how odd we looked and how incredible the whole experience had been, finally arrived back at the dealership. Erik had our car ready with a reduced "payment due" balance from the estimate he initially gave--"I worked on getting it lower for you."

We were back on the road by 4:00 and home by 8:30. All the way we pointed and gasped at all the desolate places we could have found ourselves, literally in the middle of no where. All the way, we thanked God for delighting in us and although it ended up being a far more expensive weekend than anticipated, we acknowledged how, within the ordinary, God provided people, his creation, to help. It didn't take any effort to see His hand.

I pray this will encourage you to look for God's involvement in your life in the most ordinary of events. You will be surprised. Don't take anything for granted!

Monday, July 27, 2009


What began as a "simple" weekend away ended up being a review lesson on God's care and goodness for my daughter and myself. I have just walked in the door Monday evening when I was supposed to return Sunday evening so, that gives you a little introduction as to what you'll be reading on Wednesday!

Be sure to check in on Wednesday. As my daughter said in the midst of our weekend adventure, "Well, this is sure to end up in a blog!"


Friday, July 24, 2009

Pray Blessings

We are called to bless even our enemies. How much more should we pray a blessing on others in the Body of Christ! Especially those we disagree with, or who hold a different view from our own.

If we ask a blessing on them, it is up to God to decide what He can and cannot bless in what they are and what they are doing.

We are not asked to understand each other first. If there are some elements in the church who really aggravate us it may be more useful to pray a blessing on them than to interact in a critical spirit. As we pray we begin to realize just how much God cares about them.

Celtic Prayer Book of Northumbria

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Church

In case you haven't noticed "church" has changed. When I was a little girl Sundays were an all day affair in my family. Beginning at our arrival for worship at 8:30, we were usually one of the last families to leave, only to return again that evening. In the between hours my parents took a nap and I counted the minutes until we reconvened with our church family.

My daughter being a "preacher's kid" has, of course, very different memories but they don't consist of Bible "Sword" drills, memorizing quantities of Bible verses, long sermons, altar calls, lengthy baptisms. She would probably tell you that her memories include waiting. . .waiting for her father to lock up the church, waiting for her mother to put away the music, waiting while we both cleaned up the pews, waiting outside a hospital room. Her world, her generation is very different than my own and yet I have discovered that some where along the line my world has radically changed as well and, as far as "church" goes, well, as the world has changed so has "church."

Being in the "ministry" business means somehow connecting these two tilting worlds. Stopping by a friend's office recently he described the transition in the "church" as watching a death and a birth at the same time. Now, in certain regions of the country I realize that there remain vestiges of what I experienced and remember "church" to be. But, personally, I haven't been involved in that type of community in a long, long time.

Instead, in the congregations we have ministered with we are constantly facing the conflict between someone's memories of "what it used to be like" and the reality of what the world is today. As the world changes ever more rapidly, so the Christian's response has to alter. How we did "church" thirty, forty, fifty years ago, even ten years ago isn't how "church" can be done today.

It's difficult to accept any change. I know one man who seems to be angry that he has gotten older and so is determined to keep "my church" exactly the way he remembers. I haven't once heard him refer to "my church" as God's church or a church that needs to reach out beyond its wall to the surrounding community. Every complaint, every negative comment, every demand is couched in the language of "my church." His grown children abandoned church long ago because "my church" isn't relevant to them.

How do we keep moving forward? Jesus was undetered by the Pharisees. Particularly in the gospel of Mark we see him moving, going to the next town, next mountain, next desert, preaching the Good News gospel wherever he went. He refused to be bound by "my church" rules even though the Pharisees made copious attempts to tether him.

I often wonder what Jesus would do if he walked into any of our churches today. Would he see that his death on the cross made a difference in how we did "church" or would the conflicts over the order of worship, worship tapestries hanging in the sanctuary, hymns versus praise songs, how communion is served, budgets, women's "ministries", etc. make him want to get out the Temple's whip and drive us all out. Or, if these conflicts aren't enough how about if he stood and listened to our words or read our e-mails about how "my church" isn't the way "I" want it to be.

This may be all more than you are experiencing. But, the truth is, ask someone under the age of thirty if they are going to church. More than likely you'll receive a blank stare and then the question, "Why should I?" If they are, great, and be sure to find out what is happening in their congregation because they are a rarity. The statistics are that 70% of college students walk away from their faith and few of them are returning.

Everything is looking different and "my church" doesn't belong in this day and age. I'm sorry. We ARE the Church not because we sit in a building but because we are called to be outside of the building being Christ's hands, feet, mouth--touching, walking, talking to everyone we meet about the love of Jesus Christ. We have to go find the world. We can't afford to sit around in "my church" waiting for the world to find us.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

God's Mirror

And no creature is hidden from his sight,
but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:13

At our first introduction, I was struck with the careful attention “Gayle” had obviously taken with her appearance. She had cultivated an image of control and compact togetherness. It was rather impressive until the day I saw her when she hadn’t gotten her way. Nothing of the well honed outward appearance was visible, only raw anger, shaded by hatred. Her inward life was colliding with the cultivated one.

No matter what measures we take making our physical appearance impressive, ultimately if more attention hasn’t been given to the life of our heart and soul there will be an eruption. Nothing can remain hidden forever.

It is humbling to stand naked before a mirror with every imperfection in view. We can clothe ourselves to make ourselves “look” better but the flaws still exist. Hiding our inner self is even more difficult. Its true identity will make itself known when we least want it to appear. If “Gayle” had seen her face that day she probably would have been shocked. In fact, she probably instinctively knew that her true self had been revealed, because when I saw her several months later she refused to look at me.

How we look on the inside is what we will be held accountable for. The fact is that all our volunteer hours, humanitarian efforts, church involvement won’t amount to anything if our inside erupts because we have refused to look at ourselves in God’s mirror.

Jesus, forgive me for focusing on my outside appearance
when you are looking only at my heart.
Help me to be willing to look in your mirror.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Riding the Enterprise

As for me, I am poor and needy,
But the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer, do not delay, O my God!

Psalm 40:17

It’s the diversity of the psalms that I like best. They shine a spotlight on the rise and fall of human emotion clearly and effectively. As a little girl I memorized Psalm 23 which, as psalms go, is very consistent. It provided comfort in its consistency, because that is what I needed. Growing years brought new awareness into my well being and consistency wasn’t part of it. Instead, I was a crew member on the Starship Enterprise—I never really knew where I was going to land.

The whole of Psalm 40 is wonderful, but recently, the spotlight bounced off verse 17. The psalm shifts back and forth - a recognition that within a short period of time we can feel down, then up, make a turn for the better, then feel desperate. I find comfort in this verse for its truth, because even as I write, I have to admit that the psalmist has perfectly described my Enterprise ride for today.

It’s on the center of the verse that I rest. God doesn’t just have a thought “of” me when I am feeling poor and needy. No, instead, here is the voice that echoes in Jeremiah 29:11. The Lord takes thought “for” me. There is a plan, a purpose, a working out “for” my life which works in concert with the poor and needy side.

The psalms are good reminders that our up and down lives aren’t that unusual and in the middle of it all is our Help and our Deliverer.

Jesus, there isn’t much more to say.
You are my help. You are my deliverer.
But, if, at all possible, you could help me sooner,
rather than later I would appreciate it!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Expect the Unexpected

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross…
Luke 23:26

Whipping into a parking space I hurried toward my destination. This was a quick errand. Crossing my path stepped a well dressed stranger. Making a move around her a question stopped me abruptly, “Would you pray for me?” Impatiently listening to her story I promised to “keep her in my prayers.” Allowing my “schedule” to take precedent over her unexpected request I didn’t pray for her in the moment.

When Simon of Cyrene left his home early one morning he never anticipated that by the end of the day an unexpected request would seal his name in Christian history. A trip to Jerusalem had probably been planned for several months. He had made all the appropriate arrangements for his absence and was probably looking forward to the special events planned for the week. But, when he entered the gates he was caught in a hive of hostility with hands grabbing at his clothes and unexpectedly an immense weight was transferred from a condemned man to Simon’s shoulders. It was an unexpected request that would live with him the rest of his life.

Walking away from my “would you pray for me” request I was ashamed by my inaction. My scheduled day had excluded any possibility of a Holy Spirit interaction. I missed an opportunity to nourish a hungry heart. God, in His redemption, offered me another opportunity a few years later. Standing amidst a swarm of people an unexpected request came again. This time I responded immediately and haven’t been the same since.

Jesus, thank you for the gift of a new day.
With the rising of the sun You offer a “do over.”
Help me to schedule my day to allow for, as well as anticipate,
Holy Spirit moments.
Photo by Kara Wright

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friendly Wounds

And if one asks him, “What are these wounds on your back?” he will say,“The wounds I received in the house of my friends.”

Zechariah 13:6
Privilege and luxury were Malika’s daily life as the adopted daughter of the king. As companion to the princess she was afforded the rights of the monarchy. Besides missing life with her birth family there wasn’t any reason to believe that her opulent life would change. However, a failed coup by her birth father, the king’s general, tilted her world, dumping her into prison along with her mother and five siblings. The king, whom she had considered a second father, became her jailer for the next twenty years.

Betrayal and injury by friends or family is perhaps the most difficult wound from which to heal. There exists a vulnerable factor. Here are people who know you and have seemingly used that knowledge as a weapon. There seems to be no point of return. Forgiveness is improbable.

While in the vortex of emotional pain, thinking about forgiveness seems impossible and humanly speaking it is. Left to our own devices we’re tempted to keep the wound fresh, opening ourselves to further infection. In our inability to forgive, the life of Jesus and his own friendly wounds can become our inspiration. The gift of Jesus’ humanity gives us a “how to forgive” guide when it comes to being wounded by those who know us best.

With the help of His Father, Jesus accepted his friendly wounds as indications that the one who was wounding had a greater need--His Father’s love. Accepting our friendly wounds with the Jesus spirit we, too, will discover that living in the kingdom means opening the gift of forgiveness.

Jesus, thank you for the gift of your humanity.
Your willingness to be born into this world of hurt shows me
that I am not alone.But your life also opens the way to a life of forgiveness.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Other Side

You see antagonists everywhere; they are rebellious, loose-lipped,
and deceitful. . .Their talk must be squashed. . .

Titus 1:10-11a (The Voice New Testament)

When I read this verse from Titus I get closer to understanding why people are leaving the Church. . .in droves. Within the Church conflicts abound, rebellious attitudes dominate and too many loose-lipped members have reduced the average stay of a pastor to 18 months. That may seem unbelievable but take note of the recent resignation of the senior pastor of the Riverside Church in New York. He lasted nine months all because of a few antagonists, rebellious, loose-lipped and deceitful members.

Recently an e-mail popped up on my computer screen at church from a ministerial group in our town addressing the issue of gossip. Apparently a few loose-lipped "Christians" were dishing one of our local churches claiming that a church split was imminent. The best part about the e-mail was the fact that they were actively attempting to squash the gossip. Having gone to the pastor involved and heard the issues, they discovered the deceit.

Now, none of this is particularly new to me, which, in a sense is sad. My church as a young girl also had a few loose-lipped, deceitful individuals who decided to write letters to a select few claiming our pastor was having an affair. As a ten year old, the image of my pastor standing with his wife at the front of the church, professing his faithfulness to the love of his life, has been deeply imprinted on my psyche.

Still, I stayed faithful to the "Church", married a man who felt "called" to minister and as a result jumped into the fray. We've lived all over the country, worked in a number of different churches and talked with lots of pastors and their spouses. Everywhere it is the same--antagonistic, rebellious, loose-lipped, deceitful "Christians" causing disturbances within congregations. Unfortunately their actions are all too obvious to the world.

If we want to speak Jesus into the world today, to be good yeast, we must be different than the world. We all know that the world is filled with the rebellious, loose-lipped and deceitful. And it's true that Christians are human, but shouldn't we be visibly striving against our "human" nature?

To speak against sin in the Church is difficult. But if we're going to be witnesses, effecting change in the world, we'll need to do some "in house" cleaning along the way. So, be ready to squash some talk!

Jesus, help me to have the courage to speak up
against those things that destroy your kingdom!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Live in Your City

Here is another perspective on being "yeast" hidden in your community, bringing about the kingdom of Heaven.

Where are you to begin? Begin where you are. Make that one corner, room, house, office, as like heaven as you can. Begin? Begin with the paper on the walls, make that beautiful, with the air, keep it fresh; with, the very drains, make them sweet. Abolish whatsoever makes a lie - in conversation, in social intercourse, in correspondence, in domestic life. This done, you have arranged for a heaven, but you have not got it. Heaven lies within: in kindness, in humbleness, in unselfishness, in faith, in love, in service. To get these in, get Christ in. Teach all in the house about Christ - what He did, and what He said, and how He lived. Teach it not as a doctrine, but as a discovery, as your own discovery. Live your own discovery.

Then pass out into the city. Do all to it that you have done at home.

The City Without a Church by Henry Drummond

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Good Yeast

The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, til it was all leavened.Matthew 13:33

It has been my experience that yeast is temperamental. Living at 6500 feet above sea level, I have found that yeast acts more quickly, making the amount I use somewhat of a guessing game depending upon the recipe. Generally, the amount is slightly less than what is called for. My forgetfulness, as well as my eagerness, occasionally creates a mess—my bread rises too quickly and falls flat just as rapidly.

With the advent of bread machines this verse doesn’t quite have the “punch” that it had in the first century. But the properties of yeast remain the same whether prepared by hand or machine—yeast must be “hidden” or worked thoroughly throughout the dough in order for it to be effective.

Living in a world of “instant” our patience wears thin while waiting. Personally, I want to see God work fast and furiously! And, that makes me exactly like the disciples who wanted to see the kingdom of heaven descend with a swoosh. But, throughout the gospels Jesus never talks in the language of the spectacular. Instead, his images are always one of time, requiring patience.

Having been called to be kingdom of heaven yeast, hidden throughout our communities, our rising ability will depend on how willing we are to allow God to work us into the “dough.” If you’ve ever kneaded bread, well, the process is uncomfortable, but the results can be spectacular!

Jesus, thank you for the simple images you used
to illustrate how we are to live in your Kingdom.
I want to be good, healthy yeast, living in my
community and by my inclusion, helping it to grow in you.


Monday, July 13, 2009

A Prayer for Today

While I grew up in a Christian tradition that emphasized extemporaneous prayers (and I continue to treasure that encouragement) I have, through out the years also grown to appreciate the written prayers of those who have gone before me. Here is one from John Calvin. The language is different from what we may use today, but the thoughts are as pertinent and significant.

Almighty God, since we are the work and creation of your hands,
grant us to realize that we do not live and move
except in you alone.
And grant, we pray, that we would be so subject
to you that we are not only ruled by your hidden
providence but also give such evidence
of our willing obedience and submission to you,
as children should, that we zealously
glorify your name on earth,
until we attain to the enjoyment of that blessed inheritance
which is laid up for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord.

May you experience God's blessing today.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Historical Echoes

And they will say, “This land that was desolate
has become like the garden of Eden. . .

Ezekiel 36:35

When obscure verses pop into my view I pay attention because, more than likely, there is a connection in my life. More and more we’re hearing about how the younger generation doesn’t “believe” anymore because they don’t think the Bible is “relevant” to their lives. But, again, there are also long time “Christians” who keep the Bible at bay—“it’s a good book to read but we don’t need to get personal about it!”

If you know anything about the Israelites in the Old Testament you will remember that God was frequently frustrated and although He had promised them all sorts of good things they kept stumbling over their doubt and disobedience. Sound familiar? The result was the destruction of their temple, their city Jerusalem and, almost, their extinction.

In the midst of their desolation, Ezekiel comes into the lives of the Israelites with messages of hope and assurance—dry bones will be raised up and given flesh—land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden.
So, why did this verse jump into my view? Because I’ve doubted, in spite of knowing that God has plans for me. I’ve been disobedient. I have felt like my world was crashing around me. My very existence has, at times, seemed questionable.

My life has mirrored, at various levels, the lives of the Israelites. And, even though Ezekiel spoke thousands of years ago, his repeated messages of hope and assurance echo in my soul because I read the obsure! Interesting!

Thank you Father, Son and Holy Spirit
for your work and movement in time and history.
Nothing is old—all is relevant.
Help me to make the connections in my life.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Make a Choice

See, I have set before you today life and good,death and evil.

Deuteronomy 30:15

From the moment of understanding we make choices. Listen to parents “reasoning” with their children—"you can stop crying and enjoy the park or you can keep crying and make yourself miserable." There is, for all of us, a choice between this or that, whatever this or that may be. Sometimes our choices are overwhelming and we long for someone else to make the decision.

Taking responsibility for our choices becomes even more challenging, particularly if our choice has been a disaster. It’s so much easier to load the blame on someone else. To admit to ourselves, much less to others, that we made a poor choice, well, that’s like our ability to climb Mt. Everest.

God created us to choose. With it comes a tremendous amount of freedom. But, oh the weight of responsibility that counter balances that freedom when we respond to the call, “Follow me.” From that point every choice defines who we are in Jesus Christ. Every choice matters, but the choice to get up and follow Jesus should change how we make our decisions.

God knows the disaster that will result when He tells Adam to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Eden is destroyed, with Adam and Eve pointing their fingers, what results is that even “a little evil” erodes the life of a Jesus follower. Consequently, it takes heart, soul and mind to choose to follow Jesus and live according to God’s “rules.” But isn’t that better than death?

Jesus, thank you for giving me life by Your death on the cross.
Because of you, Eden’s destruction is no longer.
Help me to make choices that will bring me to the good life in You.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Storm Survival

He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Psalm 107:29

Most Jewish men in the first century had put to memory the Psalms. With just a trigger any psalm could rise to the surface bringing solace and encouragement, praise and thankfulness. Scripture was at the tip of their tongues, so, no matter the situation they had a Godly word upon which to rely.

I wonder then if the disciples, who were on the boat with Jesus the night the storm broke out while crossing the Galilee, remembered this verse. Maybe fear prevented them from remembering. They probably woke Jesus with “Do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38) more out of desperation and the need for an extra hand on deck. Nevertheless, isn’t it interesting that if they had remembered this verse in the Psalms they might have behaved less frantically?

When the waters are rising around you what is your first instinct? Too often I hear my voice wailing above the swirling, “Why is this happening now?” scrambling to solve the problem in my own way. What I would like my first thought to be is, he made the storm be still and respond to whatever is troubling me out of that promise. But, first I need to have buried it within my being, making it a part of my living.

We keep so many things in our memory, “just in case”—social security numbers, phone numbers, account numbers, birthdays, passwords. They all help us “survive” in the world. But, knowing and memorizing Scripture will help us more than just “survive” it will help us live.

Jesus, forgive me when I panic and feel like I have to shake
you awake to calm my storms. You already know and are ready to say,
“Peace.” Help me to remember Your words, making them a part of me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Asking For Help

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help.

James 1:5 (The Message)

When he turned sixteen they realized that one of them would need to be the driving instructor! In the ensuing weeks parental driving instruction was given with minimal questions asked by the “student” driver who took the stance that, although having never driven before, they knew what they were doing. After failing the physical driving test a few times the long awaited “How do I do this?” finally began. Dad was eager to help!

Many of us can have an attitude of “I know it already.” We’re afraid of asking questions that might reveal weakness or perhaps lack of intelligence. And, that isn’t the image we want to project! Consequently, we live pretending that we know what we’re doing. Then the image we confidently created, falls apart and we grudgingly admit that we need help.

When God created us He never intended to watch us from a distance. From the beginning it was His desire to be in communion, or in other words, conversation with us. And, because He created everything, He knew how it all worked so He made Himself available for questions. Do you think that Eve ever thought to ask God if there was truth in the snake’s words? She seems to have a moment of hesitancy but then plows on and we now live Eve’s choice of not asking God for help!

Whatever you are presently living, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no weakness in asking, only strength in the received guidance. Your Father would love to help you.

Jesus, You were in continual conversation with Your Father.
You weren’t afraid to ask for His help, even at the cross.
Forgive me for thinking that I can do it all myself.
Help me!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Golden Ring

During a year of unemployment every possible option quickly became non-existent. It wasn't because we didn't try. We sought opportunities through a variety of avenues but road blocks consistently barred the way. And then suddenly it all changed; opportunity pounded at our door and we were given options beyond our imagination.

One evening while sharing our "predicament" with friends one of them felt God nudging them to give us a Godly word--"God has given you all the choices. Not one of them is perfect but He will bless the choice you make."

Over the next few months as we prayed over the decision for our future I pondered over the "Godly word." God does want to satisfy us with our heart's desires but being a jealous God He wants our total, unrestrained commitment.

When we were lost on the sea of unemployment we learned, once again, this valuable lesson for the very reason that we had no where else to turn. Our future was very uncertain and while hope sounds good there wasn't much of it at the time. A prayerful decision made, we moved and began a new life. Huge challenges arose but like the carousel's golden ring we daily grabbed the promised blessing by staying committed to the God who promises to give us our heart's desire.

But I trust in you, O Lord. I say, "You are my God.
My times are in Your hand.
Psalm 31:14,15

Friday, July 3, 2009

Food for Thought

Deep down the soul has understood that it must let itself be carried, that it must abandon itself to its Saviour, that alone it can do nothing, that God can do everything.

And if it remains still and motionless, as though bound in the faithfulness of God, it will quickly realize that things have changed, and that its progress, though still painful, is in the right direction.

It is the direction of love! This realization will come like light after darkness, the midday sun after the dawn.

What matters is to let God get on with it.

Letters from the Desert by Carlo Carretto

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Glass Living

…for if someone does not know how to manage his own household,
how will he care for God’s church?

I Timothy 3:5

In the midst of her numerous reasons she didn’t attend “certain” congregations was a comment that, as the parent of a "preacher's kid", paralyzed my heart. One particular congregation had been nixed because the pastor’s children were "unruly." Although she wasn’t a parent herself, she figured that if the pastor’s children were “out of control” leadership of the church would produce the same results.

Have you ever wondered what would be the tone if Paul were writing to churches in the 21st century? Even in a cursory reading you’ll discover that Paul’s teachings are distinct and clear cut. There is no wiggle room. In the early church there needed to be clear definitions of the faith to set it apart from all the other gods that were clamoring for attention. Is our society any different? Are we not living in a world that is clamoring to divert our attention away from Jesus Christ?

Pastors and their families are living in this 21st world as well. And, there is no debate—pastors are held and should be held to Paul’s high standard. Christianity has suffered its share of hits by the numerous pastors who have crashed and burned due to sexual misconduct, financial abuse and familial distractions. Human nature apparently wasn’t any different in 62 AD.

But perhaps we could remember our own role in helping our pastors be all that is required. They are human but, unlike their congregations, they live in glass houses. Everyone sees everything.

So, today, put down any stones you're tempted to throw replacing it with a prayer for your pastor.

Jesus, forgive me when I expect perfection in my pastor.
My own sins I keep well hidden but often I’m quick to notice the sins of others.
Today I pray that my pastor will be encouraged
by Your presence and confident in Your call.