Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Coming Home

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 in four different houses, none of them I owned, I realized that owning one’s house is a privilege, not a right. The majority of the world doesn’t own their walls much less the land under them. But frequently I would complain about my rental digs, mistakenly 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 finally in a home that I called “mine.” 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 Thanksgiving 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. A few months later we stabbed in a For Sale sign and moved again!

When the Jewish scribe pledges his loyalty to Jesus, Jesus is quick to tell him what he’ll have to do without. Basically, following Jesus means the possibility of not having a place to sleep. In fact, the animals have it cushier than the Jesus follower!

Living life with Jesus could mean giving up many of the things I 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 learning how to live.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Keep On Keeping On

Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

“I want to see God’s transformation!” I wailed to a friend. Overcome with fatigue over issues beyond my control, I wanted to see God answer prayer—in a BIG way. “There is transformation happening, Valerie,” she said quietly. Stopped by her gentle reply I was forced to look more intently at the “transformations” that had and were taking place. My problem was that they weren’t splashy, brightly colored, in-your-face transformations. They didn’t have the “look” I wanted to see! Instead the transformations my friend was talking about were the more quiet variety. The kind that had a lasting, enduring quality to them—transformations of the soul.

This work of being a Jesus follower, Kingdom work, can leave us achy and tired. In fact, if we’re actively engaged in Kingdom work we will probably be more frequently plagued with feelings of exhaustion than not! Doesn’t sound very promising or enjoyable, does it? It’s hard to keep working and working, doing good, and not seeing the harvest.

The hard work of Jesus even took a toll on his physical body. After all He did fall asleep on the boat in the middle of a storm that scared the disciples out of their wits! But, Jesus did understand the importance of taking time to get away. It was these times of solitude and quiet that helped him keep going, doing good, and perhaps even be renewed in his vision of how His Kingdom work was going. Definitely after his times of retreat miracles always happened.

Since the “wake up to God’s view” conversation with my friend I have spent more time in retreat mode, specifically asking my Father to help me see the harvest, whether big or small. It has been amazing how differently I have seen things. Where I used to see only flat, parched earth I am now seeing mounds, which means something is happening underneath. I can’t see the growth yet, but my retreats are giving me just enough energy to keep watering, keep hoping, keep praying and not giving up. At the proper time the evidence of a future harvest will appear.

Jesus, if I cannot be a part of harvesting,
Please help me to at least see some growth!

Monday, March 29, 2010

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

I love dill. It's 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.

It's fascinating to sit in a public place and see just how different everyone is made. Numerous times I've been told that I "look just like. . ." but, it remains that I am still unique - even identical twins have distinct differences.

My God is tremendously creative and his creative genius extends to how he responds to his creation. The only constant in my life is his love. But, how he works in my life 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 my life in order to get the result he desires.

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.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Unexpected Requests

And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.

Luke 10:38b (The Message)

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 has Jesus to dinner she probably didn’t have any specific expectations in mind. Like any considerate hostess she perhaps thought carefully about the meal she would serve, with the expectation that after all her work she would enjoy an evening in the presence of Jesus. Instead she ends up alone in the kitchen. It wasn’t what she had expected when she welcomed him into her home.

My own hospitality moments are sometimes fraught with unknowns! Depending on the guest list, I can allow my worries over the conversation, the meal or the size of our home to become huge hurdles and instead of making a flying leap over them, I balk. But then I remember the lesson I learned that one particular “theological” morning.

Washing the clothes of a respected theologian was not my idea of being a good hostess but, I got a different view on hospitality that day. I learned that hospitality isn’t just opening up your home with the right food served on the perfect china. Hospitality also consists of opening 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.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Am a Letter

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. Recently I was talking with a college student about letter writing. “When I receive a snail mail letter I walk around thinking, wow, someone actually wrote me something!” she said. What once was ordinary has now become unique. My friend valued a letter for its personal nature but also because it was something she could keep and read whenever and how often she wanted.

I love to read. Reading opens up a world of ideas, cultures, thought and locations. It is vital to my growth as an individual. Similarly, I am “read” by numerous people throughout a day. My actions, my words, my responses all communicate about who I am and what I’m feeling.

The world’s residents can read thousands of books on the life of Jesus but the most impressive will be reading a life that lives for Jesus. How I allow Christ to write on my life will ultimately communicate how important he is in my life. It’s a letter that will be read over and over again by friends, family, co-workers, anyone.

It’s sobering and deeply convicting to realize that every day my life should be a visible letter that is signed by 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.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shifting Paradigms

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

Matthew 9:17b

When you have ministered in the “church”, such as my husband and I for over 30 years, you have seen lots of change. During one conversation Bill and I reminisced about the church of our childhood and the church today. So much has changed and while I may miss parts of my childhood church I have to admit that it wouldn’t do well in today’s culture. That’s why I have to be church flexible because while the need for Jesus remains the same, how I go about worshipping him looks and feels different in the 21st century. It’s not wrong, it’s a just a shifting of paradigms.

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 brought a new paradigm, a new way to live in the world.

With statistics telling me that 70% of college students walk away from their faith and church attendance is dwindling, it might be time as a Jesus follower to get busy. If I want the new wine of Jesus to influence my present world it dawns on me that I just might need to dispose of the old "the way it used to be" wineskins and start making some new ones. As painful as it is, I have to let 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 22, 2010

Courageously Strong

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

Joshua 1:9b

My name means “strong.” No matter what name book I consult my name’s “root” is the same: valor, strength. When my father named me he had no idea of my future, but, I will say, without a doubt he gave me a gift. Long ago I stopped counting the number of times I have needed valor and strength when facing paralyzing fear.

Joshua was given the huge responsibility of leading thousands of Israelites across the Jordan into God’s promised land. But, before he takes off on this holy adventure God has a few more promises, with provisos—I will not leave youBe strong and courageous. Four times in the first chapter of Joshua God dwells on the characteristics of strength and courage.

It has taken strength and courage to get to the point where Joshua is now standing--the threshold of his future. God has been with the Israelites through their entire desert march and they have landed in heaps of trouble; needing all the strength and courage they can muster. But, now God tells them that their future will be more of the same—being strong and courageous will be the standard for living in their “promised” land.

Much of my Christian life has been focused on claiming the promise of God’s presence. It’s true--God is with me. But, God asks something in return, requiring action on my part—living in this land courageously strong. This is what will defeat my fears.

On the days when Israel moved forward in strength and courage, God fought for them. When they sat back, waiting or whining, disaster struck. God wants to fight for me. The hard question is am I willing to live my life courageously strong?

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 19, 2010

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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

U Blng 2 God

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

I Samuel 2:18

“Get out your cell phones,” yelled the 30-something tatted 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 don’t understand the mechanisms necessary to instantly calculate all those text messages. But, I wondered how many members of the congregation my husband pastor’s would know how to send a text message!

Ministering has become complex in this age of podcast, facebook and web page. 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 when God chose Samuel to be the priest of His people. “Boy” and “priestly” seems like an oxymoron. By all reasoning they don’t go together. But the message remains, 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 tatted, jumbotron church. But, I was also thankful that there is room in the kingdom for people who don’t know how to send a text!

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Winter is finally fading away in my part of the world. It has been a long one. Everyone, and I do mean everyone I talk with in my community are "tired" of the snow, of the cold, of winter. Looking out at the trees surrounding my home I wonder when the green will appear. I am looking forward to green.

Having grown up in an area with essentially one season, sun and more sun, I have grown to appreciate the four seasons of my present living surroundings. Seasons do remind me of life and that indeed it does not always fair well. But, the best part is knowing that seasons are a duration of time; a season, if you're not living in the "one" season region, does not last forever. It will not always be winter; soon spring will pop its head up and pour over nature with color and renewal.

So is my faith walk. Living and walking with Jesus in a constant spring season sounds pretty nice. It surely would be very pleasant to not experience the barren bleakness of winter or the dying of fall. But there is something to this seasonal, faith experience. My winters become my toughing up against the frigid difficulties. I lean into the blizzard and while only progressing a short distance I am further along than I was prior. The progress is painful and biting, but, keeping in mind that this faith season cannot last forever I keep trudging forward and furtively bits of green poke through the snowy crust and after a while I am in winter no longer; my faith season has turned to spring!

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.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Faith Seeds

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

Luke 17:5

Years ago when I watched the documentary “Supersize Me” I was repulsed. We are a culture where bigger is better, even if it’s just hamburgers! 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 molecule of water for a start.

The disciples also figured that bigger was better when it came to faith. In the days and weeks of following Jesus they had clued in on the fact that their "new life" was going to require something more. Just prior to this verse Jesus tells them that "temptations to sin are sure to come" and they beg–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. Its 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.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Forgiveness DNA the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:13b

There have been individuals in my life whom I have found almost impossible to forgive. As much as I hate to admit it, that is the gospel truth! There have been lies told about me as well as harsh words, condescension, insults, and rebuke. Through the years, I have been given numerous opportunities to learn the lesson of forgiveness and I have yet to find it an easy discipline.

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 high! Jesus didn’t hold close the repeated hurts, rejections, betrayals that were hurdled at 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 I find forgiveness so difficult? Because it requires admitting that my own actions, choices, and responses need forgiveness. It requires that I look inward. Upon discovering that my emotional DNA is lacking, I discover that I don’t like what I see. Forgiving the individual who has caused so much hurt is to acknowledge that, in the eyes of Jesus, there is no difference between us. To forgive is to acknowledge my own need for forgiveness.

It is this that makes forgiving so difficult. But in forgiving, I begin to understand and accept the generous forgiveness that Jesus has given me.

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 12, 2010

Sanely Crazy

And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying; “He is out of his mind.”
Mark 3:21

For many years I thought that I had grown up in a “typical” family. Our family ate breakfast together, read the Bible together and joined, together, again at dinner and on Sunday we got up early, spent the morning at church, took an afternoon break and then were back in the pews Sunday evening. This was my life year after year until I went away to college and discovered that instead of living in a “majority” family I discovered I had lived in a “minority” family. Instead of “typical” my life had been very “atypical.”

Working now at a pregnancy center that supports the sanctity of life I am reminded of when Roe vs. Wade was passed in 1973. I was in high school and the general attitude amongst my Christian “family” was that this would be a passing “phase.” We assumed that we were a "majority." Unfortunately that 1973 decision has become a standard fixture in our culture. And now, 37 years later, on many different levels, I am no longer in an environment that believes the same way I do about the value of life. Even my own church denomination has waffled and shifted its stance on matters of life. I am a “minority” among some of my family and friends.

It is a comfort to know, then, that in spite of His own family thinking he was “out of his mind” Jesus kept moving forward. Their opinions did not affect his ministry. Everyday we are met with challenges that put our faith to the test. It’s not easy being in the “minority” but as we make our way towards the cross, finally coming to the empty tomb, it’s good to know that Jesus knew what it meant to be a “minority.” Everyone around Him either deserted or denied even knowing Him, in the end He stood completely alone.

He knows our loneliness, our fears, our uncertainties, but with His resurrection He proves that we don’t have to be defeated by any of these. Instead, standing in His resurrection power we can boldly say, “Yes, I may be in the minority but, I am out of my mind for Jesus!”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Did I Hear Something?

Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

When I look around me I am startled that the God that I love and worship is so creative. Each day offers up a new opportunity to speak that creative Spirit into the lives of the people He brings into my life. When I allow myself to be open to the voice of God, hearing His words, I literally can become His hands, feet and mouth to the rest of His creation.

I’ve been thinking about how we actually hear God’s voice in any given situation and in hearing, do we really trust His voice to guide us in our conversations. Recently I have found myself second guessing my responses, reliving my conversations and kicking myself for “why didn’t I tell them. . .?” or, even more guilt inducing is wondering whether I have effectively been a testimony to the good news of Jesus Christ.

When we are drinking coffee with one of God’s creations, or looking over the shoulder of the appliance repair man, there is the temptation to run through our checklist of the “right” things to say. But, by preparing ourselves with prayer, which takes us into the presence of God, we can be confident of hearing a voice behind us guiding our actions and giving us the words to speak. With this confidence we are able to step boldly into the unknown and be Christ to everyone we meet. If, after our meeting we experience some self-doubt as to how well we did, we can trust that the words we spoke and the “points” we covered were what God wanted.

He is able to take our verbal bumblings and shape them into This is the way; walk in it.

Jesus! Help me to hear Your voice!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

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

Mark 14:3b

After over thirty years of marriage my husband and I don’t give gifts much to each other. It’s not that we don’t think they’re important – more like, what more precious gift can we give than time with each other! Of course, the realities of mortgage payments, college tuition, retirement plans have also muscled their way into our lives. Consequently, when it comes to buying gifts, we have needed to restrain ourselves.

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. Her action prompts us to ask, “How generous am I in showing my love for Jesus?”

From jobs, to homes, to wanting to be married, to children, to spouses, to retirement accounts--whatever it may be that you hold as valuable, are you willing to pour it generously over the head of Jesus?

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 think is valuable.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This morning I want to share a reading from my own readings during my silent time today. I pray it is as encouraging to you, as it was for me.

Scriptures--Psalm 139:15-17; Isaiah 66:3-4; Hebrews 11:24-25

The future is not a foregone conclusion. But when we give God permission to intervene and bring about His will in us still again and again He offers us choices, perhaps between one good and another. This is so that we can create through our choices, enabling Him to bring into being things He had long ago planned for us. He constantly plans for me in love, and in His mercy he never allows me to see the might-have-beens that only He could see.

Celtic Book of Prayer

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fear Of

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.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Safe vs. Misfit

...'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" 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.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thought for the Day

Suggested Reading: Genesis 50:15-21

Another way to know that the Lord has gained some ground in your life: when you can accept criticism, even if viciously served, without a sense of resentment and with no need to retaliate.

Joseph said about his brothers, if you remember, that 'they meant it to me for evil but God meant it to me for good."

Celtic Book of Prayer

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Some Thoughts of 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 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 Jesus is prayer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bad Made Good

Suggested Reading: Joshua 2

...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.

Thought for the Day: What does God want to make good in my life?

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.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Suggested Reading: Mark 5:1-34

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. Her touching encounter with 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 story.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.

Thought for the day: Do I live my life intentionally coming into the presence of Jesus?

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.