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Showing posts from January, 2011

His Watchful Eyes

Then Jesus told them this parable, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. ‘ I tell you that there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:3-7 A friend of mine told me today that God has her in “His peripheral vision.” I hope she isn’t mad at me but I immediately corrected her. I told her, “Oh no, hon, you may have God in your peripheral vision but He has eyes straight on you. He’s watching you.” I told her, “always watching.” She laughed so as I said, I hope she isn’t upset with me. A few years ago my son Joseph told me not to worry about him and his relationship with God. “I’ve got Him on my back

Differently Abled

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given to us. Romans 12:4-6a The words above are inspired writings. For whatever reason, God wanted us to read them, believe them and behave accordingly. There are many parts and all of them are different. I have two small, very sweet friends who are identical twins. When I first met them I relied on the color of their eyeglasses to tell them apart. Their mom laughed at that. She told me that most people can’t tell them apart but to her and her husband, they are very different. It didn’t take long before I understood what she meant. I don’t need the glasses anymore to tell one princess from the other. During the day I work with handicapped children. In our department the disabilities range from fairly mild to extremely severe. The word disabled is po

Bruised

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice. Isaiah 42:3 I have no idea what is happening in your life right now but this morning I am in deep pain. At the moment I am heartbroken about something over which I have no control. There are those who love to tell me about my choices in this matter but I assure you, there are no good choices. There is one obvious one and that leaves me heartbroken and at the mercy of another person’s decisions. Just a few minutes ago I did what we are instructed to do. I did what I know to the best option in any situation. I cried out to Jesus and he answered with the verse above. The amazing thing to me is that this is a verse with which I have at best, a passing familiarity. It is not a go to verse for me. In fact it came to me as “What is that thing about the broken reed? No, not broken….” And I knew that I had to find it. Beyond that I knew that it was not just for me. So
You then be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Titus 2:11 Just a few minutes ago I read a line from a book by Brennan Manning. It said, “He [God] loves me whether in a state of grace or disgrace.” Wow! I’ve never thought of it that way. Being in a state of grace, to me, suggests a closeness with God. It refers to a gift that God gives me, grace. I’ve seen many times the acronym God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, GRACE. On some level I’ve understood that it is a state of being as well. Even as a child, growing up in a Roman Catholic Church I would hear the expression, state of grace. In all of my years of living with Jesus it has never occurred to me that if I’m not in a state of grace, then I am in a state of disgrace. Now I know there could be arguments on this point, disgrace seems kind of harsh as we know it. I don’t mean, and I don’t believe Brennan means, disgrace as the world sees it, as

Not to Worry

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 I’ve been reading a lot about God’s love lately, in two different books. At first glance they seem to be very different. One author writes like an everyman, despite his vast experiences, high intelligence and knowledge of the Bible as well as a deep relationship with Christ. The other writes more like an intellectual. There are amazing spiritual truths in his books. He is brutally honest about his own life as well as what he knows of God but sometimes he uses words one rarely hears in conversation. In any case both men come to the same conclusion, a truth said in fifty words in the Scripture above. Nothing, not one thing can separate us from God’s love. Both men are quick to point out, more than once in

Joy vs. Happiness

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy the choice food and sweet drinks and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 (emphasis mine) But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; Everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, And sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:9b-10 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even thought you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9 Are you happy? Enjoy it. Happiness is fleeting. What makes you happy? Your family? Your job? Your spouse? Your pets? Your possessions? Your health? Fleeting, every single one of the aforementioned possibilities is temporary. We are happy when a project goes well.

Be Yourself

Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 How do people know that you are a Christian? Is it because you give ten percent or better of your income to your church? Do you know all the latest worship songs? Or maybe you have a Scripture quote ready for any and every occasion? All of that is fine but none of it really points to a life lived in Christ. We try, God bless us, we really do. We start campaigns like WWJD. We read all the right books and attend seminars and retreats. But even when our hearts are in the right place, most of us are good at getting wrong. One of the strongest, dearest Christian men that I know, our former pastor, B.E. Palmer tells many stories of doing crazy things because he thought it was what God wanted. In the early stages of his relationship with God, he decided that if something felt uncomfortable, he should do it. After all, isn’t sacrifice a huge part of commitment to God? Of course he i

Cracked Pots

These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:7 A few years ago I worked with a student who would often say, “I hate it when that happens.” He had heard another teacher say it and loved to repeat it whenever the occasion presented itself. It became something of a joke among those of us who worked with Paul because he repeated the phrase so frequently. In our world there are a lot of circumstances that fit that phrase. Paul’s demeanor was so precious that his use of those words often took the sting out of an otherwise discordant situation. It got to the point that at some of our worst moments one of us would say; “Don’t you just hate it when that happens?” The truth is we all hate it when anything goes wrong. For the most part we want smooth sailing. When we hit a trial or even a bump in the road we get irritated. We do

Love for All

How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men Find refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7 Think of the person in your world who loves you more than any other. Think about that relationship. Right now I would say my husband loves me more than anyone else does and more than he loves anyone else. However, when I think in terms of God’s love and how He loves us I am more reminded of my Gram. The other day listening to a message on the sacrificial love Jesus displayed on the Cross the pastor spoke about Jesus’ love for each of us and I was again reminded of Gram. We often hear about how God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. We hear that Jesus died for all of us but that he would have done the same thing for just one of us. My Gram had seventeen grandchildren of which I am number twelve. The entire time she was alive I was convinced, and I remain convinced that I was special to her. Of all her grandchildren, there was something about me she ju

Loving the Least

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ” Matthew 25:40 The words above come from Jesus. This isn’t some Bible scholar suggesting a new cool way to get God’s attention. This is a directive from Jesus. The words that precede that statement tell us how God expects us to treat each other. We are told that we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give comfort to the afflicted and visit those in prison. When we do these things, even for people who by the world’s standards aren’t terribly important, we have done them for our Father in heaven. Reading on we find the opposite is true as well. Verse 45 says that when we did not do these things for the least brother we ignored our God as well. These verses, or at least the concept of them, are familiar even to people who aren’t in a relationship with Jesus. Those people may not know where the idea comes from but they know it exists. This isn’t some hidden tre

A Simple Request

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ’’ Matthew 25:40 I was just this minute asked to do something I’m not at all sure I want to do. The task isn’t hard. In fact it is quite simple and something that I enjoy doing. The problem is that is in the nature of a gift and the recipient, or more to the point, the recipient’s circumstances are a problem for me. I don’t the recipient terribly well. Whenever we’ve had contact she has been friendly but certainly don’t count her among my friends or confidantes. It isn’t her as a person but her belief system and lifestyle that bother me. Even while my mind was saying no, my heart was carefully considering the request. I listened for the voice of my Father and He answered, swiftly and clearly. “Do this for me. Show her my face.” Well then, consider it done. This morning, in just a few minutes actually, I will do what I was asked to do and I will do it with a

Sight

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 I just walked through my very dark house. Leaving one room, I turned out the light only to realize that there were no other lights on between there and my destination. I felt quite disoriented and a little guilty for teasing my poor son who walked into the corner over our wall several years ago. As I made my way, slowly and inch by invisible inch, I thought of my Aunt Carol, who is blind. She is now totally blind but there were years when she had some shadowy sight. Think of it as if I’d had a nightlight around the corner toward where I was headed. It occurred to me, not for the first time, that I’d rather have always been blind, than to have had sight, even a glimmer of sight and lose it. Understand, I hate the thought of being blind. My heart breaks for Aunt Carol who cannot see her great nieces and nephews, who has to navigate around a room rather than just walk. The compromises are endless for her because she ca

Unbridled Passion

David wearing a linen ephod danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord she despised him in her heart. When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel had distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” And Michal

Faith

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:4-5 Two things strike me here. The first isn’t terribly remarkable but the second is, to me, pretty amazing. First of all, this meeting with Simon [Peter], James and John is recorded in all four Gospels. Each one is a bit different, but only Luke tells the longer story of putting the nets out again. When you read all four Gospels you can see each writer’s style. Luke is the wordy one. He likes to get every detail in his stories. He may have been one of those people who noticed things that others find superfluous. Mark’s Gospel is the shortest. Mark was the, tell the story and move on type, I guess. So the idea that Luke added more detail is notable but not remarkable. What is remarkable is the lack of relationship between Jesus and th