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Showing posts from March, 2011
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 This is the season of Lent in liturgical churches. It is the name given to the days that lead up to Easter and for those of us raised with liturgical teachings it calls to us to be introspective, to look at life from the perspective of the sacrifice of the Cross of Christ. With that in mind my attention was caught by lyrics to a song I’ve heard many times over the last couple of years. It references the verse above. The singer asks Jesus to show him the distance from the east to the west and comes to the conclusion that the distance is from “one scarred hand to the other.” Many times I have sung that song and been impressed by it, but not in the breathtaking way that I was earlier today. Today when I heard those words my first reaction was to lift my own hands in praise. When I did I saw them, scar free. There are no marks left from implements of torture on my skin. And how can that be

My Weak Journeys

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 For years I have struggled with the journey from sitting, (or kneeling or standing) in the beautiful presence of God and then back into the regular world. It is very hard to carry the peace and joy that fill my heart and soul into the mundane, let alone the ridiculous. Several years ago my family attended a church with an excellent mid-week prayer service. It was truly an oasis in the midst of even the most desertlike weeks. Many times I sat there in prayer or worshiping in song and I would think, “this time I am not going to lose this peace.” Or even, “this time I will keep my promise to God to be more obedient.” That service was the perfect time for reflection and confession. It was so lovely to sit in the presence of God and truly believe that this time I would not let go of my convictions, of my determination to die to self and live for Christ. The sad thing is

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. We are h

Closed Eyes

Eli heard the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?” The man hurried over to Eli, who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes were set so that he could not see. He told Eli, “I have just fled from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.” 1 Samuel 4:14 This passage is part of the story of the Philistines capturing the ark of God. There are all kinds of lessons to be learned from the behavior of the Israelites, from the Philistines, from Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas and from Eli himself but one minor line stood out to me today. As I read this chapter the words, “whose eyes were set so that he could not see” grabbed my attention. To be honest at first I was just taken with that turn of phrase. It could just say that Eli was blind because Eli was old and blind. So my writer’s eye was captured by the word picture and then as I read it again I saw a deeper meaning. Eli’s eyes were closed. His actual physical sight was non-existent but that isn’t all of it. A man

Quiet Invitation

I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed from weeping and drench my couch with tears. Psalm 6:6 There is a song I love called “Alive.” It includes the lyric, “there was a time I was dead inside.” Watching a video of the song I saw the verse above run across the screen. The theme of the song is that writer was dead inside until he heard Jesus calling his name. Just the other day I was in St. Augustine with my family and a dear friend. We spent hours wandering in and out of stores and galleries. While we were there a man took the stage in the center of the town square and began to rant. There is no other word for it, the man was ranting. On and on, yelling and hollering out Bible verses and warning about heaven and hell. As we were walking and hearing this never-ending stream of thoughts, for lack of a better word, I felt myself getting irritated. Instead of wondering how many people would stop and listen I wondered how many he was driving away. Think about it. Are

Puzzles

For your thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8 Some of my grandchildren love puzzles. Thankfully so does my husband because Grammy is not a puzzle person. I can sometimes manage the ones that have 25 pieces but beyond that, well, let’s just say I’m challenged. I work in an elementary school. You may or may not realize it but along with all the other details of the job, I think an elementary school principal has to be fairly adept at puzzles. First there’s the challenge of which children go to which teacher. Then there are lunch schedules, recess and resource schedules, which have to be juggled at testing times to accommodate that schedule, a lot of little pieces to make a whole. Those things to me are tiny, little tiny, infinitesimal comparisons to God’s puzzle. Can you imagine? (By the way, if your answer is yes, you are a far better person than I.) I’ve been in many conversations about God’s will. Recently it seems to

Death Row

But the other criminal rebuked him, “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:40-41 My feelings or beliefs about capital punishment are not firm. I’m one of those who sees the validity of some parts of both arguments. Having said that, let me say that I hate any thought of a person’s last days or hours. I don’t watch those movies, even if it’s a “look they saved him,” one. I don’t knowingly read books or articles, fact or fiction, about the subject. What I know I’ve gleaned from bits of news stories and listening to other people discuss the topic. Frankly when a story or discussion involves last meals, bids for appeals, or the emotional mindset of a person in that situation, it breaks my heart. Do those people deserve that death? I don’t know. What I do know is that the worst story of that kind is the one that saved my own life. Read a Gospel,

Tearing Down the Strongholds

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8 I fear that I am getting what I deserve. I don’t know this for sure but it seems very logical when I think about it. It’s one of those reaping what you sow things, the details of which aren’t terribly important. What is important is the lesson behind it. The lesson is wonderful. It’s amazing. The potential, if I learn it well, is beyond what I can imagine. It could truly free me to be a much better servant, much better child to my Father. We read about strongholds and Asherah poles in the Old Testament. These are things that must be torn down and destroyed in order for God’s people to truly worship Him without obstacles. We are taught that we too have strongholds and our own forms of idols. That is what I think I may have stumbled upon in my own life. The crazy part is that it is nothing new. It is

His Choice

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to pick it back up again. This command I received from my Father. John 10:17-18 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 According to the liturgical church calendar it is Lent. For the next few weeks many Christians will give much thought to the sacrifice of Jesus. I’m fairly certain that I am not alone when I say those passages, the ones about Jesus torture and death are so hard to read. Without them I have nothing. I am grateful beyond words to Jesus. The words from John 15:5 are so real to me, apart from Jesus I can do nothing; I am nothing. Yet, there are those who argue that Jesus just did what he had to do. Well, read John 10:17-18 again. He did not have to do anything, at any point Jesus could have said, enough is enough. Looking at all of us

But God

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 A friend of mine is suffering today. She has cancer and not for the first time. From all reports, her latest medical treatment went well and she has not had any terrible effects. I guess that means physically, at least for the moment, she is not suffering. But her heart and soul are different matters. In that sense she is suffering. This is a woman who knows only too well, much too well, the ravages of cancer. She lost a loved one to the disease already, and just one year ago we all lost a dear friend. This is not new territory. It makes me ask why? This news of my friend’s illness comes at a time when many other friends are sharing stories of challenges, aggravations and horrible fears. All of this comes to me as I am taking a look at my own faith and praying to hang on. Too many of my prayers, including the ones for my sweet frien

Injustice

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest. John 18:23-24 Reading this passage a few minutes ago I just felt sick. The voice coming from Jesus today was not the confident, calm in the face of disaster voice that I usually associate with Him in this event. It was the sad, hurt voice of someone so innocent they cannot believe you would accuse them. It was, quite frankly, the voice of a child. To me, as a mom, there was no worse feeling than to accuse one of my children, find them guilty and set down the discipline, only to find out I was wrong. Thankfully it didn’t happen very often but even the few times I have experienced it were more than enough. To look into those sweet eyes and know how much hurt I had caused broke my heart. There are no words that make up for not believing them. If they had already served their sentence I couldn’t give th

Mirror, Mirror

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5 Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the most faithful one of all? Would you ever look in a mirror and ask that question? I would not. For two reasons, one I hate mirrors and two, I’m not sure I would like the answer. Lately I have caught myself questioning the veracity or sincerity of several of the people around me. Granted the lips say something very different than the actions, so I have tried to excuse my judgment as looking for the fruit. (Matthew 7:16) That didn’t go over too well. It felt a lot more like judgment in discernment’s clothing. The truth is the people to whom I’m referring are believing

Prodigals

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again: he was lost and is found. Luke 16:31 Most of us are familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son. The little snot asks for his father’s money, takes off and blows it on good times. Then he comes back. The father is thrilled. The prodigal is repentant and his brother is irate. When we read it in the Bible, depending on the day, we can see ourselves in the various characters. Sometimes one is the son, sometimes the father and far too often, all of us see ourselves as the brother. The brother is judgmental. He’s caustic. He demands fairness. Yuk! And yet, it is so easy to relate to him. Most of us would prefer to be the father. List his personality traits, giving, forgiving, loving, kind. Sure, that’s who I want to be. We forget that after he was taken advantage of, after he suffered the lack of love and disr

The Precursor

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah. “A voice of one calling in the desert ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.” Matthew 3:1-4 I love John the Baptist. I went to his school SJBA, St John the Baptist Academy. Our yearbook was called the Precursor. Though I went there for 12 years, I was out of high school before I understood the significance of that name. It was one of those lightbulb moments “OH! I get it.” It isn’t however his title, Precursor, or the fact that I attended a school named after him that makes me love John the Baptist. It is his complete disregard of the opinions of those around him. He wore animal skins and allowed his hair to do whatever it pleased. He slept on the sand and ate l

Confidence

I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 To say that I lack confidence is an understatement. Some people who know me find that hard to believe. Others are painfully aware of it. I tend to question all of my decisions and miss opportunities because I do not feel equal to the task. It is something I know I have to work on because a lack of confidence means the focus is on me. It shouldn’t be. I can’t do anything alone but with God I can do whatever he asks me to do. It is God’s perception of me not mine that really matters. Lack of confidence then is really a lack of faith. Just the other day while having a conversation with a group of women I noticed that one of them radiates confidence. She is the antithesis of me. She sees herself as talented, beautiful, capable and quite frankly a little too good for the likes of me and to be fair most of the rest of the group. In fact earli