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Showing posts from May, 2011

The Next Level

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. Psalm 27:4 The world has gone techno, video game crazy! This year my husband and I even gave my parents a game system. When my family is together the guys, and even some of the girls, are talking about Angry Birds, some game they play on the phone. Games are a huge thing these days. Our grandson, Joey, received a video game from his cousins for his birthday. They live in another state and the gift arrived a bit late, which worked out well. Since it was separate from all the party chaos, we were able to sit right down and play as soon as it was opened. When it was time for Joey to leave I asked him if he would mind if his grandfather and I used his game while he was gone. “Of course not!” he said. And I thought, “oh sweet boy”, which he is. Then he added, “You can open up some more levels.” Levels are the name of most games, the idea being, to get farther and farther

Especially Fond

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8 A couple of years ago I read a book called “The Shack”, in which a man has a very close and personal encounter with God. Early on Mack, hears God listening to music that Mack thinks is questionable. When he comments on it, God remarks that He is “especially fond” of the boys in the group. That expression is used over and over again in the book and has stayed with me and recently it kept coming to my mind. How can God be especially fond of people who are so ignorant of Him? Or worse, how can he be that fond of people who show blatant disrespect for Him, by claiming His name and then behaving as badly as they know how? It made no sense to me but I believe it. I know God loves each us as if there were only one of us. A week or so ago my granddaughter Madelyn, had her preschool promotion ceremony. One of the songs she sang was “Jesus Loves Me.” I listened as the precious little group sang the

One Question, Two Ways

“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks, ‘Where are you going?’ ” John 16:5 The Bible is a book that needs to be read very carefully and prayerfully. We know it is the absolute truth but sometimes we get confused. After all, here is Jesus saying that his disciples have not asked him where he’s going. This is in chapter 16. To get to chapter 16 we should already have read chapter 13, where in verse 36 Peter asks that exact question. Simon Peter asked him, “Lord where are you going?” Does that make this verse a contradiction? No, it does not. The conversation in chapter 13 revolves around the disciples concern for themselves. Where are you going? Can I go with you? It continues in chapter 14 when Thomas says they don’t know the way to where Jesus is going, indicating that they want to stay with him, go wherever he is going. In that exchange the disciples are concerned for themselves. They aren’t necessarily worried about Jesus but they are worried about what they’re

Moldable

Yet, oh Lord you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8 “We are the clay.” Have you ever worked with clay? I really haven’t other than children’s clay. I have worked with dough, which is kind of the same idea. In either case the potter or baker is presented with a lump of inanimate material that can be shaped into any form that suits the person doing the shaping. On my shelves I have a clam, a dinosaur, a turtle, several little houses, a bowl and various other items shaped by my children’s hands in a high school ceramics class. Clay is inanimate. When we are presented with that blob of whatever goes into clay, it isn’t going anywhere. We can pick it up, put it down, shape, reshape, mash it all down and start over. Let me say it again, the clay isn’t going anywhere. It is never going to look at the potter and say, “Hey! I wanted to be a vase not a tea cup!” As the potter’s fingers work the clay molding it to the desired shap

Examples

And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. Mark 9:42 Yesterday I was driving and came to a curve in the road. This curve was mentioned in a sermon I heard several years ago. The pastor said that shortly after having a talk with his young children about obedience he was driving on that curve going 15 miles over the legal limit. His youngest son commented on that fact asking why he had to obey if his father did not. Years later that same man would prove to his sons in a horrible, public and humiliating way that he did not believe that he had to follow the rules. That man had many people looking at his behavior, measuring his response to Scripture and he failed them all. He is not alone. Every parent in the world is under the same scrutiny. It is important that we live as we are telling our children they should live. If they have to do something because “I sai

Imaging

Then God said, “Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and the over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 There is a quote from philosopher Blaise Pascal that reads, “God made man in His own image and man returned the compliment.” The way those words are put together is so amazing to me. It sounds almost positive at first read. My Gram, and my mother, taught me never to return a dish empty. If someone brought a dish with food in it to our home, we were then to return it with a gift of food for the giver, or at least put in a thank you note. My mother grew beautiful roses and I remember on more than one occasion returning a dish with a rose or two placed in or on top. God made me in His image so let me make Him into…. Oh wait a minute no

A Widow’s Story

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had.” Luke 21:1-4 Whenever I read a book with particularly well written characters I hate to see it end. I want to know what happens next? Does the couple live happily ever after? Is the rebel truly tamed? How does that newborn baby grow up? What becomes of that family? Sometimes the author continues the story with a sequel but most often it is a slice of life and that’s all. Here in Luke we get more of a crumb of life story. The widow goes to the temple and she gives all that she has. I am humbled by her actions but what happens next? Jesus doesn’t say. He tells his story makes his point and moves on. It’s almost an aside between two more important stories

Last Days

“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Luke 12:40 Now brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 2 Thessalonians 5:1-2 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:42 A few weeks ago my husband, Otto and I were attending a large community event and saw people carrying signs proclaiming May 21, 2011 as the day the world will end. Kooks, is what I thought. Clearly, we don’t know when that is going to happen. Yesterday Sam, our pastor, addressed this same declaration. Apparently, some man invested his life savings to get this word out. He obviously believes it. Sam gave the man’s reasoning with numbers and used the expression square root, things that leave me behind, way behind. It doesn’t matter. I don’t believe it and neither does Sam. Still, it makes you think. What if I co

A Lesson (or two) from Jairus

When he arrived at the house Jesus did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, James and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. Luke 8:51-53 Just the other night at dinner with my friend Patty, I used the example of Jesus interacting with Jairus to help her through a family situation. No one in her family is dying, thank God, but she is in a difficult spot. Patty is a wonderful, faithful woman who has tried for a long time to handle things the way she believes God wants her to handle them. She has treated all the parties involved with respect and has endured treatment that bears no resemblance to kindness. In short she has exhibited grace under fire. After awhile, enough is enough. She wants to bring faith and respect to interactions with people who are bringing little of either to the table. This morning I woke u

Relief

We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 Life is hard and if we are to believe the pundits, it’s getting harder. Great! Lately even my most devoted Christian friends have sounded anxious. I’m tired of hearing the word economy! Budget, is pretty much on my ugh list too. Yes, there are problems in the world. My day job is in a public school. Trust me; I know there are real issues. Life gets hard when I focus on those issues and not on Scripture. Yesterday I brought in my mail, ads and bills. Among all that delightfulness was some an information packet. It looked innocuous, even inviting, but to me it was a reminder of something that has become a casualty of the economy issue. It isn’t the end of the world, just a pinch of things that aren’t a part of my life anymore, things I enjoyed and very much wanted to keep but couldn’t. There was that second when I had the

The Odd Image

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 A few weeks ago my husband, Otto, needed a board, 2x4, 4x6, I don’t know, just a big board, for a project. We went to the hardware store and after looking at several other things, bought the board. Otto put it on one of those huge cart things they have to get it to the checkout but after he paid for it he slung it over his shoulder and carried it to his truck. The image hit me immediately of Jesus carrying the Cross. To me the board seemed ridiculously unwieldy and while it may not have been too much for Otto, it seemed pretty heavy to me. Still he carried it quite a way into the parking lot and with seemingly no effort hoisted it into the back of the truck. That image has stayed with me for the last few weeks. For some reason it continues to remind me of Jesus carrying his Cross. What I actually saw was a

Cleaning Project

But there are many people hear and it is the rainy season: so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing. Ezra 10:13 Okay, first of all, I can easily relate to the procrastination. Uh, yeah, we want to do the right thing. We will do the right thing, but right now it’s rainy and crowded, etc. etc. Fill in your own words. If you’re anything like me, you’ve done this dance. I want to repent, really, but not yet, because of these three not terribly legitimate reasons. Two of my least favorite words when put side by side are “I’m gonna’” Ugh! I sincerely doubt it! It doesn’t matter if someone else is saying them or if they are my own words. “Gonna’” is not the same as actual, well, action. But then, right after the oh so familiar and quite human delay tactic comes a very profound thought. This sin is so grievous that it isn’t going away in a day or two. Living as we do, after the events of Jesus’ d

Jesus So Near Me

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5 “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:44 When my son Joseph was little he found a great way to deal with his frustrations. Joseph was prone to temper tantrums for awhile as a very young child. Sometimes when he would feel that pressure building, he would stop and say, “Jesus be near me.” This coming from a two-year old was quite precious. I taught Joseph and his siblings, from their very early days, to call on Jesus when they were frightened, angry, or felt any kind of need. I tried to instill in them, the idea that Jesus is right here with us, always. The other day I had my own moment of irritation, to be a tad more accurate it went beyond irritation. The thoughts I was having about the subject of my frustration were not at all kind. I looked up from what I was doing to lock eyes with Jesus, in the form of a paint

What is Faith

Now faith is being certain of what we hope for, confident of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we do not see it. Hebrews 11:1 (TLB) We ask the question, what is faith and the Bible answers with the verse above from Hebrews. Faith is a confidence that God is for us, that His will is perfect and best, no matter how things look or feel. That is great! It is such a lovely, happy promise for us and when things are going well it is so easy to believe. When all is right in our little worlds we have such strong faith but what happens in the tough times? In the truly tough times, our faith can sometimes be even stronger. It’s the grey areas that are the hardest to handle. Just yesterday I was speaking to my daughter-in-love Stephanie, a young woman who is proof positive to me that God hears and answers my prayers. We were talkin

Conqueror

No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37 Words are very dear to me. I love them. It’s a great day when I learn a new word or hear an exceptional turn of phrase. One of my favorite words is conquer, in all its forms. Think about it. Better yet, say it. Then say conquering, conqueror. Can you feel that? The words even sound strong. They sound imposing. I was listening to one of my favorite songs the other day and realized that part of the reason I like it is because in the chorus Jesus is referred to as the conqueror and later the singer talks about being a conqueror because of Christ. Love it! Some words are strong and some are gentle. Think of the ways in which people describe Jesus. He is love, mercy, grace and comfort. All lovely sweet words that sound pleasant because they are. Of course Jesus would be seen as pleasant. But then again, there are words like conqueror, defender, victor and those words don’t sound so sweet and mild. Pu

Gifts Large and Small

As he looked up he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins, “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4 The price of a gift shouldn’t make any difference to the receiver. The more important factor should certainly be the thought, the heart behind the gift. No gift is too small if it reflects the love of the giver. Too often many of us agonize over the size or price tag of a gift. Our society says that bigger is better as do the reactions of certain receivers. Years ago I attended a party where the couple being honored was given a very large gift from one of their children. Clearly the dollar amount of that gift reached well into the thousands. The givers were extremely wealthy people. The price to them was nothing, a drop in their overfl