I took a quick trip south for an out-of-state wedding. My luggage was very important – the outfit for the wedding, the shoes, the hairdryer, as well as clothes for the mugginess awaiting me in North Carolina. So important, in fact, that I refused to check my bags, carrying them with me on the plane to insure their arrival.
You probably know from an earlier post that just as the plane lifted off after making my connection, I dumped an iced tea into my lap essentially destroying the white pants on which I’d based the weekends’ outfits. This elevated the remaining luggage to an even more precious status and I made sure to keep careful track of it all the way to the hotel room.
Flying back was a completely different experience. The event was past. The weekend behind me. I packed hastily and easily relinquished my luggage to the airline staff without hesitation. I relaxed in the waiting area without a thought to where my possessions would land or when.
The difference? Continue Reading →
Lies are so prevalent in these times that sometimes we repeat them at church.
Repeated enough times, a lie starts to sound like the truth. There is a lie repeated regularly in churches across the land. I’m betting you’ve heard it in yours.
On its surface, it appears to be a benign deceit but I have come to believe it is, as are all untruths, insidious, dangerous, and paralyzing wherever it is believed.
The lie is this: Continue Reading →
When was the last time you pulled over for a full stop to catch your breath?
In the old days of telegraphs, a “stop” denoted the period at the end of a sentence, a place to halt, and gather breath. When a train comes to a full stop, it allows passengers the opportunity to stand and stretch, de-board to walk and to catch the view. Travelers take stock of how long they’ve journeyed and how much further they have to go.
When was your last full stop?
In the gospels, Jesus spent time with His Father daily before facing the crowds. Sometimes He spent all night after doing the same. At other times, He pulled away with just His posse, His crew, His closest followers, and still other times, He withdrew even more with just Peter, James, and John.
Jesus, in His humanity, sought and cultivated friendships.
God designed us to live in community, to seek relationships, to thrive within them. Vital, even when that community is populated with broken, faulted saints who were only granted that title through grace.
Recently, I’ve pulled aside for some full stop weekends.
Why risk it?
We’re allotted one life on this planet. One. And that one is over in the length of a dash on a headstone.
Why risk ending it early? Isn’t preserving life as long as possible the ultimate goal? Shouldn’t protecting ourselves from harm be our primary pursuit?
People are asking these questions of the missionaries who work with Ebola patients, Christians who relocate to inner cities to care for the urban poor, and individuals who travel to dangerous countries delivering Bibles to persecuted Christians.
With all the good there is to do in the world that won’t put their lives at risk, shouldn’t they just focus on that?
There are conditions less favorable than death.
I bring along my coffee and my anxiety while He brings, well, He brings Himself, which should be plenty but you know I’ll be asking for more. Which goes to show how much I need this time and how polluted I am from the world so I’m tempted to be ashamed but with one look, He reminds me that Jesus is the reason I’m invited to this relationship and isn’t the cross enough to silence all my shame? So, I let it.
We sit quietly for a moment which is more than I can stand so I begin to fill the air by letting Him know how worked up I am about recent headlines.
He gets all quizzical looking, like He doesn’t know what I’m talking about. I huff a little because, He knows very well what headlines disturb my spirit because He knows everything but He’s acting as if He is unaware of the terrorism, the politics, and the cultural disintegration of the day so I spot a lesson heading in my direction and it brings out my peevish side.
“You know what I’m talking about. Don’t pretend you don’t.” I say, taking a sip of black coffee. “Plus, it’s Your idea for me to love the world and here I am coming to You with my concern for the world, hoping we can love it together and You’re all acting like the headlines aren’t even on Your radar!”
What if you met the mother of evil and thought she was a lovely woman? Would you then invite evil over for cookies?
In Men in Black, Will Smith engages in training to battle alien invaders. During a simulation, he and the other trainees encounter a scene that involves a little girl walking in a dark city at night surrounded by evil looking creatures. Smith is the only trainee to pass the test because he chooses to shoot the little girl.
Smith correctly interprets the situation when he discerns that most of the obvious aliens are simply going about their business. What’s suspicious is a schoolchild alone on a city street at night carrying books on quantum physics. Disguised by sweet innocence, she is the only character with truly evil intent.
I think studying that scene should be mandatory for Christians.
If every evil showed up declaring itself a public menace, displaying a threatening and repulsive demeanor, affirming its allegiance to Satan, well, life would be simple then, wouldn’t it? And we know life is not simple.
Does your life mystify others?
Do you see head tilts, raised eyebrows, or furrowed brows while describing a challenge you’ve taken on, a ministry you’ve entered, or a choice you’ve prayerfully made?
In other words, do you have a vision for something that others cannot see?
My husband is redeeming a house from condemnation – and he’s making me live in it as he does it.
It’s horrible for a homemaker to live inside a construction project but the upside is being wed to a man who sees the potential in a wreck. When I look at our house, that’s what I see. A wreck. My husband has a vision for what it will be. He lives here with joy because in his mind, it’s already there.
He sacrifices, works long hours, and makes the crazy choice to live with rooms sans walls, ceilings, or floors (for like, a really – really – really long time) because he has a vision for the result. I live in it with him for the same reason except that my vision is not for the house but for a marriage and a life, that honors God.
I understand about building towards a vision no one else can see.
That revelation came to me one morning as I shuffled toward my car in a pair of trendy black flats. I felt as though I was wearing ballet shoes and could feel every piece of gravel in the driveway. As I slowly made my way over to kiss my husband good-bye, I realized I was also walking funny.
I’d chosen these shoes for a change from my comfortable, sensible, white tennies. It was an attempt at fashion. An attempt at fitting in. An attempt to appease loved ones who decry my predictable, practical footwear.
But that morning, I had an epiphany: I’m too old to wear stupid shoes.
As I shuffled back into the house to revert to my everyday shoes, I was thinking how it would hamper me to scuffle my way through my workday. In my line of work, it’s important to be able to move fast if the situation calls for it. I was thinking about how I felt awkward and self-aware in the trendy shoes. I was thinking – seriously, how many people look at my feet? Some people were designed for these fashion flats. Not I.
And that got me thinking about the ill-fitting shoes I’ve attempted to wear over my soul.
It was a comment on my blog that gave me eyes to see.
Before that comment, I was feeling discouraged about my limitations. But as God rolled the reader’s words around inside my soul like a tumbler polishing a stone, He showed me why I, why all of us, should have all hope,
no matter where we are.
This is what the reader wrote: “When I first encountered your blog and saw that you are from Rhode Island, especially that you hailed from that town, I thought, what good can come out of Hope Valley? But when I saw that you know Jesus; all that changed.”
(*Many readers have asked how to pray using God’s word, how to intercede for those Christians suffering around the world. I offer this prayer as just one example of how to intercede and how to incorporate God’s word into our prayers. The verses used are from the ESV. I don’t use entire Psalms as the copyright prohibits me from quoting entire chapters but this is a model of praying through the Scriptures.
If you are not good with words, remember it is also intervention to merely approach the Lord with silent weeping and allow the Holy Spirit to express our groanings for all the suffering of His people.)
O Father in Heaven, how shall we pray?