"We must trust, though we seem alone, there are others walking with us."

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 364: Wedding plans

Today's Reading: Revelation 19-22

My daughter and I are huge romantics.

My daughter and I love weddings, or perhaps better said, we love to think about planning the perfect wedding.

We've thought about the perfect place decorated to the T.

We've thought about the perfect music and the musicians who would do the music justice.

We've thought about the perfect colors.

We've looked at dresses.

We've picked out tuxedoes.

We have a menu in mind and a place for the reception.

We've thought about the perfect day and hour.

We've even concocted the perfect bridegroom from a variety of our favorite leading men.

But none of this even begins to match the marvelous wedding we will be attending and being a part of in heaven: the wedding of Christ and the Church.

God is a bigger romantic than either my daughter or me.

And that is saying a whole lot.

Day 363: Bowls of Heaven

Today's Reading: Revelation 12-18

How many prayers have you prayed?

I cannot begin to imagine the number of mine.

Some of my prayers were simple.

Some were complex and deep.

Some were wordless and filled with tears.

It is amazing to think that all the prayers of the saints have been saved in bowls. Big, humongous salad bowls of prayer.

To think God values our prayers so much that God would keep them, the way I keep love letters, my children's kindergarten art or poems.

I think this is amazing.

Day 362: Heaven's Math

Today's Reading: Revelation 6-11

The number in heaven saved
12 x 12
10 x 10 x 10

2(12) x 3(10)

2 = faithful witnesses
12 = the people of God
3 = the trinity
10 = the perfect law

Those people of God
who heard and became
faithful witnesses
to the perfect law
of our God.

Day 361: Listening to the Spirit

Today's Reading: Revelation 1-5

We have these two things on our heads...ears.

We have this major organ in our body...heart.

We have a huge area in our torso...gut.

These are three major conduits for listening to the Holy Spirit.

Our ears allow us to catch the wave notes. Our heart allows us to catch the rhythm of God's pulse. Our gut allows us to respond in compassion and courage.

The voice from heaven calls to us.

Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Remember your first love of Christ.
Be faithful unto death.
Change the way you think and act.
Stay away from the things of Satan.
Be alert and alive in the Spirit.
Pay attention to God's word and claim his name.
Be either hot or cold, no lukewarm icky-ness.

Tall order.

Did I get that all down?

Day 360: Trinity of Values

Today's Reading: 2 John, 3 John

John likes three things...talks about them all the time.

I think if he were writing his mission statement, these would be his opening words: Faith, Truth and Love.

He puts truth above hope.

Paul likes the hope word, probably because of all of his persecution and suffering.

John likes the truth word, probably because of his focus on love.

Love without truth is really not love at all. A lot of us withhold truth from people we "love" because we think it might "hurt" them. But without truth, we are really deceiving ourselves.

Truth without love is a killer. It is cold judgment no one can hear. It grates on the very one who needs the truth.

It takes a lot of faith to speak the truth in love. We have to want more for the one we love than for ourselves.

And that is always hard.

Day 359: Real Love

Today's Reading: 1 John

One day, I am going to know unconditional love.

And you will, too.

Until then, we have to deal with people deciding upon whether or not they love us based upon our looks, our temperament, our bad days, our production level, what we can give them or how they feel.

Pretty rotten, eh?

Problem is, we do the same thing.

The other day, in the airport, I saw a man, sloppy, dirty, unshaven and pimply. It was hard not to judge him as someone I devalued without even speaking to him. I decided I didn't want to know him. How shallow is that?

How I long to love unconditionally.

To not even have to correct my first impressions of judgment.

Until I fully realize God's unconditional love for me, I will never be able to love others.

And there are so many people who need love.

Me included.

A friend sent me this song which says it all.

As you listen to it, let us pray for more love today.

And tomorrow.

Day 358: Everything we need

Today's Reading: 2 Peter 1-3, Jude

"Are you sure you have everything you need?"

This is my usual question to my children as we pack to go visit relatives or to go on vacation.

Toothbrush and paste.

An appropriate number of underwear.

Clothing for all possible weather.

Shoes--fancy and practical.

A good book.

"Do you have everything you need?"

This is a good image as we journey in faith.

What's in your suitcase?

Most of us pack our own bags with extra heavy stuff we might not need. We might leave out the essentials.

It is a good thing we have a heavenly parent who makes sure to provide everything we need. This is the joy of the journey.

If you forget an essential, God has packed extra for you.

So relax.

It's all good.

Day 357: O2 faith

Today's Reading: 2 Timothy

There is nothing like a fire in the fireplace.

I learned to build one at an early age because I realized this was an invaluable skill in making a house a home.

Fire needs three things: heat, O2 and something to consume.

Most people understand the need for ignition with heat and something to consume, but most fires go out because there is not enough O2.

Fanning the flame, providing the air, the wind, the gust of O2 is the work of the fire builder. Making sure there is enough room for the wind to blow through the ignited embers is key.

We have been created to be on fire, to be passionate for God. Most of us are wood piles waiting to be ignited.

Once ignited by the Holy Spirit fire, we need to be fanned regularly into flame.

Many in the church are lit coals who are just slowly burning away. We have not learned how to fan ourselves or each other into flame. We have not learned to build our fires with room for the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, to blow through us. The old ash blocks the air. We sit paralyzed hoping someone or something will re-ignite us.

Paul states to Timothy that it is his job to fan his own faith, and gives the instructions on how to do it:
Now I’m reminding you to fan that gift into flames. God didn’t give us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, love, and good judgment. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord...
It is cowardice that keeps us cold and lifeless.

A recognition of the power, love and discernment at our fingertips along with the courage to tell others about our Lord keep the flames burning.

These spiritual exercises are the O2 for our faith.

Day 356: The Gift of Faith

Today's Reading: Hebrews 11-13


It is what we all need, according to God.

But how do we get it?

You can't just go out and buy a bottle of it.

You can't find a garment of it in your size.

You can't ingest it.

It is a gift from the very one who requires it of us.

It assures us.

It convinces us.

It leads us.

It enables us.

It encourages us.

It is a gift to be coveted.

It moves us to the very place we need to be.

Day 355: Melchizedek

Today's Reading: Hebrews 7-10

Priesthood is an interesting concept throughout the Old Testament. Lots of garments with symbolic meaning and lots of sacrificing with futuristic promise. All those children of Aaron, the first High Priest. All those rams and lambs and bulls and turtle doves sacrificed. All that blood spilled for sin--life for life. All those burnt offerings of oil and grain and meat and incense.

And then along comes a strange priest not of the order of Aaron. Not a priest of sacrifice but a priest of blessing. Melchizedek, king of righteousness. He is the priest who is the blessing, the one who's righteousness is enough.

Christ, our high priest, is the Melchizedek of heaven. By the glory and weight of his righteousness, all believers become priests--ushers of blessing into the world.

Day 354: From baby talk to reality

Today's Reading: Hebrews 1-6

There is just something about Greek that thrills me. We miss so much of the flair of a passage when we read it in English. Take for instance the first couple of verses in Hebrew.

It gives this marvelous picture of God, speaking to an infant humanity in baby talk. "In the past, God 'goo-goo-gaa-gaaed' to us through the prophets." Can't you just see God holding humanity in loving arms and trying to make us understand the kingdom of God? Much like the infant who has no clue about her mother's world or his dad's world, we couldn't begin to understand God's ways, so high above us.

But then, God came in flesh and blood reality to us in Jesus Christ. Language in a person. Not just a picture which spoke a thousand words, but a reality which was the incarnation of all God is.

What a marvelous image and paradigm!

Day 353: Temporary Residents

Today's Reading: 1 Peter 1-5

Travel might be great but living out of a suitcase is hard for me. I seem to never feel settled. Despite the wonderful new sights and adventures, I always love coming home after being a temporary resident elsewhere.

Peter starts his letter with this reality; we are temporary residents in this world. Though there are some amazing sights and sounds and people, there is always a feeling that we are not at home, we miss the comfort of something familiar we can't name.

Like Dorothy said to Toto, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." We know there is something very unfamiliar in this Oz-ian existance on earth.

There truly is no place like home.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 352: Appointing Elders

Today's Reading: Titus

Today, in our church, we will be appointing new elders for our next year.

The job description in my denomination is a steep one. Elders are responsible for the spiritual nurture of the congregation. They also serve on session, the governing body of the local church, providing leadership and vision. Each should be ready at any moment to teach, preach, serve, anoint and pray. Any one of these tasks is daunting, but to find those faithful and wise enough to serve in this role is truly a task of discernment.

Paul, writing to Titus, lengthens the job description with words like "blameless," "faithful," "not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain," "hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined," and able to stand firm in regards to the gospel and sound doctrine.

Is there anyone who can fulfill this role?

Even though I am ordained as a teaching/preaching elder, I know I fall short.

Later in the letter, Paul also gives a list of behaviors:
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
If I made a checklist, I'd find myself failing the test of the "good elder."

What is a wonder to me, then, is the fact that the work of God happens through such dented and chipped vessels like myself. One of the reasons it does is because as elders, we work together. One makes up for another's weaknesses.

As we focus on the "kindness and love of God," as we remember God saved us by mercy not because of our acts of righteousness, as we rely on the washing and filling of the Holy Spirit, and as we trust in God, we have the opportunity to be careful to devote ourselves to doing what is good.

Some might see being appointed as an elder as an honor.

To me, it is very daunting and humbling, but also exciting. Imagine the work done by the saints of God when their hearts are focused upon God!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 351: The goal being Love

Today's Reading: 1 Timothy 1-6

It seems to me that love is always the goal. It is not only the goal but hopefully the source from which everything we think, say or do finds their origins. I hope every gift I give stems from love. I hope everytime I correct my children, the motive is love. And wouldn't it be grand if even the thoughts and speech toward our enemies were brimming with love.

Paul, in his letter to Timothy, says something very interesting.
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.
Purity of heart---now there is a tough one. If we could just clear our hearts of selfish motives, bitterness or pride it seems to me life would be so much more loving. When the Psalmist says, "Create in me a clean/pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me," I think he's on to something. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." If we could for just one instant have purity of heart, imagine what we would see!

A Good Conscience. Perhaps this is only possible after a long episode on our knees, confessing all the logs in our own eyes. These logs form a dam which blocks the washing waters of our tears of sorrow and repentance. Imagine every intention being pure like fresh spring water, unlike the smelly cisterns, full of scum. Now there's a wonderful request.

A Sincere Faith. This one is a little more tricky for me. What makes faith sincere? Or perhaps the opposite; what makes faith insincere? According to my daughter, sincerity of faith is not about how well you can defend your faith but in your daily demonstration of your faith in action, words and thoughts. I think consistancy and perseverance are key.

So, Love...

I guess its not about feelings and all that other gushy stuff.

It's about selflessness and truth all put into faithful and consistant action.

Now, there's a goal for us all!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 350: Com' on..Git Happy!

Today's Reading: Philippians 1-4

One of my favorite movies is Pollyanna, starring the incredible Halley Mills. One little girl comes into a town of grouches, gossips, self-absorbed and greedy people and changes everything with JOY.

She encourages everyone to re-think life...to look for the bright side in every situation. This becomes a game of wits, and as people put their efforts into the task, smiles come into their lives.

The letter to the Philippians is the Pollyanna book. It calls us to rejoice! To rejoice in the LORD. To rejoice in the promises. To rejoice in the future. To rejoice today.

The more we trust, the more we can live joyful lives. It's a matter of what one sets one's mind upon.

Forget your troubles
Come on get happy
You better chase all you cares away
Shout hallelujah
Come on get happy
Get ready for the judgment day

The sun is shining
Come on get happy
The LORD is waiting to take your hand
Shout hallelujah
Come on get happy
We're going to the promise land

We're heading across the river
Wash your sins away in the tide
It's all so peaceful on the other side

Day 349: Immeasurably More

Today's Reading: Ephesians 1-6


How wild is your imagination?

If you were to imagine the perfect moment...could you do that? Who would be there? What would you be doing? What sights would surround you? Smells? Sounds?

How would everyone feel? What would be the highest value? Would anything be lacking? What would you ask for?


Here's what Paul is saying.

Our wildest imagination...

Our deepest and most expensive request...

Is small

It's narrow

It's short

of what God has planned for us.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Wow! Wow! Wow!

Day 348: A checklist for Pray-ers

Today's Reading: Colossians 1-4; Philemon

Do you ever sit or kneel to pray and think, what should I pray for these whom I love? Often we ask God to "bless" and we offer "thanks" for people. But wouldn't it be marvelous to put some meat on our prayers of intercession?

How about we learn from one of the best today? Paul's letters usually begin with prayers and his prayer in the letter to the Colossians is a wonderful model for us.

So here's a great checklist for all on your prayer list.

1. Ask God to continually fill them with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. To know God's will, to understand wisely the direction God is leading would be such a comfort to those raising children, making major life decisions or leading God's people!

2. If we could grasp God's will, we would be able to live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way. The object of every one who loves the LORD would be to please him in every way possible. It is a worthy goal!

3. Imagine asking the LORD to allow the one for whom you are praying to be able to bear fruit in every good work. This way, they (we) would not only be pleasing God, but we would feed all around us with the marvelous spiritual fruit we would carry with us.

4. And wouldn't it be marvelous to grow in the knowledge of God.--to daily increase in the mind of Christ. To begin to understand, not only what God desires, but who God is!

5. In the midst of the ministries, we must pray for strength with all power according to God's glorious might so that those for whom we are praying may have great endurance and patience! Sometimes, living for Jesus puts people in strange and scary situations. To have the strength of God, God's endurance and patience, is truly a blessing.

6. And what a joy to thank the Father, who has qualified them to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. There is no greater joy on earth than to be secure in the salvation inheritance laid up by God for his beloved.

What an exciting way to pray for one another!

Day 347: Calm in the Storm

Today's Reading: Acts 27-28

The wave crash
And the winds howl
The hurricanes spin
And the boat crashes
But in the eye of the storm
There sits a man
With broken bread
And blessing.

Take and eat
He says to all
The LORD will supply your need
Not one hair
Can fall
Or will
For our LORD will save us

Is he the devil
Or is he a god?
The people wonder
As the serpent tries
To stop the course
Of God's will
Once again.

But into the fire
Satan goes
and many are healed
and set free.
The gospel is proclaimed
Throughout the world

The storm does not
Scare the people of God
We say
Peace, be still.

Day 346: A Great Audience

Today's Reading: Acts 24-26

In this day of social networking, a message can get sent across the world very quickly. A man decides his congregation will burn the Koran and the ears of the president hear about it in less than 12 hours! WiKiLeaks can change major companies' policies by invading their systems.

Without all this technology, God places Paul right smack dab in front of the rulers of the land. We wondered, "Where is God?" as we see Paul getting beat up and slandered; but we begin to see the wisdom of God's action as Paul gets placed in the middle of the highest courtroom to speak to a great audience.

Isn't it amazing...the most articulate student of the law, the brainchild of the Pharisees, one who has sat in the seat of condemnation, now speaks with calm, intelligence and wisdom to the highest ruler of the land. And what does he say?

He tells the story of the prophets and the law. He shares their history. He proclaims the promises of God fulfilled. He gives his own testimony. He proclaims Jesus as the Christ with accuracy, fervor and passion. His testimony is sound.

What was God doing? God was orchestrating a wonderful concert for the ears of the rulers! The sweetest music they could hear was the music of the possibility for their own salvation. God does not discriminate against rich or poor, Jew or Gentile.

God will not quit until everyone has the opportunity to hear the Good News and accept it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 345: Willing to Suffer Loss

Today's Reading: Acts 20:4 - 23:35

How strange it is to read through the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the season of Advent. While most of America is out shopping, in decorating trees and having way too many parties, we walk alongside Paul as he travels, preaching the Gospel.

Though we might think we are tired and worn out by the season, I am amazed at Paul's stamina. He is battling the crowds, not at the mall, but at the center of town, where they are stoning, flogging and literally beating him up for the gift of the gospel he carries.

Why is he willing to go to such great extent to deliver the message which began at Christmas, matured through the Passion and Resurrection and burst forth at Pentecost? Why is he willing to suffer such loss?

Paul's passion is fueled by the certainty of the reality of Jesus Christ. Though once a persecuter of the believers himself, his face to face encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus changed everything, re-wired him, so to speak.

He is in good company.

All the great prophets of old left everything behind to do what God had called them to do. Abraham left the comfort of his wealth. Moses left the shepherd fields of serenity. David was willing to face giants and the wrath of a crazy king. Women stepped out of their tents into the circle of wisdom and daring. Slave girls spoke up. A young virgin said, "Yes" to God and the whole world was changed.

With each willingness to suffer loss, a gift of joy was bestowed.

So Joy to the World, I say. Let's get movin' in the right direction this season.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 344: Giving our own account

Today's Reading: Romans 14-16

Is it just me, or is it easier for all of us to share another's downfalls than to share our own?

I don't know why it is, but when it comes to my "good" points, I think everyone else needs to meet them.

And when it comes to my weaknesses, I certainly downplay them, while exalting the weaknesses of my enemies to gain ground for myself.

What a mess.

Jesus didn't even need to point the finger at me when he said that thing about logs and splinters in eyes. The truth nails me to the wall.

Why is it so easy to judge others without keeping our own accounts clean?

Why is it so natural to dictate the actions of others without claiming our own?

Why do we nit pick at another person's weak wounds, hoping they will get infected, and try to put quick fix bandaids on our own?

I sometimes get so tired of myself and my ways, that I just want to spit!

My own books are a mess, my bed is unmade, my mood is often out of sorts, my intentions are often unlovely.

Maybe, my own house needs the cleaning, and not yours.

Day 343: The Remnant

Today's Reading: Romans 11-13

I've always been a fan of remnants.

I grew up standing at my mother's side while she laid out patterns, cut fabric, basted and sewed, tailored and trimmed clothing to be worn day in and day out. All the scraps and remnants of cloth were saved in a hamper from which we could make our own doll clothes or art projects.

Even today, I am learning new ways to use old pieces of material. Whether it be a quilt or a rag rug, everything old becomes new and beautiful--and useful--in the hands of the crafter.

It does not surprise me, then, that the great Creator of everything seen and unseen, understands the value of a good piece of remnant. What many would throw away, God seems to find value in. God has a purpose for everything under heaven. God loves save, use and make beautiful the ripped, the broken and the devalued.

Even what was once despised and rejected, forsaken and abused, was God's greatest gift to us.

Here's to every mother who saved the remnants.

How like God you are!

Day 342: Settling in

Today's Reading: Romans 8-10

If I were asked to choose my favorite spot in my home, I would choose my chair by the fireplace. There, with a cup of hot tea, in the presence of those who love me best and most is a little piece of heaven. It is a place of rest and peace.

If I were asked to choose my favorite spot in scripture, I would sit myself right in Romans 8 and settle in for life. Surrounded by some of the most profound promises of God, I hunker down, realizing the immense safety and peace they afford.

Nothing can separate me from God's love.

That is one warm, cozy place to live.

Who really needs more than that?

Day 341: By faith

Today's Reading: Romans 4-7

So let me get this right.

We are saved by faith, and not by works, so no one gets to boast.

This, supposedly, is good news--great news!

Then why can't we--I--embrace it?

Faith is basically trusting and believing all mixed up into one big concept. Faith is totally dependent upon another's attributes and actions, not our own. Faith is resting and perhaps even waiting for the "other" to act and move and make something happen. Faith, in many ways, is passive. It implies a stillness, a surety, a confidence, a certainty.

Maybe that's the problem. Maybe I want a piece of the action. Maybe it is hard for me to put myself into another person's timeline and surrender the steering wheel or the remote control. Maybe I'd rather be the one making the choice as to the road traveled and the pitstops made. Maybe I feel sick sitting in the backseat, crowded in with my siblings. Maybe I want the place of responsibility and honor. Maybe I want the control, not only of the destination but the route. Maybe I want to brag and be recognized for a job well done. Maybe I want to pick and choose.

There's the rub, eh?

I want, I want, I want.

Paul always seems to nail me right where I am.

I want to boast...I want to say its all about me.

For my own good, Abba Father, put me in the back seat, give me my pillow and tell me to go to sleep. The journey is long and it might just be best if I just snuggle up with my siblings and enjoy the ride.

Day 340: Without excuse

Today's Reading: Acts 20:1-3; Romans 1-3

I have to admit.

I am a great excuse maker.

I can justify and rationalize any criticism sent my way.

I can defend even my most ridiculous choice.

This is very sad.

This is very true.

It is a huge problem for me.

My brother, Paul, says to the Romans and to me.

You know better, but you still make poor choices.

You know better, but you like your poor choices.

You know better, but you even brag about your poor choices.

You have forgotten how to blush.

And you know better.

So, he says, you are without an excuse.

You might want your mother or your father or your brother to write one up for you and pin it to your sweater to give to the principal...

You might even write up a fake one and forge a signature of the one who has power...

But bottom line, there will be no excuses.

Day 339: Who's most beloved?

Today's Reading: 2 Corinthians 10-13

Yesterday, a wise friend shared a wise word.
"Most conflict is really about who's most beloved."

When my children used to bring their arguments to me, the real question was not about who was in the right or who was in the wrong, but a longing to be told who was loved the best.

In the church, conflict flares. We seem to pick on our brothers and sisters. Most of our arguments come when we doubt another's intentions or even their faith. We might be struggling with our own self worth, our own "stuff" of which we might not even be aware, and we throw out the question, "Do you love me?" hoping someone will come alongside us and say, "Yes, I love you, even more than I love the others."

Sibling rivalry is a very old enemy. Wondering who is better, who is more faithful, who is more "saved," who is more worthy, puts us in a Cain position poised for murder. We spend a lot of time defending ourselves to one another. We want to know who will sit in the best seat, who will get Mom's attention first, who will have the most baby pictures, who will receive the most light.

I wonder what would happen if each of us knew just how much God truly loves us, if we could rest and relax in the arms of God, big enough to hold us tight right along with all the rest of our brothers and sisters.

Day 338: Carrying around the old tent

Today's Reading: 2 Corinthians 5-9

Here's the truth.

Many people think backpacking is a glamourous task, but for me in my experience, it is sheer misery. I like to brag, "Ah yes, I backpacked through the mountains of Colorado," which I did, but honestly, because of my lack of physical fitness, even at the age of 23, I was winded the entire way. The pack was heavy and burdensome and I just wanted to throw it off and enjoy the hike.

Tents and everything needed to survive in the wild are heavy. I think my pack weighed about 60 pounds when my friends and I hit the oxygen thinned air of the mountains. My face got red and my lungs heaved. I wanted rest and I wanted it now.

And once in camp with tent set up, the wind and rain came; the rocky ground wreaked havoc to my night's sleep. Though the scenery and the comradery were spectacular, tent living was not my ideal.

As I get older, my earthly tent, this body of mine, becomes more and more burdensome. The skin sags, the joints and muscles weaken, the eyes dim, the mind slows, the teeth require more attention. Inside of me, I still feel young. In fact, the older I get, the more renewed and wise I feel. The more in love with God I become. The more understanding of myself and others I am. I feel gentler, more focused and more "me."

But the old tent canvas is getting worn and despite the patches, some of the zippers catch and some of the spikes are missing.

I praise God that when this journey is done, I will be able to come home to the warm shower of God's love and sink into the incredible sheets of rest; there will be a banquet of non-dehydrated food awaiting me and all the comforts of home I've yet to even imagine.

Day 337: Encouragement

Today's Reading: 2 Corinthians 1-4

I called my Dad
And asked him why
The pain had come--
Life gone awry
How come, I said,
all disappointment
all grief and sorrow.

The pause I knew
was pondering prayer
This wise old man
knew how to bear
sorrow, all which
was new to me.
I waited silently.

At last he said
"Read chapter one
of second Corinthians
and when you're done
give me a call
and we'll discuss
God precious word together."

The pain we face
is not for nought,
for in the struggle
our God is sought
and thus we learn
to help another
to hope for compassion.

It's sharing the gift
from one to another
It's bearing the load
of sister or brother
with knowledge not learned
without the trial
The lesson received by experience.

Day 336: True or False

Today's Reading: 1 Corinthians 15-16


So here's the bottom line for Paul.

Either the whole kit and kaboodle about Jesus is true--Jesus being God's son, coming to earth, doing the miracles, preaching the good news, dying on the cross for our redemption and resurrecting from the dead, ascending into heaven and sitting at God's right hand--or it's all hogwash.

If it's true, Wow! It changes everything.

But if it's not, why bother with much of anything.

I guess that's it.

Either Jesus is who he says he is or he's a fanatical lunatic, insane and crazy.

So here's the bottom line for me. If I say I believe in Jesus, my whole life is changed. If I believe in Jesus and it is all a hoax, I am to be the most pitied in the world.

What's the bottom line for you?

Day 335: Always?

Today's Reading: 1 Corinthians 12-14

The word "love" has been a hard one for me. I really don't know what it means when people say it. We use it too often; in fact, so often that it becomes like a worn out pair of blue jeans or a holey old tee shirt--common and ordinary.

I prefer the word "faithful." Even though this speaks only to a portion of the meaning of "love," for me, it speaks to its heart. This rings especially true when I read the "Love Chapter" and find this phrase:
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

That word "always" trips me up.

I'm someone who can do the word "sometimes" and maybe even "often," but "always?" That is hard for me. I don't think I do anything "always."

"Always" is a high standard. If it is the standard for love, I have to admit (or maybe the better word is confess) I have never loved anyone, not even myself. I protect only when it is comfortable. I trust only when I can see at least some proof. I wane in my hope when I am disappointed. I have a very hard time persevering when the course is long and I feel winded.

Because of my own inability to live the "always," it's hard for me to imagine our Heavenly Father's ability to be the "Always."

Today, I will meditate on the faithful "always-ness" of our LORD. Not only for me. But for you.

Day 334: Putting up with it all

Today's Reading: 1 Corinthians 9-11

A young mother was talking about how she and her husband played rock-paper-scizzors to determine who would change the really icky diaper of their one year old. A dad talked about the need to hang tight with his son who was going through a period of intense rebellion. A wizen pastor shared her sorrow over a congregation in conflict. Paul shares his willingness to lay down his "rights" in order to advance the gospel.

All of this makes me wonder what each of us is willing to endure for the sake of love. Love for God. Love for neighbor. How much lowering of self and sharing of truth are we willing to risk to advance the gospel? How much are we willing to move to the back row, out of the limelight of our own self love, for another's gain?

In my life, I wonder if I'm willing to serve my family more, share my wealth or home to the point of my own discomfort, put up with "bad behavior" in order to woo someone into the kingdom?

How many icky messes, rebellious moments and conflict must be endured before we reach God's kingdom goal?

This whole "putting on the mind of Christ" is always a greater challenge than I imagined it to be...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 333: Disrespecting the giver

Today's Reading: 1 Corinthians 5-8

With Christmas right around the corner, I think about the time and effort put into buying or making the perfect gift for the ones I love.

I can't help but remember an incredible sweater my mother made as a gift. She spent hours knitting it. Along the bottom of the edge were little trucks and cars. It was so sweet.

Now imagine throwing such a precious gift on the floor where the dog could get a hold of it and chew it up. What a horror that would be! So ungrateful and disrespectful of not only the gift but the giver!

Yesterday, as I pulled out of the grocery store, I saw three young men walking down the street dropping their trash along the way. If this wasn't bad enough, they were laughing about it. I wanted to pull over and with my Big Momma voice yell at them to pick it up.

God gives us incredible gifts and we seem to disrepect them. We are not only given creation in all its beauty, but each other. God has also given us the gift of love making, probably one of the most intense and pleasurable physical experiences. But why do we take this gift and trash it? And then, even laugh or brag about the it.

I'm sure God grieves over this. God might want to get on the Big Momma voice, but in reality, I think he picks up the ripped up sweater of a person and weeps.