Saturday, July 13, 2013

Turning Out

I have been tucked in for awhile.  I think it is part of my chemical make-up, but I tend to just want to retreat from life.  Not in a particularly bad way, it is just not my usual way.  I used to be out-going, the word that comes to mind is gregarious.  Weird word but it sums me up.  Loud and laughing most of the time.  But lots of tough life kind of rolled over me in the past 10 years or so, and I changed.   I try to chalk it up to becoming all those good words like reflective and more spiritual, and I guess in way it could be that, but most of all, I have really been down.  A lot of reasons and no reasons for it.  Ever been there?

So today, I pretty much stopped making excuses for it and spoke to God about it.  I had been unofficially discussing it with Him in my mind, but I officially spoke to Him out loud today.  I pretty much told Him, I could not do this on my own.  In fact, I pretty much gave it to Him and told Him He would have to do it.  I could not.  Kind of like that song we learned in Sunday School - I am weak but You are strong.  I needed that to be it in the worse way.   I was on the way to pick up my daughter and grand-daughter to see the new movie Despicable Me 2 and I was excited about it.  I needed to laugh and in closing, I asked God to let me enjoy my granddaughter and the joy she would bring today.  That would be the first step, I was sure.

I pulled up to a corner on my way to pick them up and I saw a man in a wheelchair.  He had only one leg and he was holding a sign in both hands.  With his good leg, he was wheeling himself up and down the hot, dusty esplanade.  It reminded me of that man in Bethsaida sitting by the pool.  He wanted to be healed but had no way to get in the water.  This man wanted money but no way to reach up into a car to get it, if someone offered it.  I never give money like that.  Feel the person will just use it for booze or cigarettes.  Not my call, but I do it anyway.  But this great urge came over and me and I jumped out of the car, ran up to him, and gave him six bucks.  Not a lot, but a lot for me to give.  It surprised the heck out of him.  Me too.  I hung up traffic but no one honked at me.  I looked back to see if anyone followed my lead, but they didn't.  Too bad.

Picked up my family, got to the show and I went to get some popcorn with my granddaughter.  There was a young lady there that looked as if someone had taken about a foot off her legs.  She was fully developed in her torso, but her legs were miniature and very thin.  She walked through the crowds with her eyes down.  I am sure avoiding eye contact and the looks she might attract.  She walked over to a "cash only" concession.  No one was working it, so I told her.   She was not sure whether to believe me but finally did.  I started talking to her and offered a place in line.  She had an very large scar on her upper lip and from her speech, I knew she must have been born without a soft palate.  She was very hard to understand but I was able to.  She was excited about the show and about bringing her niece.  She was very animated and just excited to have someone to talk to that understood her.  So sweet and she was a fount of information about the animated films coming up.  We finished up our conversation and bid each other good-bye.

I was happy before I even entered the show and it was a great movie - full of laughs.  My granddaughter and I danced to the music as the ending credits rolled.  On the way home, after dropping them off, I just told God how great the day was.  I thanked Him for answering my prayer so soon.  As I talked, I realized that He answered it by bringing people into my life that needed me.  I realized that tucking in is really just focusing on me and that in order to tuck "out", I would have to do something.   And that some thing was focusing on others.  I prayed and He answered my prayer by opening my eyes.  He is an expert in doing that, because He knows exactly what folks need.  He knew I needed to be needed.  Others needed to be loved or served.  He met our needs through putting us in a place to meet.

It will be a daily struggle for me, but I will keep praying and hopefully He will help me keep "looking"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blind But I Can See

                  I cannot see
                No longer me
                I meant to be
                All for Thee
                I did not see
           You only wanted 


For three days you cannot see.  Everything in your life is gone.  Your sight, your passion, your zeal.  In a handful of words, all you know to be true is nothing more than the darkness that surrounds you.  You do not know if you will ever see again.  You have no desire for food, water, any form of sustenance.  For what?  What life do you have to live? 

Oh, the guilt!  For a few short minutes you escaped the overwhelming, all consuming guilt.   The heretics, the defilers of the faith that you hunted like dogs.  The crazy Christian lunatics that calmly allowed themselves to be taken into custody, spouting forgiveness and praying God to have mercy on your soul.  You had them neatly tucked away, not concerned with their lot.  What was done with them once you did your job.  Your God-given job!

But it wasn't, was it?  It wasn't God ordained.  In fact, you were persecuting the Son of the very Person you claimed to love and serve.   How could it go so wrong? could you be so wrong.  And at what cost?

Human cost.  Theirs and yours.

What was left for this shell of a man you had become?  How could you ever make amends?  What sacrifice could possible blot out the stain of your sin?  What indeed, but the blood of One who not only forgave you for persecuting Him and His, but seeks You - to make you His own?  Maybe you were not so wrong about the crazy part.  This Christ must be crazy to think there is anything redeemable about you.....

Crazy, to still love you......

Monday, April 15, 2013

Too Little, Too Late

That day.......I remember it well....

I had just bought my first mini-van.  It was candy apple red and I was amazed at the room, the captain's chairs, the power of driving, riding head and shoulders above the rest of humanity.  Of course, this was all before I realized the repercussions this purchase would entail.  Before I discovered the crowd of kids I would be forced to transport to volleyball games, movies, and junior high parties because I owned the van! 

On this particular day, I was running a quick errand to the local pharmacy and had parked a far distance from the entrance, not wanting to get the first "ding" on my van.  Approaching the pharmacy door, I noticed HER.  The bag lady.  Now living in the suburbs, we did not have many of these.  In fact,  for all I knew, at this time, we only had one.  She was a woman in her mid fifties, streaked gray hair, and wearing the same dirty dress.  She pushed a grocery cart with an odd assortment of trash and items she must have picked up from curbside discards.  She was always going somewhere.  Her point of origin and destinations were always a puzzle.  Of course, I had heard the rumors.  She was an heiress, mildly deranged, that chose the streets over the mansion she owned.  She had a large bank account in an area bank, only drawing small amounts to subsist on.  No one could sift fact from fiction, but one thing I did know. She never talked to anyone.

On this day, she was smack dab in my path as I approached drugstore entrance, and I was a bit nervous.  I did not feel threatened by her.  I guess she was an icon of sorts.  She did not look my way as I entered, much to my relief, and by the time I was through shopping, I had forgotten she was there.  
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Leaving the store with bags in tow, I was startled to here a voice.  Even more so, when I discovered it came from our resident homeless person.  I turned and she quietly asked me if I would take her to a street about 5 miles away.  I was shocked and for a minute could not speak.  But I could think.  And what I thought about, in that split second, was loading that malodorous women and her garbage in my brand, new, candy apple red van....

In my reading this week, I happened to come across the Bible character, Nicodemus, .  He is one of those people you have mixed feelings about. You are impressed, that being a member of the religious right of the day, he approached Jesus.  A little less impressed when you remember it was under the cover of darkness.   He does rise a bit above the ranks when, with Joseph of Arimathea, he helps to obtain the body of Christ for burial.  But then he sinks a little when you remember that during the trial and persecution, this member of the governing sect was mute.  At a time when Jesus could have used a friend, Nicodemus was silent.

For some odd reason, this week, I saw him in a new light.  In my prior studies, I knew that Nicodemus had contributed costly spices to anoint the body.  For that same odd reason, this week I chose to dig a little deeper.  In the grand scheme of Rome, Jesus was not a major player. He had, however, brought a lot of attention to himself.  Enough so, that he was deemed a threat and special care was being taken after his death.  His body was to be buried and specially guarded.  

The amount of spices Nicodemus brought for preparation was estimated to be from 75 to 100 pounds.  That is a lot of spice but the weight signified was more than just physical.  It spoke volumes about the personage being prepared for burial.  The more important the individual, the more spices used for burial.  Josephus records the funeral preparation of  the famous Rabbi Gamaliel used a mere 40 pounds of spices.  My prior estimation of Nicodemus' final act had always been "too little, too late".  But was it?

If Nicodemus thought it was a threat to approach Jesus when he was alive, what was he thinking now?   He was really putting himself on the line.  The extravagance of the gift was a confession, a very public declaration of the importance he assigned to the life and ministry of Christ.  A man who had been executed for His actions.  This was a bold and dangerous move on Nicodemus part.

Well, I would like to tell you that I, like Nicodemus, made a bold, public declaration.  That I answered the homeless lady with a resounding, "Yes" and carted her and her stuff to the destination she had in mind.   But I did not.  I mumbled an excuse and quickly departed.  On the way home, I mentally listed the reasons I had declined.  She was insane, I could be in danger.  Maybe I had misunderstood her, she really had not asked me for a favor.

But by the time I got home, I could not even fool myself.  I told my husband where I was going and who I was transporting - our city homeless lady.   Amidst his heated protests, I got in my car and returned to the pharmacy.  Though my intent was honest, my timing was off.  She had moved on.  I drove down the street, half-heartedly, looking for her, but she was not to be found.  I was sad and relieved at the same time.

Regret is a very sad and empty feeling.  But if it spurs someone to future action, maybe it is not in vain.  I hope so, for both of us.....

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Body of Evidence

In Copenhagen, there is a statue of Thomas, the Twin, the disciple of Christ.  It is said to picture a thoughtful, meditative man that holds a rule in his hand.  I think that interesting.   

Thomas the Doubter?  Perhaps a finger beside his brow or a quizzical look upon his face.  After all isn't he the disciple who lacked faith, that did not believe Christ had risen.  No, he is not.   Thomas does not deserve this moniker.  

I am so against the one-dimensional way of looking at people.  We have so little time in our society today to really come to know a person.  For one, we don’t have the time to invest in them.  We don’t have the minutes to spend with them, to get to know someone. So we base our assessment on a few, brief bits of data.  We first take in the superficial look of a person.  Then we add a handful of comments they have made or more likely have been made about them.  Top it off with an action or two.  And voila, we have it!  We have summed up a man or a woman and that is that!

I think that is how it is with Thomas.  His whole life is summed up in three words.  Thomas the Doubter,  I think this unfair, always have
All that we know of Thomas is found in the gospel of John.  Our body of evidence in this case is limited.  There are three different passages  that shed light on the person of Thomas.

The first is found in John 11.  Jesus has heard of the illness of His friend Lazarus.  He tells His disciples He is going to Judea, to Bethany, the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha.
The disciples immediately remind Him that the people in Judea tried to stone Him just recently and they beg Him not to return.  But Jesus is adamant that He is going.  Thomas speaks, following Jesus' declaration.

16 Then Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, Let us go too, that we may die along with Him.

Thomas had been with Jesus in Judea when the opposition tried to stone Him.  He had felt the fear the other disciples had felt.  But He was the only one to voice his willingness to follow Jesus, even to, what may well have been, their death.  Thomas the Brave.  Thomas the Outspoken.  Thomas the dare to be Martyr.  Why had not one of those labels been attached to Thomas? 

The second time we get a glimpse of Thomas is at the Last Supper
Jesus is speaking to them of His leaving

And when I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.
And where I am going, you know the way.
Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?
Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by Me.
If you had known Me, you would also have known My Father. From now on, you know Him and have seen Him.

Remember that ruler?  Thomas could have been the person in the group that planned the journeys.   He may have picked the paths, the roads, made sure everyone got where they needed to be.  When Jesus said you know the way.  Thomas said, "Wait a minute - did I miss something.  Let me get out my GPS, give me those coordinates again.   Where is this hostel you are preparing for our  accomodations?" There would be no way to follow if they weren't given proper directions.  Thomas the Dedicated, Thomas the Bold, Thomas the Follower?  No, those names did not stick either

The last occurrence is what we study this Sunday.  I have often wondered why Thomas was not with the other disciples.  When Mary came from the tomb and told them she had seen Jesus, only two cared to even check out her story.   If they had believed the women's stories, why would they have remained behind those closed doors when Jesus came to them in that room?  They would have been out seeking Him.  Thomas was not with them. Maybe he was doing just that?   

When Jesus appeared to those hiding there, the first thing He did was to show them His hands and his side.  He did not wait for them to ask, He knew what they needed.  Then and only then did joy take the place of their fears. They also received the Holy Spirit.  

I don't know if you have been in a revival or spiritual retreat where a group of folks accept Christ as their Savior and receive the Holy Spirit.  They can be downright giddy and a little overbearing.  I can imagine when Thomas did get together with the eleven, they all appeared a little drunk, much like those at Pentecost might have appeared.  Plain spoken, concrete Thomas needed proof.   He had believed with all his heart in Jesus, his beloved Savior, and before he laid that broken heart on the line again, he needed proof.  When Jesus walked in the room, once more, He knew just what Thomas needed, not unlike those He had greeted earlier.  He offered physical proof.  But Thomas did not need to touch His hands or side.  He not only acknowledged his Lord Jesus, but He acknowledged His deity, His divinity, His Kingship over his life 

The body of evidence was enough to convince Thomas.   

The body of evidence?

What is His body of evidence?  I guess now it is you and me.  We are the Body, we are the evidence.  

How are we doing with that?  

Does the world see nail prints in His Hands.  Do they see how we  have suffered and yet believe.  Do they see our broken, bleeding side?  How we have sacrificed ourselves for each and every one of them?  Do they feel His love?  Do they see His love?  Do they know we are the love?

I wonder?

Saturday, August 18, 2012



I had such a good day at school

I did my work and tried not to talk

When my teacher was speaking

It was so very hard Daddy,

But I just thought of you

And it helped me to be good


College is really rough

The courses are so hard

The temptations are too great

I know how very much you

Have invested in me

So I will try to keep

On the straight and narrow

Remember me in your prayers


Remember when I told you

I could not wait to grow up

I was wrong, I could have waited

A family, a mortgage, a job

It seems too much to bear

But I have always been careful

To listen to your advice

So that is really what I am

Depending on right now,

That and our conversations.

Thanks for being the kind of father

I could always look up to

And never afraid to talk to


It is just you and me now

I won’t be bringing anyone

Else along on this trip

It has been a rough road

At times, but a good one

I have not always made the

Best choices, but you have

Stuck by me and loved me

No matter what I did

I am anxious to see you

It’s been a long time

God, I am ready when you are.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Snapshot

A snapshot

A snapshot of a man. You do not see what was before or what will come. A man who would be king meets the men who would be his subjects. He places himself before them. All that he is, that he has done, and the promise of what he will be. They accept him based on three things they know.

The book is 2 Samuel 5:5. The man is David, the subjects are the tribes of Israel. They accept him because he is kin, a son of the tribe of Judah. Second, they know he is what they need. He is a military man, with a score of successes to his credit. But most of all God has said he will be their shepherd, their ruler. Divine appointment.

What brought the man to this point? What made the man a king?  Was it being a shepherd as a small boy? Was it killing a giant as a youth? Was it being selected by Samuel to be the next king?  Was it playing a harp for the moody King Saul? His friendship with Jonathan? The hiding and fighting for his very life? All of the above?

What would take him from here? What would contribute to his rise as King? What would make him the husband or father he would become? What would make him the adulterer, the liar, the murderer he would be? If they had known what the future held, would they have entered the covenant agreement with him? We will never know because they would not have known.

What makes up a man? This week there has been a lot of information about men in the football world that took the accolades they had been given by the public and used them in the direct or indirect abuse of young children. The same thing that brought the attention to their achievements brought the platform that gave them license for the destruction of innocence.

What makes the difference? Is a man his actions or is it his heart? David was a man of good actions and bad actions. Which do we remember him for? His adultery with Bathsheba was sensational but so what his killing of Goliath.

For me it is his psalms. For me they show the heart of the man. Not only his heart for God, but the heart he showed God. As trite as it sounds, he bared his soul. And we have the evidence in print. In blood, in tears, in anger, in passion, in truth.

That is the man I choose to remember…the snapshot I choose to keep….

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Little Love In Your Heart?

I have a confession to make. I do not like Paul.

Let me re-phrase that. I did not like Paul, but he is growing on me.

In the lectionary, we have been studying the 5th and 6th chapters of Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth. And I have to admit, Paul has convinced me.

Of what, you may ask?

Of the fact that he is not the boastful, arrogant, self aggrandizing man I thought he was.

Now Paul is pretty black and white, where I am not.. But I can give him that, living in the time and climate of the day. The Body of Christ consisted of a fledgling band of believers, following a crucified messiah and whose leaders consisted of former fishermen, a zealot, a tax collector, and other less than stellar folks. And Paul was not working within that mainstream. He was in the outskirts, preaching and teaching to the learned and not so learned Gentiles. People who had never embraced the Jewish faith from which Christianity had drawn its roots. They were pagans, atheists, magicians, harlots, merchants, and everyday folk that were being asked to join a group that was more times than not being persecuted for its beliefs.

Give the guy a break, you say?

This week, I did just that. I got a peek at the man behind the boast. And believe it or not, I liked what I saw. In Corinthians 6, Paul is talking to the concern he has that the church there no longer carries the affection they once had for him. He starts out telling them of what he and “his” have done in the name of Christ. Imprisonment, beatings, floggings, near drowning. He then goes on to tell them how they persevered and endured much with integrity and purity, for the sake of bringing the gospel to the Corinthian church. But not on their own – he does not take the credit. God was with them, helping them to speak, to work, and giving them the right and left hand weapons to do it. And in spite of this, there were still many that would call them imposters, ingenuous, and trifling. Between you and me, I think he was speaking to his audience...

And the grand finale!

In light of all that, can’t you find room in your heart for me. Paul is not asking for the whole heart, just a small corner. It was as if he was asking me the same question. Can you not find a little affection for me? The scriptures you found in my teachings as a young wife and mother. The ones you memorized by heart, speaking and praying them in times of trouble. Can you not find kindness for me in light of the encouragement I gave you when you were being so hard on yourself. For making wrong choices or failing to live up to what God would have you to be. When you realized how I must have agonized after the Damascus road experience, laying there for 3 days. Blindness a meager blight compared to the pain I felt in my heart for those I had wrongly accused and brought to their deaths. How impressed you were that I did not bemoan my failings, though great, but turned my prior passion against Christ to passion for Him and those He loves. Thanking me for the realization that if I could pick myself up after so great a transgression, surely you could forgive yourself and start anew.

And you know what? I do have room for old Paul!

I have a place for this man who loved God with his whole heart. And I promise, to dig deeper. To read the writings and stories of him and others in the Bible with a grain of salt. To not allow scripture passages that are hard or difficult to scare me away, but to draw close and allow God to remove those scales from the eyes of my heart. To realize there is much in life that I must grow to understand and love.

Praise God for discomfort!