Mar 272016

good newsAnother sleepless night. My excuse? The neighbor’s very small dog with a very piercing bark. Incessant, all night long. Good news? Not so much. The disciples excuse? Their Savior crucified and buried. Their futures questionable. My solution? I’m up writing. Their solution? Mary, the one who had been forgiven much,  went back to the tomb. Why, I don’t know. Maybe searching for connection with the One Who knew and loved her best?

Finding Jesus missing, a series of sprints take place with Mary telling the disciples, John and Peter coming to look. Would no news have been good news? Did they think that the Jewish leaders or the Romans had done away with the body to discredit them?

Mary, grief-stricken, asks the gardener where the body has been taken so that she can retrieve it. Only when she hears Jesus say her name, does she realize that she is speaking to her Savior. Talk about Good News! She races back to the disciples, again, this time with a different story.

I was reading this account in John 20 with my kids class at church. We talked about good news. One student said, “That’s not good news! That’s freaky, good news!

While the sun is threatening to spill over the eastern edge of my valley, am I just calmly thinking of Jesus’ resurrection as good news, okay news, traditional news, old news, news I’ve head before that I’ve built resistance to?

Or, am I amazed and awestruck yet again that the Jesus story is real. That with His resurrection, He made good on His promises. That the God/man who dove headfirst into this hell of sin to save us proved that love conquers all, proved that His equality statement, God = Love, is true, proved that He had and has power over death. That our truly superhero, Captain Universe, is not only alive, but is working for us right now! He stands before the Father, and the rest of the universe and says,”My life and death walk proves my right to move my redeemed ones to SAVED status not because of what they’ve done, but because my name, and my blood, covers them.

Now that’s not good news..

That’s Freaky Good News!!

Mar 312012

Successful. Charismatic. Powerful. He redesigned his country’s judicial system from the ground up. He personally led his people in a nationwide spiritual revival. He commanded a standing army that dwarfed that of the United States. He would have been a serious contender for Time’s Man of the Year!

In spite of all that, the instant his recon squad made their report, he knew that he was in over his head. They reported that the combined armies of three neighboring countries had already invaded his country and were dangerously close to the capitol city. Alarmed, he hired a team of consultants….. No. Alarmed, he reinstituted the draft and considered weapons of mass destruction…… Uh.. No.

Alarmed, he called all his people to join him in the capitol- men, women, children.  He asked them to fast and then led them in prayer.

“For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 1 Chronicles 20:12 NIV 1984

And “they stood there before the Lord.” verse 13

The answer came from an unexpected place. A man addressed the king and said he had heard from the Lord.

This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.  You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’”  verses 15-17

Early the next morning, they looked down across the valley and the enemy camp. Not one man was left standing. They had slaughtered each other to the last man. The victory was more far-reaching than just the outcome of that day’s battle.

The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.  And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side. 1 Chron 20:29-30

Jehoshaphat knew a few things.

He knew about mission. He devoted his life to making his country one where people had high value and his Lord was central.

He knew about vision. He knew that only by focusing his eyes solely on God could he hope to be successful and to be successful at the right things.

He knew about humility. He knew that he was totally dependent on the power of God in his life.

He knew how to listen to those God sent to support him.

I face challenges today. Do you? 2012 still looms large, a year filled with uncertainty. My job. Staffing. Expenses. Revenue. My family. Distance. Separation. I don’t have all the answers yet. But I know Who does.

I know that with His power I can live and lead in a way that will please Him.

I know that if I keep my eyes focused on Him, everything else will become clear and in a way that makes Him look good.

Unlike the character in the fable that rhymes with the title of this post, Jehoshaphat was not deluded into believing foolish falsehoods, but kept his eyes focused on his Lord, enabling him to recognise and follow truth when he saw it. How about you?

Sep 182011

Grape. That was the color of Pete’s new bicycle.  Metallic grape with shiny high rise handlebars and streamers from each handle and a banana seat. Jet black knobby tires and red reflectors. A basket between the handlebars and even a pretend lisence plate with his name on it! Pete just turned six and this was his birthday present! Sitting on the grass in the back yard, he stared at it, resting in all its glory, the kickstand keeping it upright.

“Pete,” his mother called from the back door,”are you ready to ride?” He nodded vigorously. He could hardly wait for it. Almost flying, he thought. It must be almost like flying. His mom came out the door and called to his dad to join them. She walked halfway down the gentle hill in the back yard and waited.

Pete felt his dad lifting him onto the seat and placing his feet, one on each pedal. Kicking the kickstand up, he held the bicycle upright by the back of the seat. Suddenly the ground seemed to be very far away! He couldn’t even touch it with his toes unless the bike was leaning. He started to tremble and looked behind him to make sure his dad was still holding on. The handlebars jerked sideways as he looked.

“Don’t look back, son,” his dad said. “Look at your mom!” Pete looked across the yard to his mom waving at him with reassurance. He looked at the ground, seemingly so far beneath him and the bike tilted to the side. “Don’t let go, Dad!” he hollered. “I’m right here, son,” he heard his Dad’s voice behind him. Push on the pedals!

Pete pushed on the pedals and felt the bike move forward. Looking back, the bike began to wobble. “Look at your Mom,” his dad repeated, “Don’t look back and don’t look down!”

Have you ever had someone tell you that you just needed to have more faith? How do you do that? I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled to figure out how to “have” more faith. Somehow I needed to find a generator inside me somewhere to make some. Then everything would be ok.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! I can’t make more faith anymore than Pete could make his bicycle stay upright! Listen to the words from Hebrews 12:2 in four different versions.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.  Good News Translation

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. The Message

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. New Living Translation

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,  New International Version

We don’t need to focus on the ground, on the bike pedals, or on who’s holding the seat. Just like Pete, we need to keep our eyes glued to Someone ahead. We need to keep focused on Jesus who not only gives us the very faith we need to trust Him, but makes it grow in our hearts as long as we keep our eyes on Him.

Feb 102011

In my mother’s kitchen, there is a fridge. On the fridge there is an old piece of paper. On the paper is a drawing of a very strangely shaped lion drawn years ago by one of my nieces.  It gets lots of attention. Sooner or later, everyone who visits the kitchen sees the lion and hears the story about who drew it and when. My niece knows that it still hangs on the fridge and that her grandma has bragging rights on it!

Now, she is a quite accomplished young sketch artist. While part of her might be embarrassed that this earlier creation of marginal artistic value is still featured in a place of honor, I think that another part of her is pleasured to know that her art is valued by someone she loves, someone who loves her back.

Bragging gets a lot of bad press. Most of the time, it is negative only when self promoting or when it is used to devalue someone else. There is one time when bragging is always okay. It is when we brag about our Father in heaven. While I have spoken about this in passing before, I felt impressed to focus on it today.

Our Father loves to hear His children tell stories about Him! One way to worship is to tell stories about Him. One way to build faith, yours and that of those around you, is by sharing what He has done for you and in you.

But as for me, I will always have hope;
   I will praise you more and more. 
My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
   of your salvation all day long,
   though I know not its measure.
Psalm 71:14-15 NIV.

Is that great or what! David was so good at bragging on God. I just love these words, “I will praise you more and more.” David even says that he is going to brag about how good God is, even though he doesn’t know how to measure it!

When God does something for or in you, don’t keep it a secret! Tell about it! Tell your husband. Tell your wife. Tell your kids! Tell your work colleagues! Tell about it at church! Make a news event of it! Share it freely!

Father, let me boldly share what You do in me with those around me. Let my words make You happy! Let my stories bring a faith blessing to others.

Jan 272011

 She pushed on, further and further, gathering a few twigs here and there that had been missed by others. Suddenly, a long shadow crossed her path. Startled, she looked up and involuntarily gasped.  Skin bronze-baked by the sun, lips cracked and bleeding,  the man swayed slightly in the harsh wind that blew his long, unkempt beard. His clothes were dusty and sweatstained.

He leaned toward her. Dark, piercing eyes arrested her attention. His mouth opened and he spoke, his first words sounding like a rusty, long-unused hinge, then growing smoother, deep and rich-

He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 1 Kings 17:10 NIV

His voice quickly dissipated in the oppressive heat. She slowly stood, keeping her eyes fixed on him.  Her heart began to beat, drumming loudly against her rib cage. “Give”, she heard the voice between heartbeats. She involuntarily looked around her for the source.  Looking  back at the man, her eyes softened as she recognized his need. She nodded slightly and turned to make her way back to the well at the edge of town.

“And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” verse 11

Incredulously, she turned again to face the man.  Surely he wasn’t serious!

 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” verse 12

His gaze never wavered.

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. verse 13

Have you ever been asked to give in a way that didn’t make sense?  God does not need to make His requests subject to a test of obvious logic in our minds.

Father, give me the faith to give when You say to give and how You say to give.

Jul 192010

Since I wrote last, our workplace has become more tense as business challenges caused income loss for some. It is so easy to succumb to a range of very human and normal emotions when bad things are happening: fear, anger, discouragement. It is so easy for us to let these emotions drive us to strike out in word and deed, hurting those around us.

Our Father has a plan for us when things go bad, and it has nothing to do with our abilities! In fact, it makes no sense, humanly speaking.

Karrie Roberts, a new Christian solo artist, blessed me recently with the following lyrics:

I’m running back to your promises one more time,

Lord that’s all I can hold on to,

I gotta say this has taken me by surprise, but nothing surprises you.

Before a heartache can ever touch my life,

it has to go through Your hands,

and even though I keep asking why, I keep asking why,

No matter what, I’m gonna love You,

no matter what I’m gonna need You,

I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not,

I’ll trust you, no matter what, no matter what.

When I’m stuck and there’s nothing else by myself,

I’m just sitting in silence,

there’s no way I can make it without Your help,

I wont even try it.

I know You have Your reasons for everything,

so I will keep believing, whatever I might be feeling,

God you are my hope, and you will be my strength,

No matter what, I’m gonna love You,

no matter what I’m gonna need You,

I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not,

I’ll trust you, no matter what, no matter what.

Choose to listen to the entire song if you wish >

Did you ever think about that? Did you ever think that every challenge we face has been previewed by our Father? That every struggle we experience has been evaluated in advance by the One who loves us more than we can imagine? What will it take for me to say, “OK, God, I’m stuck! I can’t do a thing!” Do you know how excited He gets when we finally admit that?

Father, I love You! Give me the strength to trust you, no matter what!

shared 7/19/10.

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