He’s not done~so we can’t quit either

There are times when I am so tempted to lose hope for certain situations. I’m writing from Chicago and there have already been 40 shootings with 4 people killed this Memorial weekend. That’s in spite of so much effort by community leaders, police and churches to stop the violence. It would be tempting to think Chicago is never going to be a safe place for all of its citizens.

Kevin and I watched Waiting for Superman last week and were reminded that though president after president (everyone since the 1970s) has signed education bills to rescue our schools, nothing has changed. It would be easy to look at our current presidential candidates and shudder. None of them look like they have superman capabilities. It would be easy to lose hope for our schools.

This weekend, over 700 migrants may have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. I learned that a  Syrian family Kevin and I met while in Turkey last February is still waiting for the go-ahead to immigrant to Canada even though they’ve been approved for immigration. The unsafe regions of the world are not getting safer. Sadness or indifference at problems that don’t go away seem reasonable responses.

But, we can’t lose hope or give up or quit.

Jesus is still working!

Mark 16 says that He has returned to the Father where He is sitting at His right hand and He is working for those He left behind. Hebrews 7:25 says Jesus prays for us. I John 2:1-2 says He is advocating for people who have decided to follow Him. He is also preparing a place for us (John 14:1-3) and fulfilling His Father’s will. He is not giving up on us or our world. He is still hard at work. Can we do any less.

After months of reading in Mark, I reached the last verse this weekend.  Mark has challenged, comforted, instructed and corrected me. I still have so much learning and growing to do. When I feel tempted to think I will never be all that God dreams me to be or all I want to be, I can take heart in knowing God doesn’t give up on me and that Jesus is still working with me. With you, too. And, beyond you and me- He is working in our world so that everyone can know that He is God’s Son and experience the abundant life He came to give us.

DSC_0062

taking courage

DSC_0033Do you ever feel the need for more courage than you have? I sometimes do. This week, in my quiet time, I’ve been reading Mark 15 where I see Jesus’ courage in the face of death and I also see courage in an ordinary man named Joseph. This is how Mark tells the story….

When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.

Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.

Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

Not only do I have a Savior Who persisted through incredible suffering, Joseph shows me it is worth the effort to be courageous. I think he was able to do what needed to be done because he was waiting for the Kingdom of God. He wasn’t creating a kingdom for himself but he wanted God’s Kingdom. Because he was standing by, waiting, he was able to be attentive to the need and step up for what needed to be done. It was uncomfortable, probably dangerous. But, he took courage.

On Sunday, I was privileged to share at church about life as worship. Everyday, and in every way, you and I have opportunities to do all things as unto God and for His glory. Sometimes that means rest- and sometimes it means work. Sometimes those tasks He gives us to do are life-giving and joyful. Other opportunities are stretching, uncomfortable and daunting. When those come round the bend, we can follow Jesus’ and Joseph’s example and take courage.

God has blessed me with many sources of help that make it possible for me to take courage. They are like gentle rain for my soul….

~His presence, Christ indwelling me, the Holy Spirit teaching me each day how to live
~His Word that reveals Himself and His ways to me
~His principle of rest. I need my Sabbath rest so much and I’m so thankful for this generous provision
~His people who help me live. Kevin, my family and friends- especially those who stay current with me and pray

DSC_0038

In His last words….

DSC_0030Pieces of stories I heard today
disturb my sleep
so I open my Bible to Mark 15
and read Jesus’ last words

My God, My God
Why have you forsaken me?

Matthew records the same phrase
but Luke captured Jesus saying
Father into your hands I commit my spirit
and John recorded Jesus’ triumphant announcement
It is finished

And in His last words
Jesus teaches me
to express my grief
when evil seems to win

to commit myself to God
and believe God’s purposes
are being accomplished
even in death

 

Who remains with you?

A friend left this week on a solo adventure to Africa. God gave her a very special task to do and she is fulfilling His call on her life. When she first perceived what He was asking, she sought out wise counsel and companionship from friends. As the day for her departure drew near, she gave her inner circle of friends a prayer guide so they could be with her in prayer as she traveled to complete her assignment. Her actions followed Christ’s pattern. When He needed help, He did the same thing.

Jesus took His disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was going to be arrested. He told them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch. (Mark 14:34)

Even on His way to death, Jesus is teaching us how to live. He was brutally honest with His friends. He didn’t think, “This is the moment I came to earth for. I’ve got to hold it all together and be strong, brave and in control. I can’t show any weakness now!” No, He was transparent.

He was also current. So many of us call on our friends AFTER we’ve come through a testing time. We say things like, “Last week I was really depressed, but I’m OK now.” We don’t invite people to stay with us through our dark times.

DSC_0008 (1)He knew Who to call on. He had an inner circle of friends. It’s true His friends went to sleep on Him. They weren’t good at keeping watch. But, those were the guys He called on even though He knew their weaknesses and that they would let Him down. Our friends may let us down, too. They may go to sleep on us like Jesus’ disciples did to Him. They may not know how to show up or what to say. But, we need to have an inner circle of friends we can turn to when we’re struggling.

We need people in our lives we can be currently transparent with. I have a small circle of friends that includes family and friends, people near and far. Over the years, that circle has sometimes DSC_0021 (1)gotten pretty small with all our moves and the changes in other people’s lives. But, there is a faithful nucleus that blesses me so much by their company and choice to stay current and transparent with me. On the flip side, I’m so grateful for the friends who invite me to do life with them. That is such a huge privilege and honor!

Do you have people who stay with you? Are you transparent and current with them? Let’s follow Jesus’ example and invite people to do life with us and keep it real between us. Let’s not do life on our own.

(And- if someone turns to us and asks us to “stay with them,” let’s step it up from how the disciples remained. Let’s accompany well by listening, being attentive, supporting however we can and sticking around as long as needed….)

 

 

When God said no to Jesus

In the last few months, many of my friends have faced incredibly hard times. Times when it seemed God said no to them. A wife died, a husband lost his job, a friend is still waiting to get pregnant, an almost grown-child made a very bad choice and broke the parents’ hearts and hope again. There is no way around it- no isn’t the answer you and I want when we pray in faith, believing God to do great things for us.

My reading through Mark has brought me to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had gone there to pray and He brought his disciples so they would pray with Him. He told them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” He reached out for help and companionship and His closest companions failed Him. They slept.

Jesus fell. To the ground. Distraught and in deep need, He asked God, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from me.” In that prayer, I hear the echoes of His teaching about prayer; if you need a mountain to be removed, pray and it will be gone. If you pray in faith and believe, it will be done. And, yet. It wasn’t done for Jesus. The cup didn’t pass. He was arrested, tortured, condemned, crucified in a very public and horribly painful way. God said no to Jesus.

If anyone has faith, it is Jesus. His faith is perfect. He is One with the Father and knows the Father’s powers and heart in ways we’ll never know. He asked. The Father said no.

But, He didn’t just ask. He submitted Himself to the Father’s plan. His prayer also included these words, “Yet not what I will but what you will.” More than what He wanted, He wanted what God wanted. It was harder for Him to submit than we’ll ever know, harder than it ever is for us to relinquish our will to God’s. But, He did it. He died for you and me.

Kevin planted tulips in our yard last fall. All winter they did their waiting underground. In spring, they pushed their way to life and after more waiting, burst into beautiful flowers. Now, they are slowly withering in place, dying for the flowers who will live next spring. As they die, they are nurturing the bulb hidden underground.


I love the flowering seasons of my life- when everything is coming up roses. The waiting for something to happen or the season of dying are not my favorite parts of life. But, they are needed. During those seasons, it may seem that God is saying no to us. We may not even be sure that God hears our prayers when it appears nothing is happening or it appears everything is moving towards something that looks like death.

God said no to Jesus because God loves us and this was His plan to rescue you and me. But Jesus’ death wasn’t the end of the story- and even Jesus knew it wasn’t. He knew, He had predicted, that He would live again.

You and I have so many promises about our life with God. Even in seasons of waiting or death, there is hope in His presence, His care and compassion, His help and resources, His promises that nothing can separate us from Him and that He is with us always.

If you and I are hearing  no from God right now, can we be like Jesus and submit to God’s plan knowing that this hour will pass? There is life, renewed life, ahead for you and me.

 

Weekly Rest


Last week was intense with long hours filled with work and wonder at all God was doing. Saturday and Sunday were full of blessings, too, but their fullness filled the days. This week promises to be a little lighter only by a smidgen. So, I woke up today ready/excited for our Sabbath rest.

Kevin and I take our work seriously and strive to be fully engaged with what God puts on our plate each day. We are able to be 100% invested because we know Sabbath is coming!

How do we Sabbath? We prepare on Saturday and Sunday so we’ll be able to fully stop all forms of work and come away with Jesus. When we wake on Monday we take our daily exercise/prayer walk and then head to our favorite coffee shop for some extended time with Jesus. The afternoon is spent playing; hiking, walking, painting, biking, reading, napping are some of our favorite choices.

Our Sabbath usually ends late Monday afternoon. We are thankful that we can usually dedicate 8 -10 hours to this weekly practice.

Why do we Sabbath? Well, the pace of the rest of the week would be unsustainable without this day of rest. imageBut, more importantly, Jesus gave everything for us so we could be in relationship with Him. Mark 14:22-25 reports about the Last Supper. Jesus gave his life for us because He loves us. The Eucharist reminds us of the cost of our relationship with God. In that reminder I’m motivated to set aside time to just be with Him, to just be me with Him. I love this day so much because I can slow down, breathe deeply, and enjoy my Savior.

Someday I’d like to practice a 24 hour Sabbath, but I’m so blessed that we can take the time we do. What about you? Do you get away with Jesus for a few hours once a week? What does it look like? What would you like it to be like?

May each of us find our best way to practice Sabbath rest.image

 

 

She has done all she could

There are so many courageous women in the world, and I have some pretty special ones in my life. Their courage to take on new challenges, face hard times, fight for all that they believe in spurs me on to be the best woman I can be.

DSC_0021Jesus had two encounters with women who lived like my friends. One was very poor. Yet, out of her poverty she gave all she had and Jesus praised her. (Luke 21:1-4 and Mark 12:43-44) Then, just before Jesus was to go to Jerusalem and die, another woman anointed Jesus with very expensive perfume (Mark 14:43-44.) He praised her and said, “She has done all she could…”

DSC_0023My friends who follow in the footsteps of these women do not say, “Well this is just the way I am,” or, “That’s life.” Instead of settling for their circumstances and weaknesses, they give their best to life, investing all of who they are in the life God has given them to live.

What does it mean to do all we can do? First we must be who we really are and then our actions can come from our true identity. Who are we? Children of the most High God who have been redeemed by our Savior and who are deeply loved, always forgiven, rescued and given all we need for life and godliness. If we know who we really are, then we are able to live lives of faith, trust, and do greater things than we can imagine because we’re not living in our own strength, in the life we could give ourselves. Living who we really are positions us to receive the gift of abundant life that Jesus came to give us and from that- well, the sky’s the limit in what we can do.DSC_0022

But, there is a warning I must give… Doing all we can do should never ever replace being who we really are. We can get so caught up in doing that we forget how to be. Be with God. Be who we really are. Be. If we are not careful, doing all we can will lead to finding our identity in what we do instead of who we are.

This is a heavy lifting-doing month for me. My days are extra long and full of wonderful opportunities to give my best to God and those I love and serve. But, my acts of doing this month are not who I am and I’m glad this intense season will not last much longer. But, whether the work load is heavy or light, you and I want to give our best to God, don’t we? Let’s remember the doing has to come from the being. Both are so important.

I Corinthians 10:31 says, “ So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” So let’s do our best from who we really are; people who live, move and have their being in Him. Acts 17:28.