Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Emotional Newness Junkie





Most of us don’t run out of wine… or anything else, for that matter, on our wedding day.

It’s the one day when everything usually flows in abundance.

Food. Drinks. Love. Happiness. Celebration.  Dancing. Party.

Endorphins flow freely, and we feel love for the entire world… and the whole world loves us back.

It’s a wonderful beginning of the rest of our life.  The beginning of marriage. The beginning of a new family.

The long-lost soul mates are finally reunited.  We might be the polar opposites, but on that day, it just doesn’t matter.  I see clearly how perfectly we complement each other. How perfectly suited we are to complete each other. Effortlessly we fill out each others gaps. Nothing is impossible, no mountain too high, no ocean too wide, no obstacle too great.

It’s a glorious feeling that boosts our high hopes and even higher expectations...

The feeling, though, is not reserved for just the wedding day.  

It happens every time we experience a transition. 

A new baby.  

New job. 

New project.

New house. 

New country.

New pet.

New church. 

New... God?

The new brings promise of a desired future and all the accompanying emotions that go with it.

But, those rarely last. Sooner or later we are faced with emotionally depleted reality.


They ran out of wine.

Most of us find the beginning of the matter easier than the end.  We love the fresh start. Clean slate. The excitement of novelty.

But when the novelty wears off, the fresh becomes a bit …old, a bit stale… when the slate gets spills and splatters, dings and dents… when the bloom becomes wilted...what do you do?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When Wine Runs Out



No other gospel records this miracle of Jesus – His very first one. 

The occasion is ordinary and the occasion is special.  

A wedding.

Mary, Jesus’ mom is invited. And so is Jesus and His friends.

So far so good.

But something happens at this wedding, something quite embarrassing that triggers a series of behind-the-scene scuttles in futile attempt to remedy the situation.

They ran out of wine.

They ran out of wine?!!!

A torrent of questions forms in my mind.

How is this possible?

Who’s fault is it? Who miscalculated, who failed to plan, to deliver? Whose colossal mess-up is this?!!!

And, below the surface, there is this nagging dilemma:

With Jesus among the guests, 

how could it be that 

anything

anything at all 

could... 

would run out?

With Jesus in my life 

and yours, 

how could it be that 

anything, 

anything at all 

ever  

runs out?

I find myself daily at that place.  I am not just running low on milk.  Or wine. I find I am also running low on patience.  Running low on peace. And wisdom.  Running dangerously low on love and kindness.

Each day I find myself scraping the bottom of my barrel.  But the barrel seems completely empty.

And like Mary, I go to Him empty-handed and say,

We have a problem here.  We are all out... and  have nothing left ... 

Monday, April 28, 2014

I Spy With My Little...





Our family went out for dinner this weekend. It turns out, we share our taste for great Caribbean food with half the population of Central Florida, so we were warned of a long wait before our name was put down on the waiting list.

Armed with a pager and a lot of patience, I suggested a game to help pass the time.

Yea! Let’s play, 'I spy with my little eye'! The kids agreed enthusiastically, and we begun…

I spy with my little eye… something RED! I said, and the list started growing.  The sign.  The car. The frame…the...

We went from spying something red, to something white, to square, to tubular, to…when our son interrupted the game:

Did you hear that?

What?

The bzzz.. bzzzz…?

No.  We all stared at him.

THAT…just now…  did you hear it? The BZZZZZZ…. BZZZZ…?

My husband got the pager out of his pocket and looked at it, but there was nothing. 

No lights and no buzzing. 

He put the pager back in, and we continued with the game.

Then it happened again. We checked the pager.  Nothing.

Something triangular… something….

When we noticed the party of seventeen Latinos who arrived after us being seated, we knew that something was definitely wrong. 

Maybe the buzzer is broken, I said.  Or they forgot about us.

When we checked with the hostess, she said she had paged us several times a while ago.

I told you it was buzzing, our son exclaimed.  It was the BZZZ… BZZZZ of the pager I was hearing!

But there were no lights, my husband said, and nobody else…

Before he could finish, it dawned on us:

Of course! The only musician in the family of tone-deaf people, with his ear carefully trained daily to distinguish the sounds HEARD the pager!  

The rest of us were so absorbed, so distracted with what we were trying to see that our ears were rendered practically useless!


Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.  Isaiah 30:21

 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” 
Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 
He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
“Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.” Isaiah 6:8-10









Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Prayer of Unravelling



Years ago I was given a refrigerator magnet that says,

A day hemmed in prayer is less likely to unravel.

Wonderful as it may sound, I must challenge that.

Every day, I start my day with talking to God.  I end my day in talking with God and all throughout the day I stitch in and out, through and through, some short, some long conversations with Jesus. 

While I do dishes.  While I scrub toilets.  While I wash mirrors, and write, and respond to e-mails. While I water the garden, and organize papers, tune my son's violin, place orders on Amazon, talk with a friend.

Does this mean my days are a glorious quilt, neatly and perfectly stitched together?

By no means!

In fact, it seems like the more I open up to the Almighty, the more my stitches come apart, the greater unraveling ensues in my life.

I am serious. 

Yesterday was one of those days. Unraveling in the beginning. Unraveling at the end. 

I’ll spare you the details, but what the unraveling brought into focus is the subtle lie expressed in the magnet.

If I pray, if I invite God into my life, my life is less likely to unravel. I will be able to avoid and side-step disappointments, heartbreaks, confusion, frustration, unanswered questions... you name it.

Anyone who has walked with Jesus for any period of time, if they are honest, will tell you that nothing is further from reality.

If anything, it seems the more I open up to God, the more it is revealed to me how desperately I need Him. Every day. Moment by moment. The unravelings happens.  Upheavals happen. Very quickly I discover that I am at the end of my resources with nothing left.  And THAT’s a good place - that's a great place - for God to begin HIS work. 


Unravel me, 
o God, 
so that You and You alone 
can stitch me back together 
by the power of 
Your Spirit, 
by the grace of Your truth,
for Your glory
and Your glory alone. 


I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hope for the Hopeless




Just like Mary, I can have Jesus standing right in front of me and mistake him for the grounds keeper, or gardener, or coroner…

Especially when I am sad…when my eyes are so filled with tears I could use a bucket or two....

Especially when I am deeply disappointed and all hope seems forever lost.

Grief has a way of blinding our eyes…

Grief has a way of blinding the eyes of our faith.

With our head we still know that what is true is true is true...

All - ALL - God's promises are a resounding ' Yes!' in Jesus.

But with our hearts...?

When my heart is broken, it turns into a goopy mush that seems to have forgotten... that seems to question EVERYTHING that my head is trying to remind it...

Is God still good?

Does He see me?

Can He even hear me?

Why did He allow this…???

How can Love permit THIS?!!!

Like a broken record, I loop around the ever-descending downward spiral of gloom and doom. Checking empty tombs for shards of broken hope.

Until I hear a still, small voice calling out my name... 


There is nothing more personal in this world than when God calls your name.



Mary.... Mary.

When the One who created me and knows me better than I know myself calls my name...

Hearing a voice implies proximity.  You must be close enough to hear… and the person speaking must be close enough so I am able to hear him.

God... is close enough... to speak… to me!

God...
is close enough...

God is ...

near enough...

to speak...

to me.

Even me!

And this revelation, this lifting of the veil from our eyes, and our ears, and our hearts... this self-disclosure of God-who-is-near-enough-to-speak-to-me-so-I-can-hear-Him makes all the difference in the world.

All the difference in Mary's world.

All the difference in your world... and mine.

Today... if you hear His voice... do not harden your heart... Hebrews 3:7

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  John 10:27

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

When Blind See




I find myself in that place of overlooking what is 'hidden' in plain sight a lot.

Sometimes,  like my children hunting for Easter eggs, I keep checking all the old places again and again where eggs used to be hidden in years past, passing over the one right in front of my nose.  I know I already checked it, I know they are not there, but out of some quirky habit of mind, I have to double-check it one more time... and then again.

Mary did that on Easter morning. Last time she saw Jesus, His body was wrapped in linen cloths and laid inside Joseph’s tomb. First thing Sunday morning, the body wasn’t there. She went and alerted the disciples, assuming that the body was stolen. They came, confirmed that the body indeed was missing, and with nothing else left to do, went back to their homes, each to ponder the conclusions of their own.

Mary, however, didn’t leave. She lingered. Lingering is hard for those of us accustomed to fast-paced, what's-next, short-attention span, ADHD way of our world.

But, Mary stayed outside the tomb crying her eyes out.  

Heart has a way that logic knows nothing about.

Then she looked into the tomb again, as if to double-check, as if to make sure.  A curious thing happened then:

As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her,

‘Woman, why do you weep?’

 “They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.”

She just saw two angels but that didn’t seem to affect her at all?! As if she was blind to everything and everyone except for one thing. 

All she cared about was finding Jesus. 

And in her blind devotion, in her intense focus to find His body, she didn't see, she didn't recognize Jesus even as He was standing right in front her!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Seek And You Shall Find





Every year ever since the kids were very little, we’ve been doing an egg hunt at our house on Easter morning.  

The first time we did it, it was pure magic. Their sleepy eyes suddenly popped wide open, awed by colorful plastic eggs that miraculously appeared overnight.  When they found out that they were filled with candy…

Well, as I said, it was magical.

Of course, over the years, the magic wore off but an element of surprise still remains. 

Partially, because each year I threaten that

This is the last one we are doing.  I swear. You guys are way too old for it.

But, on Saturday night before Easter, something starts gnawing at me, I cave in, drag out the box with eggs and begin with stuffing. One can say that it’s my way of celebrating not only the God who rose Jesus from the dead back then, but also the God who never runs out of surprises for His children today. 

And the fact is, all His kids in our family still love the thrill of the hunt.

So we continued with the tradition despite their age, our age and all my empty threats. This has represented an ever increasing challenge for both kids and parents. For parents, the challenge is to find the age-appropriate places to hide the eggs, without insulting our children's intelligence or making it so difficult they want to give up. Initially, the bright plastic eggs were scattered pretty much in plain sight -  all over the floor and  furniture – easily accessible for toddlers to reach.

Then, we moved into the book baskets, inside the violin case and kitchen drawers.


Now it’s on top of the furniture, ceiling fans, inside the microwave oven and the refrigerator. Under the sink.

We still leave few eggs that we think are relatively easy to scoop up. 

Yesterday, the one 'hidden' in plain sight proved to be the hardest one to find. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rest




They heard Him say,

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

And cry out,

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

And,

Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.

And,


They were enveloped with unnatural darkness for three eternity long hours.

They saw the veil of the temple ripped from top to bottom.

They felt the earth move and shake and shudder under their feet.

And then, it was all over. 

His limp body taken off the cross. Wrapped in linens. Laid in a borrowed grave.

Except that they didn't know at the time that it was just a borrowed grave.

And then,

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. Luke 23:56

How does one rest after all they’ve seen and heard and felt?

How does one compose his or her soul, how does one quiet his or her body to rest after everything that had happened?


How does one scoop up all the darkness, and violence, and confusion, and love, and tenderness, and forgiveness and broken-heartedness and release them … like feathers… like butterflies… like doves into the love of God?


How does one gather up all the darkness, and violence, and confusion, and love, and tenderness, and forgiveness and broken-heartedness, wrap them in linen cloth and lay them in a grave and roll a stone over it?


Friday, April 18, 2014

The Three-Thirds of the Whole of Humanity






Three criminals from the death row were there that day with Jesus.

Criminal No. 1 is in a lot of pain.  He just wants it to stop. Immediately! So, he turns to Jesus and starts cursing and hurling abuse at Him:

Aren’t You the Christ? Why don't you do something????  Anything! If you really are God’s Son, if you are the Messiah, you don’t have to put up with this!  Save Yourself.  And, while You are at it, save us as well.

Now, Criminal No. 2 is also in a lot of pain.  But he can't put up with thatSo, he starts rebuking the first criminal:

Shut up, for heaven’s sake! Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this Man is innocent.  He has done nothing wrong and He is suffering the same penalty!

 He turns to Jesus and says,

Jesus, remember me... don't forget me... when You come... whenever that is... when You come... in Your kingdom!  


Truly I say to you, today... today... today... you... you... you...shall be.... with Me... in Paradise.

And then, there was the Criminal No. 3.  He had been thrown into prison for stirring up a riot in the city, and for murder. He was found guilty of the charges and is now waiting on death row for the execution of human and divine justice. His name is Barabbas.

It turns out that Friday is an incredibly lucky day for Barabbas.  For he learns that another man is going to be executed in his place. He is granted the pardon and is released to go free. Just like that.


There is no record of what happens to Barabbas after that. We can only imagine what he is thinking… what he is feeling as his rubs his bruised knuckles and ankles...

I should be hanging on that cross… I should have been there… but an innocent Man took my place… Innocent Man died so I could walk free…so I could live free...

It’s a life-altering, soul-altering experience…

…the guilty walks free…

… the Innocent One takes his place.

Three criminals… 

...all deserving death… 

...three-thirds of the whole of humanity represented here…

One Life-giving death for all of us...


God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  2 Corinthians 5:19-21

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Bread, The Cup and the Betrayal




The Lord Jesus

in the night in which

He was betrayed 

took bread;

and when He had given thanks,

He broke it

and said,

This is My body, 

which is for you; 

do this 

in remembrance of Me. 

In the same way

He took the cup also after supper,

saying,

This cup is 


the new covenant 

in My blood; 

do this, 

as often as you drink it, 

in remembrance of Me.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,

you proclaim

the Lord’s death

until

He comes.

I Corinthians 11:23-26

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Who Would Have Thought...???




Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?

Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
    a scrubby plant in a parched field.

There was nothing attractive about Him,
    nothing to cause us to take a second look.

He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.

One look at Him and people turned away.
    We looked down on Him, thought He was scum.

But the fact is, it was our pains He carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

We thought He brought it on Himself,
    that God was punishing Him for His own failures.

But it was our sins that did that to Him,

    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!

He took the punishment, and that made us whole.

Through His bruises we get healed.

We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.

We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.

And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
    on Him... on  Him.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What's Inside the Box?




If Christian life is a life of God's boundless unmerited favor and love towards all the undeserving, a life of GRACE - God’s Riches At Christ Expense - sooner or later most of us start to scratch our heads what this really means.

How does this translate into an ordinary Tuesday or Thursday or even a weekend or a holiday?

Where is love in the tsunamis, in the school shootings, church and abortion clinic bombings... where is love in endless days of depression, anxiety... in divorce? In a suicide? When the murky floods and mudslides are raging all around and on the inside... but no ark in sight?

Continuing on with the ‘candy’ box’ analogy, we begin to ask ourselves what is really inside that box.  The lid is off, the box is open, I reach in fully expecting – in faith – that I will get what I asked for… but what I get instead is an unwanted surprise at best…

Some days it’s a devastating blow… Like we remember today the Boston Marathon explosion exactly one year ago…

Other days, I reach in… and keep groping and scraping, grasping and grappling… but come out with nothing… nada... nista... nicht... like a child who found an empty plastic Easter egg, I go away, confused and empty-handed…

It doesn’t take long to realize that our own ideas about this new life in Christ may not be what we had hoped for or anticipated. 

That being a child of God rarely implies a life of vigorous health and comfortable wealth, a life of steady stream of green lights, crossing the finish lines with bursts of joy;  a life of freedom from pain and turmoil, disappointments and doubts, all sugar and sweetness, Pinterest worthy life of beauty and harmony and peace…

Clearly this is not the sole content of the box of life... 

For life dishes us both Almond Joy and Sour Patch. Sometimes it’s the Jaw Breaker or even Toxic Waste (which, by the way, is, for some perverted reason my children’s favorite).

In Matthew 5 we find some cues as to the content of this box...something that I seem to consistently miss when I look for the cues elsewhere...

Monday, April 14, 2014

LifeSaver for All






Mo and I stare at open the box, the realization slowly dawning on both of us that we might have overlooked something extremely important… 

All this time, we have been sorely underestimating the dear cost of the sweet treasures which was necessary for somebody else to pay...

All this time, we have even more deeply underestimated the heart of the Giver, the Father of Mercies and God of all comfort...  and the prodigious extravagance of His free offer.

Every one who thirsts, come Isaiah 55:1

No questions asked.

… to all who received Him, to those who believed that He was who He claimed to be, He gave the right to become children of God... John 1:11-13

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God... I John 3:1

...therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need... Hebrews 4:16

I look at Mo.  

He looks back at me. 


Then I look down at the box still sitting in my lap.

I pick out Almond Joy and hold it out.  It’s my favorite.

He shakes his sand-storm head, No. 

My heart sinks into my feet, but then he adds,

Actually, I am not big on chocolate.  I prefer LifeSaver. The sour gummy flavor. 

I laugh, my heart swooping back up into my chest.

Hmmm...I like that. I say, The sour kind? I think I’ll go for the sour LifeSaver too.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sometimes the Worst Might Be the Best







I came across this video few days ago.  I was struck by a couple of things that continued to resonate with me long after the short film was over. 

Could it be that sometimes in life the biggest challenges are the biggest opportunities, and some of the worst and most frustrating aspects of our 'training' might, in the end. 'save the day'.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  If you don't speak Thai, and can't see the subtitles because of the poor resolution, you can follow the link below and watch it directly on YouTube. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU4oA3kkAWU

Friday, April 11, 2014

Free But Not Cheap



Like Mo, I foolishly believe that what makes the difference between the deserving and not deserving is a set of syllables comprising the ‘right’ answer.  Consequently I can be easily bamboozled by slick speech, that like empty calories, slides down smoothly.

I exchange free grace for cheap talk.

But grace, even though free, is never cheap. Sadly, we’ve managed to cheapen the word itself by dissecting all life out of it.

For most of us, words are cheap. We say things, but we don’t mean it. On the world market, it’s the most devalued currency, because there is nothing as cheap as words. Like never before in history, we mass-produce words at astounding rate...Our world is a junkyard of words that cost us nothing. 

Other things are cheap.

Substitutes are cheap.

Knock-offs are cheap.

Imitation is cheap.

But there is nothing – nothing – cheap about grace.




At



This… this is an altogether different playing field. All of us are way out of our league here. We don’t belong. If we are honest with ourselves and others, we would realize that though the fa├žade may be different – some deplorable, some impressive – everyone is equally destitute in this place.  Thinking that I can bringing anything to this table – except for maybe my emptiness, and brokenness and hopelessness… a sheer insult.


But the moment I recognize it, the moment I accept it, the moment I come to Him empty-handed – nothing to offer, nothing to lose… I am finally at the doorway into life that is Life indeed...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Free For All




The candy box still in my lap, the lid off, I feel my feet squeezed inside Mo’s camouflage Made-on-Sinai crocs. 

Like Mo, I need the clear lines to navigate this life.

Black and white.

Right and wrong.

Do this and you live.

Do this and you die.

Get the answer right - right doctrine, right behavior, right thinking - get the candy.

I think I have it all figured out!

But, then, somebody walks in and either doesn’t know or doesn’t follow my rules.

This is wrong! You can’t do that!! I cry out, quite ignorant, quite blind to a different law at play.  All I know is that my lines are blurred and that I am unhinged. 

Like Mo, I resent the fact that you don’t have to do anything to earn your candy. It’s yours for the asking.  Just like that. No questions asked. It seems so meaningless and wasteful.

Anyone who will is allowed to come.

Not just once. 

Not just twice.

Not even three times.

Everyone is not just allowed but encouraged to endlessly keep coming back for more and more and more?!!???!!!


Letting the guilty go free.

 
Rewarding the undeserving.

It's outrageous! This reckless extravagance unnerves me because I see it as the candy for the soul.  Empty calories. No nutritional value.  No lessons learned.  No purpose served. Just a slap in the face of justice.

No distinguishing between the deserving and not deserving?  Those who earn their candy and…  the rest... ...of... us? 




The question lingers... how does one 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Feed My Sheep






I turn to the Mount Sinai personified, standing next to me in the Gap t-shirt.. The all too familiar mixture of fury and powerlessness rages inside his gray eyes.

I lean in, lowering my voice to almost a whisper.

Mo, I start, this morning as I was getting ready to come here, I asked Jesus if He has anything He would like me to do today.

At the mention of the Name, Mo’s eyes grow a bit bigger, the fury subsides and settles into something akin to curiosity. 

For Moses knows Jesus. I would say, Moses fiercely loves Jesus to the best of his seven-year-old ability.

And you know what He told me? I continue. He shakes his head an imperceptible ‘no’.

I wait a few moments before I answer the question.

He said,


I wait some more before I add.  

I am not kidding. And then, I said, What?!!! And He said again,


That’s all. I had no idea what He meant when He said that. Do you have any idea?

Again, Mo shakes his desert-sand-and-wind head.

I was still scratching my head over it, when I got here. It wasn’t like He gave me a menu or ingredients or anything like that.  He just said,




Tuesday, April 08, 2014

What's So Unnerving About Grace?




The little Moses in camouflage crocks got something right.

There is no such thing as free candy.  There is cost involved. Somebody, somewhere, some time had to pay the price.  The candy box is full because Mr. and Mrs. B went to Wal-Mart and generously spent their hard-earned wages on Lifesavers, and Tootsie Rolls and Blow Pops.  Nestle Crunches. Butterfingers. Baby Ruth. 

Almond Joy!

The candy, indeed, wasn’t free.

When it was brought into the Sunday School classroom, it was intended to be used as a simple motivational tool. A way to encourage children to listen.  To participate. To engage.

But, somehow, somewhere, for the little Moses, the classroom became an open market. A place where we get to exchange currency, goods and services.

The place of learning, the place of discovering the marvel of God's unmerited grace and mercy at Christ's expense turned into the world of rewards. And the world of punishments.

Rules and consequences. Order and lines. The world of black.  And the world of white.

Get the answer right.  Earn the candy.

Get the answer wrong. Tough luck. Try next time.

Simple as that.

You can’t just walk up there, and get it for the asking.  It’s foolish and wasteful.  No lesson learned. No right earned. Sooner or later in life, we all understand this very well.

Molly circles around. It’s the third time she is at the box.  All eyes in the classroom are super-glued on us. 

Is she bold? Is she brazen? Is she stupid??? Does she even know the rules?!!! 

When I say, Yes, again, I know I am pushing my luck. I am messing with their crossing-the-'t's-and-dotting-the-'i's moral construct. Not only have I crossed it, but I am dancing on the top of  the invisible line. 

My mom is going to kill you. Molly warns me as she reaches into the box and gets the wrapped piece of candy with her trembling fingers.

 I guess I am in trouble.

Oh, yes, you are!!

Monday, April 07, 2014

No Free Candy





You can’t do that!

Out of bright-blue Sunday morning sky, I was struck by the lightening flashing from the fiery eyes of a four-foot Moses in a GAP t-shirt and khaki cargo shorts.  The disheveled mop of desert-sand hair bouncing around his head, his hands pressed against his tiny hips. The only thing seemed missing was the rod-turned-serpent-turned-back-to-rod.

It was my once-a-month turn to help out in K-5th grade classroom. The usual teachers were not there, but the bag of props and the box of candy were sitting on the desk as if waiting to be put to good use. The moment I lifted the lid, Molly came over and asked if she could have a piece. 

Sure, I said, seeing nothing wrong in letting a child get a piece of candy, especially since she asked so politely.  When her friends saw it, they all wanted some too. So, one by one, they each walked up to me, with their best manners in place asked if they could have a piece. Everyone who asked received.  A line quickly formed, the entire class eager to get their share.  It was then that I got struck by lightening.

Oh.  I look up, the box still in my lap, the lid off.  And what is that that I can’t do?

You can’t give away free candy. 

Is that right?

Yes. Candy has to be earned. You MUST earn your candy.

Really?!!! And how exactly do you earn your candy?

You have to answer questions. He says with a frown, then adds. Correctly. You must correctly answer the questions, or…

Or…?

No candy.

Wow.  That’s strict. I say, the line, temporarily suspended by our interaction, moving again.

Yep. It’s very strict.


For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:16-17


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Follow the Voice





I came across this video just as I was thinking about following the Voice...  If a dog can do it, perhaps there is hope for all of us to be able to do it. Enjoy!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Nothing to Offer, Nothing to Lose




Biblical record is rather consistent, though… God regularly chooses to closely associate Himself with oddballs of every stripe and color. 

Drunkards. 

Dreamers. 

Whores. 

Liars. 

Poets. 

Foreigners. 

Cheaters. 

Adulterers. 

Outsiders. 

Murderers.

Yep.  That’s the kind of people God chooses for Himself.  My mom would not approve!

He picks up for Himself the empty. The broken. The cracked pots. Some of them might perhaps, in some past life be the used-to-be somebodies who screwed up so badly that they became nobodies.  Shattered shards. Who knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that for them there was no hope… no hope for them at all…unless... unless God shows up and does His thing... that He, and He alone can do. .

The fearless fools who cast all caution to the wind; who realize they truly have nothing to offer to God except the colossal mess they made of their own lives. 

The dumbos who have nothing to lose if they go all out on a limb with the God nobody else around them can see or hear… the madly-in-love fools blind and deaf to everything else except for that one Voice amidst the cacophony of billions of others…that whispers…


Trust Me…Follow Me…Come to Me… Stay with Me…You didn’t choose Me, but I chose you…

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The F.O.E.





This, of course, is a lot easier said than done. There are powerful both internal and external forces at play each day of our lives, which make such delightfully simple life extremely difficult to live out moment by moment. 

Craving peer (or even parental or other authority) approval is just a part of it.

Fear is another.

Our woeful insecurities that drive us to relentlessly seek approval from each other are tied with an umbilical cord to our fathomless fears. 

Take fear of embarrassment, for example. Our old, familiar FOE…

I am certainly not an expert, but this fear might be one of the most dominating principles that guides majority of our social interactions.  Who wants to be publicly humiliated?!!! Who volunteers for the 'shame' box?
It’s been tossed around that on the scale of worst fears, the fear of public speaking is right up there next to the fear of death.

Which means that I’d rather be dead inside a coffin and buried in a hole in the ground than posting myself in a place where I could potentially expose myself to the vulnerability of you thinking,

Wow, she is such an idiot! How could she make such a fool of herself!

Even without you, my own internal critic is always on the job,

Gee-whiz.  You are such an idiot.  Why did you do that?!!! And what were you thinking when you said that?!!!

No wonder so many of us choose to live buried alive (if you can call that 'alive'), hiding inside our coffins, rather than risking the exposure.

God, however, doesn’t seem nearly as concerned with His reputation as much as we are.  I mean, not only do I worry about my own reputation, I worry about... God’s! Who in their right mind would take such responsibility on their little shoulders?!!! Of course, majority of that may not be about Him at all, but that’s a topic for a different blog. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Foolish Faith




It may take a little bit of coaxing, it may take a little bit of cajoling and some of us might be willing to loosen up and make a fool of ourselves one day a year.  

If it’s socially acceptable.

If it is approved by our peer group.  

The rest of the year, however, we carefully weigh the cues, making sure we are within bounds. That we don’t step outside the lines. That we fit in. Our radar is on, our antennas are up as we tirelessly scan for the signals.

We all want approval.  We all want acceptance. We all need to be known and loved.  But when I seek to be validated by you, when I crave your acceptance and approval, when I am more concerned about what you think than what God thinks… I have a problem.  For this restless insecurity interferes with my faith signal… it messes up, it scrambles up God’s frequency in my life.

Jesus said,

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? John 5:44

How can you believe...?!!

This is tremendously sobering statement.

This is tremendously liberating statement.

It's sobering, because we trade in God - this amazing, indescribable, living, breathing Three-in-One I AM, YAHWEH, Emmanuel, the Alfa and the Omega, the Once-Dead-but-Now-Forever-Alive God - like a used car, for a newer model.

Enough said. I could stop here.

But, this statement is also tremendously liberating because...


It gets me off your hook.

And it gets you off my hook.

I don’t have to worry about you.

You don’t have to worry about me.

All we need to care about is the seal of approval from the audience of One.
And that has already been purchased and secured on our behalf by the price neither you nor I could ever earn or pay.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

LOL





I love April Fool’s Day. 

Growing up, we used to strategize for weeks how to pull pranks on each other. From the moment we opened our eyes on April 1st  there was this tingling sense of anticipation. We knew for a fact that we would fool at least one person and that somebody somehow will manage to fool us as well. And it was O.K. We could rest assured that there would be lots of good laughs in store for the day. April 2nd and weeks following were dedicated to retelling the best stories of all this kidding around.  More laughs kept flowing freely.

One day a year it was socially acceptable, even endorsed to be silly and have outrageous fun.

I think I need more than one day for this. I may want a whole week or even a month. As I look around, watch the news and follow social media, there is no question that some of us are taking ourselves way too seriously.  I know I do.  No kidding.

Look what’s happening with the movie Noah!  I haven’t seen it yet, so I’ll refrain from commentaries, but I can’t help but notice that a bunch of people have gotten so seriously serious about it. All so worried about so many things. As if God will fall over off His throne because an atheist took a stab at making a movie about the Great Flood. My thinking, as a former atheist is, Hey, an atheist took a stab at making a movie about the Great Flood!

But, I know their feelings. Exactly. As they say, Been there done that.

So, the International Fools Day comes at the most opportune time. For it seems to me that we all need a bit of comic relief.  Taking a step back and perhaps setting aside a day to fool around. It’s not going to kill us and the world won’t topple off its axis. Plus, it may do both our souls and our bodies some serious good.  After all, Laughter is the best medicine, remember? So, go ahead, LOL today. Don't just text it. 

A word of warning, though. You may get hooked! You may find out that having fun is contagious. That enjoying life is addictive…

Who knows, that might be exactly what we all need.  At least for a day… or a week… or, perhaps, even a whole month.

But, I need to run now... I have some pranks to prepare...