May 22, 2013
PB started preaching through the book of Acts a couple of weeks ago. I love Acts – it reads like a movie script with action-packed drama on every page. Acts is short on doctrine and theology, but long on what it looks like to be a Christ-follower. It should be a fun summer.
Last Sunday we took a good look at Acts 3 and I’ve been thinking about that crippled man begging outside the temple ever since. All the poor man wanted was a little spare change, but instead he received an instant and complete healing. When Peter spoke the name of Jesus over him, strength poured into his legs and you know those legs couldn’t help but dance. “He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:8)
He danced right into church.
I know what it feels like to be a crippled beggar.
Stress and fear can lock me up, making me feel paralyzed.
Daily, I beg – for forgiveness…
for the ability to serve with gladness….
for an obedient heart.
But speak that precious Name over me and there’s power…
to lift my head with the assurance of His love…
to fill my heart with a fresh desire to serve…
to strengthen my will to carry out His.
We should all be dancing into church.
May 17, 2013
For the first time in five years, the Milwaukee Brewers opened the baseball season with a win, stirring up hope among the faithful for a promising summer. Then they lost the next five games. A week later the Brew Crew began a nine game winning streak, causing fans’ confidence to soar. But it wasn’t long and the losses started piling up – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in a row. This is what you call a streaky team. For fans, it’s a roller coaster ride.
In comparison, the leaders of the division (the St. Louis Cardinals – boo!) have one stretch of wins (when they played the Brewers – yikes!). Most of their season looks like this: L, W, L, W, W, L, W, W. This is what you call a consistent team. They lose some games, but win more. For fans, it’s a lazy river ride.
I think my spiritual life resembles the Brewers more than the Cardinals. I am probably what you’d call a “streaky” follower of Christ. (Also, I’ve been a streaky blogger, as of late.) I am gung-ho when it comes to starting a new spiritual discipline, and tend to begin strong before falling into a pattern of fits-and-starts. If the losses outnumber the wins, I’m tempted to throw in the towel on the whole endeavor.
At least I’m not alone. In Psalm 119: 5 David wrote, “Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set.” (Message) “Oh, how I want to follow consistently.” (Living Bible)
The beauty of both baseball and living a steady Christian life (and blogging) is that every day is a chance for a new beginning. Every game offers a fresh start – so does every inning……and every at-bat. God assures us that His mercies are “new every morning” as well. We just need to keep showing up at the park, keep stepping up to the plate, and keep swinging at the pitch.
I thank God for His steady, consistent love for me. And for a fresh batch of mercies waiting for me every morning.
May 4, 2013
And the Mother took the Toddler and put him in the Kitchen of Nonnie to explore and discover. The Toddler played happily in the tupperware cupboard and the utensil drawer for many hours. Then the Mother commanded the Toddler, saying, ”You are free to play in any cupboard in the kitchen; but you must not play in the cereal cupboard, because you will surely dump out the boxes onto the floor and get your first taste of sweetened cereal which the Nonnie never bought her children when they were growing up.” But the Toddler saw that the boxes in the cupboard were pleasing to the eye and desirable to taste, so he opened the door over and over and over. Thus, the Mother had to repeat, “No, no” over and over and over.
The Nonnie stood back and marveled. Making a law forbidding the cereal cupboard was an excellent idea. What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making it a piece of ”forbidden” fruit (loops). (Romans 7:8, The Message)
Even a one-year-old can demonstrate biblical truth straight out of Romans 7.
May 1, 2013
It’s been a glorious two weeks.
For a window of time, all the kids were home along with spouses, fiance and grands.
Counting PB and me, that makes thirteen…and counting.
Two more babes will join the tribe this year.
Here are some lessons from the past two weeks:
Keep looking out for each other.
You can never have too many bubbles.
If you just keep sucking it up, something good will happen.
Chocolate chip cookies are best at Nonnie’s house.
Make sure you get a little sunshine every day.
Things aren’t scary when someone big is holding you.
It doesn’t matter if you have a booger hanging out of your nose as long as you’re happy.
Double chins are cute.
Don’t under-estimate the power of a good nap.
These are the Glory Days.
April 20, 2013
He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Deuteronomy 26:9
Over twenty times, the land promised to the Israelites was referred to as “a land flowing with milk and honey”. Now I know why. They were a new-born nation — babies in their relationship with God. They needed milk, with a little honey added in for sweetness.
Back in the desert days, the people yearned for their old Egyptian fare. In a classic case of selective memory they wailed, ”We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost.” (Sure, food was free — but they weren’t.) “Also, the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.” (I can understand them missing the taste of fresh melons, but leeks and onions?)
God didn’t entice His new nation to Canaan with the promise of pickles and garlic. Oh, no. Milk and honey was on the menu because God knew that’s what they needed. It wasn’t a land flowing with steak and potatoes, burgers and fries, or beer and brats. Wholesome milk with a touch of honey — perfect for a young community.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8
April 14, 2013
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow up in your salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2
Newborn babies have one thing on their minds — milk.
They crave it, they cry for it, they live for the next feeding.
When they are hungry, their miniature mouths open wide as they frantically search for the source, then land it and guzzle like there’s no tomorrow.
They suck with all their might, jaw muscles pulling, drawing, tight and strong.
Milk is what they desire — milk is what they need.
Without it they would die.
So they cry out every few hours for more and more and more.
Elijah and Eleanor inspire me.
I watch their single-minded intensity and I am envious.
To want something so desperately and to be so completely satisfied by the nourishment it gives –
they are teaching me how to love God’s Word.
They also are reminding me that newborns require regular feedings and must be treated with gentleness and patience.
Neediness, dependence and messiness is to be expected.
Developing into a grown-up takes time.
May we give those newly born into faith the same kind of nurturing care.
April 7, 2013
Eli and Ella fit like puzzle pieces.
They smell each other and feel comforted.
They feel each other’s breath and rest peacefully.
“How good and how pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity!”
April 1, 2013
I hope you had a lovely Easter.
I hope you breathed deep of the lillies.
I hope you celebrated the empty tomb.
I hope you worshiped the risen King of Kings.
I hope you ate candy and cheesecake and strawberry pie.
I hope you didn’t judge me when you drove by our house.
I hope you understood that just recently the snow banks melted enough to reveal the buried Holy Family.
I hope you know I begged PB to put the Christmas decor away before Easter
He tried. Honestly, he did.
But they were iced into the ground. Frozen solid.
So the pastor had a nativity scene set up in his yard for Easter.
March 30, 2013
When I was a kid, I don’t remember hunting for a basket full of candy and toys at Easter time. Instead, my mom hid jelly beans all over the house and I would spend most of the afternoon looking for the little gummy treats. Maybe my parents didn’t want the sacred holiday to be overshadowed by the Easter bunny. Or maybe sending me off to fill my own basket was a sure way to keep me occupied on a Sunday afternoon.
I was pretty good at searching out the sweets and always had plenty. However, when my cousins came to spend a few weeks in the summer and we pulled out the hide-a-bed, inevitabley there would be a sticky bean under the cushions. And in the fall, when I needed to look up something in the encyclopedias for school, a sneaky bean would roll off the top book shelf. In December, when we moved the furniture around to make room for the Christmas tree, a rogue bean was usually found behind the piano. It was like Easter kept showing up all year long, in the strangest places.
As I journey through the Bible this year, I’m finding that Easter still pops up in unlikely places. In Exodus: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.” (Exodus 6:6 ) In Leviticus: “It is the blood that makes atonement.” (Lev. 17: 11) In Psalms: “They have pierced my hands and feet.” (Psalm 22:16) In Isaiah: “He bore the sin of many.” (Isaiah 53:12)
Easter isn’t just a nice springtime holiday with yummy treats.
The resurrection of Jesus carries over into every day, all year long.
Like my jelly beans, the Easter story keeps springing up.
Keep up the hunt.
March 26, 2013
There I was, thinking about how it’s already Holy Week…..
and I hadn’t even given it much thought.
I hadn’t contemplated the bread and the wine….
I hadn’t kept watch in the garden….
I hadn’t walked the Via Dolorosa.
There I was, thinking that Easter was creeping up on me
and that I might miss it this year.
I was wrong.
I have been experiencing Easter Life to the full.
Here I am, witness to life bursting forth from the dark womb.
Here I am, staying awake into the night to watch and pray.
Here I am, washing the feet of my daughter, serving her needs.
Here I am, holding in my very hands life – downy soft, sweet smelling life.
Indeed, this has been the holiest of Holy Weeks.