Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Retreat Reflections

Last weekend I spent a couple days up in the middle of nowhere with my fellow singles from PV.  Our goal during this retreat was to immerse ourselves in scripture, and let God speak to us through His word.  Around the clock for 36 hours (with the exception of 3 different worship hours together), we read scripture aloud.  

Not all of us the entire time, mind you.  That would just be crazy.  

But we did sign up in pairs for hour long shifts.  I had 3 different shifts; we had 3 group readings as well.  In addition to these, I also listened in/helped read on at least part of about 4 additional shifts that were not mine.

From all of those time slots, these are the scriptures I was exposed to:
-The beginning & end of Genesis
-A few chapters from the middle of Matthew
-Portions of 1 & 2 Samuel
-Most of Ecclesiastes
-The first several chapters of Job
-Half of Luke and the first few chapters of Acts
-All of 1 Corinthians
-The first half of 2 Corinthians (Sun night at life group)

In my spare time, when I wasn't enjoying the gorgeous weather, learning a new dice game, or catching up on sleep, I spent some time flipping through my brother Scott's precious Bible.  (While I usually go thru it pretty quickly, I do flip page by page and spend enough time to read each of the verses that are underlined/highlighted, and any comments written in the margins.)  With that, I read several verses between Proverbs and the beginning of Acts.

And when I wasn't doing that, in my spare spare time, I was going through Hebrews...my favorite book of scripture for some time now, but one that I honestly hadn't sat down with in a very long time.  Made it just over halfway through there, and have been working on finishing it since.  Tonight I was going through chapter 11 and had to stop and spend a few minutes taking it in.  

I would tell people Hebrews is my favorite cause, for me, it's the book that makes the whole rest of the Bible make sense.  I think of the stories I read last weekend, from Adam to Noah, Joseph, Saul, David, Job, words from Solomon. (I also picture my brother Jackson powering thru the last half of Exodus, with the description of the tabernacle, the priestly garments, etc).  

And I remember the words I heard from Matthew, Luke, and Acts, telling the story of Jesus.  And sometimes the pages of scripture are so diverse that they can seem disconnected.  Seriously.  What does Joseph or the tabernacle have to do with the widow's mite?

But then I read Hebrews, which to me screams, "That's what this is all about!!!  All of these OT stories point to Him.  And He's better. A better priest. A better sacrifice. A better covenant. Better promises."

And it makes me thankful for 2 things:  
-For the fact that we are, in fact, recipients of better promises and a better covenant.
-For the examples/stories of those who have gone on before.  It's all of these seemingly disconnected OT stories of broken people whose faith in the Lord was pleasing to Him, and He calls me to the same, and now it's my turn to be a part of this story that's not disconnected at all really, but that, each piece of it, in its own way, points to the God who saves.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


My Tuesday morning ladies group has recently decided that this fall we're going to do Beth Moore's "Entrusted", a study on 2 Timothy.  While I await the start of that with eager anticipation, conveniently enough, this summer I've been attending a Sunday morning class that's been going through 1 and 2 Timothy, as well as Titus.  This morning, our reading was from 2 Tim. 2:1-13, and we did a 3-column study on it.  I usually enjoy writing my column 2 in the form of a prayer:

"Lord, I'm thankful that you are faithful, even when we are not.  Your word is always true, and what you say will be accomplished.  It's only through Your word that hardship leads to victory, captivity equals freedom, and death is raised to life.  This is Your gospel; it was Paul's gospel; and it is my gospel.  I am grateful that there have been so many willing and able, trustworthy witnesses of this gospel in their own lives who have continued to pass it down, one generation after another.  I pray that, through your grace, You help me to endure and to persevere, just as so many of your servants have who have gone on before, so that I, too, can be a faithful witness of the gospel that has been entrusted to me."

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Day the Sun Refused to Shine

"CRUCIFY HIM!!!" You heard them cry,
on the day the sun refused to shine.

Pilate gave in to the crowd's strong pull,
so off You were led, to the place called the Skull.

With criminals, one on either side,
and the crowds below, their jeerings were snide.

You said, "Father, forgive them," while You hung on a cross;
beneath You, the soldiers were casting their lots.

For what Pilate had written, he gave no excuse,
when he fastened above You, "THE KING OF THE JEWS".

But rather than a demonstration of Your power,
darkness came over the earth in that hour.

The veil of the Temple was torn in two,
when You cried, "Father, I commit My spirit to You."

Like the soldier at the foot of the cross, I now stand,
saying, "Surely, this was a righteous man."

And like the thief, "Jesus, remember me!" I cry;
I know that for my sins, I deserve to die.

Even still, You look at me, with love in Your eyes,
and promise me a home with You in Paradise.

For on this day, when the sun refused to shine,
the Son purchased me with His blood,
and said, "This child is now mine."

Monday, May 2, 2016

What Do You See???

(Reflections on Jesus' Arrest and Trial, from John 18-19)

There's such a stark contrast in this passage,
where I see myself, and where I see Jesus.

I see myself in Peter:
wanting to serve Jesus, but going about it all wrong;
trying to follow Jesus, but giving up on Him when fear takes over.

I see myself in Pilate:
knowing what is right, but not having the courage to do it.

I see myself in Barabbas:
a prisoner deserving of death, but set free by the love of Jesus.

And sometimes, yes, I see myself in the Jews, shouting, "Crucify Him!"
For it was their eyes He had opened; it was their lame that could walk.
It was their lepers that were healed; and it was their dead He had raised.

And yet, when they chose to shout, "Crucify Him!"
it was because they had forgotten all the good He had done for them.

Likewise, when I make some of the choices I make,
it is because I have forgotten all the good He has done for me.

But if I stop there--if all I see in this passage is me--I miss out on the gospel;
I miss out on Jesus.

Because I also see Jesus in this passage.
I see Him surrendering Himself, but ensuring that His disciples go free.
I see Him healing--even one who came to arrest Him.
I see Him testifying to the truth, regardless of what it will cost Him.
I see Him taking the place of a rightful prisoner.
I see Him silent--not retaliating--even when being mistreated.

In this passage, I see His love,
and I'm grateful for it.

And I'm reminded, as I see Jesus going to the cross,
that He asks me to do the same:
to deny myself, and take up my cross, and follow Him.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Who Are You?

Do you ever see yourself in the pages of scripture???

"I AM"

I said, “I am Adam—I have failed to protect and keep pure all that the Lord has entrusted to me.”
He said, “You are made in our image, in our likeness.”

I said, “I am Cain—I become jealous and angry with my brother more easily than I should.”
He said, ”If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?...Sin is crouching at your door.  It desires to have you, but you must master it.”

I said, “I am Abram—sometimes I have faith to obey the Lord, but other times, I lie, because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t.”
He said, “Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

I said, “I am Sarai—when the Lord doesn’t seem to be working in my time, I try to take matters into my own hands.”
He said, “Your name will be Sarah…I will bless you and will surely give you a son…I will bless you so that you will be the mother of nations.”

I said, “I am Jacob—I wrestle with God.”
He said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

I said, “I am Moses—asking, ‘Lord, please send someone else.’”
He said, “I will be with you.”

I said, “I am Israel—wandering in the desert, complaining and grumbling, too easily forgetting what the Lord has done for me, setting up false gods in His place.”
He said, “I am the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
I said, “I am Joshua—ignoring the Lord’s instruction, instead to make a deal with those that would take advantage of me.”
He said, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand.  Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”

I said, “I am Gideon—oppressed, hiding underground.”
He said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

I said, “I am David—taking what I want, without regard for who is hurt in the process.”
He said, “The Lord has taken away your sin.”

I said, “I am Elijah—discouraged from doing the Lord’s work, feeling like I’m alone in doing His bidding.”
He said, “I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal.”

I said, “I am Hezekiah—heartbroken over sickness that has come over me.”
He said, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.”

I said, “I am Job.  Completely broken and confused by the loss that has overtaken me.”
He said, “Have you considered my servant, Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

I said, “I am Isaiah--a person of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.”
He said, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?”

I said, “I am Jeremiah—I am young and do not know how to speak.”
He said, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.”

I said, “I am Habakkuk—asking ‘How long, O Lord?’”
He said, “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed.”

I said, “I am the man with leprosy—saying ‘Lord, if you’re willing, you can make me clean.’”
He said, “I am willing.”

I said, “I am the paralytic—sometimes, if it weren’t for my friends, I wouldn’t see Jesus.”
He said, “Take heart; your sins are forgiven.”

I said, “I am a Pharisee—hypocritical and judgmental.”
He said, “Go and learn what this means:  ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”

I said, “I am the sinful woman—weeping at Jesus’ feet.”
He said, “Her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much.”

I said, “I am the sick woman—thinking I can have just the bit of Jesus that is convenient for me.”
He said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

I said, “I am Jairus—upon hearing bad news, I quickly lose hope in Jesus’ ability to help.”
He said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

I said, “I am the woman caught in adultery—I have been unfaithful to the Lord.”
He said, “Neither do I condemn you…Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I said, “I am a lost sheep—the one whom the Shepherd leaves the 99 to go find.”
He said, “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

I said, “I am the lost son—I have sinned against heaven and against my Father and am no longer worthy to be called his child.”
He said, “Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

I said, “I am the rich young ruler—I have a hard time parting with my possessions.”
He said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

I said, “I am Zacchaeus—I have taken advantage of others, to my own benefit.”
He said, “Today salvation has come to this house.”

I said, “I am Mary and Martha—saying to the Lord, ‘If you had been here, this wouldn’t have happened.’”
He wept.

I said, “I am Lazarus—dead in my sins.”
He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

I said, “I am a son of Zebedee—wanting to be the greatest.”
He said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I said, “I am Judas—I have betrayed the Lord.”
He said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you.”

I said, “I am Barabbas, a criminal on death row”
He said nothing, and quietly took my place.

I said, “I am a soldier—nailing Jesus to the cross.”
He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
I said, “I am Thomas—I won’t believe unless I see the resurrected Lord.”
He said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.”

I said, “I am Peter.  I have disowned the Lord.”
He said, “Do you love me?  Feed my lambs.”

I said, “I am Paul—the chief of sinners.”
He said, “My grace is sufficient for you...

You see, my child, it matters not so much who you are,
As much as it does who I am.

I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. 

I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 

I am the Root and the Offspring of David.

And you are My offspring.

And my grace is sufficient for you.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Birthday Thank You

It's 9:15 p.m. on the evening of my blogfather's birthday.

Not just any birthday, mind you.  A big one.  One that ends with a zero.

And while I've taken the time to write exactly one post here on this site this entire year, as a lover of tradition that I am, I didn't want to let today pass without sharing something here in honor of KB.

Even if it's nothing I haven't said before.

Even if it's nothing he hasn't read before.

Even if it's just a note to say "Thank you."  Thank you for......well, I could list all the things I'm thankful to him for, but even though it's his birthday, I'm not getting any younger either.

And it's already 9:15, so at my age, that's almost bedtime.

But thank you, KB.  For more things than I can name.

And Happy Birthday!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Minor Prophet, Major Lesson: It's Not About the Whale

You all may have seen this video circulated on the internet from time to time. It pokes a bit of fun at the stereotypical woman, who wants her man to just listen and understand her problem, while the man is busy trying to actually solve the problem. But I think, even as a woman, I can say this video is pretty funny...


I think we've had a bit of a misunderstanding as well, when it comes to the story of Jonah. You know, the old VBS favorite: "Jonah and the Whale". Or "Jonah and the Great Fish", more accurately, I suppose.

But I can't help but think how often we've gotten the story of Jonah and the whale so wrong, at least in the way we teach it to our kids. Maybe your situation was different, but I feel like largely when we teach the story of Jonah to our kids, it goes something like this:  "God told Jonah to preach to these evil people, but Jonah didn't want to, so he tried to run away from God. But silly Jonah, he should have known better! God is everywhere, all the time, so nobody can run from Him. Look at what happened to Jonah. When he ran from God, he was swallowed by a whale. Three days later, the whale vomited Jonah up onto the shore (ewww!). Then Jonah did what God asked him to do."   The moral of the story? This is what happens when you try to run from God. We seem to leave out chapter 4 entirely. At least I don't recall learning what happened in Jonah 4 when I was VBS-aged.

In reality, though, I believe that when you try to run from God, sometimes...He lets you go. I think of Romans 1, which speaks of people being aware of God's law and choosing not to follow it, so, as Paul says, He turns them over to their own evil desires. This in itself can be a fate worse than any "punishment" God may dole out. And I think this principle can be seen in the fact that Jonah himself didn't really view the whole whale-situation as God's punishment for his disobedience. Rather, while Jonah is in the belly of the fish, he praises God for saving him from death. On some level, the whale must have represented Jonah's salvation, because without it, he would have drowned.

Something else that has struck me as ironic about the story of Jonah is how different it is from the stories of other prophets in the bible. This makes for a very ironic story in scripture. Most of the other prophets in scripture are obedient to the Lord, doing what He asks, even if it's difficult. Jonah, on the other hand, though he's supposed to be God's prophet, appears to be the absolute worst character in the story. Stack him up against anyone else.

The sailors? While Jonah slept, they were calling on their gods, praying for the storm to cease. They woke Jonah and urged him to call on his God. When it came to light that Jonah was the cause of the storm, and Jonah told them to throw him overboard, and they didn't want to! They tried to row back to land. Only when it was clear that this was impossible did they throw him overboard, but not without first crying out to the Lord for forgiveness. When the storm grew calm, they greatly feared the Lord and sacrificed to him.

The Ninevites? They believed God! They heard the word of the Lord and repented. The king of Nineveh declared a fast, ordering everyone in the city to put on sackcloth. He said, "Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger."

  Jonah? He first tries to run from God. When he's swallowed by the fish, he offers a prayer to God in chapter 2, which seems very sincere. He praises God for His mercy and is thankful for the Lord's salvation. I can only believe that Jonah's repentance was heartfelt, since, when given a second opportunity, he obeys the word of the Lord. He goes to Nineveh and he preaches. But in chapter 4, we find Jonah angry. Angry that the Ninevites were the recipients of the same compassion and grace and salvation that he was a recipient of, just two chapters prior. In chapter 4, Jonah complains, saying, "I knew this was going to happen!" Particularly, he says of the Lord, "I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity."

I think that's the real key to the story of Jonah. It's not about God's punishment. It's not about Him sending calamity. It's not about the whale. It's about Him being gracious and compassionate, not only to me but also to those who I feel like may not deserve His mercy.

Because if I find myself feeling that way, it may just so happen that I'm the one in the story who needs His mercy the most.