Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mommy, my hands are sticky!

As I approached the dance studio, I saw the mothers standing at the window, peeking in intently through the blinds. I looked in too and saw the little girls in their dance clothes and tap shoes, holding hands.

“They are too cute,” I said and one of the mothers turned to me briefly and sighed, “Oh! Yes!”

And I thought, that is how God watches us! He looks on as we go about our day, and He thinks about how lovely we are to Him. As for these the little girls, there was nothing particular in them, it was just that they were loved by their mothers. They were their little girls.

We are God’s children, His handiwork, and He has gone to great lengths to woo us, win us, and call us His own. He adores us and looks at us as we do our own children.

After class was over, I went inside and watched as the dance teacher gave out lollipops to the girls. One little brother, not more than 3 years old, approached her, but she looked over his head first to get his mother’s approval before she gave him the pop.

Can’t you picture how the story went later on? The little boy would finish the pop and give the bitten up stick to his mom, who would then place it in her bag. Then he would notice his hands.

“Mommy, my hands are sticky!”

Then mom would reach in her bag and pull out a wet wipe and clean up not only his hands but his face as well. Then I can see her kissing his sweet clean face.

And this too reminded me on how God handles the sin in our lives. Like the mom, He knows we are going to get dirty from sin. He has already prepared for that, in the same way the mom has packed up wet wipes and stored them in her bag. Like mom, He waits for us to be done with our sin, and know that we are indeed “sticky.” And then He cleanses us.

Not that we are going to stay clean. He knows that. Like mom, He has packed up a good amount of wipes.

Like the mom knew when she agreed to allow her son to have the lollipop that he would be sticky when he was done, God already knows all about our sin and only desires for us to be clean again. He watches and waits for us to be ready. He does not watch and wait to punish us, but only to cleanse and restore us.

And then come His kiss.

I don’t think we can ever out grow or out sin God’s loving desire for us. We are always His own. Because as I had looked through the dance studio window that day, it was my own 17 year-old daughter I saw, old enough to be the student teacher now, in her high heeled tap shoes, holding a little one’s hand. It was her who I thought was “too cute.”

Psalm 51

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin. …
5 For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.
7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. …
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Same Sex Marriage in NJ

Our dear sister Amy started this discussion on our Called Aside Yahoo email loop and I want to record my response here. Her concern was the ruling of the NJ Supreme Court on Same Sex Marriage. Hers was a " call to arms" to contact our candidates on this issue. Below was my reply.

Just the other day the issue came up that we, as a church, choose not to promote any political party.

Actually, I confess to you all, that it was only during the last presidental election, that God revealed to me that He is not definitively Republican. When I realized that Sandy, and several other friends who I love, admire and respect as believers, were not voting for the Republican candidate, I was forced to reconsider my thoughts on the matter.

Pastor Ed says it best when he says, "God did not come to take sides, He came to take over."

As for the matter at hand, Al showed me the article in the Star Ledger. I looked at the list of issues that the people in gay relationships had. I looked at the photo of the two women, holding each other. I sat there and considered in a different way, what my Beloved Jesus would say about such things.

I am sure that Jesus does not desire these people in be the bondage of this sin. He desires to set the captives free, and this is one of the stronger bondages that people find themselves in.

But we cannot break their bondage by enacting laws. God tried that already. It did not work. The Jews were the only one surprised by that, He knew it was not going to work all along and had made other plans from the beginning.

When Jesus came, He had other plans for releasing people from sin. He loved them. He served them. He befriended them. Even the sinful, diseased ones that the religious people of the day would not even go near. One by one by one at a time.

Re-read for yourself the account in John 8 (see below), the woman caught in adultrey. These are the questions to consider:

  1. How does Jesus treat this woman caught in this sin?
  2. Is there any doubt that He thinks, and in the end she knows, that this is sin?
  3. Who else does Jesus correct in this story? Is it only the woman? Does He not also correct those who wished to condemn her? Note how gentle He is in that too!!

Ok, so how do we apply this to our lives and this issue? My take is this:

Jesus loves these people caught in this sin of homosexuality. He died for them and desired to be reconciled to them. He wants to free them from this.

We can only be an active part in releasing them from this sin by our love and the Spirit within us by serving them. Showing them the love of Christ and praying that His Spirit would annoint them and free them. One by one by one. There is no short cut. I really don't think enacting laws will do it.

I strongly agree the cultural climate of our country is changed by the laws we enact and by the media. I do think NJ enacting this law is a bad thing because it shows and contributes to the slide of our culture into the absyss of sin.

But if we are going to expend energy to solve the problem as Jesus would, we have to go to the hurting people, and love them. We can get on our knees for them. Not to the law makers.

John 8
1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

an audience of One

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:5-6

Let me confess ... I have been trying to find friends to blog with.

I have been sending my friends blog-entries. I have put my URL on all my emails. I have been blog-surfing, I guess you would call it, looking for people to connect with. I tried looking for like-minded people. I tried looking for lost people to communicate the love of Christ to.

I confess to you I have been looking for an audience. Like the hypocrites Jesus talks about in Matthew 6, I have been trying to find a cyper-street corner on which to pray out loud. And You, my Father in Heaven, in Your infinite mercy and wisdom, has thwarted my efforts on all sides.

I need to give this up and understand that this blog is a prayer. I need to remind myself that I have an audience of One.

And really, who else is my audience? One time I showed an entry to a friend. I had wrote it specifically to process an on-going conflict we had. He did not get it. He said the writing was good but he did not get the part at the end. That was because it was not written to him!! God got it. He got the whole thing. He didn't need me to explain it to Him.

Jesus, Beloved, You alone give me words, thoughts, the heart and spirit to desire to communicate with you. Sometimes I read what I wrote and am comforted. Maybe someday You may indeed enlarge my boundaries and give me a wider audience. I do not think it would be bad to pray for this. But in Your time and in Your way, not mine.

Maybe I will never have a wider audience.

It doesn't matter. Because the God and creator of the Universe, He hears my every word, sees my every tear, even the unspoken whispers of my heart. He loves me. He reads every word. He always had.

What more can I ask for?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

From Prayer to Peace

"When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.” Jonah from inside the big fish, 2:7

The email said “prayer request” and when I opened and read it, the contents took my breath away.

I confess to you, I have seen the ones titled “prayer request” and have not opened them, just because my day could not take another piece of bad news. But this one took me by surprise. It was too big for me.

Yes! And that is how it is supposed to be. Prayer requests are too big for us. When my daughters are hungry, I can make breakfast. When they forget to bring a water bottle to dance class, I can buy them one as I take my walk. I can give them the extra ten dollars they need to buy lunch with their friends.

But the cancer, the accident, the lost job, the broken relationship, the wayward daughter--these things I cannot fix. And that is exactly the point. These things we take to each other only to have them taken to our Father in heaven. Only He can fix these things.

The last name of the woman who sends us these prayer requests is named “Temple.” That is so interesting. From her hands through cyperspace, we get these requests. And then back to Christ’s temple they go, as we place them at His feet in prayer. Too big for us, but nothing is impossible to Him.

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

And there they go, off our hearts, onto Him. Ah! Peace!

Go into the party

“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Luke 15:31

There was a saying we had in corporate. After a project was over, then came the persecution of the innocent and the promotion of the non-participants.

Isn’t that how the older son felt in this parable? I can relate to him. I have been the faithful one. I have been here serving you all these years. I was the one out in the fields today with the sheep and the dung and the dirt. Now he comes back, and he gets the robe and the ring and the big party. He did not do anything to deserve your kindness. He did no work. He even hurt you by leaving and taking half your money!

And what do I get? More dirty work. And no thanks.

Makes you want to do just what the older son here did, stand outside of the big party and sulk.

But the fathers plea to him says it all. You have always been with me. Everything I had has always been yours.

And I hear Jesus saying to me,

“It is not a mistake that you have stayed behind as your brother left. I needed you here to serve. I knew you would be willing and up to it. It is a great honor to have been chosen for the field. They are My sheep you have loved and loved well. The gift for you, dearest daughter, is that you have had been chosen to be in My house all this time.

And do you really want to trade 5 minutes of fame on the platform for the years you have been in My house serving Me?”

No, dear Jesus, I do not. The gift You have given me truly is greater than I deserve. Hold my hand, sweet Jesus, and let’s go into the party together.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Say Yes

Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, left heaven to show us His love. He laid His glory down and became one of us, even a babe born to a poor unmarried Jewish girl, named Mary. In order to reconcile us to His Father, He Himself took on all the sins of the world, and paid the penalty for them all. The cost? His life.

Not only did He die to pay this price, but He died a painful, lengthy, humiliating death. He did this by His own choice, no one made Him, not even God the Father. He did it because He loves us that much.

Afterwards He displayed His power over death, by rising back to life. By doing this, He shows us that He can give us new life. Spiritual life. Eternal life.

Jesus loves us and want all of us to have eternal life. Our Father in heaven wants to be reconciled to us all, to have a sweet and loving relationship with us all. But He will not force us. We have to choose Him. We have to say yes to His invitation to relationship. To His love.

How do we say yes to God?

God is always listening. When we talk to Him in our heart, in our mind, it is prayer. If you do not know what to pray, that is ok. The Holy Spirit translates even our confused words to Him, and He always understands us, as a mother understands the babblings of her babies.

But for those of you who want to read the words, here is a sample prayer, to say Yes to God.

Dear Jesus,

I know now that I am not good enough to enter heaven and God's presence on my own. I would have to be perfect, and I admit I am not. I thank You that You always knew that and made a way for me to get to heaven, even as I am.

Yes, I accept Your free gift with thanks.

I ask that You come into my heart and that You be my God and my Lord.

Jesus, I am not sure that will happen after this. But I choose to trust You with my life.


If you prayed this prayer, or still have questions, please comment me.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.
(Revelation 3:20)

I'm desperate for You

It was a few days before my 25th wedding anniversary and I was looking for the perfect card. I picked up card after card that were made for a wife to buy her husband on their anniversary. Since this was a special one, a funny card didn’t seem right. But the sentimental ones did not ring true for us either.

"I’m made for you"
“You are perfect for me"
“You complete me”

No, that was not it. As much as I love him and he loves me, as good for each other as we are, it did not ring true.

But, my sisters, don’t you find that true for you as well? No matter how much we love our husbands, how much they love us, as good as they can be, there is that empty place that they cannot fill. It is true for them too, we can never be enough to fill all the empty places for them either.

Only Jesus can do that.

One of the sad things of this world is watching people try, always unsuccessfully, to fill that place with other things. It can be good things, like work, or children, or a fruitful hobby (or shopping!!). It can be evil or draining things like drugs, alcohol, gambling, illicit sex (or shopping!). But in the end, the result is the same.

Nothing can fill that hole but Jesus.

Thanks be to God, Jesus is willing and able to fill us, every day, with His holy presence, living with us, sharing His wisdom and His love.

I did find a card for my husband, and when we shared time together, we spent time with Jesus too. As we invited Christ to the table with us, He not only filled us up with His presence, but He drew us closer together in a true love, with a true intimacy that only He can bring.

Because it is a love centered in Him.

This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me…
I‘m desperate for You
I'm lost without You

Monday, October 02, 2006

Not your color

"I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." Matthew 13:13

My sixteen-year-old, Debbie, and I are driving to church and she looks at me and says, "Mom, that lipstick is not a good color for you. You really need to take it off and put on something else."

So I fished around and found a napkin and wiped it off. She found something else in my purse that I then applied it, as women often do, at the next red light.

I grew up a "tom-boy." You’d be much more likely to find me riding my bike, up a tree, or wading in a brook, than to find me playing with my mom’s make-up. My mom, however, was a "girly" girl. She would never leave the house without lipstick on.

I find that God has such a sense of humor giving me daughters who are much more like my mother than myself. It’s almost like He is giving me another chance with these kind of women. Because I love Debbie so much that it is hard to hate her guts just because she is so beautiful and has such fashion sense.

My mom tried to give me fashion sense advice but I often rebuffed her. I remember clearly one night when I was a teen, I came downstairs, dressed for a date and she said to me, "Did you comb your hair?" Even today, if we are going out together she will instruct me to put on lipstick before we go.

I did not want to hear my mother. Maybe it was her way of telling me. Maybe it was the foolishness of my youth. I wanted to be the woman I was and not who she wanted me to be. I wanted to know I was not wrong in my opinions and my choices.

While there was some merit to that, often we do to see ourselves as others see us. Don’t we all need someone to ride beside us and be frank with us when we have the wrong color lipstick on? Should we not embrace those who love us enough to tell us that?

Now, maybe because I am older, I welcome the information. Some times the comment is not valid or right for me, but I want to know.

How often have I heard people speak but have hardened my heart? Is God not still using the situations and people in my life as parables, instructing me to make my life more like His?

Let us all pray that we have a ears that hear and hearts that desire to know God’s best color for our lives.

And when we speak truth to others, may we do it with the love and gentleness, like Debbie.

"For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them." Matthew 13:15