Sunday, April 20, 2014


Luke 24:13-35

Most stories end with the death of the hero. Sometimes, there are protégées who carry on for them. In Jesus' case, His death was only the beginning of the story.

But for those who had been following Him, it did not seem that way at first. Jesus met two of them on the road, forlorn and confused at the events that just happened: the death of Jesus and the report of the empty tomb.

“You are foolish and slow to realize what is true. You should believe everything the prophets said. The prophets said the Messiah must suffer these things before He begins His time of glory.” Then He began to explain everything that had been written about Himself in the Scriptures. He started with the books of Moses and then He talked about what the prophets had said about Him. 

God's ways are not our ways, and so it is easy to be slow to realize what is true. But Jesus came to show us truth, to explain everything, to bring us into His everlasting story.

Let our reaction to what we do know about Jesus be like that of these two men from the road:

But they wanted Him to stay. They begged Him, “Stay with us...” So He went in to stay with them.

Jesus can't resist such an invitation, so of course, He stayed.  He is longing to hear such an invitation from us. He is longing to explain everything to us. All we have to do is open the scriptures and ask Him. Ask and we receive. It's a promise.

“When He talked to us on the road, it felt like a fire burning in us. How exciting it was when He explained to us the true meaning of the Scriptures!”

It will be exciting when He explains it to us too. It's the promise of the everlasting kingdom.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Our turn now

Today is the day of silence. There are no red letters for this Saturday.  Only the deathly silence of a tomb mingled with tears falling.  We know the end of the story. Those who lived with Him did not. Not yet.

In the silence it is our turn to speak. What can we say of these things we have seen during this Lenten journey? What is our response to the great love Jesus has shown, not only during His sorrow and agony, but this whole time as we listened to His words written in red?

We have seen on the journey that God so loved not only the world but you. And me. Jesus did not come to punish us for the mistakes we have made. He came to invite us to follow Him. Jesus was not pleased by good works, although He did many. He was pleased by great faith. Jesus did not come to rally a band of obedient followers and servants. He came to serve us, and to show us how to serve each other.  Jesus did not come to tell us to obey Him as much as He came to show us He intended to obey His Father,even to death.   

How can we refuse so great a love?  

Jesus’ invitation is open to me and you. He says: Come, follow Me.

What do you say?  

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Kingdom is not of this world

John 18-19

“Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

As we listen to these final words of Jesus before His death, the theme of the two kingdoms returns. Two kingdoms, two truths, two ways. One is the submission and obedience of Jesus to His Father's will. The other is the sword signifying a rule by force. One demonstrates compassion and freedom. The other is controlled by fear and selfishness.  

The beautiful unity between the will of the Father and the Son is the hallmark of of Jesus' kingdom and His reign. Not with the power of the sword but with the greater power of hearts won over by a merciful and loving Savior.

“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

Jesus' kingdom will not be like this place. And yet He came here to get us, not only risking comforts, not only risking His life, but losing His life. Now Jesus finds Himself all alone in front of this perfect known for  "vindictiveness and furious temper." Where were all who loved Him, were following Him, were healed, fed, and restored by Him?  All had abandoned Him. Jesus was all alone in a throne room, arrested, before a man with earthly powers. 

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”

Jesus answered,
“You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Is this a photo of two kings? How can this be? One bound and in rags and the other on a throne. There is only room for one king. That is the nature of kingship. And there is only one truth. That is the nature of truth.

We don't really get to decide what is truth. But we can choose to hear it. Or not.

Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”

Jesus answered,
“You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

Pilate thought he had power over Jesus and certainly, from the looks of things, that was true. But like all earthly power, it was fragile and fleeting. Jesus' power is complete and eternal. Pilate's power was ultimately controlled by the Father.

Pilate...brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat... And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”

But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”

Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”

The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

And so there it is, that was their choice. The king they chose was Caesar. Which king will you choose? 

As for me, I need the King who heals the sick, restores the broken, feeds the hungry, restores sight to the blind. Because I have found in myself all those things: sick, broken, hungry, and blind. I need the One willing to take the pain of the whip, carry His cross, lay still as the nails were hammered into His hands and feet because of His great love for me. For me, that is Truth too beautiful to turn away from.

He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

The doorway into His kingdom is open to me because it is finished. He paid the price. I am free. I am His. I belong in His kingdom.

Are you there too? Have you chosen His kingdom? He is waiting for you! Come. Come with me! Please come.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Keep watch and pray

Matthew 26:36-56

Sit here while I go over there and pray...My heart is full of sorrow and overwhelmed with grief, to the point of death. Stay here and watch, stay awake; be alert with Me.

When I am feeling sad and lonely, I often am overwhelmed with a sense of worthlessness. Here is Jesus, no one understanding Him, no one able to comfort Him, not one of His friends able to even to stay awake with Him. He is not worthless. He is priceless. Yet still susceptible to grief. 

Jesus fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, do not give Me this cup of suffering. But do what You want -- Your will, not what I want -- My will.”

He did not want this. The suffering was very real; agony to even God in flesh. And yet, He was willing to submit His will to God. He was crushed not only by His surrender to God's will, but also by the inability of His disciples to stand by Him. 

You men could not stay awake and watch with Me for one hour? Stay awake, keep watch, and pray for strength against temptation or not to fail the test. The spirit wants to do what is right -- it is willing, but the body or human nature, is weak.

They sleep. After the big meal and glasses of wine, the emotional turmoil of Jesus' words to them, it is all too much and they cannot keep their eyes open. After the arrest, they all run away. 

They are weak. 

Sitting around the table, in the light and laughter of shared meals, miracles remembered, basking in the refreshing teaching of their Master, they are brave men. Now in the darkness, they are scared children.

How much I am like them, Father. When I sit at my table reading my Bible, when I am at church worshipping, or at my study group surrounded by like-minded women, I am wise and strong. At 3 am alone in my room, I am afraid just as they were.  

Thank You for forgiveness, for grace. For them. For me.

Keep watch and pray. No matter what they did, You my Beloved, still had work to do. It was not yet Your time to sit and rest. Angels indeed strengthened You, but You first kept watch and prayed.

I read this and hear Your answer to me. How do I beat the sins that hound me? How do I manage the fear that haunts me? How do I find peace with the future uncertain? Here it is, Beloved.

Keep watch and pray.

And in the quiet place, at Your feet, even in the dark and lonely places, You come, my Beloved, with Your legions of angels and strengthen me. Thank You.

Surely you know I could ask My Father, and He would give Me more than twelve legions of angels. But it must happen this way to bring about what the Scriptures say... Then all of Jesus’ disciple left and deserted Him and ran away. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Broken Servant Leaders

Luke 22:24-38

Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. 

It is amazing, and embarrassing actually if we were honest, how self centered we are. We like to think of ourselves as important, great, extraordinary. I know I do. The disciples were no different. The conversation shifted quickly from Jesus' bloody death, to who would betray Him, to who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. While it is good to want to be good at something, to try our best, to attain a goal, this is not that. This is about power and authority and superiority. 

But Jesus intervened: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.

“Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken My place among you as the one who serves."

By Jesus' definition, the servant is the leader. As the New Life Translation puts it: But I am here with you as One Who cares for you. The leader doesn't boss the others. The leader CARES for others.  

But the leadership lesson continues with another prediction:

“Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from Me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.”

Leadership has another aspect, one that Peter had to learn in order to lead well. He had to be broken. He had to fail and be restored. He needed to know what both felt like. He had to be broken. But that is not what he thought at first. He thought he had to be faithful:

Peter said, “Master, I’m ready for anything with you. I’d go to jail for you. I’d die for you!”

Jesus said,
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me.”

God alone is faithful.  We are all doomed to fail eventually--that's why Jesus had to come and die for us! But Jesus has chosen us to be His servants, His witnesses, and in order to be compassionate and forgiving, first we need to be shown compassion and forgiveness. 

Peter especially, was bold, so he tried and failed often. It was not the failure that marked him, it was his courage and the Lord restoring him that made him a leader.

Broken servant leaders are what You are looking for in Your Kingdom. Let me look for those kind of men to follow. And in the areas where I minister, influence and lead, help me to always serve with compassion, sharing my brokeness. Remind me that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. In serving I am like You. In failure, You shine as You restore me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Prepare the Passover

Luke 22:7-21

Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat...Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters..."

And so it began, even tonight, it is the Passover, and many sit together and remember and celebrate the night of deliverance from slavery. For Jesus, it ends as it begins, notice the pitcher of water reminds us of the first miracle, the first sign of the wedding of Cana.

Tradition. Even Jesus loved it. Every year since boyhood He had celebrated this night, the Passover.  Now, however, He did not sit surrounded by His natural family, but His spiritual family. "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer..." 

This final meal was an intimate time, of men who spent the last three years together. They sat around the table, eating, singing familiar songs, saying the customary words. Unlike our worship today: there was no band, no visual media, no seats in rows, no pulpit and sermon.  No, Jesus faced them in a circle. He talked but He answered their questions. He touched them. He washed their feet. He poured their wine, blessed their food. He knew them. So different than today. So intimate. More like the family dinner than the worship service. But then that was what the Passover was: teaching and worship with the meal, led by the father, in the setting of family.

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you."

But then enters the new. Jesus takes the traditional elements of unleveled bread and wine and introduces the new covenant. His Body, His Blood. Do this in remembrance of Me, with thanksgiving: in Greek: eucharisteō. The water jug, the wine. It begins, it ends, it transforms. We give thanks. Eucharisteō.

How did we translate this into a man on a stage with a microphone? To stained glass windows and statues? To tasteless wafer in a golden box? To online services, people having "church" alone in their PJs? To me with my keyboard writing this blog? You desired to eat the passover with Your disciples. You desire community. Later the author of Hebrews (10:25) would write: And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near. 

Beloved, You remind me not only that You began something new, but the context was very personal, very close, something You cherished. You did not come to stand on a stage with a microphone, while we all sat in rows watching You. You came near, to sit next to us, to hold our hand, to share our meal, to celebrate with us as well as suffer for us. With fervent desire You desire to touch us. One. By one. 

Help me to do the same. Help me to be like You.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Triumph and Tragedy

Luke 19:28-44

For me, Palm Sunday was always the triumphal entry. It was the beautiful sunny day before the storm.

As I read Luke account again today, clearly I was mistaken. Although the disciples were rejoicing and praising God with shouts of "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord," the Pharisees are quick criticize them. "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples," they called to Jesus. Later these men  would orchestrate Jesus' arrest, trial and crucifixion,  So angry and intent on getting Jesus out of the way, they would later answer Pilate's taunt: "Shall I crucify your King?" with their reply, "We have no king but Caesar!" (John 19:16)  

Clearly the Pharisees were not hailing Jesus as King.

The disciples also were confused regarding exactly what Jesus was talking about. They shouted, "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest," but peace and glory would not come next.  Suffering and death were first.  The peace and glory would be accomplished by Jesus' death. Later it would spread throughout the world by leading to their own martyrs deaths. Eventually even the city would be destroyed. 

Triumph and peace, although ultimately certain, would not be the immediate result of Jesus' entry into the holy city.  Do not be mistaken. The triumph came through His suffering.  The true tragedy came because some remained blind to the miracle.

Luke records Jesus' weeping as He enters the city. I think of the birthday boy that ends up in tears at his own party. But for Jesus, here He is not sorrowful for selfish reasons, as He considers His agony and death.  No, instead, He wept for His beloved city, that would be physically present for this cataclysmic event, but spiritually blind and unable to see it.

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

His visitation. They were right there and they missed it.

Like Easter this year.  It's all around us: pink fluffy rabbits, cute yellow chicks, chocolate eggs all in frilly baskets. It says Happy Easter, like it is a celebration of the season of Spring. But it is not. It is a Holy Day, a remembrance of the most important event in the history of man.  And they sit and color eggs and eat dinners with family. But they miss it.  They are right there and they miss the visitation.

Like Jesus, I want to weep.  

Jesus, still You went into the city and tried to tell them.  You tried to woo and win each person You touched, each person within the sound of Your voice. Even though You could not convince all of them, You still told all of them. You wept but did not despair. You did not give up.

Beloved, You know how bad I am at this, what a klutzy coward I am! You did not win all either, that is why You wept. Help me to have the wisdom to know what to say, how to love them and the courage to do it. And for the times it fails, remind me that Your tears mingle with my own.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

His intentions

John 12:1-11 and  Matthew 26:10-13

Finally the weather is turning to spring. The evidence can be seen in my front yard: tulips determined to push their way through the dead grass.

So I went for a walk today, allowing yesterday's words in the red to roll in my head. Take away the stone. What does it mean to have enough faith to allow Jesus to take away the stone? Why do I protest when He says to me to take away the stone, as Martha did?

It is my memories of people who I could not trust. People who did not show up, who I depended on but proved themselves to be not dependable.

But other people are not Jesus.  So as I walked today, He whispered to me:

I am not like the people who were unworthy of your trust.  Just because it has not happened yet, this does not mean I am not listening to you, or you are unimportant. It does not mean I said no.

It there is purpose in the pain. My plans are unfolding as you are waiting. I do not waste your pain. I do not waste your waiting. I do not waste your tears.

From the foundations of the world, I have planned for you to be right here, right now, in this. There is no mistake. This is what I always intended.

I am worthy of your trust. Trust Me. 

I find that in today's story too, of Mary who lavished her priceless perfume on Jesus' feet. Mary understood what Jesus had been telling His disciples, even while the others were still in denial. Judas criticized Mary, but Jesus defended her: 

"Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial."

Mary understood, and so I can only guess her sorrow of knowing her dear friend Jesus would die soon. Mary understood, and so she did what she could to worship and thank Him. Her pain, her small gift to the God of the Universe, was all she had to give. But even in her pain, even in Jesus' pain, none of this was wasted, it was INTENDED to be so. Jesus explains more in Matthew 26:10-13:

“Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to Me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me. When she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Jesus was blessed by her actions. He called it a beautiful thing to Him. He was able to use her actions to point to a greater truth: He will be buried and they needed to prepare. 

Like Mary, even if we have a glimpse of who Jesus is and what He is up to, we only know the sliver shown to us. He sees the whole. He uses the whole, even my sliver. He uses it as He intended. 

And that is good.

Beloved, I can see that as the tulips in the front yard wait through the winter and bloom in their time, so You have Your time. You are never late. Even in my life.  Thank You that even though Martha protested about the stone, You still prevailed and it was moved away. Thank You that Your will always prevails. I cannot mess it up! I cannot miss it. 

Thank You Beloved for showing me that my trust is weak because I am comparing You to the breathing people I have known. You are so much more than that, so other, so worthy. Allow me to understand and worship You in abandon as Mary did. 

You are worthy of my trust. So worthy.

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Take the stone away

John 11:17-45

When Jesus arrived, Lazarus was already dead four days. Interestingly, the Expanded Bible translation noted: "Some Jews believed that a soul would stay near a body for up to three days after death."  Later in the text, Martha noted that Lazarus' body already had the odor of decay. So not only did Jesus wait for Lazarus to be dead---Lazarus was good and stinking dead.

This was the last test, the last practice, if you would, before Jesus would enter Jerusalem for the last time. The next death would be His own. This lesson, although painful, would be His last sign before His own resurrection. And so Jesus turns to Martha and says:

"I am the One Who raises the dead and gives them life. Anyone who puts his trust in Me will live again, even if he dies. Anyone who lives and has put his trust in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" 

Jesus has already shown His power over sickness, over demons, over the elements of nature. Now He will demonstrate His power over dead.

His point? He wants all to believe in Him.

And how does Martha do on her pre-test: let's see: 

She answered, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God. You are the One Who was to come into the world.”

Good job, Martha. But then Jesus raises the stakes. He goes with her to the tomb and makes the big ask:

“Take the stone away.” 

This time, Martha does not do so well. She replies: “Lord, by now his body has a bad smell. He has been dead four days.”

Martha is a lot like me. It is easy to sit here and type that I love Jesus and I believe in Him. It is a lot harder to agree to take the stone away. It means something has to happen. It means I expect the miracle to come true. That Jesus will be God, not only in the Bible, not only in theory. But in my real life. 

Martha thinks that too. In the beginning she told Jesus: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. I know even now God will give You whatever You ask.” - and - “I know that he will rise again when the dead are raised from the grave on the last day.” But that is not what Jesus said. He meant right now, in front of your face, I am going to do this for you and show My power in your life. 

I struggle with believing still. Even though I know this, there is this block in my mind, in my heart, in my "it could never happen to me" life. Dear Jesus, give me courage to trust You. To take the stone away. 

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say that if you would believe, you would see the shining-greatness of God?”

They took the stone away. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank You for hearing Me. I know You always hear Me. But I have said this for the people standing here, so they may believe You have sent Me.” 

When He had said this, He called with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!The man who had been dead came out. 

Look at His confidence with the Father. Look at how merciful He was with the sisters, tenderly redirecting them, encouraging them to believe. Thank You, Beloved for Your tenderness to me, to lead me gently.

Your point to Martha, Your test and preparation for Martha, is the same as the one you have for me. Do I believe in You? Yea? How much? How about this much? How about this much? And on and on You push and prod until we get it.

I don't want to be presumptuous but I want to have great faith. I want to not only SAY I believe but have the "take the stone away" trust in You. Thank You for continuing to push me, to teach me, to not give up on me, as You did not give up on Martha.

As a result, many of the Jews who had come with Mary saw what happened and believed in Him. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


John 11:1-16

A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany...was sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.”

Jesus draws back the curtain and allows us to peak in on His fulfillment of this prayer request. He tells us specifically that He waits to intervene and why He is doing it.

When Jesus got the message, He said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed on where He was for two more days.

The Message translation calls out the obvious: but oddly. Yes it is odd that Jesus loves Lazarus and his two sisters, yet Jesus stays two more days on purpose. It is a mystery. Jesus lets Lazarus die and lie in the tomb four days before He shows up. Why? How can that possibly be a good thing? How can this sickness not be fatal when Lazarus DIES?  Death is fatal.  Hello?

Unlike us, Jesus knows the end of the story from the beginning. When He is thinking death, He is thinking of eternal death, not the death we understand. To Jesus, our physical death is like a nap. Not that He is flip about our pain, physical or emotional, it is just that He knows the end from the beginning. He sees the whole picture. He sees what is really important.

Eternal life. That is most important. And the best way to get the most people to the state of belief that will lead to eternal life is through death. Lazarus' death causes a lot of life, because it caused a lot of faith in Jesus.

After the two days, He said to His disciples,“Let’s go back to Judea.”

They said, “Rabbi, You can’t do that. The Jews are out to kill You, and You’re going back?”

Jesus replied,
“Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in daylight doesn’t stumble because there’s plenty of light from the sun. Walking at night, he might very well stumble because he can’t see where he’s going.”

Jesus is not concerned about His own life either. He is focused on walking in the light---doing His Father's will at the appointed time. Jesus is mysterious. His ways are not our ways. But He went first. He sacrificed more. He demonstrated what a fear-less life looked like, trusting God for His life and His death.  He trusted His Father knew the end from the beginning, and that His will was for ultimate good.

Jesus is mysterious. He pulled back the curtain this one time for us to see that things are not always as they seem. He let us peek because He wants us to rest in the mystery and not to be afraid.

Jesus knows the end from the beginning. We can trust our prayers to Him because He hears the cry of our hearts and what He does is good. 

Beloved, help me trust You when I cannot see the reason. You have been so faithful. Help me rest in that even when I cannot see. 

“Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.”

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

My sheep

John 10:22-42

The Jewish leaders gathered around Him and said, “How long will you make us wonder and keep us in suspense about you? If you are the Christ, the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them,
“I told you already, but you did not believe. The miracles (works) I do in My Father’s name show who I am -- they testify/bear witness about Me. But you don’t believe, because you are not My sheep. My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one can steal or snatch them out of My hand. My Father gave My sheep to Me. He is greater than all, and no person can steal or snatch My sheep out of My Father’s hand." 

Such a beautiful contrast between those who follow Jesus and those refuse to believe! What does it tell me about myself, as a woman who believes You are who You say You are? It says...
  • I am Yours.  I belong to You. I am a gift to You from the Father. 
  • No one can take me away from You.  No one can steal me, snatch me.  You hold me tight.  Yes there are thieves but no one is more powerful than the Father and no one has the power, cunning, or ability to take me away from You.
  • I can hear You. I recognize Your voice and I can tell the difference between Your voice and the voice of a stranger. No one can fool me for long.
  • You know all about me, and yet I am Yours and You love me. My imperfections are things You take joy in healing and washing clean. They are not what separates me from You because You took care of all that already. In Your death, it was finished.
  • I follow You. I may not do it perfectly but I am following. It is more about location than execution. You have already taken care of my mistakes. 
  • You give me eternal life. Before I was dead in my sin. I was dead to the things of the Spirit. In Your rising I too have new life.
The Jewish leaders did not listen to Jesus, they did not believe Him, nor did they believe the miraculous works that He did. They excluded themselves. Jesus never excluded them. The prison door was locked shut but the key was on the inside. 

No matter what Jesus did, no matter what Jesus said, their minds were made up. 

Beloved, I can trust Your care for me. I have been restless and troubled because my life is changing and uncertain, but all the certainty I need is being in Your loving care. You know me, I am Yours, no one can snatch me out of Your hand. Nothing I do can disqualify me from Your love. Even my stupid mistakes. Even my foolish sins.

I can trust You will judge others with truth and with mercy. I should pray for them, but I don't have to worry about them.

Beloved, let me have peace and trust You in all things. You are so worthy. You are so good.

"If I don’t do what My Father does, then don’t believe what I say. But if I do what My Father does, you should believe in what I do. You might not believe in Me, but you should believe in the things I do. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.” 

Sunday, April 06, 2014


John 10:1-21

My husband Al works for a large but local newspaper. He brings a copy home every day. Increasingly, I have been troubled by the front page. It used to be newspapers prided themselves in telling objective facts.  Not so much any more. Today you have to seek out multiple sources for every story to get a good perspective.

It may be in print, but it is not necessarily true.

One aspect of my job (in a community management firm) is to assist in customer service-type phone calls.  Increasingly, people call me and tell me their story, but I no longer believe them.  I check with the super of the building, neighbors, or members of the board. As with the news, I have to seek our multiple sources for every call to get an accurate perspective.

The caller may really believe her story and may be convincing, but it is not necessarily true.

Many religions have truth claims.  How do I know the claims of Christianity are true? Maybe all religions are true. Maybe it's all God, we just call Him different names. Glad you asked. Here's Jesus' words:

I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 

Jesus tells us there are false claims. There are thieves that are trying to sneak in and deceive and rob true faith. ** Do not be naive. 

There's a thief.    

But how do we know who is telling us the truth?

It seems to go back to relationship.  The gatekeeper recognizes the shepherd, the sheep recognize the shepherd.  But there is another important point...

A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

Compassion. Courage. Commitment. That is what separates the hired hand from the good shepherd. How committed, you ask?  

I sacrifice My life for the sheep.

Yes, that is pretty committed. 

Beloved, what can I say to You when I consider what You have done for me. Freely, You laid down Your life so that I may be cleansed of my imperfections and live with You forever. You are worthy to be worshiped and praised. Where You have called me to minister, let me also freely show compassion and courage and commitment. Let me show others Your love. 

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice....I know my own sheep, and they know Me, just as My Father knows Me and I know the Father.

** For more information if there is one true religion, check out this website:

Saturday, April 05, 2014


John 9:35-41

I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.

As one who has studied the scriptures for years, this is very convicting.  Because I think I know what it all says.  I don't even have to read it.  I remember reading this verse before many times. I remember two sermons I already heard and three books I already ready read on the topic. Read it one more time? Really?  No, thanks, I'm good.

Is that what happened to these religious men, I wonder?  Did they copy and hear the scriptures so many times that they became numb?  They became the experts so they no longer had to learn.  They no longer had to see.  They became blind.

How do I not become like them?

If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.

I need to not claim to see everything so well that I don't have more to see.  I have to continue to read and learn and listen.  As I use my eyes, I will not become blind.  As I keep coming to Jesus expectant to see more, He will show me.  Humility keeps me from becoming blind.

But also I have to do more than know it.  I have to do more than see it.  I have to do it.  I have to apply it.  I am accountable for every truth I know.  

This is the default, Beloved.  I will end up in this dead end unless You intervene.  Please save me and allow me to always confess my blindness before You. You are endless, bottomless, infinite. I always have more to learn.  I always have more to apply.  I always need You.

I need You.

“Master, I believe,” the man said, and worshiped Him.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Why do bad things happen to good people?

John 9:1-12
That's a question often asked by those who do not believe.  Well, maybe everyone asks that question.  Certainly I have asked it. Have you?

The Jews of Jesus' day asked a different question.  They thought illness and deformity happened because of sin.  See the question they ask Jesus here. 

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

It's someone's fault.  Not God's fault.  He is simply meting out justice. But Jesus corrects them:

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over."

It's the wrong question. I love how Eugene Peterson put it: There is no such cause-effect here. Instead of looking for someone to blame for this man's condition, look instead for how God plans to work.

Then Jesus goes on to involve us.  He tell us WE need to be energetically at work.  Not just Jesus.  We need to get involved.  Instead of asking why, we need to ask how can I be the hands and feet of Jesus, doing God's work here.  I need to help.  We need to help.  We need to work the works of God so that all near will see the great work God wants to do in the situation.

Because the night will fall and the time to help will be over.  I don't think Jesus meant when He would leave, God would be done demonstrating His mercy and power.  I think that it means when this age is over.  The light is still here, in us, as we have the Holy Spirit. 

"For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

Jesus promised He would never leave us and the Holy Spirit in us is the fulfillment of that promise.

Bad things happen in the broken world, to the good and the bad.  But God promises that He works all things together for good for those who love Him.  And we can get in on that.  We can be part of the fulfillment of that promise.

When I hear this question from someone who does not share faith in Jesus, it seems like they are blaming God.  And while I think we can (and I do) tell God when we are angry with Him because of circumstances, in the end I am confident that His heart is for me and for my ultimate good. Even though I may not understand, I can trust that He using the problems to make my character better, stronger, purer.  He will use the circumstances to make me into the beautiful woman He always intended me to be.
Our good cousin, Susan Murray,
caught in the towers on 9/11
Meanwhile, I can help others.  Help me see when and where to do this, Beloved.  Let me trust You in the darkness, knowing You are the light, You are beautiful,You are worthy of my truth. You are worthy.  

Sometimes the circumstances are too horrible and senseless.  Sometimes there is no works of God and no building of character that could make the catastrophe  worthwhile.  Yes I have seen that too.  In the end there, I have concluded that I can only trust God and run to Him in that pain. He is our Comfort and Healer.  He has shown me: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed. (Psalm 34:18)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

in the Spotlight

John 8:48-59

I simply honor my Father, while you dishonor Me. I am not trying to get anything for Myself. God intends something gloriously grand here and is making the decisions that will bring it about...

If I turned the spotlight on Myself, it wouldn’t amount to anything. But My Father, the same One you say is your Father, put Me here at this time and place of splendor. You haven’t recognized Him in this. But I have. If I, in false modesty, said I didn’t know what was going on, I would be as much of a liar as you are. But I do know, and I am doing what He says. 

What a beautiful explanation of greatness in humility.  Jesus is not trying to prove anything to them.  He in not trying to get them to worship Him. He is trying to get them to recognize the Father's hand. Jesus wants them to experience life and peace.  He wants to save them from death...

I say this with absolute confidence. If you practice what I’m telling you, you’ll never have to look death in the face.

Jesus does not make any effort to get into the spotlight at all.  He is all about doing what the Father says. He is confident that the Father will do the right thing, the best thing. 

Jesus is pointing them to what the Father is doing.  The Father honors and glorifies the Son.  There is no maneuvering, jostling for position, clawing to be recognized, or bumping out others in an effort to get to the top.  There is simply mutual admiration and trust for each other.

The way to greatness is obedience. It is practicing what Jesus tells us. More than that, it is the only way to life!

Father, that is what You want for all of us. That is what You want for me.  As I practice what You are telling me, as I use my Spiritual Gifts to honor You and to serve others, You intend to bring about something gloriously grand here in my life too.  Something unique for me.  But really, it is You working through me.  All the glory, all the spotlight is on You!

Abraham—your ‘father’—with jubilant faith looked down the corridors of history and saw My day coming. He saw it and cheered.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


John 8:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews who believed in Him, “If you continue to accept and obey My teaching, you are really My followers. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

I love this photo because it demonstrates that freedom is sweeter when you have been enchained. Until you see the chains and feel their weight, you don't understand how wonderful freedom is.

That was the problem with many of the people Jesus met.  They did not feel the chains.  They thought they were fine already, thank you.  There was no great desire for freedom.

They answered, “We are Abraham’s descendants. And we have never been slaves. So why do You say that we will be free?”

We have never been slaves, they said.  They did not have a problem. They were not looking for anything different.  But that is why truth is so important.  That is what they did not see...

Jesus said, “The truth is, everyone who sins is a slave—a slave to sin."

That is the truth.  When we sin, we are slaves to sin.  All of us. See how He said everyone?  He was not kidding.

I can see it in my own life.  The sin I enjoy. The sin that draws me, taunts me, enslaves me. I want to be rid of it but it follows me around.  I know I should flee from it, but I do not.

What is the formula, Jesus?  What do I do? I confess, You are truth and I agree. Now what? 

So if the Son makes you free, you are really free...If God were really your Father, you would love Me.

Is that all there is?  Just loving You? Just knowing I need You? Just knowing You are truth?

I do, I do.  I believe. Remind me that is not about the list.  I am still looking for that list.  You ARE the truth. You ARE. 

In many areas, I am still not free.  Sin still binds me in its chains. Let me draw close to who You are so I can know You more. Knowing You sets me free to obey Your truth and be the woman You always intended me to be.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

I have been telling you

John 8:12-30

From the beginning of My mission, I have been telling you who I am. 

I was just talking on the phone with a friend and half way during the conversation, in order to get more comfortable, I switched the phone from one ear to the other.  That's when I realized that my hearing in one ear is better than the other.  

Often, it is not only my ears that affect my hearing.  It is a preoccupation with other things: sometimes it is the pop of a new email, the buzz of my cell phone, or a request from my grandson.  Sometimes it can merely be a word spoken by the person who I am listening to, and wham!  My mind just flew a million miles away.   Al gets frustrated.  "I just told you!" he complains and turns away.

But I was not listening.

Jesus feels Al's pain.  From the beginning of His mission, Jesus has been clearly demonstrating who He was for all to see and hear.  Few got it. But still it was there.  Instead of getting frustrated, Jesus circles back again.

I have so much to say about you, so many judgments to render; but if you hear one thing,

Here it is--the one thing that we need not to miss--ready, set?

...hear that the One who sent Me is true, and all the things I have heard from Him, I speak into the world.

What does this mean?
  • The One who sent Me is true:  The Father is truth.  He created all and IS Truth.  
  • all the things: Not one missing--all complete total 
  • I heard from Him: the Father said these things, they came from His mouth, His heart, His absolute truth. He is speaking to Me and I hear him perfectly well.
  • I speak into the world: I don't just know the Father's thoughts, I speak them, share them, give them as a gift into the world.  We want the world to know the Father's thoughts.

So to sum it up: If you knew Me, then you would also know the Father.

But they did not hear. They did not accept.  They put their fingers in their ears, screwed up their faces and chanted "blah blah blah." Maybe they were listening to other things, were preoccupied with more important matters.

They missed Jesus' point. Then they killed Him.  

One thing.  We make it so complicated. We draw lines between each other to divide. It is such a human thing to do.  So unlike our Jesus.  He wanted us to see God, to experience God, to know God, and draw close to God.  So He came.  He came a long way to a messy planet for one thing. To show us the Father.

He gave us proof but we would not see it. We were too busy. Instead we killed Him. Maybe we did not nail Him to a tree.  Maybe we just ignored Him to see what else was on TV, what else was posted on Facebook. And if you are ignoring Him, it's just like He is dead.  He's dead to you anyway.

Maybe we did not like what He had to say. Whether or not we like what we see in Jesus, He is truth.  He is light.  We can shoot Him but He will not stay dead.  

Jesus invites us to this relationship with the Father. We are invited not act alone, but to act and speak the things of Him and His Father. 

Beloved You have invited us into this supernatural life of love joy peace patience kindness gentleness goodness and self-control, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  You will do it.  Help me beloved stay on track.  And when I fall, like I have today, help me up again and get back on, washed clean by Your sacrifice.  

Help me to hear You, really hear You and not be distracted by life.  You are too beautiful to be missed.

Whenever the day comes and you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He. It will be clear then that I am not acting alone, but that I am speaking the things I have learned directly from the Father. The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not abandoned Me because I always do what pleases Him.