Monday, December 13, 2010

No room in the inn?

As a kid, this phrase seemed like a statement of fact. Lots of people were going to Bethlehem; of course the Inn was full. It was like trying to find a hotel room on the night of the big concert, graduation, or the Indy 500--be early or be out.

As I've been studying Mary with my 2nd-4th grade girls, I realized a few things...
...if both Mary and Joseph were decended from David, the other people in town were their relatives. Mary's mom, mother in law, aunts, cousins...they would have been there.

...a little town, like Bethlehem, wouldn't have had a Hilton or a Marriott or a Best Western. The word for inn, is the same word that is used for guest chamber the other two times it's used:

Inn; Guest-Chamber:

akin to kataluo (see Note above), signifies
(a) "an inn, lodging-place," Luk 2:7;

(b) "a guest-room," Mar 14:14; Luk 22:11. The word lit. signifies "a loosening down" (kata, "down," luo, "to loose"), used of the place where travelers and their beasts untied their packages, girdles and sandals. "In the East, no figure is more invested with chivalry than the guest. In his own right he cannot cross the threshold, but when once he is invited in, all do him honor and unite in rendering service; cp. Gen 18:19; Jdg 19:9, 15." These two passages in the NT "concern a room in a private house, which the owner readily placed at the disposal of Jesus and His disciples for the celebration of the Passover . . . At the festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles the people were commanded to repair to Jerusalem; and it was a boast of the Rabbis that, notwithstanding the enormous crowds, no man could truthfully say to his fellow, 'I have not found a fire where to roast my paschal lamb in Jerusalem,' or 'I have not found a bed in Jerusalem to lie in,' or 'My lodging is too strait in Jerusalem'" (Hasting, Bib. Dic. GUEST-CHAMBER and INN).
See INN.

Now if I was choosing who got to stay in my guest chamber, an extremely pregnant woman would probably be the chivalrous choice. But Mary's condition--an unwed mother, a couple that had "jumped the gun"--made them unwelcome.


It reminds me that Mary's "may it be unto me as you have said" wasn't a no cost statement. It actually carried some heavy burdens--like rejection by her family, loss of her reputation, a label that stayed for a lifetime.

Lord, help me say YES to you, even when the costs are great.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What (Not) To Wear

Last weekend, Mr. Theophilus surprised me with a quick trip to see Clifton Kelly from "What Not to Wear." While I didn't win a shopping spree, I did get some advice about what to wear as an interviewer.

Then, tonight at a gathering of parents at church, the topic of appropriate clothing for church came up. The two events has thoughts about what God thinks about what we wear to church. Should we dress up, or is ok to be more casual?

I haven't had enough sleep, so I can't formulate my thoughts into words, but here are the relevant passages I found:

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Matthew 6:28: "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

Romans 13:14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:27
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

James 2:2-4 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

1 Peter 3:3-4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

1 Peter 5:5 All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Laying down your life

We had a cliff hanger today, Genesis 22:1-10:

1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. 9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

Why the cliff hanger? Why not finish the story and let it resolve?

This is a story my girls know well, they've heard it before. I wanted them to really put themselves in Isaac's shoes, to sense what it would really be like to lay down their lives. So we did. After studying the passage, we acted it out--I was Abraham, they were all Isaac. We gathered sticks from the yard (and prop closet). We "camped out" in a changing room and looked at the stars, remembering God's promise to Abraham. We stopped for a snack and a story about the sacrifice Abraham made earlier and what a burnt offering sacrifice was. Although our journey didn't take three days, we ended in the sanctuary, with each of them taking a turn laying down on the pile of sticks, imagining what Isaac might have thought and felt.

I think they got it. Isaac didn't know the outcome as going to be what it was. But what he did know was that his dad loved him and trusted God. And when those two things were in conflict, he chose God.

That's a tough choice. Abraham didn't always make the right choice, but he had enough experience with God to know that really, making the right choice the first time is the right thing to do. Even if it seems hard or to lead to something opposite of what God has promised you.

Laying down your life it a big thing to ask of a kid...but it's exactly what God asked of Isaac.

Wow. That's a big "ask" for an adult, let alone a kid.

But that's what God does. He calls kids to big things.

Am I ready for that as a parent?

And in a cool twist, this week's memory verse comes from the passage we used the first week, 1 John 3:16:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

God's timing

"The Lord was gracious to Sarah, just as he had said he would be. He did for Sarah what he had promised to do. Sarah became pregnant. She had a son by Abraham when he was old. He was born at the exact time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah had by him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him. He did it exactly as God had commanded him. Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, "God has given laughter to me. Everyone who hears about this will laugh with me." She continued, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? But I've had a son by him when he is old." Genesis 21:1-7

This is the passage we studied tonight. We focused on God's promises and when they are fulfilled. I love seeing the girls look forward to digging in! And as usual, the lesson was as much for me as for them. Though God's timing seemed strange (especially to Sarah), it was EXACTLY when God had planned to fulfill his plan. Gotta love that!

I debated cutting out the verse about circumcision (yes, I had to figure out a way to explain it to six 2-4th grade girls!), but left it in. Gotta teach it all! But it does make for a delicate conversation, that's for sure :)

I'm definitely praying over next week already--the sacrifice of Isaac. That's a tough one to approach from the child's point of view, but a powerful opportunity to talk about laying down your life and Christ's substitutionary sacrifice.

thanks for this opportunity, Lord, and that your timing is always perfect. Help me to believe like Abraham and not laugh like Sarah.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

This week in Logos we started our adventure through the Bible, of meeting children that God has called to do big things. First up: Isaac.

It's going to take us a month to talk about Isaac, but it's an important build up. This week we did two "plays": Genesis 15:1-6 and Genesis 18:1-15. We're using the NIrV, as it's a good reading level for the students. To make the plays, I made minor changes of assigning narrators and characters to various roles (I split up the narration to have enough roles for everyone to have one). The room we're in has an entire wall of costumes, and the girls love getting dressed up and acting out the stories. Afterwards, we did a simple compare/contrast between Abram's response and Sarah's response to God's promise, and they easily understood that Abraham's response was more pleasing to God.

We had fun with their memory verse--I had written "Is anything too hard for the LORD? Genesis 18:14" in white crayon on white paper. The girls painted over it lightly with black paint and wiped off the excess, so it seemed like "magic" (though they all understood where it came from). It looked like a night sky background, and was a very simple craft.

One of the things that amazes me about this bunch of girls is their faith. Of COURSE there is nothing too hard for the Lord! He's God, after all! I'm not sure where that confident faith goes. Despite seeing God move mightily, somehow it's easier to recall the times when God did not step in. So I pray for preservation of faith, and for opportunities to witness God's mighty hand in action.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Children of God

On Wednesday nights, I'm helping with an after school church program across the street. My kids get off the bus, eat a snack, and head over for recreation, worship, Bible study, then dinner. It's done by 7, which gives a good amount of time for homework, baths, and getting ready for the next day.

The overarching theme of the program is "We are all Children of God." I've been stewing for a while on a series of children's Bible lessons on the important tasks God entrusts kids with, so it's a perfect match! So I'm teaching the 2-4th grade girls class. It's an awesome group! There are eight of them, and they are all attentive and engaged. It's the perfect size for a pilot group; neither too big nor too small.

For the first lesson, we looked at 1 John 3:1-10, 16-19. I printed out the passage, and they used some basic inductive methods to find key ideas. From this, we made a list of what Children of God are like...and how we should treat each other. They loved "drawing" on the paper and highlighting specific words--like they drew hearts every time the word "love" was used. I don't think any of them had ever used a strategy like that, but it made the themes of the passage very clear, even to a group of 8-10 year olds. I asked them what they thought the most important verse was (that we should use for a memory verse), and they surprised me. They chose 1 John 3:18: Dear children, don't just talk about love. Put your love into action. Then it will truly be love.

So that was their challenge this week: to put love in action. We talked about ways to do it; I don't know if it stuck or not, but I'm glad to get to plant some seeds.

Thanks for this opportunity, Lord. Help my students to know your love and learn how to put it into action--to not just be hearers of the word, but doers also.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A joke for today...

A man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A person comes by in a boat and says "get in, get in!" The man replies, "No, I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle."

The water continues to rise, and soon the the water is up to his waist. Another boat comes by and the pilot tells him to get in again. The man responds that he has faith in God and God will save him miraculously. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again, because "God will save me."

With the water chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and the pilot asks him to get in. The man mumbles, with the water getting in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God.

The man arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, "I thought God would save me. What happened?" St. Peter chuckles and responds, "He sent you three boats and a helicopter, what more do you want?"

So I guess the punchline is take what God gives you and trust Him for the outcome...

Friday, August 20, 2010


"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener...This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15: 1,8

Recently we visited a friends' house. Their garden is amazing--everything is just overflowing with veggies. There are tomato plants with 20+ plate sized tomatoes on them! In comparison, our garden is limping along. We have some fruit, but neither the size or amount.

What's the difference? Well, some of it is the type of plant, but we actually shared some seeds, so some are the same plants. But there are big differences:

--Support structures. Our poor tomato plants laid on the ground for a while before we staked them up. The other gardener built large cage structures around them, giving good support to all the branches, allowing them to bear many large fruit without breaking the branches.

--Fertilizer. They mulched and composted heavily last fall, digging deep in the dirt and mixing in many nutrients from grass clippings, leaves, and their compost pile.

--Water. We haven't been as regular in our watering schedule, but I know the other gardener is much more regular about it, and waters only the roots.

--Pruning. Our friend told us we needed to pinch of the suckers on the tomato plants so they'd be able to put energy into bearing fruit instead of growing plants, but we couldn't tell which were suckers and which were branches, so it didn't happen.

--Harvest. We had a bunch of beans go to seed because we weren't harvesting, so their production has gone down.

Isn't the same true for our spiritual lives? We bear more fruit (and better fruit) when we have invested lots of time and energy into preparing the ground before planting the seeds, when we have good support systems, when we've pruned the "suckers" from our lives, when we have lots of water from the Word and worship, and when our fruits can be harvested to benefit the Gardener.

Help us bear fruit, and bear it abundantly. Help us do the gardening work, of supporting, wattering, pruning and harvesting...and help us find a church home/pastor that is commited to cultivating good fruit in the lives of its members.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


This week, my workplace delivered meals for the Summer Lunch Program. The SLP delivers meals to children who are eligible for free lunches during the school year, who might otherwise not have lunch. I signed my family up to help. So Sunday night, the kids made 25 bologne sandwiches. They prayed for the kids who would receive them, and they made the same lunches to bring to camp.

On Monday, I delievered the lunches. I drove down streets I know well, and some I didn't. At most houses, I was greeted cheerfully by the kids, who were happy to see lunch arrive. I was sad, though, as most of the time there were younger siblings we hadn't packed lunch for.

There were only two houses I didn't have someone answer the door. In the first one, the person hadn't heard me knock, and we met in the stairwell as I did a take two.

The second one was at a house that had been divided into four apartments (somewhat like our house when we bought it). It was unit #4, but I didn't see a clearly marked #4, so I figured I must have the wrong door. So I called. We didn't have a good connection, so it took me a while to figure out what the mom was saying.

The family had moved. And not to another a hotel. A fleabag motel, about a block from my house. My route was on the other side of town, so I finished my deliveries, then headed there and dropped off the bag with bologne sandwiches, yogurt, apples, juice boxes and chips. There was a "do not disturb" sign on the door. It was the only "unit" with a "welcome mat" by the door and prayer candles in the window. I was greeted by a ~10 year old girl, reaching through a barely cracked open door. I could see a shelving unit just inside the door, holding all their clothes. She whispered "thank you", then closed the door.

I used to volunteer at a homeless shelter. I know that in a town like ours, the run down motels are the last stop before homelessness. The math also doesn't make sense--I inquired at the desk, and the weekly rate was $220. That's over $800 a month--way more than a regular apartment would cost (on a monthly basis).

It makes me feel angry.
It makes me feel powerless.
It brings me to my knees.

So I've been praying for the people in 217.

But James 2:15-16 asks more of me: "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?"

That brings me right back to my knees...what will meet their physical needs? What will meet their spiritual needs? What's the best use of our resources? How can this be used to draw them closer to God?

On Sunday we went to the Cincinnati Vineyard. (Man, that feels like a long time ago!) The sermon series was on "Perfect takes Practice" and touched on Peter stepping out of the boat. This is definitely a chance to practice, to step out in faith. To offer my meager bologne sandwiches, and ask God to do a miracle with them.

God, you fed five thousand with a few loaves and a couple of fish. I ask you to do another miracle in the hearts and stomachs of 217. I pray for release of the prisoner and feeding of the hungry---both spiritual and physical. Show us how to help and how to point them to you, their ultimate provider.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Matthew 9:36
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 14:14
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 15:32
Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way."

Matthew 20:34
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Mark 1:41
Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"

Mark 6:34
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Mark 8:2
"I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.

Luke 15:20
So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Romans 9:15
For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."

2 Corinthians 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Philippians 2:1-2
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

James 5:11
As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

Wow. That's quite a call to compassion for the church and Christians. I wonder if that's a word non-Christians would use to describe us?

Friday, July 9, 2010


I confess. I'm like Inigo Montoya...I hate waiting. But I'm learning that God's timing is not my timing.

Look at Noah. Although it rained 40 days and 40 nights, he was stuck in that stinky boat for more than a year (Noah entered the ark in the 600th year of his life, on the 17th day of the 2nd month (Genesis 7:11-13). Noah left the ark on the 27th day of the 2nd month of the following year (Genesis 8:14-15)...a year and 10 days, to be exact). I'm sure he was more than happy to GET OFF THE BOAT.

And at the same time, look at Abram/Abraham. He didn't see God fulfilling his promise of an offspring from his body (Genesis 15:). He was already more than 75 years old (Genesis 12:4)...definitely not a spring chicken. So ten years later (Genesis 16:4), despite God's promises, He and Sarai took matters into their own hands, and voila, we've got Ishmael, father of the Muslims, born when Abram was 86 years old. Nothing like creating your own misery by taking matters into your own hands! But God renews his promise when Abram is 99 years old (Genesis 17:1), and gave him Isaac when he was 100 years old...twenty five years after the original promise.

So I'm not in a hurry to mess with God's promises. He spoke clearly and audibly about not settling, and Patrick's also heard a clear call to not drive. So here we are, almost 2 years later, still struggling with finding a church home. It's not easy and not what I want for my family, but until God clearly shows us where to go, we're not going.

The hardest thing is discerning what is our responsibility and what is God's, and where the line is between being faithful and taking things into our own hands. Are there things we haven't done that are blocking our paths? Are we grumbling too much, causing us to wander in the desert? It's not that we don't want to submit to a local church--I'm looking forward to the community. But until we find one that doesn't have me blinking away the tears as I hear "not this one either", we'll keep seeking God on where He wants us to be.

Lead us on, Lord. I'm weary of this journey. Help me to be patient and submit both to You and Patrick.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Just do it!

1 Corinthians 10:31b: "do it all for the glory of God."

A couple of years ago, I started working on two series of lessons to use in Sunday School. When I was no longer teaching, I stopped working on it.

We visited the Danville Vineyard on Sunday--it was totally refreshing. The lesson was on the Prodigal Father. We most often think about the prodigal son--the one who squandered his inheritance. But if you look at the definition of prodigal, it fits the father even better--"Giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse; extravagant."

The other point that struck me was that the audience was the pharisees--they would have identified with the older brother, who stood outside the party, mad at the celebration. He had worked so hard, and yet, got nothing. But the father reassured him, that all he had was his.

I'm not sure why this was comforting, or why it inspired me. But I'm working on the lesson set, and can't wait to work on it with my kids.

God, these lessons are for you. Help me teach my children well...and whoever else you intend these lessons for.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Luke 11:11-13:
"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Wow. I'm so thankful for a heavenly Father that goes above and beyond what I could ever envision an earthly father doing!

Thanks for our earthly fathers, and that you're a generous giver, God. Help me to ask for what I need without concern for whether it's "doable" or not!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Parking priority?

We visited a church last Sunday that had the first five parking spots closest to the door reserved for visitors.

I turned around yesterday in another church's parking lot. The parking spot closest to the door was reserved for the pastor.

Now to be fair, I don't know if the second church's pastor has mobility issues or other special needs.

And while it's easy to judge the second church, aren't we guilty of the same thing? It's much easier to put our first efforts at church towards our projects and our friends, rather than to try to welcome our guests and meet their needs.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Book

Henry reached a milestone this summer--he passed the swimming test to go off of the low diving board. The life guards mark their arms with an "L" if they can only go off the low board, and an "X" if they can go off the high diving board.

After taking the test twice, the life guard informed him that he doesn't have to take it everytime--they write the names of the children who have passed the test in a book. The next time he comes, Henry just has to tell the lifeguard his name, and they'll mark him with an "L". (He can keep taking the test to get to go off the high diving board).

It was a good opportunity to talk about another book--the Book of life.

Revelation 20:12-15
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Thanks, Lord, for marking us with a pen more permanent than the life guard's Sharpie.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Branch

Sunday we got to the whale watching place early, and were wandering around. I thought I heard "our kind of church" music, and there was indeed a church meeting in the boat house at 9:30. The boat trip wasn't until 10:30, so we went for a while. We got to sing one song (a favorite), and then there was a baby dedication (like a baptism or Christening). What was cool was that the mom had a dream about having two healthy babies a week before going into the US...and finding out they were having twins. She had preterm labor issues at 22 weeks and they were born at 29 weeks, but didn't have any of the health complications the doctors kept telling them to expect. While it seems strange, I found peace in that, especially since right before I had the miscarriage, a friend had a vision of me and some too big pants. The pants went in a dryer and came out the right size...kind of the converse story, but still healing in it. We left before the sermon started, and ended up telling the kids about the miscarriage. Henry gave me an overprotective bear hug, and Harmony started asking questions.

I'm not sure where to go with this, but I do know that was a completely a healing God moment.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What are we looking for anyway?

Maybe one of the reasons we resonated so well with the Donut Church is that their mission statement resonated. And really, it is what I'm looking (and I think we're looking for) for in a church.
Love God.
Love others.
Live it out.

What does that mean for a church? I'm probably too braindead to write it well, but in a nutshell:

Love God: Can I worship freely? Is the Holy Spirit present and active? Is the word of God taught and preached? Are disciplines that help me love God more taught and encouraged? Is the children's ministry based on God's word and age appropriate?

Love others: Is the church actively involved in ministry, both in their own community and in the world? Do the people in the church act lovingly towards each other? Do they welcome strangers? Do they actively pray for each other? Is unity encouraged? Do they encourage unity with other groups of believers?

Live it out: Is the Good News of the Kingdom of God preached to the poor? Are the oppressed released of their burdens? Do they practice what they preach? Do sermons encourage people to be doers of the word, not hearers only? Does the church encourage people to use their gifts and talents to serve God? Are the kids allowed and encouraged to discover and use their spiritual gifts?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Forgotten sugar...

Last week, Patrick found a recipe for Crazy Cake and asked me to make it sometime. Tonight he had a meeting, so I wanted to surprise him with it.

Someone had commented that the batter was really good, so I sampled some (who doesn't sample the batter?) and it was...yuck. Bitter, sour, I'm not quite sure what. But it definitely didn't taste like cake.

Then I remembered--I didn't have room in the sifter for the sugar with the rest of the dry ingredients. So I had tried to make a cake with no sugar! Luckily it wasn't in the oven yet, so I stirred it in. I don't know how evenly the sugar got mixed in, but it was much more edible!

How often I forget the sugar in the recipe of life. It's easy to get fixated on the "what has to get done", especially in the morning. It turns me into a clanging gong, a crashing symbol.

Lord, help me sweeten my words with love--a patient, kind, unenvious, humble, other centered,not easily angered, rejoicing in the truth, protecting, trusting, hoping, perseverant love.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Got milk?

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3

Even though Hope is 13 months, she's still nursing. She is too cute to quit, though we're mostly down to morning and evening (and when she's really tired and/or overwhelmed).

When she wants to nurse, she signs "Please", then throws down her beloved blankie and flings the pacifier across the room. I can feel her physically relax as she starts getting milk. I don't let her nurse all the way to sleep, but she is definitely melting. In the mornings, she'll only go a couple minutes, then sign "all done" and wants to get down and run around.

The milk has "done a body good"--she's growing and doing all kinds of fun things. She really likes dogs (well, at least pictures of dogs), taking things out of banned cabinets, and putting things in containers (maybe we have a fighting chance on keeping the girl's room clean after all).

Do I crave spiritual milk the way Hope likes to nurse? Do I drop my comfort items to spend time in the Bible, or am I trying to nurse with an artificial nipple in my mouth? Do I relax and just let God hold, comfort and nourish me?

I think I have a few things to learn from Hope.