Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zippity do dah!

 Sing with me!  Zippity do day, zippity ay!  My oh my what a wonderful day!

Ok, ok, I know, you're going to have that song in your head all day now, aren't you?

Zippity do dah, the A to Z Blogging Challenge is now complete.  Thanks for stopping by, I hope to return to your posts and visit longer with some of you now.  Your posts enlightened and intrigued me.

Z is for Zippity do dah!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for You

Even if it's all a hoax.  Even if there is no heaven or hell.  Even if we just die and go into the ground to decay.  Even if there is nothing, no reward, no eternal life, no eternal punishment.

Even if it's all a lie, I'll still believe someone found me and you worthy enough to die for.

I'd rather believe there is hope to the mess of life, that there is a reason for the history of the planet, that there is a reason we all exist, then to believe it's all for nothing.

I'd rather believe that when the end comes I will be made perfect, all my flaws and dirt will be forever gone rather than wonder if when I die I'll turn into a cow or a bird or a bug or simply decay.

I believe He saw you and me as we are - messed up and filthy - and He loved you and me anyway and somehow found us worth dying for.

I believe there is nothing you or me can ever do to make us worthy for such a sacrifice.

I believe He loves you.  With all your stuff and baggage, He loves you.  With all you've done and will do, He loves you.

I believe He loves you with all your struggles, some by choice, others not, but He still loves you.

He loves you.

There is nothing you will ever be able to do to match his love for you.


You will never be good enough.

You will never be nice enough.

You will never be patient enough.


So give up.

Give up and rest in the simple yet amazing fact that He LOVES you.

This is for you too, believer, He loves you.  Your works aren't saving you.  Your serving in His kingdom isn't saving you.  You don't have to do one more thing to earn his approval.  You could quit your duties for his people today and he would never, ever, ever, ever, never stop loving you.


Rest, friend.  Rest in his love for you.  Take a deep breath and rest in what it means for someone (you) who has to do absolutely nothing to earn someone else's love.

There's no manipulation required.  No list to follow and check-off.  He is not asking you to prove your love for him.  He loves you because he knows you can't prove your love to him.

Really now, when you think about it logically, what do you have to lose?  Is it fun thinking you may be a cow?  Is it comforting to think all your life is meaningless and you'll just end up decaying in the ground or being dissolved ashes in some body of water or just simply dust blowing in the wind?  Does that really give you comfort?

What would surrendering to His love look like in your life?  Is your life so much better without Him?

Surrendering to His love brings rest.  Your problems don't go away.  Your struggles will still be there. But you will have someone on your side who is for you, not against you.  You will have someone who is always there for you.  You will have someone who knows you like no other person could ever know you.

I like that about Him.  It takes the pressure off having unrealistic expectations of others to fulfill a hole in my heart that only he can fill.

So anyway, it's a rambling post today, so glad this challenge is almost over.  I'm tired.

He loves you.

Y is for You.


Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for eXposed

eXposed - open to view; not shielded or protected

Yes, fellow bloggers, I cheated a little bit.  It's not a true X word, but it starts with the same sound.  I debated about using X is for Christ because the Greek letter X is the first letter in Greek for Christ, but then I thought I may be breaking some English letters only rule so I cheated.   Yes, I cheated.

And I don't care that I cheated, because the word - Xposed has come to be very meaningful to me this winter.  (The coldest winter in Wisconsin in 35 years I might add).

When we moved north last summer and left behind our home of fifteen years and got rid of junk, ahem, I mean treasures, that had been accumulating just because I had room for them and I wasn't moving every one to two years anymore, we became exposed to a lot of unknowns.

How will this work?  How will it work going back to our home state after being away for so long?  How will it work when the grandkids start coming and we're 700-900 miles away?  How will it all work out?

We didn't have any of those questions answered before we left and some of them are working themselves out just fine, but the big change we went through last year exposed us.  It exposed us to being vulnerable again, learning our way around a new town, a new community, a new but old culture, a new way of learning to live in severe cold.  (I keep bringing up the cold, I know, but it was cold!)

We saw a lot exposed this winter too when all the leaves were off the trees and the summer brush was gone and you could see deep into the woods.  We saw houses that are invisible in summer, we saw tree stands that were vulnerable in the open, not hidden by foliage.

Winter exposed beauty we normally don't see when the greens and other colors of summer lay a blanket over them and winter exposed junk that lies covered up by brush and leaves in the summer.  (There are lots of broken down old cars and buildings you never see in the summertime!)

Change exposed us.  Change always exposes hidden feelings, attitudes, and beliefs.  Exposure to new things brings out the changes we need to continue to grow and stretch and experience life the way God wants us to experience life.  Change exposes us to what needs to be let go to face the new.

He was exposed.  He let himself be exposed to shame and humiliation and grief and hunger and exhaustion.  For you.

Change exposes what is waiting inside you, what is in you and able to stretch you beyond what you ever thought you were capable.

X is for eXposed.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Wisdom

There's a thing missing in the world today, it's a phrase I heard a lot growing up, but don't hear about too much anymore.  It's like it went the way of black and white TV's and wall mounted telephones.  We know those things will most likely never make their way back into our daily living again, but I do hope we haven't lost the other entirely.

Have you wondered, like I have, where common sense went?

The definitions for wisdom and common sense are almost identical in Merriam Webster:

Wisdom:  knowledge of what is proper or reasonable; good sense or judgment

Common sense:  the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions

So much of what we watch on TV, read about, or participate in, and make our decisions are based on our feelings and not on simple wisdom and common sense.

Where has wisdom gone?  Where has common sense gone?

They are being replaced by doing things so no one feels bad, feels left out, feels hurt, feels inadequate.  No one, most of all, us.

Why is doing things for feelings sake rather than for wisdom's and common sense's sake better?

I don't know where wisdom and common sense have gone, but I do know where to get it.

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.  For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.  Then you will understand what is right and just and fair - every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.

W is for Wisdom.


Things to chew on:
1.  What areas of your life today do you need wisdom?
2.  What areas of your life do you tend to base your actions on feelings rather than wisdom or common sense?

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Volunteer

Volunteer - to offer to do or give something without being forced to or without getting paid to do it
When sin entered the world and God had to set the course for redeeming the world, he didn't, he couldn't, go among a company of men, pacing in front of them and saying something like this:

Men, who will go?  I need someone who is willing to leave this perfect world of heaven, go to a world where you will be mocked, spit upon, ridiculed, arrested.  You will be the victim of attempted murder when they try and throw you over a cliff.  Your own family and friends will disown you and think you're crazy.  You will wear a human suit that will make you feel tired, cold, hungry and a host of other conditions.  You will be tortured, hung on a cross and die.  And the best news yet, you won't get a single thing back for your service.

Who will it be?  Anyone?

No, it didn't go down like that.  First of all, because there was no one at the time besides Adam who could volunteer and Adam was who got us into the mess we're in.

Secondly, only God could redeem, buy back, the damage done by sin.  Only God.

God Himself had to volunteer for the job.

He did it freely, without expecting anything back.

He did it knowing many would never thank Him for what He did.

He did it willingly, knowing what lay ahead for him.  The pain, the despair, the humiliation.

He volunteered.

He volunteered to give His life for you.

He expects nothing back.  Nothing.  No good life, no staying away from breaking the big laws, no being a good person.

You can't do anything.  Dead people can't do anything.

And that's what we are without Him.  Dead.

But with Him, with trust in Him and what He volunteered to do for me and you, we are alive.

Alive and well and able to volunteer to do the hard things, live the sacrificial life, love the people who are most hard to love, walk through the pains of life with courage.

Because He volunteered to do it all for us, we are able to give all for Him.  He expected nothing in return when He volunteered to live the life we cannot live.

He volunteered.  He wasn't forced to, he wasn't paid to do what He's done for us.

He volunteered.

V is for Volunteer.


Things to chew on:
1.  What things do you do that you know you will never get compensated for doing and you do them anyway?
2.  Have you ever not volunteered to do something because it would involve too much of a sacrifice for you to do?

Ephesians 2:1-10

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Understand

Understand - to know the meaning of something, such as words that someone is saying or a language; to know how something works or happens; to know how someone thinks, feel, or behaves

As I write these posts for this crazy challenge - and may I say, I wish I was on Z! - I'm learning as I go along.  I've been blown away by some of the words which have found their way into my brain and onto the keyboard.  It's like I'm learning about Jesus in a new way I never saw before even though I've known of him my whole life.

I say "I've known of him" because for a great portion of my life that's how I would describe it.  I've heard about him.  I've heard about the things he did, the stories he told, the people whose lives he touched.  I've heard about him.  But those things were sort of like a box of puzzle pieces dumped out on a table, a mish mash of cardboard with splashes of color pasted on them.

One piece may have the piece of the crucifixion on it that I've known about since I was a baby, yet couldn't comprehend until I was much older and my brain started to associate death with people who died.  People I knew.  Because I knew people who died, I was able to see Jesus as someone who died.

The other pieces of the puzzle were still scattered on the table but they started to become connected to each other and I could see how the death of Jesus mattered in regards to the death of others.  

One piece started to connect to another and so on and so forth.  Not much different than how we learn in life.  What caused us grief and despair as an adolescent seems ridiculous to a middle-aged adult, but the experiences of adolescence were laying the foundation of learning and living for my age now and my older age tomorrow.  Everything connects, yet not everything makes sense when it's being taught.

Yet, the puzzle pieces still come together.  Slowly sometimes, but other times, the light is good and the pieces are illuminated so clearly that much of life makes sense.  The puzzle pieces start connecting.   Much of the past makes sense in the present and the future looks less scary in the face of what is understood thus far.

That's a little bit how I see God's word working in the life of someone.  So much will never be understood and so much more is just waiting to be understood for when the time is exactly right and we can see the meaning based on how God has illuminated its truth to our minds and hearts.

I learn differently than my husband, but somehow, we've both come to the conclusion that Jesus is who He said He is.  There are times when I believe because of what the Bible says is true about Him and then there are times I believe simply because I can see how He is working in my life.  He can only teach me about Himself in the way that I can understand and He can only teach my husband and you about Himself in the way he and you are individually wired to understand.

Somehow the pieces still come together and connect, yet I don't have to worry that the edge pieces are not being put together first because he might put the inside pieces of someone else's life together first and work from the inside out and others he may work from the outside in.  You're not going to understand it all so give yourself permission to rest and enjoy what you do understand now.

Jesus had a take on understanding too.  He said there would be many who would be ever hearing but never understanding, ever seeing but never perceiving.  His word syniemi meant to "comprehend, understand, perceive.  When the word is confined to the sphere of mental perception, it means to hear, notice, perceive, understand.  Thus, it strictly denotes the collecting together of the individual features of an object into a whole, as collecting the pieces of a puzzle and putting them together."

That's the crossroads we're at every time we hear the word of God or sense his working in our heart.  We can be one who is ever hearing but never understanding.  Or we can be one who hears and turns and is forgiven.  

Our understanding is not one that can be relied on.  Only through the help of the Spirit of Jesus will we ever have the ability to understand all that he wants us to know about him, his work in our life, and his purpose for our life and the meaning of the pieces still being put together.  But surely, we are invited to ask for understanding, trusting in Him with all our heart.  

U is for Understand.


Things to chew on:
1.  What pieces of your youth have you connected to how your life is today?
2.  What pieces of your life today, which make no sense, can you set aside and wait for them to fit when more of the puzzle is put together? 
3.  What pieces of the Jesus puzzle have become more clear with age?

And if you're really adventurous, here are some of the passages from both Old and New Testaments which use the word syneimi in the Greek and Biyn and Biynah and Tebunah  in Hebrew and are translated in variations of the word understand.

13:14, 15, 19, 23, 51 





1 Chronicles 

28:20, 23, 28
32:8, 9

 119:34, 73, 100, 104, 130, 144, 169

1:2, 6
2:2,3, 5, 6, 9  



 9:2, 22
 10:1, 12



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Temple

naos - a sanctuary (divine dwelling-place); a temple (sacred abode), the place of divine manifestation

I'm sure it started out innocently enough.  No evil starts out with a bang, it just kind of builds from one minor thought to another and pretty soon there is a snowball of thoughts that have meshed together and gotten bigger and bigger as it rolls down the hill.

Maybe someone thought, "hey, these folks are traveling an awful long distance to come to Jerusalem and make their sacrifices.  It's a long journey, they're tired, they need a place to rest and then they have to find a place to buy a dove or a lamb and bring it all the way back to the temple.  Maybe we should try and set up a little booth, just a small one, outside the temple.  That way these weary travelers don't have to be inconvenienced with trying to find their way around town to buy their animals for sacrifice."

Maybe it went like that.  I don't know.  I wasn't there.  But I can kinda see how it could happen like that.  Human nature is human nature and it hasn't changed throughout the centuries.

However it happened, however long it took to get out of hand, it was a big business going on right in God's holy place.

And Jesus confronted it when he visited the temple one day.  And he got.....a little angry.  You can read about it in John 2:12-25.  He got so angry he tipped over tables and money went everywhere.  Along with birds and feathers and frightened lambs.  It had to have been a sight to see.  A calm, gentle man blowing a gasket.

It's interesting what angered him and who he spoke to about his anger.  It wasn't the crowds, it wasn't the farmers with the cows and sheep (he did chase those out too).   It wasn't those who were buying the animals for sacrifice.

What made him angry and who got the verbal whooping were the ones selling the doves - maybe a little bit of a physical whooping, there is a whip involved in the story.

You have to know the significance of doves when used for sacrificing to adhere to Jewish law.  The doves were what were used by the poorest of the poor to sacrifice and appease Yahweh.

I could be wrong but I imagine that there were a lot of dove sellers.  Many more dove sellers than sheep and cattle sellers.  Israel was being run by the Romans and Rome did not have the reputation for making the Jews wealthy.   There were a lot of poor Jewish people needing what their few shekels could buy.  And those were doves.  I imagine there may have been a good mark up on the doves too.

You know how it is in tourist spots or convenience stores.  The price is always a little bit higher just because the customer is willing to pay or has to pay for the convenience.  I don't think it was much different at the temple that day.

Someone, somewhere along the way, thought of a way to make some easy bucks and make it easier for travelers coming to the temple. I imagine when one entrepreneur saw someone set up a table with a few doves caged he may have thought to himself, "I could make a few extra shekels that way too."

I imagine it slowly took off and before anyone could really regulate what was going on, it was a marketplace inside a Holy place.  Any other place and Jesus may have just kept walking.  But this was in His place and He's not going to keep moving along.

So Jesus comes in and sees what's going on.  He sees the poorest of the poor being swindled by the smooth talking dove sellers.  I've seen enough American television and movies, I know how con artists work.  There was a big con going on.  On the grounds of God's holy temple.

I'll let you read what happened.  John 2 starting at verse 13.  It doesn't end well for the marketplace that day.  (Go ahead, pick up your Bible and read it.  Don't be lazy! You're too big to be spoon fed now).

And Jesus was right, both about the temple made out of stone and the temple that was His body.  His body was destroyed and three days later it was brought back to life.  The temple of stone was destroyed a generation later.

I got to walk around the temple stones that once stood where Jesus Himself walked.  I got to touch them and I wondered, as I walked around that area that has never been rebuilt, what these stones could say about that day if they could talk.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

T is for Temple.


Things to chew on:
1.  What about Jesus' display of anger surprises you most?
2.  Do you have any small snowballs that are rolling into bigger snowballs in  your temple?
3.  Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection has made you his temple.  Chew on that.  I'm chewing too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for See

See - to be or become aware of something

Blepo (Strong's 1063) - properly, to see, be observant (watchful).  Blepo suggests "to see something physical, with spiritual results (perception)."  That is, it carries what is seen into the non-physical (immaterial) realm so a person can take the needed action (respond, beware, be alert).

Then there's another word translated see - Horao (Strong's 3972)- which means "to see with the mind (i.e. spiritually see), i.e. perceive (with inward spiritual perception).

When the man who was born blind was healed by Jesus and received his sight, he said to the Pharisees, "one thing I do know.  I was blind but now I (blepo) see."

When doubting Thomas said that unless he saw (horao) the holes in Jesus' hands and put his finger where the nails were he would not believe that Jesus had come back from the dead.  He wasn't just looking for physical evidence, he was looking to make the physical evidence make sense on the spiritual plane.

We're like that too, aren't we?  Seeing is believing type?  Some of us more than others, but each of us in our various seasons of doubt versus belief, using logic to discourage our unseeing trust.

That's kind of why atheists like to mock Christians.  We believe in something we can't see with our eyes and that's kind of weird.  I admit it, it's weird to believe in something you can't physically see.

How many of us, raise your hand and be honest here, have said to the Lord, "It would be so much easier to have believed you THEN, back in Moses day or Abraham's day when people heard your voice, or saw the miracles of Jesus?"  Be honest, we THINK it would be easier to believe in the invisible if we could see more tangible evidence.

Maybe I'm the only one who thinks like that.

But maybe I'm not.

If you want to see, sometimes you have to believe first.  Sometimes if you want to believe, you have to see, not with your eyes, but with your inner eyes, your soul searching eyes.  The ones that can't see the physical form of Jesus but can see with soul eyes the manifestations of his presence.

Seeing is believing and believing is seeing.

You just have to believe.  That's it.

Than you'll see.

S is for See.


Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Real Resurrection Rest

I had some operator error yesterday.  I was going to put my R word up yesterday, even though we're supposed to take Sunday's off and I guess I should have stuck to the Challenge guidelines and stick to the program.  If you're on Blogger or google plus you have seen my error, if not, this is a redo of what I originally posted, then deleted by accident (?).

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the story being celebrated around the world today.  It's the tie that binds Christians across denomination and divisions.  I couldn't write my R words on Easter Monday.  They had to be written and shared (oops) on Resurrection Sunday.  So here they are, two for the price of one:   rest and real.  Both of them can only make sense in the light of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let's start with real first.  Can I get real with you?

Real:  not fake, false, artificial, fraudulent, or illusory; genuine.

One of the amazing things...

And that's all that posted.  Everything I wrote after that is gone.   Lost in cyberspace.

Then I had another post for R, one that I wrote a few days ago, when I was really frustrated with some things I was seeing.  It's not a real nice post.  It would offend probably a lot of people.  And as I struggle right now with what I should post - something entirely new or bring out the sassy one, or as a third option use a combo of both - my heart is beating faster, I have some anxiety running through my nervous system and I think to myself, I am being just the exact thing being real is not.

One of the many amazing things about the human body is that it doesn't lie.  No matter how much   we can tell ourselves we're fine, we don't hurt physically or emotionally, we don't suffer from the past, we are doing ok, the body tells the real story.

Our hips and stomachs tell the story when we eat emotionally and not for fuel.

Our hearts tell the story when the doctor tells us our blood pressure is too high, so is our cholesterol and we need to quit working round the clock.

Our liver tells the story when we drink too much.

Our stomachs tell the story when we have digestive issues and either poop all the time or can't poop at all or we can't eat this because of that ingredient.

We can give ourselves a false sense of comfort about the sicknesses and illnesses we have - it's genes, it's what my mother had and her mother before her, it's because I live in this part of the country, it's because I was abused when I was young, it's because I was vaccinated, no it's because I wasn't vaccinated -  but the bottom line is, our bodies won't lie for us.  Sin is in us and has tainted us.  Sometimes we are sick because it's simply sin living in us.  Sometimes we are sick because of choices we make and the sin genes living in our bodies latch on and manifest as bulimia or allergies or headaches or high blood pressure or cancer.  

The body is a tangible piece of evidence that tells the truth about us and our condition.  Our minds won't let us be real.  Our minds like to believe lies about our body too.  So, let's start being real like our bodies are trying to teach us.

We struggle with being real don't we?  We church folk do.  We believers do.  We supposed followers of Christ do.  We're worried that if the truth got out about who we really are and what we've really done we'd hinder the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We would hinder the good news of what He did to make us His own children, to walk with us, to live life with us, on top of the wonderful, wonderful news that we are forgiven.  Everything we've done is paid for in his one sacrifice.

But somehow our nature just wants to hide and pretend and be fake.

But the Resurrection really doesn't allow for fake-ness.  Sure we're good at calling our temptations and sins of lust and greed and pornography and addictions and gluttony and pride and arrogance as "sin," never using the real words that describe us.

If we call ourselves "sinners" instead of drunks and addicts and the gluttons and pharisees we are, it's a nicer word, it's the religiously correct word.

But the Resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the freedom really to call our spades spades.

When we dress up and hide and rename the things we are - the ones that are struggling and dying and trying to be good, do good, not be bad - they see us and call us that great word.  You know it.  HYPOCRITE!

They know who we are, they see us trying to hide who we are and pretend we're better, or not as bad or simply fake - and the gospel, the good news, the Resurrection story is simply just a story.  It's not real in our life.  It's just something we do because the calendar says its time and then we put it away, tuck it back in the closet until next year when we bring out the Passion story of Christ.

Instead of living the passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ every single day.

It's wonderful to have the day where Christians can boldly post on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram - "He's Risen" - and we get the pass from our unbelieving friends to do so, but then Easter Monday comes and the masks come back on.

When we're real, when we're not fake, not artificial, not fraudulent, not illusory, we can find real rest.

Real Resurrection rest.

The rest that Jesus gives and bids us to come and receive from Him.

When we're fake, when God's own children feel the need to be fake and hide and pretend, so does the world.

It takes a lot of energy to be fake, doesn't it.  Lots of money too.  Dressing up the outside, losing sleep over the inside.

But when God's children are honest with themselves and with God about who they are, not just "sinners" but children who have done____________(you fill in the sins that dog you), then those who call us hypocrites may, just may, find it a little less hindering to consider who Jesus really is.  And what He really did for them.

I don't know.  Maybe it is "their" problem.  But maybe it's "our" problem.

I'm ready to be real.  Maybe I'm just getting old but I'm tired of phony baloney.  I'm sassy(ier) the older I get.  Or the thug in me is really starting to come out.  I don't know.

I'm just tired of trying to give a defense to behaviors of the saved that the world sees.  I'm tired of hearing the unbelieving world accuse the believing world of being hypocrites and having no true defense to give to stand up for the hypocrisy and fraud that surrounds the American church.

The thing is though, it's tiring to be us.  It's tiring to be fake.  It zaps of energy and joy and peace and freedom.  It costs money to be fake.  Blood pressure pills, insulin shots, knee surgery, heart surgery - they all cost money.  It costs money when we're not honest about ourselves deep down under the surface of sinners saved by grace.

The unsaved are not worried about being fake.  They're not worried about being a poser.  They accept who they really are.

We blame their attitudes and behaviors on their sinfulness, their parents, the schools these days, the government, the justice system, the Supreme Court, false teaching, when all the while the Light in the established churches remains dim at best.

We blame our attitudes and behaviors on our sinful nature, our "little" sins, said with a wink and a chuckle - "ooo, I shouldn't have eaten that last piece of pie" when really we got snubbed by someone we really admire or we're trying to drown out the pain of memories that torture, so the pie tries to fill the hole in our hearts only God can fill.

We blame our heart condition on genetics and big fancy words for murmurs when in fact we drink  and smoke because we don't know how else to silence the thoughts that taunt our minds when it's quiet.

We blame our stomach problems on food, on vaccines, on ingredients, when in fact we just simply use food to fill the voids only God can fill.  We control our food because we can't control anything else around us.

We're a mess, you know that right?  The church is a mess.  The statistics for the world's ills run neck and neck with the church's ills.  Take a look sometime.  Google porn addiction in the church.  Google abortions in the church.  Google divorce in the church.  Google gays in the church.  We're a mess.  The statistics aren't pretty.  We're not fooling anyone, least of all God.

It's us who have the problem.  It's us who think we have to hide our struggles from them for fear that the gospel will be hindered.  I've got news for you:  The gospel is hindered when we hide our struggles.

No ones says you have to agree with their lifestyle or buy them their drugs or feed their addictions by looking the other way. I'm certainly not saying that.

What I am saying is this:  Be real about who you are first.  Not just the blanket word "sinner" either.  Call yourself the spade you are. Put a name to the sins you are trying to hide from.   You're only hurting yourself by pretending you're something you're really not.  If you have to pretend and hide and deny you're an addict or gay or a wife beater, you're really hindering the gospel.  If you're denying you have heart problems because you're simply eating too much, you're hindering the gospel.

Read that part again.  You're hindering the gospel.

You are.  I am.  Not them.  Not the lost.  Not the unsaved.  Not false teachers, not false churches.  You are.  I am. Every time we are fake and not real, the gospel is squashed.

Every time we deny and comfort our "little" sin, we hinder the gospel.

Every time we call ourselves a sinner and continue to live in sin without repentance, without turning away from it, we are hindering the gospel.

Every time.

Does this mean we blab our sins to everyone all the time?  Most certainly not!  But if we can't even blab them to ourselves and most importantly God, then really, what's the point of even calling ourselves a follower of Christ?  We're not following him.  We're  only a stumbling block for someone else wanting to reach out to him.

They - those watching us - they are looking for evidence that the gospel is real.

What personal evidence can you bring to the table to show and proclaim to a lost and dying world that Jesus is real?

I don't know what this will look like if we all started being real.  Maybe new groups will form.  Like PA - pharisee anonymous.  Or GA - gluttons anonymous or gossips anonymous.  (Smiles)  It's probably going to get messy.  It's probably going to turn the tables on normal and make some really uncomfortable.  But so what?

Is normal really working?  Really?

Let's be real.  Let's live a Real Resurrected life!  That's where the real rest comes from.  The ceasing of labor.


R is for Real Resurrection Rest.


Things to chew on:
1.  Do you agree the church needs to be real?  Do you think the church is ok where it's at?
2.  What dangers do you see in being real?
3.  What dangers do you see in keeping things the same?

1 Corinthians 3:10-15
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.  If what he builds survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Qualified

hikanoo` - to make sufficient

Colossians 1:9-14  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Yesterday was Good Friday for Christians and those who aren't, some of you anyway, benefitted with a day off maybe.  It was Good Friday and tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday.  Those two days and the day in-between brought you, yes you, a gift.  You are now qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  You have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and you have been brought into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom you have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Whether you believes this or not, you have been qualified.

See, without the original Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday you and I were unqualified and stood insufficient  to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Without that Good Friday 2000 plus years ago, we were only allowed to share in the inheritance of the lost in the kingdom of darkness.

Now we are qualified - we have the necessary skill, experience, or knowledge to do a particular job or activity; we have the qualifications to do something - we are qualified.

The Resurrection has made us qualified to live as children of Light, not of darkness.  Before Good Friday we weren't qualified.

The Resurrection has qualified us to live in the kingdom of the Son God the Father loves.  Before Good Friday we were only qualified to live in the kingdom of the one who hates God.

The Resurrection has qualified us to live a life worthy of the Lord.  Before Good Friday our only qualifications were to live a life in opposition of the Lord and His goodness.

The Resurrection has qualified us to bear fruit in our good works.  Before Good Friday our good works did nothing to please God.

The Resurrection has qualified us to grow in the knowledge of God.  Before Good Friday our only knowledge was of what opposed God's knowledge.

The Resurrection has  qualified us to be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might.  Before Good Friday our power was used for our motives and purposes, not God's.

The Resurrection qualified us to have great endurance and patience.  Before Good Friday we could only give up and give in to the temptations of sin and defeat.

The Resurrection qualified us to joyfully give thanks to the Father.  Before Good Friday we could only complain and curse God.

We're qualified.  We got the job!  Do you want it?  Do you want the blessings and benefits and responsibility that comes with being qualified to live as a child of light?  Or would you rather stay working in your dead end job as a child of darkness?

Everything has been done for you to live as a child of the Light.  Everything.  You've got the promotion.  You're qualified.

Q is for Qualified.


Things to chew on tonight and on Resurrection Sunday:
1.  As a believer, what qualifications can you thank God for?
2.  As a believer, what qualifications do you need reminding of more often today?
3.  As an unbeliever, what keeps you from stepping out and taking the job you've been qualified for?

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Peace

I end all my blogs with the farewell - Peace, Ronda.

I wish you peace in your hearts and your minds and your souls.  We don't know each other well enough to be so forward for me to say, "Love, Ronda," although I do love you because Jesus loves you.  And who Jesus loves, I pray to love as He does.

I don't wish you peace from your trials and burdens, as in release from any trial and burden because that's not possible in this world we live.  We will have trouble, Jesus promised us that.

I wish you peace in the trouble.  I wish for you peace in the trial.  I wish for you peace in the burden.

Not the wishy washy peace the world wishes.  No, I wish you the peace that passes all understanding.  The peace that others see in you that is so mind-boggling it makes them nervous.  Nervous enough to want it for themselves.  I wish you that kind of peace.

Unfortunately or fortunately maybe, the only way you get that kind of peace is by having trials and troubles and tribulations.  You don't get it by a life without difficulty.  It's a peace that can only come and be seen when the trials surround you.

That's the kind of peace I wish for you each and every day I write it and the days in-between when keys on my keyboard lay silent and untouched.

This is the kind of peace our world needs and craves.  This is the kind of peace that sees the corruption, the heartache, the evil,  and the pain around us and still can say, "I know that my Redeemer lives."

This is the kind of peace that can rest knowing that even when the questions remain unanswered, God is still at work bringing all things under His authority.

This is the kind of peace that can grieve and wail but still know that God is a good God, an Abba Father holding His banner of love over me.

This is the kind of peace that gives courage, stomps on discouragement, and encourages us to keep going.

This is the kind of peace that can only come from Someone who is familiar with all our troubles and carries us through them, not abandoning us in our time of need.

This is the kind of peace that guards our hearts, helping us when we're helpless.

This is the kind of peace those who are made innocent through a sacrifice made and a life Resurrected  can have at any given moment.

This is the kind of peace that causes us to jump for joy, not caring what anyone thinks about our outward show of excitement and praise that we've been saved!

This is the kind of peace that comes when we know what we know what we know to be true is indeed True.

This is the kind of peace that continually stands ready to learn the lessons that come because of trials.

This is the kind of peace we can have each moment of our lives knowing he is near enough to touch.

This is the kind of peace we can have celebrating the original we have been made to be.

This is the kind of peace that is for you, not against you.

For He himself is our peace, our eirene - "our gift of wholeness from God, when all essential parts are joined together... The state of untroubled, undisturbed, well-being.  Such a state of peace is the object of divine promise and is brought about by God's mercy, granting deliverance and freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as a result of sin.  The gospel of peace can only be the result of reconciliation with God and made a new relationship between man and God brought by the atonement" of Jesus.


Things to chew on:
1.  Be honest.  Are you/ do you have eirene?
2.  Be honest.  Do you want eirene?
3.  Be honest.  Are you willing to surrender your feeble attempts for peace and submit to the giver of eirene?

References: and Key Word Study Bible NIV; AMG Publishers

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Original

Original:  not like others

When I was a new mother and learning how a baby worked I read everything I could get my hands on both while I was pregnant, after the baby was born and until he basically went to college.  Grin.

Then baby two came along and everything that worked for baby number one did not work for baby number two.  Several reasons for that became evident:

First of all and most important,  I wasn't a first time mother when my second baby was born.  I had learned to relax. A lot.  The second reason was first baby was a boy and second baby was a girl, and  you can enter in multiple sub-categories under this reason alone.

By the time I was pregnant with baby number three I thought I had figured out how it all worked and felt I could handle either sex no matter which God blessed us with.  (This was before we knew the sex of the baby before it was born - a shock to you new moms out there, I know!)

I felt pretty sure of myself and confident that I had boy babies figured out and girl babies figured out, I was ready for either!

And God laughed and laughed and laughed!

Baby number three, a girl, not only was nothing like the boy baby, but nothing at all like the girl baby I had.  What worked for the first girl baby didn't always work for the second girl baby.  And some of what worked for the boy baby DID work for the second girl baby, but all three were so different in temperament, personality, likes, dislikes, foods preferences, sleep patterns and multiple other traits that there was no way I could find THE book to fit my situation as a mother.

They were all ORIGINALS even though they shared many characteristics.  Things like organs and skin and bones and cells and blood came with all three children.  They all were born with brains and souls and the developmental paths were prewired so that they all reached the milestones at somewhat same timeframe.

But they were, and are, so different in so many ways, yet so much the same in other ways.


And so are you and me and the rest of the planet. We all share the single most common denominator:  being human.  Created by a God who created the stars and moon and sun and the planets and the galaxies.

He created men and women, boys and girls.  All with the same basic model of either the male body or the female body.

And then he tweaked us.  He made us original in our design and our abilities and gifts.

Some are really good at math.  Some are born leaders.  Some are born shy.  Some are born laid back.  Some are born with a natural understanding of the sciences.  Some are born with a keen awareness of emotional pain.  Some are born to teach.  Some are born to work on cars.  He gave some of us brown hair, some blonde, red, black and mixed with other unique hues only for us.  Some were given green eyes, some were given blue and brown eyes.  Some are tall, some are short.

He didn't cause us to be born in the same towns or cities or countries.  He picked unique and original places for each of us to be born and live and have our being. He put us in families each original in their own way.

He's given each of us specially designed circumstances and upbringings which further make us originals.  None of us have the exact same history.  We share a lot of similarities but we are all originals with original stories.

Each of us is unique, an original.

Made by a unique and original God.  There is no one else like Him.  No other God can do what this one can do.

We are originals made by an Original God.

O is for Original.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Near

Near:  close to someone or something in distance; not far away in time; almost or nearly

I don't like to simply make a blog post a bunch scripture verses because I realize that a lot of people get tired of being preached to and move on.  So if that's you, I understand.

But if you do want to hang around just a bit longer and reread the verses at the end I want you to know this:

It's simple.  It doesn't take a degree, a cleaned up life, a life not breaking the big laws.  He's near.  Right now, he's near enough to hear your cry for help.  He's near enough to hear  your whisper for peace.  He's near enough to hear your ache for joy.  He's near enough to hear you when you say nothing.

You don't have to have it all right and you won't ever have it all right.  Lord knows, I sure don't and I'm so thankful I don't have to!

You just have to believe what the words above say.

That's it.

He's done all the work in order for you to be able to believe the words above.  All the work.  There's nothing left to be done.

He lived the perfect life you can't.  He loved the perfect way you will never be able to.  He walked the perfect life you constantly stumble trying to walk.  There's nothing left for you to do except this:

Believe He is near and He loves you and He wants to do your life with you.  Not against you.  He is for you!

Believe what He did is enough.


Believe He is the One who can give you the joy and peace you so long for.


Believe He is near enough and able enough to save you from yourself and your lousy life.


Believe He is near enough to help you climb out of the mediocre life you have and make it a life worth living again.


Believe He has a plan for your life.


Even when you believe, you're still going to mess up, but He's near enough to help you from making a bigger mess you would have made without him.

Even when you believe, you'll have days of doubt and despair.  But He's still near enough to hear your cries and renew your hope and joy and faith.

Even when you believe, you'll get mad, angry, sarcastic, snarky, and depressed from time to time.  But he'll still be near enough to grab up all those emotions and carry them for you.

Even when you believe, you will still have more questions than answers.  But He's still near enough to give you peace in not knowing all the answers.

Even when you believe, you will still get sick, you will still have pain, you will still suffer rejection and betrayal.  But He's still near enough to remind you He's been through the same, He'll get you through.

Even when you believe, life won't get perfect, nor will you, nor will any other believers around you.  But He will still be perfect.

It doesn't take some grand ceremony, some fancy prayer, some attendance or a slow walk down an endless aisle to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.

Just believe it.  Right now.

He's near enough to be your Lord and Savior now.

He's near.

N is for Near.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14  Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?"  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?"  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

Romans 10:8-9:..."The word is near you; it is in your mouth in and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:  That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:17  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

James 4:8  Come near to God and he will come near to you.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Moment

The snow had melted, the ducks were swimming in the lake, the deer could swim - if they wanted to, the birds were singing, grass was turning green.  The signs of the cold, long winter were fading both tangibly and from our minds.

Just a few evenings ago, my husband and I took a walk to the lake to see how low the water is while the dam is regulating the rate the lake fills back up to normal levels.  We saw sandbars we don't normally see in the summer, but the hope of spring was alive and breathing.

Sunday night we turned off the news after hearing the downpour of rain we were getting would turn to snow and we would get maybe an inch of accumulation overnight.

An inch turned out to be about 3-4 inches where we live, and the beauty awaiting us as we got up Monday morning was not really appreciated as it may have been in say, oh, I don't know - DECEMBER!

But as we got up and about and made our way into town for shopping and a movie the beauty of the overnight dump could not be denied.  It looked like a true Christmas card.  The ones with pictures of heavy snow weighing down beautiful evergreen branches and the whole world white.  Snow was sticking to every surface of trees and leaves and buildings.

This morning as I walked the dogs and accepted the beauty of this moment of winter appearing quickly, I realized I needed to get my camera out and truly take in the moment, for a snowstorm in spring may come again, but then again, it may not.  

We live in moments, not years.  The calendars fool us into thinking that our life here on earth is long and tedious and monotonous and never-ending, but really from the first breath we take when we are born to the last breath we take when we leave this earth, is really... just a moment.  As quickly as we went from winter to spring to winter in just a few hours, is how quickly really, in the grand scheme of things, our lives are.

We're not promised tomorrow and the glimpses of beauty we get today are missed because we think we will have the same opportunity tomorrow that we had today.  

Our loved ones die.  Our dreams fade.  Our ideals of youth become the cynicism of old age because we don't see our lives as moments to live.  We see our lives, with the struggles and trials that fill them as enduring forever, when in fact, they are just a moment.  They won't last forever.  

We use our moments sometimes, I do anyway, maybe you don't, for being bogged down and burdened rather than seeing the moment as the opportunity that is there, one I may never see or experience again.  

The moments we get when we're born, are just that.  Moments.  

Spring will come.  This momentary snow will be gone soon (at least I hope so).  The pains and burdens of today will be different than the burdens of say next year or in five years or ten or fifty years.  But in between are the moments we all get to live our lives like today is our last.  

Today is our moment.  Our opportunity to do the right thing.  To live out the purposes we have been created for.  It's only for a moment.  You won't get the same exact moment ever again.

M is for Moment.


Things to chew on:
1.  How will you use the moment you are given today?
2.  What opportunities do you have in front of you that might not be there tomorrow?
3.  How will you enjoy the moment you are given today, whether burdened or light?

2 Corinthians 4:17:  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Learned

I have a hard time learning things the first time I'm taught them.  It's a condition someone labeled and a psychologist said I have called A. D. D. and it causes me to have to spend a little more time (sometimes a lot more time) learning by repetition rather than getting something the first time I'm exposed to it.

I didn't learn that about myself until I started nursing school at age 38.  Once I found out, my world changed.  A lot of my Why questions got answered.

Like these, to name a few:

Why can't I remember what the teacher just told me?
Why can't I read something and remember what it said on the first read?
Why does it take reading something over and over and over again before it sinks in?
Why do I have to write everything down as I hear it in order to learn something and retain the knowledge?

Once I figured out that it was just the way I was wired, learning became enjoyable rather than frustrating.  I learned how to learn!  And it's been AWESOME ever since.

(And it shouldn't be called Attention DEFECIT Disorder it should be called Attention Overload Gift! But that's another blog post.  I digress......)

Anyway, L is for Learned.

There are all kinds of ways in which we learn.  We learn by reading, by doing, by mistakes made, by things done right the first time, by things done right after 43 tries done wrong.  We learn by trial and error, we learn by discipline, sometimes physical in nature, we learn by example.

We learn - we gain knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, being taught, or experiencing something.

Some lessons learned are learned "the hard way."  Some learning comes naturally to some.

Once we learn something we have learned it - we get it or we have understanding because of learning or experience.

We learn good things, we learn bad things.  We form habits based on what we learn, some good, some bad.

Sometimes we can learn something over and over and over and over again and still not get it or understand it.  It may be because we are only one month old or we may be 75 years old and stubborn and rebellious and don't want to get it.

Some of us learn better by doing.  Some learn better by listening.  Some learn better by a combination of both.

Variables to how and what we learn depend on our age, our circumstance, our gender, the teacher, the lesson, the presentation of the material we are being taught.

There are multiple ways of learning one concept and no two people always learn the same lesson from the same concept.  And no one concept can teach multiple people all the time.

Want to know something interesting?

Jesus learned!  Yes, he learned.  As a human with all humans have, His brain was like ours. It was set up to learn in stages of development, taught by knowledge experience, education, and discipline.  As a man, with his divine power subdued, he learned like we learn.

After he died and rose again someone said "although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him..."

While he was on earth he once beckoned us all to "come to Me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

L is for Learned.


Thoughts to chew on:
1.  How do you learn?  Are you a good listening learner or reading learner or both?
2.  What are some hard lessons you've learned?
3.  What type of learning comes naturally to you?

For further learning:

Manthano - to learn, to have learned or understand something, to learn, study, be instructed.

English words for manthano are:

Matthew 9:13; 11:29; 24:32
Mark 13:28
1 Corinthians 4:6
Galatians 3:2
1 Timothy 2:11; 5:4
Titus 3:14
Revelation 14:3
Acts 23:27
Romans 16:17
Philippians 4:9,11
Colossians 1:7
2 Timothy 3:14
Hebrews 5:8
2 Timothy 3:7
John 6:45

get into the habit of being
1 Timothy 5:13

inquire about
1 Corinthians 14:35

1 Corinthians 14:31

Ephesians 4:20

John 7:15

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Know

I love the Bible.  I love to read it and study it and learn about the cultures in which it was written.  But I'm horrible at memorization.  I couldn't tell you chapter and verse of even a handful of verses, but it's in my soul and I love to study it, write it down, rewrite it, and just simply marinate in it.

I've always known, since I was a child that the Bible was written originally in two languages.  The Old Testament in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek.  Yeah, ok, so what?  I was reading it in English, the language of my culture.

A number of years ago now I was in a women's bible study when I got my first glimpse in regards to the richness of the Hebrew and Greek language.  The teacher took an English word in the Bible and showed us the deep rooted significance of the original word - I don't remember if it was a Hebrew or a Greek word - I just remember thinking "Wow!"  I got hooked!

Translators of the Bible have a very hard task, and much has been discussed in theological circles about translation, which I won't bore you with here.  But I will say, it is a very hard thing to do to stay true to the original language while translating it for the person who is reading it without losing the significance of the Truth of its message.  I have a hard enough time speaking "man-ese" to my husband to get him to understand a woman's point of view. I can't imagine the difficulty of translating scripture for other cultures and languages.

So when I, this beyond my FDA approved weight and BMI gray-haired nurse, with no language degrees or even a legitimate language class credit attempts to understand the nuances and inflections of words I'll never be able to pronounce fluently, tries to see beyond the English word for a millennial old Hebrew word, I get a little shaky in my boots.

I shake alittle more when I put this out on the world wide web and think about who might be reading this if I'm off on something.  I sooooooooo don't want to lead someone down a rabbit hole.  And I also don't ever want to negate the importance of translators, especially Bible translators, but sometimes I come across an English word in my studies that, when I look up the passage in the original language, I do say to myself, "there are certainly better English words to convey this word in Hebrew or Greek!"

I don't mean that at as a know-it-all, I just mean it as this:  Really?  That's the best you could do to describe this rich, beautiful visual word?

All that being said, here is one of those words.


 Two particularly interesting Greek words which are translated Know and also are translated as recognized, understand, learned, felt, evidence in English in the NIV are:

Ginosko and Oida

Neither of them suggest a head knowledge only of something.  Maybe there is head knowledge or an awareness which could be called "knowing," but these two words suggest learning from experience - ginosko - and intuition - oida.

You know what you know what you know.  You don't just know it in your head, you know it in your heart, your soul, your mind, from the tip of your head to the bottom of your feet.  You KNOW!

Here are just two places where these words are used in the Bible.

Mark 5:29:  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt - ginosko - in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

Mark 5:32:  Then the woman, knowing - oida - what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.

So I guess what I want to tell you is this, knowing isn't always a head knowledge.  To know something isn't just knowing the facts.  To know someone or something in a ginosko or oida kind of way is to go beyond that.  When you come across the word "Know" in your Bible, don't just assume it's a head knowledge knowing.

There are many times it is a head knowledge knowing, and that kind of know is important.  But there is a knowing that goes beyond what a book can teach you or a teacher can describe to you.  Or even what my words here can do for you.

Jesus said if we hold to his teachings we are really his disciples.  Then, he said, you will ginosko the truth, and the truth will set you free.  (John 8:32).  It wasn't just a head knowledge of him, but a knowledge that is acquired by being exposed to something, knowing by learning and experience.

You can have head knowledge of truth, but truth only frees you when you ginosko the Truth.  When it's taught to you through experience, exposure, or intimate exposure with him - like the woman who had had a period for 12 years!  Go back and read the whole story - it's awesome!

When you ginosko the truth the truth will set you free!


Thoughts to chew on:
1.  Is your faith in Christ more head knowledge, just the facts, or a ginosko and oida knowledge?
2.  If your faith is head knowledge only, what's keeping you from seeking a ginosko or oida knowledge?
3.  If your faith is more ginosko or oida what are you doing to gain more head knowledge?

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Joy

Luke 10:21
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure."

Jesus was a man's man.  He wasn't a wuss.  He wasn't a sissy.  He wasn't a wimp.

He was a man.  A man's man.

If he were to walk on earth today like he did in the first century, I think, in my unsanctified opinion, he'd be at hunting and fishing shows, NASCAR races, muddin', climbing mountains, going to the places where men are.  I really do.

I really believe that because we are made in His image, God made us to resemble what He looked and acted like.  Especially men.

I think he farted and laughed about it.  I think he burped.  I think when he was a little boy he collected rocks and reptiles of middle eastern genus and types.  I think when he was an adolescent and not hanging out in the synagogue he was an awkward teenager, casting glances (not lusting, glancing!) at the girls in his village.  (He was tempted in every way, just as we are but without sin, after all).

I think as he grew up he had the same longings we have growing up.  To meet someone, get married, have children, grow old together.

I think he did.  There's no way to prove he did, I didn't live back then, didn't know him personally in human form, still don't have a grasp on the culture he grew up in, but I think he was a lot like us in his joys and sorrows and heartaches and triumphs.

You see, when he was working, when he was training his disciples, he got excited.  He got really excited when those dimwits got IT!

When he sent out his seventy-two disciples and they came back "with joy," they came back recognizing God's grace on them.  They got IT!

Jesus didn't give a holy nod and pat on the head with white gloves on his hands.  He didn't tell those men to "calm down now and act like good church boys."  He didn't tell them to hush up, sit up straight, straighten your ties, tuck in your pants, fix your hair.

You know what he did?

Look, he was "full of joy."

That doesn't just mean happy, smiley, I feel so good inside joy.


It means he jumped!  He leaped!  And dare I say, I think a few high fives were slapped.  Maybe 72 of them.

He agalliao - he got so glad he jumped in celebration!

That's what real men, and real women, do.  They rejoice when there are things to rejoice about, like finding out your name is written in heaven, for one.  They rejoice, they don't pretend to be all pious and holy acting. When something as worthy as being a child of God happens it's worth celebrating like its the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl!

Jesus didn't hold back.  Neither do we need to hold back.

J is for Joy....Jumping Joy!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Innocent

not guilty of a crime or other wrong act; not deserving to be harmed; lacking experience with the world and the bad things that happen in life

free from guilt or sin especially through lack of knowledge of evil

He was innocent.

He did nothing to deserve what we did to him.  Nothing.

He didn't lie, cheat, steal, murder, gossip, hoard, deceive, mock, trick, ridicule, humiliate, tease, deny, cast a stone, abuse.  He wasn't prideful, he wasn't arrogant, He wasn't greedy.  He didn't pretend to be something he wasn't.  He didn't think an unclean thought.  He didn't worry, fret, stew, or give into the weakness of the flesh he walked in.  He wasn't vain, he didn't make his body an idol.  He didn't insist on having his way.  He didn't overeat or starve himself to be thin.  He didn't argue a point until he won.  He didn't shame anyone.  He didn't maliciously cause harm, because he never caused harm.  He didn't plot revenge.

Never.  Ever.  Not once.

He was tempted to do all these things, but he didn't do any of them.  Not a one.

He was innocent and we crucified him.

Yes we.  Not they.

Not the Jews, not the Pharisees.  Nor the Romans or the ancient world.

We did.  Us.  The ones living in 2014.  The ones living from the beginning of time until the end of time.  We did it.

I don't get it.  I'll be honest with you.  It's a crazy story.

One man dying for all men.  I understand why people reject Him.  It's a crazy story.

It's on my list of Why questions I will ask Him when I meet him face to face.

But really, when you think about it, in the most basic way a human being can think about such a big thing.  What other way would or could there be?

We are a mess, this human race.  We are a hot mess.  There is no one else before and since who is willing to do what he did for us.  Would you do what he did for even one person, let alone a world of people who spit on him and rejected him and would never, ever consider being the least bit grateful for what he did?  I wouldn't.

But He did it anyway.

I'm not always grateful for what He did, but He did it anyway, knowing I wouldn't be.


He was innocent.

And now, because He was, I am.  So are you, if you belong to Him.  Even after all the wrong we've done, the countless ways we messed up and continue to mess up......

We are now innocent in His eyes.

Nothing more can be done to make you innocent.  No trying to live a good life, following the rules and not breaking any laws, trying to be good enough.  None of that will cut it.

You are not innocent, but He is and because He is, you are....Innocent.


Take a deep breath and Rest in that Truth.

If you belong to Him, you are innocent.

Now, start living like you believe it.

I is for Innocent.


Things to chew on:
The Greek for innocent is akeraios which means "not mixed (mingled); not a destructive mixture because not tainted by sinful motives (ambitions); pure (unmingled); unmixed.
It's used in these passages:
Matthew 10:16; Romans 16:19; Philippians 2:15 (as pure).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Helpless Helper

One of the most intriguing characteristics of Jesus Christ is not only was He God at the same time He was a man, but He was a man at the same time He was God.  There are lots of big theological church words for this mysterious phenomenon, many, many words have been used to dissect and discuss just such mystery, but without understanding the HOW, I love the fact:  He was man and He IS God.

Knowing this gives me great hope, comfort and peace and it was brought into a closer realm of reality for me the week I spent holding my newborn grandson.

As I looked at his sweet face and watched him sleep and make faces while dreaming what only newborn babes dream, I couldn't help but think that my Savior started out this very same way.

Baby Zeke couldn't do anything about being hungry except cry.  Baby Jesus was the same way.

Baby Zeke couldn't do anything about a dirty diaper.  Neither could Baby Jesus.

Baby Zeke couldn't do anything about being too warm or too cold.  Baby Jesus was subject to adults discerning His cries too.

Baby Zeke didn't have a choice as to where we lay him, Baby Jesus didn't have any choices either.

Baby Zeke was so helpless and was dependent upon his mom and his dad and other adults to help comfort him, keep him fed, warm and clean.

So was Baby Jesus.

But the difference between Baby Zeke and Baby Jesus is that Baby Jesus choose to come in the form of a helpless human being.

He helped by making himself helpless.  All the while he was a helpless newborn he was helping.  He was the Helper we needed to make us His child.  We are the newborns He holds in his nail scarred hands.  We are His newborn He holds in His arms feeding us when we're hungry, clothing us when our clothes are sin-stained and torn, cleansing us when the dirt of our sins cover us and make us ashamed and guilt-ridden.

When He was helpless He was making us whole.

When He was helpless He was clothing us in righteousness.

When He was helpless He was cleansing us from our sins and making us white as snow.

When He was helpless He was our Helper.

Isaiah 41:10  "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

H is for Helpless Helper.


Things to chew on:  (I know the pictures are cute but FOCUS!  haha)
1.  Do you find it easy or hard to ask for help when you need it?
2.  Have you ever seen yourself as a helpless newborn when you feel helpless?
3.  How does it make you feel to recognize that even when you feel strong, in Jesus' eyes you are a helpless newborn?

Photos courtesy of Baby Zeke, his mom, and my niece.