Sweet in the Bitter

The first few weeks of 2015 have been–to put it mildly–a bit bumpy. I don’t have permission from the people involved to share the whole story with you, but what I can say is this:

I found the sweet part of what’s been such a bitter taste in my mouth.

Sweet in BitterI’ve cried. I’ve prayed. Both in equal measure. I’ve felt like a novice swimmer trying to escape a torrent of ocean waves, pummeled as I try to reach the safety of shore. Because of the delicate nature of what we’ve been facing, the need for privacy has forced us to maintain a “nothing’s wrong” posture in the rest of our lives. Which is exhausting in it’s own special way.

Yet the desperate quality of my prayers (and tears) has acquainted me with the suffering of others in a way that my regular, less-than-perfect-but-better-than-I-deserve kind of life doesn’t. I have found myself praying for those in my circles who are also suffering more frequently, and with much more heart, than I customarily do. I am attuned to their needs in a way I normally am not simply because I can’t bring myself to leave the foot of the Cross.   Read more

For His glory

For His gloryIt’s hard for me to imagine the Messiah coming in any other fashion than Jesus’ bodily form.

I think that’s because it’s the only way I’ve ever heard, or known, the story. A baby. In a manger. But when I stop to consider that God put on human flesh, I really can’t imagine that either.

Can you?

Seriously. God. In bodily form. The One Who caused “the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear” (Genesis 1:9) walked upon its very soil. He Who designed our bodies to need nourishment ate meals with family, friends, “sinners” and disciples. Our God — limitless in power — temporarily limited Himself to live in our circumstances and culture. Jesus was willing to release the equality He shared with God (Philippians 2:6) to serve us.  Read more

Now Hiring: Priests

Now HiringI’m not sure I’d apply for the job.

The Levitical preisthood, descended from Aaron among the tribe of Levi, had a job I’m not convinced I’d want. When I reflect on their duties, I have a mixed reaction. One part of me esteems their role highly: what a privilege to be chosen among the thousands for such important duties. They taught and blessed the people. They led them toward God and interceded on their behalves. They entered the Holy Place in the tabernacle (and temple) and burned fragrant incense.

Another part of me experiences revulsion at what their daily duties entailed: the bloody sacrifices of animals for guilt offerings. (Do you think the teenage Levites from Aaron’s line dreaded adulthood and having to go into the family business?)  Read more

In the waiting

WaitingAs a kid, December moved at a glacial pace. Christmas just took forever to arrive.

(Cue the dramatic sensibilities of a nine-year-old girl.) Of course, as an adult, this month almost gives me whiplash, it goes by so quickly.

This week I revisited the promises made to Abraham about the Messiah. God told him that all the nations would be blessed by him in Genesis 12:3. The very first Messianic prophecy was spoken to the patriarch of the Jewish faith.

Pause and consider that, friends: the first time God calls a man to Himself, He points to the Messiah. Not just that, but He also mentions that this hope would be for “all the peoples.”  Read more

Three things to learn from the Magi

If you signed up to participate in the Advent Bible study but didn’t get questions on Monday, please reply to this email and I’ll make sure your profile is updated. And it’s not too late to join us; sign up here.

The wise men of the nativity story have much to teach us…

…despite their fairly brief appearance on the pages of scripture. Not the least of which is the reason for the name of our Bible study. (Pop over to Facebook for a video explanation on that.) A short reading of of Matthew 2 reveals much about these men, even though it leaves a good bit unsaid. Three things for us to learn:

Know the Word.

These men — and we don’t actually know how many there were, we know only the number of gifts — obviously knew the Old Testament prophecies well enough to set out on a long journey in response to them. Perhaps their knowledge was as a result of Daniel’s or Esther’s influence in Persia from long before? They arrived in Jerusalem looking for the King of the Jews (a logical, but errant, assumption to find Him in the Jewish capital). Matthew 2:2 reveals their knowledge. The chief priests, then, in 2:5, quote Micah’s prophecy directly (Micah 5:2). The Magi knew enough to respond; the priests knew the very words of the prophet. We, too, must know the Bible well enough that we can readily recognize truth, and act upon it.  Read more

Loop: Author interview with Jennifer Camp

Jennifer square new blue backgroundFriends, I want to introduce you to my friend Jennifer Camp. Jennifer’s book, Loop, has just released and I want you to know about it for the jewel that it can be in your life. Her writing is a tender invitation to hear God’s voice spoken over you. More info on getting your hands on the book below, but first I want you to listen to this dear woman’s heart for you… hear her responses to the questions I’ve put to her.

I think you’ll find, as I do, that her desire to internalize the fullness of God’s words to us in scripture is earnest, warm and beautiful.  Read more

The Back Float: Overwhelmed – Part 5

DivingConstant struggling against the overwhelming waters may well be the biggest reason for not being able to cope with life.

When a child learns to swim, one of the first skills instructed is floating. Being able to float on the water is a singularly valuable tool for a swimmer to cope with a crisis. Too often, however, this skill is neglected… disposed of after learning strokes. I suspect the same is true for the overwhelmed Christian who neglects rest in his or her life.  Read more

Above Water: Overwhelmed Part 4

Tip FourWhen the waters of life feel like they’re closing in, there is a way to stay above the rising tide.

The account of Jesus walking on water never bothered me. He is God and has full authority over the natural laws (Matthew 14:25). The part where he calls Peter out onto the waves, however, has long perplexed me. Particularly in this metaphor of coping with the perpetual feeling of overwhelmed-ness. Let’s look at it again:  Read more

5 Questions to help you stay afloat: Overwhelmed – Part 3

RiverThey may not be spiritual, but they are essential to helping us stay above water.

When I find myself overwhelmed by my responsibilities, I always have to take a step back and take inventory. I ask myself a series of questions to help me identify the root of the problem. From the answers, I can often navigate my way to shallower waters or even dry land once again. So jot these down and then sit with the Lord to see how they might help you cope:  Read more

Life (and sanity) preservers for the deep end of the pool: Overwhelmed – Part 2

Sky with gullI’m confident they’ve been trained.

Fire alarm batteries know how to strike with the precision of Seal Team 6. Their needy chirp to be replaced always occurs in the dark of the night. When it’s cold. And when my husband is out of town.

When you’re already overwhelmed (and trying to sleep), this is not a welcome noise.

My last post shared an important reminder for coping when we feel we are drowning in life. Today’s suggestion can (and should!) be applied in two ways: with people and with God.  Read more