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Simple Solutions,Unconventional Methods

Our church is landlocked. We have a nice parking lot, two actually. Thankfully, they both get filled quite often on Sunday mornings. As attendances have ebbed and flowed over the years, and as holidays roll around each Christmas and Easter, extra thought has to be given as to whether or not we will have enough parking spaces available. It is a good problem, but it is still a potential problem that has to be considered.
After all, we don't want visitors to get the sense that “We’re full.” or that there's “No room in the Inn.” It is intimidating enough for many to just walk into the church building. Parking shouldn’t be something stressful to navigate upon arrival to the church property as well. 
On the flip side, it is always fun to see how creative people can get when parking spots are at a premium. And, often it is the elderly folks that are the most determined to find a space that will work. I both hate and love to see an older lady shuffling in on a Sunday morning after wiggl…

That Caught My Attention!

“Are you seeking great things for yourself?”
Found in Jeremiah 45:5 (LB), that verse caught my attention the other day. “Are you seeking great things for yourself?” That’s a hard question. Yes. No. Maybe?
Are we supposed to seek great things? Or, are we to be more humble in our opinion of ourselves and our aspirations in life? The world would tell us, Yes! You deserve to be rewarded. Isn’t seeking great things how you get noticed? We are a prize and trophy-driven society. We even keep track of whether or not people “Like” what we say or share online. And the word, viral, is not something to be avoided, but rather is now associated with fame and greatness.
But, wait! The verse doesn’t end with just this open-ended question. It concludes with one emphatic word –
“Don’t!”
Yes, Don’t! Don’t seek great things for yourself. Wow! That is the exact opposite of the advice we hear from the world every day. But, sadly, I’ve even heard fellow Christians share those desires in Bible studies and small…

A Godly Woman – Who Me?

It’s that time of year again – Mother’s Day. This honorable celebration can bring up feelings of melancholy or sweet memories. Tears and laughter. 
But, what if I took it a step further and brought up the Proverbs 31 Woman? Would you instantly feel panic rising within and look for a place to hide? Do you hear yourself cry out inside “Oh no, not her! I don’t need any more guilt or pressure to perform.” Or, do you have days when you actually feel pretty good about where you are in life, until you start comparing. The Proverbs 31 Woman seems to have it all together, and we console ourselves that “She’s just too good to be true.” But, what if I told you that you and I are often living the life of the Proverbs 31 Woman. Yep, both you and me. By God's grace, it’s true!
I believe the Proverbs 31 Woman is actually reflective of a lifetime of loving, giving and serving. Not a snapshot of one day. After all, each day carries its own burdens. Why would we think a Godly woman has to do it all, …

Our Unique Gifts Are Enough

From early childhood, I disliked hospitals. Waiting rooms were torture. The hushed conversations and tears that took place after my parents visited my grandmother didn’t help my feelings to be any more positive toward the situation either. Fast forward to my teen years when my older sister got a job at a local nursing home. She had always wanted to be a nurse and was headed in that direction. But, when she came home from work those last couple years of high school, she stunk! Yes, she literally stunk. Not with anything nasty – no bodily fluids or other things that might get on your clothing when working in that environment. No, I was merely reacting to the odors of the antiseptics, medical tape and other cleaning solutions used in the late 1970’s. (Yes, I’m aging myself, huh!)
Entering into my adult years, I had only stepped foot into a hospital or nursing home a time or two since the passing of my grandmother when I was 9 years old. And, then what do I do? I go and marry a pastor. Not…

Heeding the Warning Signs

Feelings of shame are never welcomed or wanted. Living with the guilt of unrepented sin is a heavy load to bear. However as a believer - and one righteous in God’s sight - I still experience shame and guilt. Why? Because I sin.

When considering the spiritual warning signs that God uses to help guide us, it is important to know the difference between guilt and shame. And, that there is a vast difference between misplaced (false) shame and well-placed (true) shame.

One Bible dictionary differentiates between shame and guilt in this way - "Shame is a consequence of sin. Feelings of guilt and shame are subjective acknowledgments of an objective spiritual reality. Guilt is judicial in character; shame is relational. Though related to guilt, shame emphasizes sin's effect on self-identity." (Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

John Piper has a great description regarding the types of shame we might experience. He says –

The biblical criterion for well-placed sh…

Searching For Truth

A beautiful, framed picture hangs in our living room above an antique upright piano. It was a gift from some dear friends. The artist’s drawing is focused on two key elements: the weathered hands of an older man and the pages of the Bible that he is turning. The background is shadowed with only one other detail that calls to your eye. A red ribbon laying loose on the table waiting to serve a purpose again.
For many years, I loved catching a glimpse of these strong hands digging into the Scriptures. I even embraced the picture's simple but profound title, 'Search For Truth.' But, in recent years, this picture only served as a reminder of friends lost and life's disappointments. I was no longer able to focus on the truth, the hands or the pages of the Bible. I only saw the faces of the couple that had gifted us with this picture. The man had since gone on to be with Jesus, but his wife had decided to no longer attend our church. Her absence tore at my heart, and I struggl…

God Uses Us To Bless Others...even in the simple things!

Have you ever had one of those Sundays where you’re just ready to skip out of a service or activity - for at least part of it? (I’m assuming we all have those days!) I faced one of those days recently, and God surprised me with a sweet blessing instead. 
On this particular morning, I needed to get dinner in the oven about an hour before we planned to eat. So, I snuck out of the church right after the second worship hour started and headed home. As I drove those few seconds around the corner I thought, “You know, I could just stay home for a few minutes and then get back up to the church before the end of worship so I can greet people. After all, I’ve already attended the early worship hour.”
Pondering my options, I parked my car, unlocked the door and went to turn the oven on. Just then, I heard a text come through as my phone laid on the kitchen counter. Since I almost always leave my cell at home on Sundays, I was curious to check out who had texted me at this time in the morning. (“T…

I Had No Clue How Others Celebrated Easter

“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 4:33a
This past Sunday, as we paid for a quick supper at the drive-through window, the clerk wished us on our way with these words – “Enjoy your baseball!” Huh? My husband looked at me with a questioning look as in “What did he say?” I nodded and said, “Yes, you heard right. He just wished you a good evening of baseball watching.” As we pulled away with our food in hand we were a bit puzzled. So, I did some digging.
Sure enough! Easter lands around or on the opening day of baseball season each year. This year, opening day was on the Thursday prior, and if you’re a baseball fan this is not news to you. But, I do wonder how many people have a strong association with Easter and baseball? Like Thanksgiving and football? Hmmm.
Later that same evening, I watched a few minutes of TV while waiting for a friend to arrive. Ice Age – The Great Egg-Scapade was on, so I stopped channel surfing and landed …

When Being There Matters

This past week, a church member passed away after a long struggle with cancer. And so, the juggling of emotions and schedules began. Visitation nights are usually my husband’s thing, and I typically only attend the funeral. It’s just the way we have chosen to work together in times of bereavement. My involvement this week, however, was a bit different. Not only did I plan to attend the funeral service at our church, but I also planned to attend the visitation the night before. 

Plus, there would be a meal following the funeral – one that had turned into an opportunity for the children of the church to help serve and clean up afterward. I was not involved with preparations for the meal, thankfully! However, coordinating our young volunteers was up to me.
The visitation night passed and the day of the funeral came. After the service and burial, family and friends returned to the church for the meal. As I gathered the boys and girls to give them instructions, I surprised myself as a statem…

Learning to Listen

When our girls were in high school and they needed to unload the overwhelming realities and frustrations of life, I had to re-learn how to listen. But first, I’d stop them right in the middle of the 'rant' and ask them this question, "Whoa… Just checking. Do you just need to vent right now (and I’ll just listen) or do you want me to brainstorm possible solutions or insights to the problem with you?"
Guess what the answer was 99% of the time?
Yep, you likely guessed right. The answer typically was – “I just need to talk it out.”
There were many blessings that came out of that mini time-out. We both were now on the same page. My daughter could talk freely and passionately about all that was weighing heavy on her mind and heart. The responsibility to “mother” her was now lifted off of my shoulders and put back into the Lord's hands. With our roles and perspectives put in place, I was then able to fully turn my attention to her – and be a listening ear, a comforting mam…

Sometimes Life Can Stink

My husband and I went to visit a couple in the church recently. They live less than a mile from us, but their view and perspective is quite different from ours. Their lovely old farm house sits atop a beautiful hill. There is a quaint white fence around the home place, and the surrounding grasses are all a vibrant green. The fields seem to shout that the earth is coming alive again! As we pulled into the curvy gravel lane, we crossed over a low-water bridge and started up the hill. In the fields, there were dozens of cows grazing. It was a picture-perfect day.

As we got closer to the house, a couple of young cows came closer to our car. But, what caught my attention wasn’t so idyllic. On the sides, the legs and the back side of these black beauties was a matted glob of goo. Well, ‘poo’ to be exact! And, they were just as nonchalant as they could be about it. Amazed at the reality of this all-to-common sight, I giggled and told my husband, “Boy, am I glad we don’t have to live life with…

Jesus, A Friend of Sinners!

Recently, I was engaged in a thought-provoking and reflective discussion on the value of human friendships in contrast to our reliance on Jesus Christ as a friend. It is a conversation we rarely have with others – even our Christian brothers and sisters. But, how do we wrap our head around the value of our human friends with the reality of our friendship with Jesus? Is it possible to truly develop a friendship with Jesus, and what does that look like? Here’s a peek at the conversation I had this week on the subject. Perhaps my ponderings will spark a fire of desire in your life to go deeper in your relationships – both with friends and with Jesus!

The conversation began following my initial statement on friendships -
“Healthy, Godly friendships are sweet, but they are a poor substitute for a personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The first question posed was this – Does God really meet your needs fully - more than people?

My response -
Yes! God meeting my needs is a non-iss…