Monthly Archives: July 2015

Be The Gift!

John 17:9 – Jesus’ prayer to his Father
“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.”

I do understand that Christ is God’s gift to me. I understand how important what I learn from Jesus is to my life’s purpose and quality.  I understand my image relates to his impact in this world.  …But I’ve also been well trained by life that I have to do what’s necessary to prepare well so I can be a credit to Christ as his follower.

That’s what makes this one little phrase so very special.  What I am prepared to do is not the reason I’m related to Christ.  It’s not that I’m  a student, or because he improves the quality and purpose of my life, or even because I want to be his companion, although those thing are surely true. I am under the prayerful protection of  Christ today simply because God has given me to him.   I am God’s gift to Jesus!!!  Wow,  think of it, you are God’s gift to Jesus too!!!   We can appreciate all the things our heart leads us to do for Christ but this is the most important thing we’ll ever have to offer back to simply Be The Gift!


1 Peter 2:2-5, & 9
2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ

…9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

My Thoughts:
Chosen…That one word was part of the first real question I ever answered about faith at my very first Bible study…”who are the chosen?”  I answered the “Israelites,” a right answer to be sure, but not the one the pastor was aiming for. He handled it with a lot of tactful grace. I see that now, not then though.  It almost became my stopping point instead of my starting point. I was an adult AND a church-goer …and I got the answer wrong!

In my self-imposed humiliation at being so ignorant, I just wanted to hide. I decided not to go back.  I suspect the Holy Spirit used that awareness of my own ignorance to spur me on.  I did go back the next week. I did NOT want to be ignorant!  I’m sure I was a lot more teachable at that point.

Here I am 40-plus years later; one living stone still being built into a spiritual house.  I’ve taken God at his word that I am his “special possession;” that I may blog the praises of him who called me away from humiliation and ignorance into the wonderful possibilities he’s created for me…Chosen. Praise the Lord!

The Day God Visited the Moon

On July 20, 1969 as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin prepared to take “one small step for man,” Aldrin wanted to commemorate the moment in a way he found  most personally meaningful — by taking communion.

Aldrin, a church elder at Webster Presbyterian Church in Webster, Texas, at the time, spoke to his pastor Dean Woodruff to try to find a way to symbolize the wonder and awe of the moon landing a few weeks before lift-off. Aldrin said, “We wanted to express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets.”

The communion bread and wine, symbols of everyday life, seemed to be a fitting way to commemorate the extraordinary moment. Woodruff equipped Aldrin with a piece of communion bread, a sip of wine, and a tiny silver chalice which he brought aboard as part of the few personal items each astronaut is allowed.

Aldrin wrote about the experience a year later, for Guideposts magazine:
“In a little while after our scheduled meal period, Neil would give the signal to step down the ladder onto the powdery surface of the moon. Now was the moment for communion.

So I unstowed the elements in their flight packets. I put them and the scripture reading on the little table in front of the abort guidance system computer.

Then I called back to Houston.

“Houston, this is Eagle. This is the LM Pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to invite each person listening, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.”

In the radio blackout I opened the little plastic packages which contained bread and wine.

I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.

Before taking communion, Aldrin silently read a passage from the Bible, which he had hand written on a piece of paper: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me” (John 15:5).

This is the image of his note he read from The Day God Visited the Moon.



Three Versions, Three Verses

Hebrews 1:1-3
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
1 1-3 Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!
1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

My Synopsis Verse by Verse:
1. God spoke in the past through inspired teachers [prophets], often, in various, different ways, giving us parts of the whole [portions].  Their words were like hearsay evidence.
2. Now Jesus is our live connection to God’s presence.  He was there with God in the beginning of forever and he will be there as long as forever lasts.
3. Through Jesus we finally understand what the God we’ve never seen is like. He speaks to us directly with words from God so powerful they can actually make everything about us fit exactly into God’s plan.  Then God says “sit here Son and tell me all about them.”

Goodbye Mobius! Hello Possibilities!

Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
12  I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  15 What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.  16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.  18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

My Thoughts:
I’m a knitter and one of the fads in the last couple of years has been the mobius scarf which is knit as a continuous circle with a twist in it.  It uses a particular method of knitting that actually begins with a double ring cast-on row joined as a circle in the center of the scarf.  As you knit you are adding rows to each side of center without ever turning your work or doing anything other that just knitting round and round over and over.

250px-Möbius_stripA mobius can be made with a strip of paper with one twist and the ends taped together to form a circle. If an ant were to crawl along the edge  of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traveled the entire length of both top and bottom edges of the original strip without ever crossing over the width of the paper strip and not really going anywhere at all. When I read Solomon’s words of frustration, they reminded me of that poor ant on the mobius;  going round and round, over and over, without really going anywhere at all.

I have a theory about Solomon’s desire to try to figure everything out. It goes back to the Garden of Eden. I think that’s where his frustration began and ours too. The moment those first two people decided they could take access to God’s protected knowledge, everything changed for all of us. The linear journey God had planned for his creation – to walk beside him all our life into possibilities and fullness stretching out before us, got twisted into a mobius-like cycle instead.

That’s just my theory and my own quirky observation but I think there may be truth there.  Here’s undisputed New Testament truth from Jesus himself though, in John 10:10  “I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.”
Goodby mobius!  Hello possibilities!

True Confessions

I Corinthians 15:10 & 11 TLB
10 But whatever I am now it is all because God poured out such kindness and grace upon me—and not without results: for I have worked harder than all the other apostles, yet actually I wasn’t doing it, but God working in me, to bless me. 11 It makes no difference who worked the hardest, I or they; the important thing is that we preached the Gospel to you and you believed it.

My Thoughts:
That phrase “God poured out such kindness and grace upon me” got me thinking about grace being an element of confession.  That led to wanting to make a list of what I should confess but that wasn’t going well.   Then I read verse 10  again and suddenly my focus changed from the first part of the phrase to the last part “—and not without results.”  It changed my whole idea about what I should be confessing and finally led to this:

• IF my confession begins to sound like the list of what God hasn’t done, isn’t that an insult to Him?
• IF my confession is a list of things I don’t like about myself, isn’t that an insult to what He has done?
• IF “the” enemy can, he’ll use those words to destroy my confidence that God is working, and steal the grace from my confession.

• THEN  I’ll give up my list!   God already knows the things that need changing in my life and He’s promised to remove them.  I’ll go for the short and sweet version, the confession of grace.
I just need more of you, Lord.

That’s a True Confession.

Growing Season

I Corinthians 10:1-4
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

My Thoughts:
The mention of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea in I Corinthians 10:2 and baptism is interesting to me. No water involved here, the sea had parted, but something deep and vital happened that created an opportunity for them to respond so their lives could be saved and changed forever. Somehow many of them missed it’s significance and were lost anyway. It got me thinking.

Baptism is a common ritual today but what if there’s more to the story than the act itself?  What if it’s one of the “seeds” that Jesus talked about in his Parable of the Sower and it’s planted at Baptism? Any gardener knows tending to the soil, adding soil amendments if needed and keeping it watered and weeded, is not just a one time thing. During the Growing Season it has to happen over and over in order to finally enjoy the harvest of what’s been planted. This is a new slant to my thinking – Celebrate the ritual, celebrate the day, celebrate the planting but don’t forget to tend the garden. That’s how fruit happens.

The Egg and I

Acts 1:21 …Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us….

The pastor’s idea of considering a two-word based testimony, was such a simple one. But it gets my award for the best “2 or 3 minute” class on witnessing. That was information #1. Then in Sunday School we took it a step further with a moment of silent prayer to choose our two words.  Then we had the chance to share them and to hear why they were chosen. This is a practical idea that can be used in at least two ways to develop your story…Before and After OR Cause and Effect. That was affirmation #2. And here I am this morning reading chapter 1 in Acts and there are the exact two words I chose; “IN and OUT” from v21. I call that confirmation #3  Pay Attention! So here’s my own two-word based testimony.

IN and OUT
There’s a way to protect yourself from the negative effects of life and disappointment. You just carefully build a nice little protective egg shell around yourself. If you do it well, you look just right to people around you and you can safely live IN that shell and ignore that all is not well. The only problem occurs when you realize you’re trapped IN it as well.

Thankfully Jesus can show you a way OUT. This is what He does best, moves IN and OUT among us. It’s just the same way that a baby bird begins the journey OUT of it’s shell. First there’s just a small hole IN that shell. After all you’re working IN a confined space and it’s a big shell. It doesn’t happen all at once. You work a bit, rest a bit and then repeat it all over again. The difference is now you’ve had a little glimpse of a new world –  a world OUT of that shell – a world with Jesus. The promise of a world where you’re not trapped; a world where you’re good just as you are, right now.  It’s a brand new world where Jesus promises to make you all you can be. Suddenly there’s a goal. Get OUT of that egg!  Finally the shell falls away. You may be exhausted and vulnerable but you’re safe IN the nest until it’s time to fly.

Watch this visual.


I Timothy 4:14-16
14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

“I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world. That, I think, is faith.”

Today’s Surprise:
Bonhoeffer’s description of worldliness is not the dismal, possibly even evil, description that would have come to my mind. The world is  God’s creation. He has not given up on it.  We are His people in the world.  How did it happen that “living completely in this world” became a bad thing?  Maybe it’s time to rethink just what Jesus’ prayer on our behalf in John 17:15 really means.  “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”  Isn’t that our clue that we should have the courage to embrace our world absolutely?

Life is all about continuing to discover how to live our life in Christ in the midst of life’s duties, problems, successes and failures.  It’s the effort that diligence requires that makes our words begin to take on meaning that actually changes us.  That change becomes visible evidence to those around us that something special is happening.

Maybe Bonhoeffer got it right that the world is the place God created where “one learns to have faith.”  Paul urges us to “give yourself wholly” and persevere in that effort to get it right.  Jesus’ prayer should give us the assurance to throw ourselves unreservedly into HIS kind of faith-building worldliness.  May it be so Lord.

Celebrate Freedom

Colossians 2:16-23
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

My Thoughts on this Fourth of July
I do love rules.  They seem so organized, so helpful, so easy a way to check whether you’re really OK.  Unfortunately they are easy to ignore too….and then come the “shoulds” and the guilt.  Guilt is the bad guy’s favorite tool to deform people.  One thing I’m absolutely sure of is that God’s freedom NEVER uses guilt as a way to transform people.

I remember things I wish I hadn’t done.  Those memories leave me faced with these two choices:
a) I can listen to the bad guy tell me what a useless disappointment I am that can’t get the simplest thing right…OR
b) I can thank God for caring enough to remind me that after all this time I really do still need him and he’s not forgotten it.  This is the reality of my freedom.
• Romans 8:  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
•2 Peter 1:12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have
• Philippians 1:6 He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it
This is the reality God’s freedom for all His people.
Celebrate Freedom!