Monday, February 16


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Tuesday, January 13

Dirty Laundry...

“…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.   Ephesians 5.25b-27 (NIV)

The other day some friends & I were discussing the seemingly mundane tasks of life.  Inevitably, the subject of laundry came up.  The dirtying, the loading, the unloading, the wearing, the dirtying … a never-ending spin cycle, if you will.  I often wonder if my nine-year-old son and I are in some sort of contest to see who can do his part faster.  He usually wins, and I find myself lagging behind as I carry yet another basket of his jeans to the washer. He doesn’t intentionally get his clothes …well, filthy… he’s just being a boy. 

The biblical Old Testament system of worship included a bronze laver used by the priests to wash themselves.  The placement of the laver provides great spiritual insight, even for believers today.  (The Tabernacle/Temple is so rich in its symbolism that we cannot possibly discuss every aspect in one blog any more than we can fit the buffet line at The Golden Corral into one to-go box! It just ain’t happenin’!)  The laver was a giant bronze bowl filled with water placed in between the brazen altar (where animal sacrifices were made) and the Holy Place (where priests would meet with God).  In my mind the significance of the placement of the laver is profound.  It lay … on the journey, so to speak … in between forgiveness and utter holiness.   It was a place of reflection for those who were washing, those who already had been forgiven (via the sacrifice) and were on their way toward wholeness.  It represented a daily cleansing, an on-going purification for the Old Testament chosen people- Israel.  For those of us chosen under the New Testament, our “laver” is the Word, the Bible.  It is by being “washed through the Word” that we experience daily cleansing and purification on our journey toward ultimate perfected holiness.  Just like I wash the dirt (and who knows what else!) from my son’s jeans, the Word washes away the grime of the day – both on and in me.  As I daily spend time in the “water” of God’s Word, His Spirit scrubs my thoughts, my actions, my words until they meet His standard of clean… now or eventually. (Sometimes He uses the gentle cycle, or He just lets me soak for a while.  At other times, it would seem He uses my granny’s lye soap; harsh and abrasive, it gets out even the most stubborn of stains.)  The end goal is for me to be radiantly clean as I stand before Him, without any “stain or wrinkle” … something I may never be able to say about Sam’s jeans.

Thursday, January 8

The Producers...

When my maternal grandmother was 14 years old, she was married.  Thankfully, no one any younger can legally marry ... even in Alabama.  While she may not have been very prepared for being a wife, she was well prepared to run a household.   She could plant a garden and cook or can everything it produced.  Having 8 siblings, she knew a little something about the demands of a busy home.  She could sew a dress from a flour sack and wash it by hand in the creek a half-mile away ... even in winter... with handmade lye soap.   She later gave birth to twins at home and then, as the story goes, mopped the bedroom floor.  She worked hard her whole life; she was a producer ... which allowed her to also be a giver.  She gave away handmade quilts and jam made from strawberries grown in her sideyard.  Every memory I have of my granny ends with a happy heart and a full tummy.  All this reminiscing leads me to a question:  When did we become a consumer culture?     

Consumership is everywhere ... in every arena ... in every aspect of our culture.  We want it all ... no credit, no problem; no money down, no interest until 2099.   We only have to look at the economic status of these United States to see the misery brought on by endless consumption.  Sadly, this mentality extends even into the church. Like bargain-hunters at the outlet mall, church-shoppers compare children's programs and worship music.   Shrewd investors ... looking for minimal outlay with maximum return.  We are more often consumers than producers ... and we, too, are poorer for it.  We are forfeiting the joy of giving and the satisfaction of serving, only to find more and more emptiness.   We hold the church in contempt because it meets neither our needs nor our expectations.   It's time we take responsibility not only for our own spiritual growth but for meeting the needs of those around us as well.  It's time to dig into the Word and avail ourselves to the Spirit, who gives us the power to produce.  Then we'll have something to give even sweeter than Granny's strawberry jam.

Sunday, January 4

The Bird Feeder...

"Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!"  Luke 12.24 

This Sunday Russ & I taught the 2nd grade class during Children's Worship at Chapel.  Actually, Russ did most of the teaching; I was in charge of crowd control, i.e. gently telling the little girls to stop chit-chatting.  Sam helped out as well by passing out papers, picking up crayons and such.  Today our lesson had us reinforce the main point ... "Jesus cares about the hungry"... by repeating the phrase several times throughout the hour.   Little did I know that I would see that truth played out right before my very eyes!

Since today was the kick-off for the new Sunday School session, we had planned a brunch ... for the adults.  We figured the best to introduce the new classes was with food, perhaps attesting to the influence of the Baptist congregates.  The children were to go to their classes while the grown-ups dined on homemade casseroles and hot coffee.  There was only one problem:  despite the fact that he had eaten breakfast, my growing boy was hungry!    And he was vocal about it.  As I ushered him off to his class, I did feel a little guilty, knowing the mouth-watering spread which awaited me.   The Chaplain's announcement that there would be snacks in the children's classes brought some much needed comfort to this mom's soul.   Having finally worked my way to the coffee pot at the end of a long row of  tables, I began to survey the room for a place to sit.  That's when I saw Sam ... with a plateful of food and a smile on his face.  As I sat down next to him, he explained that his Sunday School teacher was absent and that he was told to go eat brunch with his parents.  "So, Mom... I guess Jesus really does care about the hungry," he said.  I had to agree.

Friday, December 19

Out of the Wind...

Last Sunday as we headed to Chapel, the wind was blowing like crazy ... at about 50 mph.  Driving along the desert Highway 10 proved quite a challenge. Thankfully, my little PT Cruiser comes with a compass, so I don't get lost when the windblown dust makes it almost  impossible to see.  Then comes the hard part... getting out of the car. Walking into the Chapel in these extreme conditions should qualify as an Olympic sport!  I held Annabelle's hand as we fought our way across the parking lot, and I wondered why I had bothered to fix my hair.  I mean, there's not enough hairspray in the Lone Star State to withstand this kind of abuse!  But as soon as we stepped inside the doors of the Chapel, there was an immediate calm.  No more wind undoing my do; no more dust in my eyes, no more flashbacks to a scene in The Wizard of Oz.   There was only a sense of peacefulness and warmth.  As we took our seats near the back, the light of the sun filtered in through the stained glass windows to illuminate the beauty of the small sanctuary.  The Chaplain had us open our Bibles, and that's when it occurred to me.   When the circumstances of life overwhelm me, when strong winds blow... as they will... there is indeed a place where I can find peace and warmth and protection.  The Word of God is that place.  By sitting down and opening His Word, I can find a sense of peace even though the winds are raging wildly just outside the door.  I can get my bearings once again and the strength to go back out into the wind.

Friday, December 5

The Farmer's Wife...

Years ago Russ and I watched, "The Farmer's Wife" on TV. Those of you who know us won't be surprised that it was a documentary... although it was on PBS, not the History Channel.   The story chronicled the trials and travails of the Buschkoetters,  a farming family in Nebraska.   

According to the website (, "In scene after scene, Juanita and Darrel fight a punishing series of battles -- with the soil, with the weather, with their creditors, with the government, and with each other. Their story unfolds before our eyes, as it is happening. What emerges is an epic story of faith, perserverance, and triumph, and an indelible portrait of a real American family's struggle to hold on to their dreams and to each other."  

In Luke Chapter 8, Jesus tells what has come to be known as the Parable of the Sower.  In this particular story Jesus tells of a farmer who sows much seed.  Some falls on hardened ground; some falls on the rocks; some falls into the weeds; but some falls onto good soil, where a crop is actually produced.  And what a crop it is ... 100 times as much as was planted! Like the farmer in the parable, Buschkoetter plants MUCH seed ... year after year, and most of it doesn't produce anything but shattered dreams. Buschkoetter sees the absolute reality of 1 Corinthians 3.7, "Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything; but only God who makes things grow."  Too much rain, too little rain, possible foreclosure, the tole of working two jobs, the guilt of not being there for his wife and children, whatever the circumstances, Buschkoetter perseveres. He holds onto his dream of a bumper crop.  And in the end, he gets it!  

I wonder if I have that same level of commitment when it comes to sowing the seed which, according to Jesus, is God's Word. The soil - people.  Will I continue if, like Buschkoetter's, the results are not favorable?  Can I hold onto the dream of a bumper crop?  I must!  I must!  What else is worth committing to?

Sunday, November 30

Change We Can Believe In...

John Chapter 2 tells a story familiar to many.   It seemed rather familiar to me, too, until this morning.  That is one thing I love about God's word; it is living and active... and teaching me new lessons if I am willing to learn.  

Mary, Jesus' mother, was attending a wedding in the village of Cana.  Jesus and his disciples had also been invited.  Indicative of the Jewish culture in general, the traditional Jewish wedding is full of meaningful rituals and symbolism.  The couple is married underneath the cover of a tent called a chuppah, which symbolizes the couple's future home together.   The bride, known as a kallah, wears a veil which is meant to place special emphasis on inner rather than physical beauty.  And then there is the celebration... the food .... the laughter... the wine.  When the wine runs out, Mary- like any good mother who knows her son - simply goes to Jesus.  Jesus performs his very first miracle that day ... and I am amazed.  

Jesus' first miracle was this:  transformation.  He took ordinary water and transformed it into wine.  Not just any wine, either ... the best wine.    Of all the miracles of Jesus could have chosen as His first, he chose this one.  He chose to transform.  He didn't simply alter the perception of the people, making them think the water tasted as good as wine.   He chose to reveal Himself in that moment, to reveal His desire and ability to bring about a complete transformation.   He turned the water into wine, the fruit of the vine!   As I reflect on this incredible display of His loving intent and His great power, I see that He has done and is doing no less with me.   He is transforming my thoughts from darkness to light.  He is transforming my actions from selfishness to service.  The work of His Spirit is so changing my motivations, my words, my desires, and my understanding of Truth that the composition of my life is completely different from what it was before I knew Christ.  2 Corinthians 5.17 sums up the experience of all of us who have come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ ... "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come."  That's change we can believe in.

Wednesday, November 26


Russ and I are involved with the Navigators ministry here in Texas.   This organization, which can be found on many military installations across the country, places their focus on helping and training soldiers in their walk with Christ.  The Navs we've known through the years often use illustrations when explaining spiritual truths… using anything from a whiteboard to a ripe banana.  Somehow I think John the Baptist would fit right in.

In John 1, we see John define himself as “one calling in the desert, make the way straight for the Lord…”.  He states unequivocally that he is not the Messiah but rather he is merely the messenger, further laying the ground work for the One who is to come.  John’s words proclaim Christ.   In verse 31, Johns says “…the reason I came baptizing with water was that he (Jesus) might be revealed to Israel.”  John’s life serves as the illustration of the Christ to come.  Perhaps for a revelation of this magnitude a dry erase board just wouldn’t do. 

Tuesday, November 25

The Word Became Human....

There is a certain boy who has been giving Sophia a hard time at school.  As an adult, I understand this is part and parcel of growing up.  As a mother, I just want to show this young man the working end of a belt.  As a matter of fact, as I recounted the latest incident to Russ, he commented that he'd like to go back to 7th grade and teach that boy a lesson. ( I had relished that same thought some hours earlier.)  

John 1.14 says, "So the Word (Jesus) became human and lived here on earth among us..."  Jesus did what Russ and I would like to do ... He took on another form... only with "unfailing love and faithfulness," as verse 14 goes on to tell us.   In Jesus, God became human, not to condemn us or to crush us or to exact divine vengeance for our sin ... but to love us, restore us, save us.   According to Luke 19.10, the purpose for Jesus' coming to Planet Earth was to seek and to save those who are lost.   Only Jesus - 100% holy God and 100%s sinless man - could redeem 100% lost and sinful mankind.  Only God as Jesus would have the integrity to walk around in human flesh with right motivation toward others.  Only Jesus as God would have the power to save.   Unlike me with my desire to put a bullying 13-year-old to shame, Jesus became human to take away my shame.  As I contemplate Jesus' example,  I realize I still have a long way to go in becoming like Him.  

Monday, November 24

Children of God...

I often hear it said that "we are all children of God".   Sounds quite attractive, doesn't it? Inclusive.  Compassionate.  Conciliatory. Unfortunately, it just ain't so.

In order to find the truth of the matter, we look to John 1:12, "To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God."  The "him" John refers to is Jesus, and only Jesus.   The Amplified Bible expands on the verse in this way, "But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, rely on) His name." Contrary to public opinion, we are not all children of God.  Scripture clearly states there is a qualifier:  belief in and acceptance of Jesus.  John goes on to say in verse 13, "They are reborn!  This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan -- this rebirth comes from God."   This is God's doing ... and there is no other way!  We cannot become a child of God by doing good things. We cannot earn a relationship with God, nor can we earn kinship.  The kid down the street does not become my kid by mowing my lawn every other week.  Giving money to good causes does not make someone a child of God. Studying theology does not make someone a child of God. Being "spiritual" or even joining a religion does not make someone a child of God. Created in the image of God, yes; related to God, not so much.

Russ and I have three children of our own.   They were born of us, physically speaking.   They did not choose to be our children ... they were chosen to be our children.  The fact that we birthed them determines that they indeed are our children. (I won't use this particular blog to address the topic of adoption, but will say that Scripture refers to us Gentiles as adopted children.)  Although we know many children, only three are our children.  I know who mine are not only because I gave birth to them, but also because we have this ongoing relationship.  They accept that I am their mother, and I accept that they are my children ... even when they are way too noisy.  I do not get confused when I pick up them up at school and mistake other children for mine.   I KNOW them!  I know what they look like and recognize their voices in the crowd.  And they know they are my children.  They trust me.  They rely on me... especially when it comes to doing homework.  

Russ and I love Sophia, Sam and Annabelle; we provide for them, teach them, shape them, and they give us tremendous joy.  There is no doubt in any of our minds that we are irrevocably related.  I am just as certain that God is my Father, and I am His child. God chose to give me new life through Jesus' redemptive work on the cross ... and I believe and accept.   How about you?

Saturday, November 22


OK, just when I thought I'd heard it all...  

Last night I told Sam it was time for his shower.  As usual, this 9-year-old boy was not happy.  But at least his response made me laugh.  He just wishes there was something fun to do while he's waiting.  "Waiting for what?" I ask.  With his expression saying "duuh", he answers, "To get out of the shower, Mom."  It was then that I informed him there IS something he can do ... it's called bathing.

As I reflect on this humorous conversation,  it occurs to me that in a way I do the very same thing.  As everyday opportunities stare me right in the face, I find myself waiting for some great need, important task, or  profound revelation.  As I pass the time waiting for my "big chance" to serve Jesus,  I completely miss the immediate need of a new acquaintance. Obviously, (to everyone but me) the most critical ministry Jesus invites me to participate in is to share His love.  This, Scripture says, can be as easy as handing someone a Dixie cup.   My prayer is that I'll recognize any and all opportunities to love God by loving people ... and that my son will remember to use soap.

Thursday, November 6

Serious Error...

"Your problem is that you don't know the Scriptures, and you don't know the power of God."  Mark 12.24

I never cease to be amazed at Jesus' ability to cut to the chase.  The verse above is His answer to a question asked by a group of "religious" folks, the Sadducees.  (They didn't believe in resurrection after death, so they were "sad, you see".)   The hypothetical situation posed in their question was meant to somehow trick Jesus, trip Him up.  Jesus immediately went to the heart of the matter, stating that the Sadducees did not know Scripture, which He calls "a serious error."  

In our day and  time, there are many questions that believers and unbelievers alike submit to the church.  Sometimes these questions are actually meant to in some way justify wrong belief, motivation, or behavior.  Sometimes, however, they are simply asked out of ignorance.   A young lady once asked me why shouldn't she have sex with her fiance.  Both she and the young man claimed to know Christ; they both were active in their local church.  Jesus' response to the Sadducees would also answer her question ... "Your problem is that you don't know the Scriptures."  As I sat down with her to discuss the situation, it became apparent to me that she did not understand that having sex outside of marriage is wrong. (Jesus affirms this Old Testament truth in John 8, for example)  It simply is not God's best, even if - maybe especially if - you plan to marry the other person.  I also explained  that having sex outside of marriage is no worse than any other sin.  If she were to confess it to God and ask for forgiveness, He would certainly wipe her slate clean. (1 John 1.9)  Her lack of knowledge of Scripture had left her in dangerous territory.  She couldn't depend on anything or anyone else to protect her from sin.  Not even her own heart.  Only through the Holy Spirit's illumination of the absolute Truth of Scripture can our thoughts and actions - our very lives - be transformed.  

Speaking to his disciples, Jesus says in John 8.31, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Wednesday, November 5

The Election ...

For my blog today, I refer you to Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA.  

Please click on the words "The Election" above.

Tuesday, November 4

The Test...

"Test everything.  Hold on to the good." 1 Thessalonians 5.21

There is a park right down the street from our house.  Most Sunday afternoons, the kids get their bikes, Russ finds the soccer ball, and I grab my ipod, and we head for the only patch of green near us.  Occasionally, we'll meet someone walking her dog along the way.  The kids' first instinct is to hop off their bikes and go directly to the unsuspecting pooch so they can pet him.  However, because the dog's real disposition is not always easy to read, this could be very dangerous.  So, we've trained our kids NOT to walk up and pet strange dogs, no matter how harmless they may seem.  Likewise, we're training them to show the same discretion in all areas of life.

In his letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul holds to the same premise.  He understood the value of testing everything, including his own convictions.  

So, what is the standard against which everything must be tested?  The standard must be stable, uncompromising, immovable, unchangeable.  The standard must be Truth itself.  A very powerful and well-known man in the Bible once asked, "What is truth?"  Unfortunately, this wasn't the right question.   I think the proper question would have been, "Who is Truth?"   Truth is a person.  In John 14.6, Jesus says, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life..."  Only when we test our ideas, words, actions and motivations against those of Jesus as defined in Scripture will we be able to properly assess them. In a culture where Truth is seen as relative and absolutes are relegated to the realm of impossibility, our challenge is indeed great.  Therefore, those of us who call ourselves "Christian" must know Scripture!!  How will we be able to test all that the world throws at us if we do not know what Scripture says?  Simple:  we won't.  We'll be deceived because we don't know the Truth.  While I certainly don't claim to have mastered Scripture, I certainly do claim that the more time I spend in the Scripture, the more it masters me!  This gives me the ability to test everything and hold on to the good.

Friday, October 31

Oh, say can you see ....

Mark 10.46-52 tells the story of Bartimaeus, a blind man who lived near Jericho.  When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"  Others told him to quiet down, but he shouted all the more.  If only the sighted could see our need as well as he!   

Bartimaeus was not content to imagine his surroundings; he wanted to see things -for better or worse- as they actually were.  He was not content to be a beggar (as was the common practice of the impaired in his day); perhaps he wanted to contribute to his community.  For these, he had but one need:  Jesus.    

In the Old Testament, God often opened the eyes of man to see invisible realty.  In Genesis 21.19, God opened the eyes of Hagar to see water in the desert.  In 2 Kings 6.17, God opened the eyes of Elisha's servant to see the Army of God.   Mind you, these were sighted people. In the New Testament, we see Jesus as the eye-opener.  Each of the four gospels contains accounts of Jesus healing the physically blind; his power, mercy and compassion are unmatched!  Perhaps more amazing, Jesus also gives sight to the sighted.

Revelation 3.17 sums what I've learned today.  "You say 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and don't need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, poor, pitiful, blind and naked."   I have certainly seen that, apart from Christ, I have all these attributes.  And 21st Century American culture could certainly be described as such. We are so rich in terms of finances, academia, power, possessions, influence ... that we need Jesus to open our eyes.  We need to see the the truth about  who we really are, and we need to see the Truth of who He is.