The Foolishness of Wise Men

The Foolishness of Wise Men

A silent, brilliant beacon of hope pulses in the sky.

A King has come.

And His star draws wise men.

They simply can’t sit in their Persian palaces. They must get up and go. Gather their servants and horses and travel 1,000 miles.

It looks reckless. Extreme. Foolish.

Paul said, “We are fools for Christ.” 1 Corinthians 4:10

But the worship of the wise men was deliberate and planned.

They studied the prophecy , and they studied the star.

They chose their response.

They planned. They packed.

They traveled days. Maybe months.

They stuck to their plan.

Their worship was costly.

Such a journey required extravagant time and money.

But the human heart is made to love Him.

When we land on Jesus, our hearts thrill. “Finally. This is It. This is Who I’m made for.”

And we long to worship.

Not just superficially. Deeply. Calling up the best and most valuable.

In the tradition of King David who wanted to build an altar of worship on Araunah’s threshing floor. Araunah wanted to give his threshing floor for the altar.

But David wouldn’t budge.

“I will not give to the Lord that which costs me nothing.”

Oh to be a fool for Christ! The exhilarating freedom of living for an audience of One.

1,000 long, costly miles.

They worshiped Him.

Face to face.

Their knees and hearts bending in awe.

And they turned around and went home.

No regrets.

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It Is Well

It Is Well

Though the money runs out before the paycheck comes in…. It is well with my soul.

Though political and social upheaval unsettle my world and even my mind…. It is well with my soul.

Though just the right job that suits my passions and my strengths eludes me…. It is well with my soul.

Though the corn dog casserole flips upside down onto the kitchen floor just in time for dinner…. It is well with my soul.

Though my unconscious, unrelenting commitment to self over others brings relational brokenness …. It is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul.

On the deepest level.

God fills the emptiness.

He imbues with deep, eternal purpose that which seems meaningless and futile.

He Himself pulses peace in the heartbreak of grief.

He radiates brilliant beauty in drab, dirty, darkness.

He supplies unnatural hope when it seems there is no way out.

He inundates abundance over the mean and meager.

When there is nothing left in me He blasts His mighty strength through my feeble weakness.

When anger wells up and threatens to lay waste, His arrows of humility and wisdom level my pride.

When daily living seems like endless drudgery, I light a candle. The single, brilliant white flame reminds me that He is right here. I can hardly avert my gaze. Relief and deep comfort.

May I continue to serve faithfully and gladly by the power of Your presence.

And so.

It is well with my soul.

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Worship

Worship

I pause my dishwashing and savor the old song.

“My son, my son, why are you striving?
You can’t add one thing to what’s been done for you.”

Classic Keith Green.

Brings me back 30 years!

Vivid memories of newfound life in Jesus wash over me.

Looking back to the days when I was alive– for the first time in my life. Reveling in awkward beginnings and church life and Jesus.

These lyrics pack fresh power for me tonight. Even now that I am a middle-aged mama with a husband and kids, a minivan and a dog. It’s good to remember my first love.

Why the subconscious, ceaseless striving?

I can’t add one single thing to the sacrifice of Jesus. Impossible that there is anything at all that would negate the need for His holy blood.

I know this. Of course, I know.

“But when I hear the praises start, my child…”

Ah, relief. My gaze shifts from me to Him.

A breath of fresh air as my yearning heart gives Him praise. The striving and the stress begin to roll away.

The striving ebbs, but the yearning flows stronger. Oh, how my heart is made for Him alone.

“My precious  bride
The day is nearing
When I’ll take you in my arms and hold you…”

We are the Bride of Christ. Yearning for our Bridegroom. To be held by Him– intimate and eternal.

The Lord inhabits the praise of His people.

No wonder the tears come, and I can’t squeak out even words of praise anymore.

He is here. Up close. And my heart brims with His nearness.

A few minutes of worship. I feel filled up, and a little sad. Bittersweet taste of Heaven.

Back to my work I go. Deeply glad to experience again that I am His.

 Photo credit: http://www.fabuloussavers.com/new_wallpaper/Colors_Of_Fall_freecomputerdesktopwallpaper_1280.jpg

What To Do With My American Grief

What To Do With My American Grief

This week my heart has broken like yours with the violence in Louisiana and Minnesota and Dallas.

I ache. For the victims. And their families. And our reeling country….

And my heart breaks a little bit because I wonder what I would have done if I were the police officer in Minnesota.

What if he is just like me?

I hate racism. I love justice.

But what if fear and adrenaline pull the trigger?

John Ortberg once said, “The evil that is in the world is the evil that is in me.”

I’m sure he could explain the theological nuances and context of that thought. I can’t. But it resonates deeply with me.

If I’m honest, I can imagine myself as a terrified police officer in Minnesota or a terrified black man in Dallas.

Unrestrained fear can lead to ugliness.

King David went against the flow and mourned for the “bad guy.” His personal enemy, in fact. Saul overtly tried to murder David many times. And David could have destroyed him. But he believed that it wasn’t his place. God alone knew the big picture. And when Saul inevitably fell, David mourned.

May our country change. The scary truth is: may I change.

I have unconscious – and sometimes conscious- bias against young African American men in certain settings.

Lord, may Love cast out fear.

Give me courage to change my attitude one situation at a time.

Give me opportunity to love my brother when it feels vulnerable.

May Your Holy Spirit ignite the life and power of Jesus in me. That unconscious and conscious bias would dissolve in the magnitude of Love.

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Proverbs 10:12

One decision at a time, may we cover the hurt with love.

 

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Sacred Sink

Sacred Sink

If you’re looking for me, try the kitchen. I spend about 98.3% of my waking hours there. (I should verify that number, but it sounds right.)

As a new wife I almost killed my young husband with rich, nightly feasts of beef stroganoff and creamy casseroles.

Then the babies started coming! And the food allergies.

And the kitchen became my laboratory. A little intense like high school science lab. But I was able to nourish my family! Which felt fulfilling. And exhausting.

The whole three meals and two snacks a day thing took a little of the bounce out of my culinary enthusiasm.

And I’m still in the kitchen! Years of feeding these growing kids who are now beginning to tower over me. And my kind husband who eats everything with gratitude.

The day is coming when my kitchen time will ease up. But it’s not right now.

Sometimes I resent this little room. So many tedious hours of hard work. It’s quite a long process to make a batch of pancakes for dinner. (They are definitely too much work for me to consider pancakes a breakfast food.) And then they’re gone. In a blink.

A weird combination of fulfilling and flattening.

That felt like a lot of work to see no tangible results.

Except dirty dishes.

Ah, the dirty dishes!

My bane and blessing.

More kitchen time. More ordinary, tedious work. That will be undone again at the next meal.

And yet – what blessing! We have dishes! And, thank You, God, they’re dirty! Which means that our family had food to eat.

daffodil sink

And so this ordinary little sink becomes a sacred workplace.  It holds a vital rhythm of life to go slow. Which is not my reflexive pace.

To feel hot water and carefully, thoroughly wash each plate. Each spoon.  Each pan.

Fresh smelling suds.

And quiet.

And maybe half way through the rhythm of washing and rinsing, washing and rinsing, the thought occurs to me that You are here, too, Lord.

Thank You for being here.

Thank You for grace.

You forgive me all. the. time.

And I love You.

Whatever You want, Lord. Anything. I’m Your girl.

I’ll go to the dark, remote corners of the globe.

I’ll speak on stages.

I’ll learn new languages.

I’ll translate the Bible.

I’ll be kind to my husband.

I’ll read stories to my children.

I’ll make pancakes for dinner.

I’ll wash dirty dishes at this sink for 5, 10, 50 years.

I’m Your girl.

So I find contentment.

Because the mystery of my mundane kitchen is that God is here. Always.

Photo credits: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/4c/48/be/4c48be63173557d89afc8ebf73fea729.jpg and https://toolkit.climate.gov/sites/default/files/Spring-fed%20stream%20on%20a%20Sky%20Island.JPG

5 Things I Love about My Aspie: The Surprise Blessing of Being Uncomfortable

5 Things I Love about My Aspie: The Surprise Blessing of Being Uncomfortable

I look at my teenage Aspie son with genuine admiration and respect. I hate the discomfort that being on the autism spectrum brings him. But I can’t even conjure up the words that show how grateful I am for him. He has inspired this list of five things I love about my Aspie.

1.“It just doesn’t matter!”

He’s not attached to others’ opinions. We drove by a pink house once. I commented, “Wow. Can you imagine living in a pink house?!” My boy responded with genuine disdain, “Who cares what color your house is?” Slowly it dawned on me that he was right. Who really cares?

He holds other people’s opinions very lightly. What a lesson in freedom for me! Honestly I care too much about other people’s opinions. My penchant for people-pleasing takes time and energy away from being simply me. I love how my boy can be straightforward in his purposes and skip the whole sea of undulating self-esteem based on people’s praise or disapproval. It’s a constant struggle for me, and I’m thankful to have a living, breathing reminder that shows me a better way.

2. Be all in.

It takes my boy some time to commit to something. He really mulls it over. But once he decides he’s in, he’s in. Wild horses can’t stop his commitment once he’s given his word. When he gets up on a school day, my zealous teenager will barely drink some juice before he demands to dive into his homeschool and chores. I’m actually trying to temper the zeal a little so he will eat something to sustain him for his work.

I love the energy, though! I also love that it’s contagious. His siblings look up to him and are challenged to give their all in the tedium of daily life also.

3. Just do it.

When the kids were little I would try incentive charts to help guide them into strong character traits. From the get go my Aspie bucked that system. To this day he scorns incentives. I love his internal motivation. If he decides to do it, incentives seem like an insult to him.

4. “After you.”

I’m not sure where this endearing quirk comes from or if other spectrum friends have this. But, my guy refuses to eat or take a turn of any kind until everyone else has been served. We are working on the flexibility part of it, but his heart is pure gold. He would rather go without than let anyone not have enough.

5. It’s hard to fit in.

We all feel like that at least sometimes. I think back on my own junior high years. Wow. I barely felt comfortable in my own skin, let alone with society at large. Overall, though, I’ve adapted pretty well. As an adult I feel pretty at home here on Earth.

It’s harder for those anywhere on the spectrum. Going to the grocery store or church involves loud background noise and bright lights and looking people in the eye and small talk and countless uncomfortable things that I don’t even notice.

And the stalwart reminder in the sometimes debilitating discomfort pulses: “This is not my home. I am made for another place.” So a healthy longing for God is deeply rooted in my boy. And a refreshing resonance with this C.S. Lewis observation nestles in his heart. “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Brant Hansen, a clear-thinking, truth-bringing fellow Aspie of Christian radio fame, has a 5 minute segment here http://branthansen.com/2015/04/07/april-6th-podcast/ (from minute 10 – 14) where he shares the exhilarating reality that it’s a blessing to not “fit in.” And as we soak in the liberating truth of being profoundly loved by Jesus on the margin, we receive His baton of purpose to love others on the margin like He does.

My list could go on and on and on. And if you have a beloved one on the spectrum, you know what I mean! Feel free to add what you love about autism in the comments! Yes, being on the autism spectrum is super, super hard. But my boy radiates joy and inspiration as he musters courage and simply does the hard stuff.

What’s Better Than Blessings?

What’s Better Than Blessings?

It’s all about Him, really.

Which is a relief.

Our souls ache to worship. So it’s funny that when I stumble onto the immovable truth that it’s all about Him, I’m often surprised.

I remember reading Psalm 66:8 which says, “Bless our God, O peoples.” Except that I literally glanced at the words and thought they said, “Bless our people, O God.” I’m so used to asking for God’s blessing, and I don’t think of blessing Him.

Sometimes I ache for words to be a part of my being. I wish I could swallow them and they would radiate from my inner being into every fiber.

Ephesians 3:20-21 is like that for me.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

I have learned to pray bold prayers with this verse. Tiny glimpses of “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” shoot into my brain, and I’m overwhelmed. Actually, when I get a hint of these tiny glimpses, the prayer request itself pales dramatically in comparison to the One I’m praying to.

The ability of God to do abundantly more than I can imagine seems like an aside. It’s sandwiched in the main point. “Now to him.”

The main point is God.

Even my hope to conquer my own pervasive sinfulness and live out of His righteousness isn’t about me.

“Your people shall all be righteous… that I might be glorified.” Isaiah 60:21

We have friends who served the Kurds in Iraq for many years. Well-meaning Americans would sympathize with them about the brutal summer temperatures. Our friends bluntly told them, “We’re not here for the weather.”

“Now to him.”

2 Timothy 2:4 has soaked into the fiber of these friends: “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

My life is full of “civilian pursuits.” Shopping and cooking and laundry and cleaning. Such good stuff. But may I not be entangled in these pursuits. May they not be an end of themselves.

I long to get all messy in the daily stuff of life with my precious people as I live with and for Him. To summon my energy and heart that I may give my best as I cook breakfast and drive kids to karate and talk to my neighbor.

And I continue to pray for blessing!! He delights in blessing His children! But the true blessing that I long for is Jesus. Empty and pointless are blessings without the beautiful Blesser Himself.

As C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

We were made for more than obtaining blessings! He has made our souls to be caught up in His grand, Kingdom purposes! That we would be part of the blessing. And ultimately that He would be lifted up.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us—
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.”
Psalm 67:1-2

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