Friday, April 20, 2018


SURPRISE

I am not a fan of surprises.  For some reason, they do not always turn out quite right.

Surprise Party:  Really?  Do people enjoy them?  Maybe the person planning it.  The person walking into a surprise party, usually, either has found out and has to act surprised or has had the worst day ever and has to act excited. 

The Gift:  “Honey, I knew you wanted a __fill in the blank__, so I bought you one.”  Let’s be honest here.  “Honey” (that can be male or female) was not hinting for you to get the __fill in the blank__, they were warning you they were going to buy it.  And I can guarantee, what you buy will not be exactly what they wanted.  (This does not apply to birthday or Christmas gifts.  Those gifts need to be something that has been hinted for.  Those subtle hints when walking through a store.  Almost a whisper or sigh.)

Breakfast in Bed:  How sweet!  You are being served breakfast in bed.  What a wonderful surprise.  Advice to the children and men that prepared this breakfast:  Clean the kitchen after making this surprise breakfast or the person that ate the breakfast will give you a surprise.  (Usually this involves a banging of pans as they clean up your mess and the silent treatment as you try to figure out what went wrong.)

You Won a Car/Vacation/House:  Oh my gosh!!  How great would that be?  A car just appears in your driveway!  The tickets arrive in the mail!  Your dream home ready to move into!  Warning:  There will be taxes due.

We are surprised when we like a new food or discover a new back road.  A new author can surprise us with the ending of a really suspenseful book.  And our family never fails to surprise us, but I am not going there. 

Life is full of surprises.  Some are unexpected.  Some are wonderful.  Some break our hearts. 

Faith can surprise us.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

Faith can teach us to trust when we doubt.
Faith can make us strong when we feel weak.
Faith can give us hope when we do not see a way out.
Faith gives us the assurance that God’s love is constant.
Faith gives us the confidence to believe the Word of God.

Yup.  Life is full of surprises.  Some are unexpected.  Some are wonderful.  Some break our hearts.  And our faith makes it possible for us to survive all of them.

Friday, April 13, 2018


THINK ABOUT IT

I love numbers, but they need to be straight forward:  add, subtract, multiply and divide.  Give me a spreadsheet and I will find the missing penny.

On the other hand, I never was any good at math questions such as:  Train A leaves Chicago at 4:00 PM traveling 35 MPH and train B leaves Dallas at 6:00 PM traveling 40 MPH, what time will they arrive in Paris, France?  Yes, I know.  The tracks do not go to Paris, but for me the destination might as well have been that extreme.  I just did not get it.

I do, however enjoy a good ‘make you think’ question.

  1.  Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?
  2. What word in the English Language is always spelled incorrectly?
  3. If you were running a race and passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?

Do you know the answers to these?

I don’t know about you but sometimes I have problems understanding the Bible.  It is as if I am trying to figure out how the trains can get to Paris.  Other passages just do not make any sense.  They might as well be written in a foreign language.

Then there are passages, I have read and read and read.  Finally…..the light bulb comes on and bingo!  I get it.

Of course, there are many that are straight forward!  They add up.  They make sense the first time I read them.

The easy thing would be to keep reading the parts I understand, but, if I did that, I would become stagnate.  I would only learn a small portion of what the Bible has to teach me.  Therefore, (Love that word in the Bible.  Shows there is more to come.) I continue on.  I read and get excited when the light bulb shines and I finally get it.  I still struggle when directed to those passages that I do not understand.  I read, ponder, read again and know that someday, when I need that particular passage, I will understand it.

How about you?  Are you the same way?  Do you ever feel like you are just not smart enough or Christian enough to understand?  Other people get it.  Why can’t I?

Never fear!!! You are not alone.  Keep reading.  Pray for understanding.  Read a commentary.  Ask your minister.  Take a Bible study.  Remember, even the disciples did not get it.

Jesus said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you:  Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  Luke 24:44-45

How do we learn?  We are open.  The hymn, Open My Eyes, That I May See, says it the best. 

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mind, that I may read
More of Thy love in word and deed;
What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
Only for light from Thee I plead.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my mind, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear,
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my heart, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Now go forth and read!  God will do the rest.

============================
ANSWERS:
  1. Mt. Everest.  It just was not discovered yet.
  2. Incorrectly
  3. You would be in 2nd.  Well, you passed the person in second place, not first.

Friday, April 06, 2018

A SIGN

Hubby and I stayed in Orange Beach, Alabama.  This is the hotel sign, at the bottom of the steps, leading to the beach:


 I love this!  Someone with a great sense of humor prepared this sign.  It got my attention.  It made me think.  It made me laugh!!

Don’t ya wish God would put signs up for us? 

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

Noah did not even have to look for a sign.  God told him exactly what to do:

So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.  I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.  Genesis 6:13-14

Noah listened as God continued to explain exactly how to build the ark.  And, bless his heart, Noah did exactly as instructed.

/   /   /   /   /   /  \   \   \   \   \   \

Moses was a busy man taking care of the sheep.  Before he could talk to Moses, God had to get his attention.  Watch out Moses.  Your life is about to be seriously changed.

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.  Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.  So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”              Exodus 3:2-4

Quotes from Exodus 3:11, 13 and 4:1, 10, 13

·         But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
·         Moses said to God, “Suppose I go
·         Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me
·         Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord.
·         But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

If you have ever questioned the patience of God, these verses should open your eyes to exactly how patient God is.  God is talking to Moses.  Get it?  The LORD is calling his name from inside a burning bush and Moses keeps asking him questions. 

Moses asks the LORD to send someone else!  The scripture says that “the Lord’s anger burned against Moses.”  Yet a patient LORD continued to give Moses instructions. 

/   /   /   /   /   /  \   \   \   \   \   \

Saul was also a very busy man.  He was hunting down and persecuting followers of Jesus when a bright light stopped him in his tracks. 

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.  “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.   Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing.  So they led him by the hand into Damascus.     Acts 9:3-8

Well now, doesn’t that beat all?  Jesus picks Saul!  And what a job he had for Saul:  This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.  Acts 9:15 

Some believers trusted and supported Saul.  Some did not.  But Saul was a new man – Paul proclaimed Jesus to all! 

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

Noah went to work on the ark.  Moses reluctantly did God’s bidding.  Saul moved from darkness into light.  What will you do when God picks you for a very specific task?

I think the first sign needs a bit of improvement.


Friday, March 30, 2018


This was written for a Sunrise Service in 2007 and was used for my blog April 6, 2007.  When I thought about how to finish my Easter blogs, I remembered this.  It is the perfect for putting yourself in the Easter Story.

WALKING TO THE GRAVE

We are having Sunrise Service at our church and the Minister asked if I would write a responsive reading.  So, I started thinking about Easter and I started thinking about how it must have felt to walk to the grave.  That thought sent me to the scriptures.  As I was checking in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I discovered that there were a few differences on just exactly who went to the grave.

Matthew says Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.  Mark agrees but adds Salome.  Luke (who I think might just be a little bit of a male chauvinist) referred to them as "the women," until he finally named names and added Joanna and others.  John comes in with another story altogether.  He has Mary Magdalene going to the tomb, finding it empty, calling in the guys, who look around and go home.  Mary, waiting, because she didn't know what to do, was blessed when Jesus appeared to her.

And then no one could agree on if it was one man or two in the tomb telling the good news.  TAKING ALL THAT INTO ACCOUNT --- going to grave -- be it one, two or many -- would not have been an easy journey.  I came up with this responsive reading.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Walk with me up the path to the grave.  Be beside me as we go to prepare the body.  Each step is hard.  I know I should hurry, but I am so afraid.

Do not be afraid.  Remember everything Jesus told you.

We all listened as Jesus spoke.  His voice was always so sure.  So calm.  To know that I will never hear that voice again breaks my heart.

Do not be afraid.  Remember everything Jesus told you.

The grave is closer now.  I wonder how we will roll away the stone.  We have the spices and perfumes.  We will attend to the body, of Jesus, with love and respect.  But how will we roll away the stone?

Do not be afraid.  Remember everything Jesus told you.

We are almost there.  No one is saying a word.  We are each lost in our own thoughts.  Each wondering what will happen.  How can we go on?

Do not be afraid.  Remember everything Jesus told you.

There is the grave.  I don't understand -- The stone is rolled away.  The body of the Lord Jesus is not here.  Where is my Lord?

Do not be afraid.  Remember everything Jesus told you.

Hurry.  Hurry.  We must tell the others.  How afraid I was until I heard the truth.  Why did I not remember?  The men in gleaming clothes simply asked -- "Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen!"  Remember -- "The son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again."

He is risen!!  He is risen!!  He is risen!!

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

March 30, 2018

I cannot even begin to imagine what each step felt like as the women walked toward the grave.  The grave where their beloved Jesus lay.  They were ready to anoint his body.  What I am sure of is that each step was painful.  Each step was like walking into a darkness.  A darkness because they had been so sure.  They just knew….  Their today held the end to all they had believed in.  All they had hoped for.  Today was empty.  The future was darkness.  Each step was painful until -
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said.  “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter.  He is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him, just as he told you.”  Mark 16:5-7

We know the tomb was empty.  We know Jesus has risen.  And because Jesus has risen, our today is not empty and our future is eternal.

Do not be afraid.  Remember everything Jesus told you.
He is risen!!  He is risen!!  He is risen!!


Friday, March 23, 2018


JESUS PRAYS

Have you ever listened to a family recall the same situation?  Each person remembers it a bit differently.  One remembers the food.  The other the weather.  The other the conversation.  It makes you wonder if they really were all together at the same time.  The Gospels tell about the same incident but each writer saw certain areas more important than others.  I am glad this happens.  One reason is that if each Gospel reported an incident word for word, I would doubt the truth of it.  No situation is remembered the same!  Another reason is that, we get the whole story.  The whole story, not just what one person thought was important enough to remember.

So, as I write today, please know this is taken from Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 17.  It is not meant to be in exact order nor is it theologically correct.  (Sorry Pastor Larry)  Just like trying to put myself at the Last Supper, I want to walk with Jesus as he prepares himself.

<   <   <   <   <   >   >   >   >   >

JESUS PRAYS

(If I knew my life would soon end, I am not sure what I would pray for, but Jesus is Jesus to the very end.  He never quit talking to His Father.)

“Father, the hour has come.  Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.  Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

(As I listen to Jesus pray I hear him call God “Father” and the words are gentle on my ears.  Jesus is using so many words he has used before but it is as if he is saying them for the last time.  Eternal life.  The only true God.  Sent by God.  Finishing the work.  Wait?  Finishing the work?  The work is not done.  Surely I did not hear correctly.  Maybe I drifted off for a minute.)

“…..For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.  They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.  I pray for them. ……..Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, ……. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. … Sanctify them by the truth; ....”

(My heart is full of joy and my heart is breaking.  Jesus is praying for his disciples.  He is telling God that they believe.  He is asking God to protect them.  To sanctify them.  Yes, joy to hear the love Jesus has for his disciples as he prays for them.  Breaking, because this is not sound like a joyous prayer.  Jesus sounds somber as if he will not be praying for them again.)

“…. I pray also for those who will believe in me … that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  ….Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. …….. continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

(I believe.  Jesus is praying for me!  He wants me to know God.  Not just hear about him, but to know him.  Jesus said if I know him, I will know God.  I will know.  I will know!  But why is Jesus praying this now?)
(Jesus is no longer still.  He and the disciples are going to Gethsemane.)

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

(It is like his very soul is in despair.  When Jesus fell with his face to the ground, my heart broke.  What – What could make Jesus  -- so --.  A cup?  What cup?  I do not understand.  Is God asking Jesus to do something?  But what?  Does this have anything to do with Jesus saying “the hour has come”?  Do they will?)

“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

(God, do you not hear your Son?  He is asking you to take away whatever it is that is expected of him.  How as a father – how can you not give him this one thing?  Can you not see?  And even so, Jesus is ready to do your will.)

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

(God, I see the angel that is strengthening him.  Do you see that his sweat is like drops of blood?  Do you not see them?  They are there on the ground.  Please honor his request.  Please take the cup.  Please.)

“…. Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.  Rise!  Let us go!  Here comes my betrayer!”

(Asleep!  The disciples were asleep.  They did not pray with Jesus.  They did not give him comfort.  They did not hear his prayer.  They slept!  I do not understand why there are soldiers coming.  Jesus has done nothing wrong.  I am sure this will be fine, but those words are swirling in my head--- “your will be done.”)

<   <   <   <   <   >   >   >   >   >

I tried to be with Jesus as he prayed.  Tried to imagine what I would have thought.  How I would have felt.

It is your turn.  Be beside Jesus as he prays to his Father, prays for the disciples and prays for you.  Feel his pain as he is in the garden.  Feel his absolute trust in God as the Son accepted the cup.

Friday, March 16, 2018


A MEAL LIKE NO OTHER

The processional is over (see last week’s blog) and Jesus has been busy.  There was that incident at the temple where he sent all the dishonest sellers on their way.  Not in His Father’s house!  Jesus taught in the temple which made the temple leaders a whole lot nervous.  They just could not find a good way to have Jesus killed.  Enter Judas.

I have often wondered if Judas was ever a true believer.  He really, really wanted the Messiah to be a soldier not a peaceful healer and teacher.  Judas had sticky fingers and all the money given to the cause did not make it into the pouch. 

Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.  And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.  They were delighted and agreed to give him money.  Luke 22:3-5

When you have a family get together, or a church has a pitch in meal, or you go to your favorite restaurant, do you expect it to be different than the last one?  Nope.  Same ole.  Same ole.  Jesus and his disciples would have eaten many meals together.  I am sure they did not expect this one to be any different than the others. 

But this one was different.

THE LAST SUPPER

Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  John 13:4-5

(No Jesus.  Not my feet.  I am not worthy.  Please do not touch my feet.  They are dirty.  They have stepped in sin.  I beg you – pass me by.    Oh, Jesus, why won’t you listen to me?  Do not kneel in front of me.  Your touch on my feet is so gentle.  Your love washes away the grime.  My tears are flowing as you dry my clean feet.  No Jesus.  Do not leave.  I want to feel your touch on my feet again.)

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”  John 13:21

(No Judas.  Think!!  Remember!!  Do you not remember all those that Jesus healed?  Did you not listen when he was teaching?  What are you thinking?  The money will mean nothing.  It is just coins!  Why are you going to do this?  Tell Satan no!  Please Judas.  Do not betray God’s Son.  Remember!! Think!!)

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Matthew 26:26-29

(What are you talking about?  I do not understand.  No one can go without drinking.  You talk as if we will never see you again.  Never share a meal.  Your body?  Your blood?  Oh, my Jesus.  So much has been happening.  I have tried to listen to your every word.  I have watched your every move.  But I am confused.  I do not understand.  Maybe I can sit and talk with him tomorrow and he will explain.  Or maybe Peter can explain.  I just do not understand what is happening.  And why did Judas leave?  Is it true?  Will he betray Jesus?)

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’  If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.  I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.   John 14:28-29

(Going away?  But wait.  He also said coming back.  Breathe.  Take a deep breath.  I was afraid Jesus meant he was going away – for good.  We are leaving.  I wonder what will happen now.  How do I process this evening?  I thought this would be just the usual evening meal.)

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

It was not the usual meal.  I would think nothing about Jesus was usual.  I have the whole story.  I know how it began and I know how it will end.  The disciples and those living with Jesus did not know.  Even though he tried to tell them.  Tried to show them, they did not understand.

I tried to put myself at that meal.  Tried to block the ending.  Tried to imagine what I would have thought.  How I would have felt.

Your turn now.  Close your eyes and put yourself at the Table.  Picture Jesus washing your feet.  Imagine Jesus handing you the bread.  The cup.  Feel it.  Make it real.  Because it was real.

Friday, March 09, 2018


LESS COLOR.  NO FLOATS.  PALM BRANCHES -- ANOTHER PARADE

The Mardi Gras parade was about 35 minutes long.  It was colorful.  It was loud.  It was exciting.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.  They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!” 

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:  “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”

John 12:12-15

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

This is portrayed in movies as grand.  I am not sure you would call this a parade or even a processional.  One man, one donkey, palm branches and a great crowd. 

When I was a child, I figured Jesus rode the donkey because he was tired of walking.  Was I ever wrong!  But a donkey?

How did the Prophet Zechariah know about this?  It is written in Zechariah 9:9 that the king would come to Jerusalem, not only riding on a donkey, but righteous and victorious.  Still, why a donkey?  Surely a king would come to town in a Lamborghini Veneno or at least a Koenigsegg Regera.  But a donkey is such a lowly animal.  My goodness, the common people use donkeys!  Oh…..

The donkey is a symbol of peace.  A horse would be ridden by someone of wealth or a warrior.  A donkey would show Jesus was not here to fight a bloody battle.  Jesus embraced the poor and healed the sick.  He came to serve and save. 

That explains the donkey, but what about the palm branches?  Was some merchant in the right place at the right time and made a hefty profit?  Maybe. 

I went to a parade that celebrates by throwing beads.  When Jesus began his ride into Jerusalem, the people did what they always did.  They welcomed returning kings and war heroes with a path of palm branches.  The Romans honored champions of games and the military after successful campaigns with palm branches.  Palm branches would also have been a reminder of the Festival of Booths in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. 

I am sensing Jesus riding into Jerusalem was not a spontaneous action.  Like the Mardi Gras parade, there was a bit of planning in this entry into Jerusalem.  Maybe more than a bit.

There is one question: Who first shouted Hosanna?  How really cool is it that one person shouted Hosanna and then it became a chant of all?  They were praising ……

Wrong again.  Hallelujah is a declaration of praise.  Hosanna ----- Hosanna is a request.  Save us!  Deliver us!  We beg you!  They saw Him as their Messiah (Son of David) and they realized He could save them.  They wanted salvation!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

At first his disciples did not understand all this.  Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

John 12:16

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

This is portrayed in movies as grand.  I am not sure you would call this a parade or even a processional.  One man, one donkey, palm branches and a great crowd. 

When I was a child, I figured Jesus rode the donkey because he was tired of walking.  Was I ever wrong! 

HOSANNA

JESUS, I BEG YOU.  DELIVER ME.