Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Continuing the theme from the last post...God continues to teach me!

As I was preparing the sermon last week on hunger an unforgettable image came to mind.  A few years ago we lived and ministered in Haiti for 8 months.  One day I was walking down a path between two small villages.  On the path a young woman was sitting by the side of the road.  As I approached her she rubbed her stomach and said, "Grungu," which means hungry.  I had no money or food with me and communicated this to her.  She responded in English, with a gentle voice saying, "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, or her, 'Go I wish you well: keep warm and well fed.' but does nothing about her physical needs, what good is it?"  She then got up and moved on, as did I, knowing that I had just heard a powerful sermon on real faith. (See James 2)

Several weeks later there was a woman from her village who was pregnant with twins.  When it came time for her to give birth she couldn't deliver them, so our family ended up getting her to a hospital in Port au Prince.  We also helped provide extra food for the family and contacted a church about helping build her a house.  (There is so much more to this story, but this is the short form.)

Back to the young woman on the path...I saw her one day when we were back in the village checking on the babies.  She said to me, "Ou bon moun," which means "You are a good person."  It was like she was saying, "You are my sister.  Now I have seen your faith in action."  I am also reminded of how wise and discerning our Haitian brothers and sister are.  They are watching when we come down as visiting "missionaries."  They are looking for faith and love.  They may be physically hungry, but there are many ways they feed our spiritual hunger from their riches.

We are called to be witnesses of the gospel.....the good news.  God loves us!  God is faithful!  God will provide!  God is sufficient!  God calls His people to "Do justice, Love mercy and walk humble with our God."  Micah 6:8

How do we live in such a way that we proclaim the Good News every day.  Truthfully, it is much easier in Haiti.

Lord, How do you want us to meet the hunger of those all around us, in whatever form that hunger may take?  Lord, help us to recognize where we are hungry, and what we need.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

This has been a very interesting week, in terms of a reoccurring theme.  You know how God tries to get our attention sometimes, right?  So in this past week I finished reading, 7: an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker.  The title gives you a good idea of the theme of the book.  She talks about excess in food, clothing, possessions/stuff in general, media, waste, spending and stress.  She writes with humor, but watch out...she will convict you!  Now I need to figure out what to do about the conviction...hmmm.  I'd love for some of you to read it and share this struggle and journey with me.

So the book...then I ran across this statement by James Alison as he was talking about the people of God in the wilderness, "The One who wanted to give them more kept finding them addicted to less."  Remember? God is leading them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, giving the 10 commandments, feeding them with manna and quail, headed for the promised land....but they keep whining and wanting to go back to Egypt. So I am wondering, "What am I addicted to that keeps me from the MORE that God wants to give me?"

So the book...the quote...and then an invitation to preach at a nearby church, with the theme for the day being "Hunger."  The Scripture passages are Isaiah 58:6-12 and Matthew 25:31-40.  Isaiah challenges us by asking ,"What do you think God really wants from His people?"  Then Isaiah goes on to propose that God wants us to:
    Loose the chains of injustice
     Untie the cords of the yoke
       Set the oppressed free
        Break every yoke.

     Share our food with the hungry
      Provide the wanderer with shelter
       Clothe the naked
        Do not turn away from our own flesh and blood.

The Matthew passage is the familiar parable of the sheep and the goats, where Jesus says, "If you do it unto the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you do it unto me."  What is that again...Oh yea, feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned...

It has been quite a week.  So I am wrestling with, "What am I addicted to(the less) that keeps me from the MORE that God wants to give?" I know our God is generous beyond measure, and Jesus came that we might have abundant joy.  Do we really believe God any more than the Israelites did in the wilderness?

Isaiah says the MORE looks like this:  "Your light will break forth like the dawn..your healing will quickly appear..........when you cry for help the Lord will say:I am here...."  Is. 58:8-12

Sorry this post got a little preachy, but it is what God has been working on in me...just thought I'd share it with you.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Crazy Fool?

This week I had breakfast with a new friend...Yeah!  In our conversation she mentioned to me, "You are so self-confident.  I am not."  I've been processing that this week.  Did she say this remembering the Sunday morning I skipped around the church with the kids during the children's message, or was it because during congregational prayer on Sunday I invited our non-kneeling congregation to kneel with me for our prayer? (After all, Ephesians 3:14-20 was our guide to prayer this week, and it begins, "Therefore, I kneel before the Father..."  It seemed so appropriate.)  Or maybe she thought this simply because I wear my little black hat with my red coat, even though Al looks at me with this little grin that says, "Really?"

As I've been thinking on this I've come to the awareness that it doesn't have as much to do with "self-confidence" as it is all about FREEDOM in CHRIST.  I remember my first taste of this the summer after high school when I was introduced to Camp Manitoqua, and I encounter all these college kids who were a little crazy and in love with Jesus.  This was a side of Christianity I had not experienced, and I wanted it!  I even remember "Uncle Harold Korver" telling us as staff that part of the job was being, "A fool for Christ."  What an incredible, freeing experience that was.  I went home determined not to be captured by the "What will people think?" mentality.

Now as a midlifing woman of 60 I look back and recognize it is a life-long journey. There is progress made, mountains climbed, valleys traversed, new vistas ahead, but always a need to stay close to and very intentional about looking to Jesus for my source of identity.  When I do a Midlife Momentum retreat and ask people what they like most about this season of life, invariably someone in the group says, "I don't worry so much anymore about what people think."  Midlife wisdom, often learned through a faith walk with lots of ups and downs.

My freedom in Christ was birthed the summer of Manitoqua, but it has grown, deepened and been a tool for aiding others in gaining freedom as I have experienced more of life.  Sometimes the Evil One tries to pull me down, throw all kinds of weaknesses in my face, and generally beat me up, but he is the loser, the liar.  My confidence is not in me, but in the One who seeks me, saves me, lives in me and frees me.  Lord help me always to remember this!!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Run to the Darkness (Part 2)

Walking in the mornings has taken on a fresh meaning for me.  What will I find on this walk?  Who will I meet.  Ever since the glory invaded the darkness my expectations have risen.

Getting up and out of the house in the darkness has never been easy.  My bed is warm!  Michigan mornings take a long time to arrive.  I need incentive, and so knowing that my walking partner is waiting on the corner motivates me to "move it."  Once I am up and moving I am so glad I'm out there, but the next morning there is the same struggle.  Why, Oh why am I such a slow learner.  I know I will feel better.  I know I love that time when the world is waking up.  I know that God might surprise me with GLORY.

Actually this sounds like a lot of the disciplines that it takes to be a growing, effective follower of Jesus.  Ever since the morning of the glory snowfall I think about not only my partner waiting for me on the corner, but also that Jesus waits for me on so many corners of life.  Will I meet him as I open the Scriptures?  Will I meet him as I share breakfast with a friend?  Will I meet him when I talk to someone on the phone for the Center for Women in Transition?  Will I meet him in worship?  If I don't get up, take the first step through a new door what will I miss?

I know Jesus is waiting for me.  I know I'll feel better if I head out to meet him...even if that means heading to the table and opening the Bible.  I know life is so much richer when I take a chance.  So as I head out in the morning I look toward the street light down the road.  Where do you want to take me today, Lord?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Run to the darkness?

Wednesday morning I left the house at 6:50am to meet my walking partner a few blocks away.  It is still dark in west Michigan at 6:50.  It was about 12 degrees and I looked out the window to check the wind before leaving the house.  How many layers do I put on? The flag hung limp at the school across the road. Yes!

I stepped outside and immediately was surrounded by glory.  The snow was gently falling in large beautiful flakes; the yellow street lights catching each one floating in the air or lying on the ground.  I was awestruck.  I met my walking partner a few minutes later.  She greeted me, "It's like walking on diamonds!"  Glory had invaded the darkness. 

My world has been turned a bit upside down the last couple of weeks.  I've taken the training at the Center for Women in Transition.  It involves 21 hours of training over two weeks.  Training to be an advocate for those living in a world of domestic violence and sexual assault.  I really didn't know what I was getting myself into.  I've come alongside women who have been in abusive relationships before, but the magnitude of the needs, seeing the different facets, and recognizing how prevalent it is was eye opening.  It touched me on a deep level.

I preached on Christmas Eve about Jesus, the light of the world.  I focused on the line, "Carry your candle, run to the darkness." from the song, "Go Light Your World."  I hadn't put it together that volunteering at CWIT would be how God was calling me to live out what I had preached.  Run to the darkness?  We have been taught and socialized in our Christian culture to avoid the darkness.  We are better at huddling together to share our light with each other, protect each other's lights from going out.  But, run to the darkness? 

Somehow being surrounded by the diamonds floating from the sky, and realizing it was because the light was piercing the darkness that glory showed up, also touches me at a deep level.  I may not be ready to run, but...