Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You have to see it!


A city built on a hill cannot be hid. Matthew 5:14b

I love the scene in the movie "Blast From the Past" where the main character finally sees a baseball game after living in an underground bunker for his whole life. His father had tried to explain it to him so that maybe someday he could enjoy the game or even play. But when he finally gets to go to a baseball game he stands up with one of those "aha" looks on his face and says, "Now I get it! You really have to see it!"

Somethings you really have to see to understand. I recently took a trip to the Holy Land and I had several "aha" moments. Things that I had been thinking about scripture in my head were vastly different when I visited in person. It really was eye opening.

One of the things was the geography in Galilee. There were several flat areas where they would farm and then various hills or mountains where they would build cities. I thought it was odd that they would want to live in the sloping areas but then realized how old these cities were and acknowledged that this is a great defense from attach. Something we don't have to think as much about when selecting a subdivision to live in.

I saw the "city on a hill" that the scripture above describes. It really cannot be hidden. Our hills in Georgia are different from hills in Galilee. We have tons of trees and lots of small hills running into each other. They can sit in their houses and see the cars coming for miles.

When you stand in a place like that we think about all the things we can see, but Jesus turned it around in this scripture. In this position, think about all the people that can see you.

May you live today so that you are an example to others and know that you are not hidden. You are a great model of God's love and beautiful creation.

Until Everyone Hears,

ps - After Lent I'll be blogging about some other discoveries on my trip. Hope you'll tune in!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What rules?


For one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8b

I often don't admit this but I am a rule follower. Not that I don't like to expand the mold or re-order things every so often but give me a set of rules and I feel more comfortable and relaxed. They give order to chaos and something to talk about at parties.

Of course rules are one of the things that some people don't like about organized religion. Religious rules seem to confine us and limit our freedom when what we seek from God is a freedom from the evil in this world. If find it hard that eating Jello will make me a bad person; that envying my neighbor's new ipad will hurt others, or that fixing my son's bloody knee will make that much of a difference.

But then I think about the rules I've set in my own house:

-No throwing balls inside
-You make a mess, you clean it up
-Don't do your homework in the morning
-Eat healthy, learn something, have fun

The list goes on but you get the drift. I have rules so that we can live together happily and be healthy. Sure there are times when we eat junk food. When the kids are sick, I'll clean up after them. But the rules are there to order things and because I love my family.

Love makes it possible for me to understand the rules. Sometimes I may think they are weird or out of date, but I understand that at one time a rule was made because it made it easier to love one another.

So if rules make you edgy, just think about love and know that when you love someone you are following the only rule that really matters.

Until Everyone Hears,

The Right Mix


Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

I've recently taken up a new craft. Painting! I was invited one afternoon to spend the day with a group of friends painting. Sort of a GNO but it was "in" not "out" and it was afternoon not night.

Anyways.... I was really scared at first. I had no idea what I was doing and putting that first bit of color on the canvas was like jumping into a deep end when you know the water is chilly and its not unbearably hot out. So I took a deep breath and just did it. I plopped the brush with paint right on the canvas and got started.

I had to cover the canvas with color first before I started my design so I couldn't mess up to start with. And as I kept on painting, I began to relax and really enjoy myself. It was very therapeutic to create something new. It didn't matter if it was good or bad. All that mattered was that I was there in the moment. I loved it.

One of my favorite parts was mixing the colors to get a unique look. From the ziplock commercials and kindergarten, I know that yellow and blue make green but there are endless possibilities to make beautiful colors. But if you add blue to blue - you still have blue. If you add black to black - its still black. I guess its safe to say that if you add the same color to itself, you'll always get the same result. You have to do something different to change it up.

When Paul writes to overcome evil with good, he's using this concept. Adding more evil to evil will still be evil. But when you put goodness in the mixture, you start to change things up. And the more you add, the more beautiful things can become.

Enjoy the mixing process.

Until Everyone Hears,

Monday, March 28, 2011

Buying gifts for an 11 year old boy


We have gifts that differ according to the grace given us. Romans 12:7

I'm in search of the perfect gift for my oldest son who will turn 11 next week. I'm not old enough to have an 11 year old but that's what his birth certificate says so I guess I'll put that many candles on his cake.

He in many ways is my easy child. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday he said, "I dunno maybe a basketball." Now his younger brother has already asked for an ipad and every video gaming unit made and I swear the baby girl asked to get a cell phone at the grocery store last night, but a basketball? I could hug him!

Of course this also makes things difficult as well. He deserves something nicer than a basketball. He's a great student; he's polite, well mannered etc etc. I thought about all those big ticket items that his younger brother would drool over and thought - those just aren't him. At least not yet.

Finding a gift for someone is not easy. Not all 11 year old boys like the same thing. I'm still searching for that perfect gift that says, "I love you and want to celebrate with you."

I have to wonder if God has this much trouble passing out spiritual gifts. Does he say, "Hmmm preaching will be used really well by Shannon but I'll give Ann teaching so that she can use all that knowledge she likes to acquire."?

I don't know, but I do know that we all have a part to play and that each of us should look at our gifts as the term describes - gifts. Gifts say "I love you and want to help you celebrate." If we can say, "Thanks! Let's party!" Then I believe we're on the road to appreciating what God has given us.

Until Everyone Hears,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Your Sunday Poem




ONLY A PERSON WHO RISKS IS FREE
by Author Unknown

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach for another is to risk involvement.
To expose your ideas, your dreams,
before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To believe is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken, because the
greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The people who risk nothing, do nothing,
have nothing, are nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow,
but they cannot learn, feel, change,
grow, love, live.
Chained by their attitudes they are slaves;
they have forfeited their freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I'M DEBT FREEEEEEEE!


"So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36

I'm a huge Dave Ramsey fan! You'll often hear me say "I'm better than I deserve." or "If you want something you've never had, you'll have to do something you've never done before."

I think I like him so much for two reasons:

1) He really does give advice my grandma would give me.
2) His quotes can be applied to spiritual aspects as well (most of the time he references the Bible for good spending habits)

Lets face it - debt is dumb. Not that most people don't have it but the idea of working to earn money before you pay for something is so much smarter. When you have debt, it is always hanging over you. Its always there saying "pay me! pay me!". When we are debt free, so many more possibilities open up to us.

When Jesus says "you will be free indeed," he's not talking about traditional slavery, debt, or imprisonment. Jesus paid the debt for us with his life. Spiritually we are fallen. We're made with more free will than we deserve and we all will mess up. We really should be indebted to someone for all of our screw-ups, but Jesus came along and gave us a spiritual plastectomy and said "YOU'RE DEBT FREEEEEEEE!!"

So enjoy you're freedom - its better for you than you deserve.

Until Everyone Hears,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hospitality



There we found believers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. Acts 28:14

The weekend before I was to start working at Lighthouse UMC, I went to a monastery for prayer and reflection. At first it seemed like I was making reservations at the Holy Hilton. I was able to book it online, make my donation with a credit card, and let them know how many meals I'd be eating there.

When I got there, it took a while for the Holy Hilton feeling to go away. Although my room had no TV and I had to share a common bathroom, it still had commercial looking furniture and linens. As I went down for my first meal, I realized how different things were. After I got past the "no talking" part of the journey, I looked around to discover that I was sharing a meal with the monks who lived there. This was their home and they opened it up to other people who were seeking a place for reflection and discovery.

Hospitality has changed greatly over the years. We can no longer just show up on cousin Becca's doorstep and say "Hey! I'm your 4th cousin twice removed." and expect them to open the doors to you. These days, you'd want a background check just to return an email from a curious cousin researching genealogy just to make sure they weren't trying to suck you into the donating to Africa scam.

Even with our skepticism and security concerns, I don't feel that hospitality is a lost art. There are people that I have met that I'm pretty sure would make me feel more comfortable in my own home. You know - they type that can make a convenience store bathroom look welcoming if you gave them 5 minutes?

So for all of you out there who go out of your way to make others feel welcome, I thank you. You never know if your hospitality to someone else can make the difference in spreading the good news.

Until Everyone Hears,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Run, Shannon, Run!



"But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first." Mark 10: 31

I think I've shared with you before that I was not the star P.E. student in my younger days. It was a struggle for me not to be last. And so it ended up that that became my goal: not to be last.

As I got older, I don't want to say that I became more athletic, but I did begin to enjoy running and even started to enter races. At first my goal was to just finish. Once I realized that I could do that, I moved onto trying for a PR (personal record). The first time I broke 30 min for a 5k, I was elated.

Then soon after, it happened. Grace was upon me. I'd trained well and I'd entered a not-so-competitive race and viola - I placed in my age group! From then on a new standard was set. I wasn't just trying not to be last, I was trying to be first.

There's just something about being first that brings out the competitive spirit. When it comes to God, I want to be first. I want to do everything right so that the Almighty is happy with me. But sometimes I don't train well and I don't put my all into things and I realize that its not about being first. Its about being in the race and I'm a winner no matter where I place.

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Got Stoned




They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. Acts 14: 19a-20

I recently had another minor health set back. On Monday I started having stomach pains and nausea again. I ended up in the ER (why do these things always happen in the middle of the night?). After some tests, they found out that I have gallstones. They think that these could be causing my set backs. Of course there are somethings uncharacteristic about gallbladder disease that make them think that there are other issues and that the gallstones have nothing to do with my symptoms.

I'm seeing a specialist tomorrow and it looks like my options will be either gallbladder removal or another surgery to see if I've got complications from my surgery this past fall. I feel more tests in my future.

So what did I do after my night in the ER? I took some meds and slept most of the day. Paul was stoned, left for dead and got up to do mission work the next day. I kind of feel like a slacker. Maybe his stoning was just a minor one and he could tape it up and walk it off. Or maybe, just maybe God has a purpose in all this for me.

I think I'll go with the latter.

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Sock Monkey


"So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." Luke 14:33

I was a thumb sucker as a child. I think I was in first grade before I eventually gave it up. It very much was possibly my first addiction. I had two enablers for this first addiction 1) my blankie and 2) my sock monkey.

When my mom discovered that my blankie was an enabler and that it also was becoming a germ infested vehicle, she did what all good mom's do and sent my blankie to the blanket farm where it could run free with other blankets just like it.

The first thing I did when I noticed that my blankie was missing was to go through every lovie in my room and chose another enabler. The sock monkey won hands down. He was soft, cuddly, and his creator has even sewn an "S" on his had for "Shannon". I was in love again.

But alas all good things must come to an end. If I wanted to grow up and be a big girl, I had to get rid of the sock monkey and sucking my thumb. My mom couldn't help me this time because she knew if she did, I'd just pick up another substitute. As some point on my journey I realized that I didn't need "monkie" to keep me safe and happy anymore. I was older and wiser.

I was growing up.

When Jesus asks us to give everything up to follow him, he wants us to be grown up Christians. He wants us to be safe and happy in him and to be wiser for it. No one else can do this for us. The choice is ours.

Until Everyone Hears,

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Whole World


"For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?" Matthew 16:26

Friends is one of my favorite all-time shows. It ranks up there with MASH and The Andy Griffith Show as shows that I'll stop channel surfing for.

One of the great things about the show is the one liners. One of my favorites is when Phoebe and Rachel decide to get tattoos. Rachel ends up with a small one in a discrete place while Phoebe gets one drop of ink on her and chickens out. She covers herself by saying that her "one dot tattoo" is the earth as seen from a far distance. When Ross finds out that Rachel got a tattoo he is a bit upset Ross: "You got a tattoo?" Rachel: "Yes but just a little one. Phoebe got the whole world!"

When we are young, we want to see and do everything in the whole world. As we get older we learn to prioritize and that list narrows a bit until at some point we realize that what we already have IS the whole world. We've all been given opportunities for great things in life. When we start using these opportunities for good and become the people that God created us to be, then we've profited the whole world.

Until Everyone Hears,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday!




A Sabbath Poem (Cummings)

-By E.E.Cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

H-U-M-B-L-E"


God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:5b-6

Charlotte's Web is one of my favorite stories. It was the first book I ever cried reading. It was also the first time I understood what the word "humble" meant. Of course at the time I thought that it had something to do with saving someone. Charlotte saved Wilbur after she spun "humble" for him. Then I thought maybe it meant something about sacrifice. Charlotte died soon after and many sacrifices were made so that her memory could be honored.

But at last I finally understood humble to be "not bragging." We all have gifts. Wilbur's gift was making friends. Charlotte's gift was helping others. So there's no need to be proud of ourselves when these gifts are natural talents we are given by God.

Later I understood sacrifice and saving to be another part of being humble. Humble people look out for others and when we put others first because we love God, then God is exalted.

Use your gifts and feel humbled that you have them.

Until Everyone Hears,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Surprise!!!!


Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 12

I hate surprises. Not to the extent that I want to know what my Christmas presents are before I open them but I really don't like it when someone calls me to say, "Hey I've got something for you. I'll be dropping it by later. Its a surprise!"

Most people, it seems like these kind of surprises but I obsess until the person gets over as to what the surprise is and how should I react. Do I need to return the favor with a gift to this person? Did I miss an occasion? What if the gift is part of some conversation or moment the two of us have shared and I don't remember the details?

Its all too stressful. The waiting. I do like gifts and if you wanted to just hand me one I probably would be fine with that but the waiting for the unknown really gets to me.

Reading Peter is no comfort. First of all what is the fiery ordeal that is testing me? Is this happening now or is something much worse coming? And second, will I really be surprised because as I said - I hate surprises!

But thank goodness Peter goes on to say "rejoice and shout for joy when Jesus' glory is revealed!" Now that I can do! For as much as I hate the waiting for a surprise for me I LOVE the anticipation of someone's reaction to a happy surprise. Surprise parties for others? Fun! Finding out if someone is having a boy or a girl? Cool! Watching my kids open birthday presents? Priceless.

So can I rejoice when God's glory is revealed even though it may come as a surprise to others? Of course. Its one of the few surprises I look forward to in this world. Those "aha" moments on others' faces when they see Who is truly in charge.

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

E-V-I-L


I feel a little like the church lady when talking about this topic. Not one of my favorites but one that needs to be addressed none-the-less.

The question I usually get from youth is "If God created everything, where did evil come from?" I look directly at the teenager asking the question and say, "It comes from YOU!"

Okay I don't make it sound that scary but the truth is that it does come from us. James 1:12-18 tells us the evolution of evil: temptation leads to sin which leads to death.

God created us with free will so that we can return His love with no strings attached. We don't love God because He makes us love Him, we love Him for who He is.

But this free will can also get the better of us. A "Do not push" button is really too tempting. If you stand next to it long enough, eventually you'll break the rules and all sorts of other issues will ensue.

You might think that you're missing a good opportunity by walking away from this temptation, but life is full of choices and by walking away from one thing will lead to something else. Who is to say that the other opportunity isn't even greater?

Whatever path you choose, may it lead to love and grace.

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grief


When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. -Luke 22:45

Why is that that I always miss things the first hundred times I read them? The first hundred times that I read Luke 22:39-46 I just thought that it was late and the disciples fell asleep. I am just now realizing that they fell asleep because they were exhausted from sorrow.

Maybe at the time I didn't quite understand what that meant, but unfortunately now I've had a couple of occurances where I have been in such unresolved grief that I finally could do nothing else but just go to sleep. Its not a good feeling. And its not a sleep that you are rested from. Its only a sleep that you get after getting to that hopeless point where there isn't anything else you can do.

I hope to never have that kind of sorrow again but this scripture does seem to lend some guidance to what to do if you are in such a situation:

1) Pray and ask for strength. Jesus prayed and an angel gave him strength. I'm not exactly sure how this manifested itself but he was able to stay awake and fulfill his destiny on the cross so he surely got strength in some manner.

2) Surround yourself with others who will pray with and for you. Jesus asked his friends to wake up and pray with him. There is something to be said about unity in grief that makes it a bit more bearable.

May you find only happiness and peace during this Lent, but if you do find sorrow may God bless you and give you strength.

Until Everyone Hears,

Its all about ME!


Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we're proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. - 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 (The Message)

From the moment I was born, the world has been focused on me. Everything I've ever done is important to what I d,o so therefore I must be important to everyone else. And if I'm important to everyone else then of course everything must be all about me.

It is shocking at times to hear otherwise. I went for a walk the other day and was greeted warmly along the way by a 9 year old who said, "Hey Shane's Mom!" Of course the world does not revolve around me and even though I'm pretty important to my world, I know with sadness that it will continue to function long after I'm gone.

The question I pose is - what does our world revolve around? I'm not asking about physical science, but rather what makes our world, our society tick? Is it perhaps:

-Money: Does the greed that we have for money matter most? It certainly seems to be a large contributor.
-Wisdom: Does the more I know, mirror my greatness or power?
-Love: If we cease to have love, does our world end or just take on a new form?
-God: Is it something Divine guiding us throughout our journey and if so how much interaction can we depend on and can we conversely give God the blame?

Every time I learn something new I realize how little I know so I won't pretend to know the great answers to the questions of the universe here. All I know is that I have experienced that there is a God active in my life. And for some strange reason, I am a messenger for that good news.

So I hope you keep listening to me, but what I hope you keep hearing is God.

Until Everyone Hears,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Famous Last Words


Friends applaud, the comedy is finished.
~~ Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, d. March 26, 1827

Josephine...
~~ Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor, May 5, 1821

I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.
~~ Humphrey Bogart, actor, d. January 14, 1957

Et tu, Brute?
Assassinated.
~~ Gaius Julius Caesar, Roman Emperor, d. 44 BC

Oh, I am not going to die, am I? He will not separate us, we have been so happy.
Spoken to her husband of 9 months, Rev. Arthur Nicholls.
~~ Charlotte Bronte, writer, d. March 31, 1855

I'm bored with it all.
Before slipping into a coma. He died 9 days later.
~~ Winston Churchill, statesman, d. January 24, 1965

It is very beautiful over there.
~~ Thomas Alva Edison, inventor, d. October 18, 1931

God will pardon me, that's his line of work.
~~ Heinrich Heine, poet, d. February 15, 1856

I love you Sarah. For all eternity, I love you.
Spoken to his wife.
~~ James K. Polk, US President, d. 1849

I die hard but am not afraid to go.
~~ George Washington, US President, d. December 14, 1799

One who rules over people justly,
ruling in the fear of God,
is like the light of morning,
like the sun rising on a cloudless morning,
gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.
Is not my house like this with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.
Will he not cause to prosper
all my help and my desire?
But the godless are all like thorns that are thrown away;
for they cannot be picked up with the hand;
to touch them one uses and iron bar
or the shaft of a spear.
And they are entirely consumed in the fire on the spot.
~~David, King of Israel, d. 970 BC

Davids last words were of God and justice. What would yours be?

Until Everyone Hears,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Keepin it Holy

spirituality and sabbath practices

Sabbath Keeping:

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. -Exodus 20:8

While having lunch with a fellow clergywoman the other day, we discussed what we were giving up for Lent. I told her that I was giving up going out to eat and that I should probably make it known that if someone wants to have lunch with me they only had a few more days to schedule. To which she replied, "Or you could schedule them for Sundays."

I have always thought this was cheating. I mean if your are giving up something during the contemplative period of Fuzzing (Lent to those who prefer the term. I know a great friend who calls it Fuzz.), then you should do it for the whole time. I know that the 40 days of Lent don't include Sundays but that's just numbers. If you are going to give something up, you should give it up everyday!

Then she hit me with it.
"I think that as Christians we have an obligation to celebrate Sunday and not to deprive ourselves of the joy we can have on that day."

She said it so sweetly and with such belief and passion that I thought - now here is someone who truly sets Sunday apart for the holy day it should be. She doesn't look at it as work. It isn't just a day to get ready for the week. It isn't even a day to go to church. Its a day to experience something joyful!

How could I argue? I still think that you could make a point that experiencing the discipline for all the days of Lent could help you appreciate Easter that much more, but she persuaded me that if I did eat out on Sunday it wouldn't be cheating.

I'm not sure where you stand on this issue but I hope that whatever way (or day for that matter) you celebrate a sabbath - you celebrate it with the pure joy that it is supposed to bring.

I'm writing this blog ahead of time so that it will come out on Sunday but so that I can spend the extra time celebrating with my family. Either way I know that God will bless the time.

Until Everyone Hears,

P.S. - If you want to discover more ways to make your time Holy, sign up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/gTEwbD

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Without Hindrance




He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him. -Acts 28:30

Have you ever gotten to the end of a good book and think "I wonder what every happened to that character?" I generally don't like sequels because I want there to be closure the first time I read something. But I often wonder what a sequel to Acts would look like. Would we find out about Paul's death and his last words? Would we find out about other church planters that continued to spread the message?

It just seems so odd that Paul did all this travelling and set up or strengthened all these churches and spend the last two years in prison.

But before I think that the story is just over there, I see that Paul welcomed people during that time and kept "proclaiming and teaching" the gospel! He kept on doing what he was called to do, even when he couldn't do it the way he'd been doing it. And he kept on until the very end.

Sure I'd like to know more about what really happened but this one thought fills me with so much hope. There is ALWAYS a way to spread good news. There are always people willing to hear it no matter where you are or what you are doing. Loving other people doesn't have to happen only in church or at home or at Starbucks. It can happen anywhere.

May you be blessed today with finding love where you least expect it.

Until Everyone Hears,

Friday, March 11, 2011

Make a Memory


And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. - Acts 13:52

So Paul and Barnabas go out clubbing. Or the 1st century equivalent in Antioch - the synagogue. Sure it was tame compared to the other places they could have gone but they knew there'd be lots of people. People they could mingle with and ask "Do you come here often?"

Depending on the answer to that pick up line might inspire the discussion that came next. Their first outing went really well. They got to talk about Moses, David, and Jesus. People listened. People liked it. People wanted more.

So the next week they went out again. Suddenly the synagogue was the place to be. They broke the fire code and ended up getting kicked out. Not just because of all the people but because the establishment didn't like the controversy. And after getting kicked out of not just the synagogue but the town as well, they were happy.

Happy?

Ever been kicked out of somewhere? Was it for the wrong reason or the right reason? Getting kicked out for the wrong reason can cause fear, anxiety, and a headache that you don't want to deal with.

But getting kicked out for the right reason can make you joyous! How so?

1) They made a memory. I can just hear Paul and Barnabas in the next town. "You should have heard the crowd! They didn't just ask us to leave. They threw us out! Hey Paul - remember when that one guy called you that bad word? Ahhhh good times!" Memories help us remember our passion, our purpose, and our plan.

2) They still took action. You can't make the memory if you don't take action. Action leads to joy! Get out there and do something! If you get thrown out, who cares?

3) The people took notice. I don't believe that if they sent out a postcard to everyone in Antioch, there would have been as great a response as crashing the party one week in the synagogue and getting kicked out the next. When you make memories and take action, others notice what you've done. Sometimes they follow. Sometimes they don't. But your message is remembered more and is clearer.

So its FRIDAY!!!! Get out there and share your passion and don't worry about the consequences. The consequences for a passion with a purpose will take care of themselves.

Until Everyone Hears,
Acts 13:44-52

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I AM - The Gatekeeper



"I am the gate for the sheep." - John 10:7b

I went to a wedding last weekend where the reception was in a gated community's country club. It was a beautiful place and I felt very posh as I rolled up to the gate house. I had on my wedding finest. John was in a suit. Dori had on an Easter Sunday dress and the boys had on pants that weren't sweats or jeans. We were looking good!

As I got up to the gate, I rolled my window down and told the attendant we were here for the wedding. I expected her to ask which wedding or my name and check it off of some list, but instead we were just allowed to proceed.

In a way I was a bit stunned. Where was the security? Can I dress up and try this at other gated communities? Part of me was let down too. Here I was invited to this fancy event and you don't even want to know who I am? I must be important or on a list somewhere right?

Jesus talks about sheep and gates in John 10:1-6. I don't always like the idea of Jesus keeping people out or in but there are some great things about gates that I do like.

1) Gates keep us together. We may not want to be in the same pen as the black sheep but we're all in this together. Maybe that's for a good reason. Perhaps we should learn how to live together and support each other. Togetherness can be a good thing if you have the right attitude about it.

2) Gates set us apart. There's a very different image of sheep wandering along a mountainside grazing for food then of sheep together behind a fence. If we pass a farm in America and see a few cows in a pasture we'd say "Moo!" but if we saw hundreds of cows behind a fence we'd say "Wow! Look at all the cows!" There is something to be said for being set apart and how others will notice our behavior.

3) Gates help us to be at home. I don't live in a gated community but I do have a garage door. After a long journey, I'll hit the button to open up the door and know that I am home. When I"m at home and I hear the garage door opening I know that one of my family is coming home. For me, being at home is a great feeling of comfort and grace. At home, I'm loved for who I am and not for whom I'm supposed to be.

If Jesus is the Gate, then he keeps us together, set apart, and helps us feel at home because he loves us for who we are. He doesn't care what we are wearing or if our name is on some list. He invites all who want to come in and tells them "Welcome Home."

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Holding on to the end




We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. - Hebrews 3:7-15

Do you remember the balance game in elementary school PE? Where you had to stand on one foot and see who could stay standing the longest? I think that this was really just a time filler for PE teachers but I liked it because it was one of the few PE activities I could do well at. I had great balance but not very fast reflexes. I HATED dodge ball (I thought Satan invented it to have me hating school - and if the kid slower than me was absent that day and I was the last picked, then Satan's wish came true on certain days). Tennis, basketball, baseball? Not for me. Fun to watch but brutal for the slow of feet.

So when the PE teacher said stand on one leg, I could do that. Even though it was a time filler, it is a great activity for young kids. We all need balance physically, mentally, and spiritually. In order for us to "hold on firmly to the very end" there are a few helpful hints.

1) Focus on one thing. If you are standing on one foot, trying to make an improvement in your life, or starting a new ministry, focus on the one thing that will take you through to the end. It helps block out all the mess around you.

2) Use your strongest foot. I'm right footed. I would never choose to stand on my left foot in a contest if given the choice. Use your strengths and they will always be the best way to persevere.

3) Surround yourself with balanced people. If I stood next to a bunch of people who were really wobbly, I'd loose my footing much sooner than if I were next to other dancers or gymnasts. People who wish to hold strong to the end should generally support each other. It makes things so much easier.

4) Get back up. The one good thing about PE was that even if you didn't win, you'd have a chance to do it again another time. Never give up. If you fall, get back up. Help someone else up along the way or allow someone to help you. Knowing how to fall will help you stand even stronger the next time.

Your heart will go astray at some point but I'm encouraging you today to practice good "balance." It will make all the difference in the end.


Hebrews 3:7-15

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preparation




I'm one of those people who likes to prepare for things. Not that I can't do things on the spur of the moment but I've always agreed that the Holy Spirit always appreciates moving with the boundaries of my preparation and thus I often try to spend ample time preparing for an event.

Part of my problem is that often I prepare to get prepared. Right now I'm on Leave of Absence. Before I left I made a list of things to do to get ready for being on leave. A schedule of doctor's appointments, house cleaning, people to visit etc. I'm supposed to be resting and following up with my doctor to fully recover from my surgery in the fall. I'm doing a pretty good job at it too. I'm eating well, discovering my limits, and getting in a good prayer walk everyday. My problem is that I keep thinking that I need to prepare for what's next and I don't know what that is.

Its a strange place to be. A free agent for God. Wanting to serve but needing to focus on the here and now.

But the great thing is that tomorrow starts the church season of Lent. Lent is all about preparation. Preparing to celebrate the Holiest of days in the Christian church. There's always a lot for us to do to get ready. No matter who you are there is always something you can do to grow closer to God.

So in preparation for my preparation of Easter, I've decided to blog everyday. It will keep me in the here and now and help me to prepare for what's next. Because even though I don't know what's next for me, I know that all of us can expect the love of God in our future and that love was most evident on Easter and it gives us a reason to celebrate.

On to prepare for the celebration...
Until Everyone Hears...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr.




On the second of March, in the cold of the snow
I celebrate the birthday of a man that I know.
He taught me to read with a magical flair
And soon I was rhyming fun words without care.

I'd talk about fluegel horns, yaks and roast beast
And other things I didn't understand in the least.
I'd look at the pictures and sometimes I'd reach
To think that I indeed was the best Sneetch on the beach.

The more that I read, the more that I'd know
The more that I read, my brain started to grow
And now that I'm older I'm likely to find
That the books from my past aren't all left behind.

I share them with John R, Shane R, and Dori
I relish their laughter like my old days of glory.
I tell them of Who-ville, Sally, and Dave.
Of Dave #17 they really do rave.

And just when I think things are getting too scary
Like the empty pants and the Clark that is hairy
We turn the page to see kangaroo collars
Then keep our eyes open on how to make dollars.

So to you, Dr. Suess I declare inspiration
For help to fuel my creative reputation
And for giving me something beautiful to see
And letting me share it with Thing 1, 2, and three.

Until Everyone Hears,
God Bless Theodore Geisel AKA Dr. Suess (from one Dr to another)

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