Category Archives: Journey through Lent 2015

Because …. it is into all of this that He came….

While I was helping this one with a craft…

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…while this one did his thingIMG_1182

…so we could…

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We talked about…

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And….

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and….

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Then later, while they were napping, I learned that 147 students had been killed at a university in Kenya. And I got why God had me pick a photo for yesterday’s post from my last trip to Africa.

So I wept over the stories and the pictures as I interceded for the survivors and the families and those who are so deceived that they live as enemies of the cross.

Because God knew…

 

And I struggle sometimes navigating between jelly beans and egg hunts and Jesus dying on the Cross to justify not only my sins, but all the sin of all the world from the beginning to the end.

That He came into our darkness…

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and our seeking…

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and our brokeness….

 

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and our death…

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to bring us life…IMG_1956

Eternal…everlasting….

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L I F E….

 

 

 

 

Lord, teach me to pray….

Miton view from cho 3 2012

So it’s Maundy Thursday, or Monday-Thursday as I called it in childhood.

Having no concept of time has its advantages. I didn’t struggle in the least with a day that held two days in it.

I simply knew that it was special and somber and involved a church service that night with dimmed lights and hushed voices.

Although only a child, I had a deep attraction to reverence; even if I understood little  of the event we were commemorating, including the correct name.

There are other aspects of my faith that I appreciate and ascribe to that still call for growth in understanding and maturity in practicing.

One of these is prayer.

Oh I pray.

All the time.

And I believe when it says, Pray without ceasing…it does mean prayer, as an on-going conversation with God, is essential to staying connected to Him.

I pray for people’s health, relationship and financial requests and for God’s work in lives. I pray for people in lands near and far away. I pray for governments and leaders and workers and nations; my church and the Church. I pray for our family. Oh yes; I pray for our family. And I even pray for the known and unknown faces that read this stuff.

But quite honestly….far too often…..my prayers just spiral downward into a file marked “Let’s make Laura comfortable.”

For example….I pray regularly for green lights so I won’t be late AGAIN, or for the instructor at the Y to realize we have done ENOUGH leg lifts, or for resolution of conflict in a situation because I am tired of hurting.

You get the idea….

It occurs to me that perhaps God had a little more in mind when He said the prayers of a righteous man avail much, or My house shall be a house of prayer, or in everything, with prayers and petitions give thanks.

This week, when I started praying for strength to get through the last set of ab crunches, I was convicted to turn those prayers into petitions for people who are really suffering. When I prayed for the line to move quickly in the drive-thru, I turned it to prayers for women who walk miles for water every day. When I felt helpless and overwhelmed in my own circumstances, I asked God who I can help and how to do it.

And, in case I needed reinforcement, good old Oswald Chambers hit me over the head with his observations in My Utmost for His Highest yesterday morning.

His words remind me that the more I think about me and what suits my preferences, the more out of touch I become with God’s heart about others.

The antidote for my self-centeredness is the worship – acknowledging the Worth-ship – of God.

When I measure life by His worth, not mine, my life and my prayers line up with His will.

God bless each of you these next few days with the meaningful remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection.

May we all grow daily in understanding and may we grow up and mature in our faith as we choose to worship Him, who alone, is Worthy.

Half way there….

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I like to reflect on the list of events that make up the last week of Jesus’ life on earth. I like to think about and read the Scriptures and ponder the impact of those last days and how He spent them.

I always struggle with the events of Wednesday, because NOTHING is recorded about the events of that day….seriously….nada.

After pages, and I mean pages, of the events from Tuesday….there are no details until we catch up with Jesus and the disciples preparing for the Passover on Thursday.

Scholars speculate that He and the disciples went back to Bethany and spent the day resting and visiting in the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

So, since we don’t know, and why not…I camp on that picture for a while.

If this is indeed where they went to spend the day…..

I wonder if the disciples thought they were wasting time after the big day of preaching and teaching that had happened in the Temple. The adrenaline had to be flowing after the controversial dialoging with the Pharisees.

Perhaps they were trying to figure how and where they were going to celebrate the Passover. Maybe they were just glad for a drama-free day. I wonder if Martha was busy with much detail or if she joined Mary at His feet for the day’s visit.

I wonder if He studied the faces of these three friends as they talked, and if He fought back some tears as He watched them move around in their home and if He hugged them just a little tighter when He left knowing what lay ahead.

But it is all just a wonder, because we do not know….and so ……

Fully human….fully God… the wonder of it all.

But this we can know…whatever He did that Wednesday, He was about His Father’s business. Because even if we don’t know the details, He always was….He always is …. He always will be….about His Father’s business….

Should we, for whom He died, be any less?

 

Out with the old…

IMG_4269Spring cleaning is always a bit interesting around our house. I actually found THREE boxes of partially used Velveeta that were no longer remotely cheese-like. Well, as cheese-like as processed cheese can be, which last time I checked should not be green and white and rock hard.

The practice of giving something up during Lent is also a spring cleaning event, but of the spiritual kind. For some reason, denying myself something for a period of time tends to result in the uncovering of some spiritually moldy junk in my heart.

It’s never pretty, but, like rotting food,  shoving it farther back out of sight and trying to add something new and improved does not enhance the problem.

These past few weeks, I have removed something I normally enjoy each week in order to have intentional, focused times of prayer and meditation based on God’s Word.

So it isn’t too surprising that some uglies have been revealed.

One has reared up as we attended services the last couple of Sundays.

I know…how dare sin be exposed in the middle of a lovely church service….

Our church has been experiencing some overcrowding in a couple of services, so our pastors made a request one Sunday for some of us to switch to one of the less full time slots. There are some who can not make the switch, but I knew we could.

It was only our personal preference that had to be set aside. And I didn’t mind it really….although it is a stretch to get out the door on time.

But there is this T-H-I-N-G that creeps over me as I sit there in this service that isn’t my “favorite” time to attend.

I blush to tell you, but I find myself thinking how I hope the pastors or someone might notice that we are making the sacrifice.

That they “appreciate” what we are doing….that they will think well of us.

Ugh. That hurts.

It’s petty and awful and juvenile…but I like the gold star. I like the approval that I hope comes with doing the right thing. I like the plus after the A. I like the pat on the back.

And it flies in the face of everything I know about grace. About unmerited, unearned favor.

About the fact that I was redeemed, not based on what I did, but rather, on what He did.

About the fact that Jesus told a story about how a servant who has done what they were supposed to do doesn’t get his supper brought to him upon returning after a hard day’s work. No. A servant serves the Master and doing what he was supposed to do is part of the gig.

No special rewards.

We don’t “earn” anything. We are blessed to do the right thing. Blessed by the ACT of obedience. NOT blessed by some reward for obedience.

The obedience. The doing what we are supposed to do –

THAT….

IS …..

the reward.

So I drag my sorry self to the throne and confess my falling short of the mark. Again.

And again, He forgives. And again He casts away the ugly that has been revealed.

Because I certainly don’t want to run across this stinky block of cheese the next time we do a heart-cleansing!

If you have discovered some moldy leftovers of your old life during this Lenten Journey, pull them out in the open, confess them to the One who already knows about them and loves you anyway and then GET – RID – OF – THEM!!!!!!!

You are far too beautiful as the beloved of the LORD to be holding on to garbage that needs to be tossed  <3

 

 

This is how it starts…

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Palm Sunday…what is about those little kids waving their palm branches in procession down the aisle, when we know that  moments before they were lined up out in the lobby whacking each other over the heads with them?

I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

It’s something I remember so well from my own childhood.

Something about Palm Sunday.

The teacher pulling the branches out of the florist box and handing them out to us.

The feel of it waving in my hand.

The smack of it over my head from the kid behind me.

The giggle as I returned the favor to the kid ahead of me.

We didn’t have a clue what it was all about.

Something about Jesus and Easter.

A refreshing break from the routine of every other Sunday.

Marching down between the rows of people singing Hosanna.

Standing in front of all of them waving these huge green leaves.

It all seemed so fun and exciting…but we didn’t have a clue.

And that’s the point.

The events we commemorate on Palm Sunday through Easter happened the first time to a people that didn’t have a clue.

With 20-20 hindsight, I often think I get it…but I can be just like the younger me.

Blind to why He came. Blind to what His purpose was. Blind to so much.

I can be all about the celebrating, and quickly change my tune when I get to the suffering.

I like the party, but will pass on the sacrifice.

I wave the palm branch when it’s popular, but am nowhere to be found when things get ugly.

As we enter into the final week between Palm Sunday and Easter, I invite you to join me in putting  yourself in the story.

Let’s fully engage in the remembrance of the events of the final days leading up to the crucifixion and then fully celebrate the Resurrection next Sunday.

Grab your palm branch and let’s ….. journey onward <3