Monthly Archives: June 2017

We all have a little of a rich, young ruler in us…or at least I do <3

I heard a sermon months ago about the story of Jesus’ encounter with a young man who wanted to know what he needed to do to have eternal life.

The story is told in three of the Gospels…Matthew 19: 16-30; Mark 10:17-31 and Luke 18:18-30.

From the details in the three accounts, we piece together that he was wealthy, a younger man so not an elderly one and a ruler of some kind.

He recognized the goodness of Jesus and the authenticity of His teachings.

He was a morally good person who wanted to do the right thing and sought the fullest level of spirituality attainable.

In his search for assurance of his own goodness, he asked Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life.

Jesus answered, it would seem, with the works the man was already pouring his life into.

I can almost sense the man beginning to breathe a sigh of relief as Jesus ticks off the list of do’s that will earn him a final reward in heaven.

Don’t murder. Check!

Don’t commit adultery. Check!

Don’t steal or lie. Check…check!

Honor your father and mother. Done it!

Love your neighbor as yourself. Done and done!

And then Jesus adds one more thing to the list…

the one thing he lacked, as Jesus put it…

to sell all he had and give to the poor…

and then…

then…

he would  have that heavenly treasure his heart was longing for.

Suddenly the door of hope slams shut.

The countenance that was, just moments before, beaming with assurance of success, fell in sorrow as the young man turned and walked away.

Heart-wrenched.

Heart-wrenching.

Because he was willing to give a lot, but not all.

We don’t know if it was his love of money that saddened him or what his money could do that he could not do without.

Perhaps he had a family and employees, properties and responsibilities that were funded by his wealth.

Maybe he couldn’t imagine, even for a few seconds, what kind of life he could manage without his status and provisions.

We do know one thing, thanks to Mark’s account, about Jesus.

Before Jesus told him the one thing he lacked to follow Him whole-heartedly, Mark tells us that Jesus LOOKED at this young man…and He LOVED him.

He looked at him…saw him…knew in advance that He soon would be watching him walk away with a downcast head.

And yet He LOVED him.

Knew that the young man would return to his possessions and great wealth with a poverty of spirit that no good deed or bonus check would ever be able to fill.

And yet He LOVED him.

Loved him in spite of the fact that the man missed the whole point.

He wanted to gain eternal life but not enough to give up everything.

And I wonder.

What do I love that keeps me from following Him?

What do I rely on?

Cherish?

What do I think I need and could not live without…

that if He asked me to give it all away and come follow Him would cause me to be saddened in my heart because I simply couldn’t?

And what if I remembered that He already knows it will be hard for me and yet loves me?

What if I asked Him to help me to be able to give up everything else?

What if I trusted in His love so much that I didn’t ever fear what following Him might cost me because I know that I know that He will help me every step of the way?

I know that one of the disciples tells us that they couldn’t possibly have recorded all the wonderful things Jesus did in His three year ministry…

that they would fill so many books…

and sometimes I wonder if one of those stories would include how this rich, young, ruler one day gave up everything and followed the One who knew him and loved him best of all <3

Of flags and banners and such <3

I was recently driving in another city and trying to find my way from one place to another via a route unfamiliar to me.

As I was concentrating on street signs and traffic, suddenly my eyes caught some colorful flags flying from a series of high poles along the area I was passing.

Alternating purple and gold, they marked off the property belonging to one of the local high school campuses.

While the flags caught my attention first, it made me aware that I was in Raider Country as I surveyed the school grounds, parking lots and sporting fields on either side of these standards.

I love the play on words here…a “standard”.

By definition, a standard is a conspicuous object (such as a banner) carried at the top of a pole used as a rallying point for battle or as an emblem.

It can also mean something set up and established by authority as a rule for the measure of quantity, weight, value, extent or quality.

And as I drove under those waving flags that marked off the area claimed by a public school in a typical Midwestern town, I couldn’t help but think of how each of us marches through our days with the Banner of the Love of Christ waving over our lives.

We, too, have a standard over us…a marking in the spiritual realm (and hopefully visible to human eyes in the tangible way we live) that we belong to the Kingdom of God.

Our worth and value are as children of the Most High God.

We belong to Him and His ways are our “standard”, as He has established the measures of all quality and quantity, all value and weight, the extent of all things by HIS authority.

 

At Buckingham Palace, you can tell whether the Queen is at home by the flag flying over her residence. The Union Jack means she is away…the Royal Flag means the Queen is present.

Your life is lived out under the standard of your God, who is always, very much, every day, at home in you.

Go forth today in faith; knowing and believing His banner OVER YOU…is unending, unfailing, ever working, never sleeping….LOVE <3

Just a random thought about entitlement …

We talk a lot about this monster called “entitlement” that is slowly eating away at the fabric of our nation…

how it creates a sense of being owed something in people and how it interferes with work ethic and perpetuates a bad attitude.

And we can see it all over the place…all the time…

but lately I have noticed it showing up in a most uncomfortable location.

Namely my mirror.

Here are a few examples of how I have been convicted of this in my own heart.

First off, I take a ridiculous amount of pictures.

And I save most of them.

On top of my own, I save a lot of the ones our family sends us.

As a result, I currently have 33,423 saved on both…yes both…our PC and my laptop. I also have about that many in a file that was saved from our OLD computer…I know.

Then I have 3,033 on my phone not counting the 442 hanging on for dear life in my Recently Deleted file.

Every now and again, I think I should probably look into some kind of storage place for them but gosh darn it…I don’t want to pay for it.

I was mulling it over the other day in the car, plotting and planning how I could somehow find someplace to store all this treasure trove of pictures and fuming about how I didn’t want to pay a monthly fee to someplace that stores digital records and it hit me.

Good grief.

Back in the old days I bought a camera, and film, and batteries. I paid to have the pictures developed and I bought albums and boxes and all manner of scrapbooking materials to preserve them. (I didn’t actually scrapbook….but I do have all the supplies if and when I ever decide to do that)

So now I use my phone, download them to my computer and grouse at the thought of having to give some money to someplace to keep them in a file in case this computer ever crashes.

And that, my friends, is E.N.T.I.T.L.E.M.E.N.T.

By golly the internet OWES me.

Or here is another one.

Every morning I write this post and then I share it to FaceBook so that it stands a better chance of finding people who might need a word of encouragement.

Normally it works great, I share it and it randomly picks a picture from the post and adds the title. Looks amazing. Click share and post and done.

Except the past two weeks, for some unknown reason it is hit or miss on the picture being included.

I love pictures. (proof would be in the paragraphs above about the sheer volume of them taking up space on my hard drive and memory)

And I am all mad at this vehicle that provides me, FOR FREE, a way to share what I write, because it didn’t perform the way I wanted it to.

E.N.T.I.T.L.E.M.E.N.T.

There are all sorts of things in this age of INSTANT that fuel this potential in me to think that I should be catered to and served…

<3 ordering online; because the stores are closed but I want to shop

<3 drive thru fast food, banking, dry cleaning, coffee shops; because I don’t want to have to park my car and walk in to do my business

<3 texting; because I want to tell you something RIGHT NOW, and I expect you to answer ASAP

<3 weather forecasts, latest ballgame scores, medical information, store fliers, directions…everything is at my fingertips right now…

unless I hit an area with poor internet coverage and then I am fit to be tied.

E.N.T.I.T.L.E.M.E.N.T.

I am thankful for the nudges I have been receiving lately that remind me that the world doesn’t owe me a thing.

Nor does God.

In fact, quite the opposite…He has given me what I don’t deserve and didn’t earn…

GRACE

FORGIVENESS

MERCY

A NEW LIFE

His holiness for my sorry selfishness.

He calls me His child…

and I respond by looking for ways to serve…

instead of ways to be served <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

It would seem we need no instruction in how to cheat…

I have continued to puzzle over one of the Proverbs passages from last week…the one in Proverbs 19.

An interesting couplet of thoughts that at first seemed unrelated in the NKJV.

What is desired in a man is kindness…and a poor man is better than a liar. V 22

Kindness and how it relates to sacrificing truth to gain wealth.

So I have been “watching” for this parable in real life.

Because the point of the Proverbs is for us to SEE with our spiritual eyes and understand the TRUTH of these statements, so they TRANSFORM us.

And yesterday I got my AHA! moment.

I was helping Rachel yesterday with corralling the band of brothers as she continues to heal and care for Sweet Caroline while Zach returned to work.

They had given the boys a Monopoly Junior game and so I got invited to join the fun.

At six, Graham has gained the skills to play this kind of game. Emmett…not so much.

I give Graham credit for his patience with his brother who tends to roll the dice in a way that scatters all the pieces on the board.

Every. Single. Time.

And it didn’t seem to bother him one little bit that Emmy counts four squares by choosing any four he would like instead of four in a row.

But I also noticed that Graham was able to manipulate the game in such a way that he could engineer extra turns for himself and find ways to decrease our stacks of paper money while increasing his.

I spent a lot of the game pointing and counting squares for Emmett while keeping my eye on Graham and reminding him about the honesty factor.

Not gonna lie…it hurt.

It was love at first sight for me with this little goober.

And I thought for the first two years that we finally had seen the birth of a perfectly faultless human.

I know.

Forgive me Lord.

But love is blind until the eyes are open.

As it turns out our little people are 100% human, just like every one of us.

Graham, Emmett…Joel and even, sigh, Sweet Caroline…will not have to be taught how to cheat to win.

Their mommy and daddy, supported and loved and backed up by an army of family warriors, teachers, church leaders and mentors will prayerfully instruct them…

in every arena from board games to boardrooms…

It is better to have been fair and just and lose the game than to win through dishonest means.

Correction is hard and it hurts…but when we realize that we ALL have the same weakness…we can administer the needed correction with love and grace and confidence because we KNOW it is God’s way…

and His ways are always best.

I understood God’s heart behind this Proverb more clearly yesterday.

I understood how unbecoming the desire to have the most of whatever is available is and how beautifully precious being motivated by kindness is.

The premium is on the heart…not the profit.

I understand that LOVE means we help each other to move away from our natural tendencies and bent AND move toward God’s transforming and restoring love.

Now to turn this lesson inward to make sure that greedy little six year old that still rears her head from time to time in Lola gets called out and continues to receive and apply the teachings from God’s heart.

 

I marvel at the strength of fragile things <3

So we are watching the corn do its thing here in the Midwest and I tell you, if you stood still and just watched for part of the day I am quite certain you could literally see it growing.

Straight rows of it, all shooting up out of nicely tilled and prepared soil.

And sure…we need the rains to come at the right time…not too much and not to little.

But right now, and for miles upon miles, in every direction the eye can see…corn and soy beans are marching across the prairie in a thick carpet of green that just about takes my breath away as we drive the flat ribbons of highway.

And yet, here is what intrigues me.

The power of life forcing itself through solid rock.

Breaking through the barriers of fences made of unbudging steel…

Finding a footprint in a place that is hard and unkind to growth…

a seed will take what little soil is available…

and push its way sunward.

And these brave soldiers remind me of…

the power of God’s creative beauty and breath and redemption.

And how much stronger life is than that which would crush what appears to be so weak.

How can a small green leaf break through rock?

But isn’t it true?

Life is stronger than death.

Light is greater than darkness.

In our weakness, He becomes our strength and we also…

rise up from the hard, dry, rocky ground of adversity.

We, too, can feel as if we will be crushed at times…

paved over by the concerns of this world…

but in Christ, we rise…

living and breathing and beautiful for His glory.

Press on today, sweet seedling of the Lord.

Push through the granite base of whatever you are facing as you continually reach heavenward.

God sent His Son to redeem us that we might be raised up with Him…

beautifully fragile in our suffering and yet fiercely strong in His love.

A planting of the Lord to display His glory and His splendor.

Bloom, dear one, bloom…just the way you were made to do <3