Category Archives: Refined by the Word

Remembering Pentecost Sunday <3

Here we are starting a new month and once again, I spent the past one trying to keep upright in the midst of increasing turmoil and strife. 

I saw one of those meme’s this morning with a photo of actor Mark Wahlberg’s classic portrayal of a confused face, as only he can do, and underneath it said, “Sooooooooo….we’re not doing Covid anymore?” 

I can totally relate. 

We made a quick trip to Louisville on Memorial Day to visit my family’s graves and made stops in Indiana as well. Some people were wearing masks, most were not in both states. Restaurants were doing what we are doing here – curb side and take out…yet stores and gas stations were packed. 

I keep wearing my mask because I thought I was supposed to … some are…some aren’t. 

And in the most recent turn of events, the angst of our nation has blown social distancing out of the picture as people gather to protest peacefully and not so peacefully and others are waging a different kind of war based on whatever their motive is. 

Yet, I have to admit…I like rules to be clear so I can follow them; until I decide I won’t, when I have a good reason. So I am no better than anyone else.

I can’t believe the hatred that still exists even as so many are calling out the ugly sin of racism and it makes me ill that the voices who are trying to be heard are being lumped in with something else. 

I can’t believe that some police departments are still allowing officers with a repeated record of this to continue on and I can’t believe that the store where I work had to batten down the hatches like other businesses. 

There is so much confusion and amidst the desire in me to speak out against racism, I read other posts warning me that my speaking out is not helping because of my lack of understanding. So I seem to over speak or under speak and err in either direction.

Mixed messages abound and for someone who overthinks and over feels…it is overwhelming. 

I feel helpless and frustrated and that reminds me that this is what started all of this. There are many who feel helpless and frustrated and have for a long time.

I have nothing to give you as wise counsel, because I am desperately praying and seeking God for His mercy on this country and the world right there with everyone who has placed his or her faith in Jesus but knows we have to LIVE IT OUT … here in the midst of the chaos. 

And in the middle of it all, yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. 

How ironic. 

Because if you will take the time to read Acts 2 for yourself, you will read words that describe the coming of the promised Holy Spirit in ways that are anything but sweet and calm. 

The believers are gathered in one place, we are told and suddenly they hear a sound. 

My translation CSB calls it a sound like that of a violent rushing wind. In other translations it is called a mighty rushing wind. It is described in commentaries as a great breath of air blown powerfully on them. 

Then tongues of fire appear and rest on each individual and empowers each one in unique ways as given to them by the Spirit. 

What a contrast to the violence we humans inflict towards others for whatever reasons fuel our anger. What a contrast the flames of the Spirit were on these men and women as they received the Holy Spirit for the first time, in mass. 

It was stirring and powerful and life-changing…energizing them in a way that was going to push them out of hiding and into the full boldness of Spirit-filled living.

There were those who laughed at them and derided them and misunderstood them and falsely accused them, but there were many who were brought to repentance and who also received the Holy Spirit. 

And the fruit of this was the birth of the true Church of Jesus Christ.

The signs of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit was that they bowed down in repentance and were baptized and rose to devote themselves to the teachings of Christ, to fellowship, to communion and to prayer.

They gathered together in unity and broke ties with their attachment to the material world so that all that they had could be shared with all who had need. 

Ponder on this chapter from the book of Acts today and regain your focus on what the power of God can do in our lives if we will receive His Spirit. 

My prayers for you, for our community, for this nation and the world abound without ceasing today.

It is okay to be troubled. These are troubling times. Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world, but to take heart … He has overcome the world. 

He sees the injustices of all sides. He sees the iniquity and His grace abounds more than our sins. His forgiveness exceeds our debts. His mercy is extended to all. 

Seek Him today and wait for His power and then live out His teachings in obedience no matter what is going on around you  <3

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Just give me the beat…<3

Today is very tricky here…outside our windows it is so sunny and with all the green on lawns and trees I would expect to step out into a warm spring day. But instead the temperature is dropping and with the wind chill it is a mere 45 degrees outside. We even have a freeze warning for the night, which makes me glad I have not put any flowers out in the pots. 

I find it unsettling…much like most things these days. 

Every single day, I have some choices to make about what I have control over and what I don’t. 

Last Sunday, after our own church service, we enjoyed listening in to the sermon offered by our son John’s pastor in Austin. 

He addressed the way some of the changes in life as we know it have brought some positives and one was that it forced new rhythms in to his home life that have slowed them down and given them time to connect in better ways. 

He expressed concern about the inevitable move back into busier schedules that are definitely necessary for businesses and schools and churches to see happen. It helped me to hear someone else say that this transition will not be easy as we figure out how to take some of what we have learned about our busy-ness being a little over the top and yet resume activities that are part of life here on planet earth. 

He talked about the role of both tempo and rhythm in music and in life.  

Employing the infamous metronome next to his drum set, he explained how a metronome keeps the same time whatever it is set to. 100 beats per minute…140 beats per minute. It just ticks away the tempo with no variation. He explained that some of the tempo of our life is set for us, and some is set by our choices. 

Work, school, care for homes and family and friends, volunteer opportunities, relationship building, entertainment choices and gatherings will come to us as America “opens up.” Some of these will have a tempo we have no control over, and some we can have a say in. 

As he sat in front of his drums, he played several different sets of rhythms. Some sounded faster and more complicated, some slower and simpler. 

He pointed out that the beats per minute never changed, but the rhythm at which he played produced music that sounded slower or faster depending on his activity. 

We set the rhythm was his point. 

There will still be 24 hours in each day in the coming months, each lasting sixty minutes. For some of those hours you will need to eat some meals…sleep…clean…work…play.  

He summed it up with the thought that we should control the rhythm of our lives instead of the rhythm of our lives controlling us. 

Before this whole Shelter in Place thing came about, I was moving at a helter-skelter pace. 

Last fall I was working on a Bible Study and one of the questions was about what has control over me, what has a hold over my life and as I sat and pondered the question I knew it was my calendar. The demands of the week had me on the go more than time at home, which is something a person like me needs for refueling. I was depleted and just running from one thing to the next. It made me anxious and resentful and just plain worn out. 

Well, I certainly have encountered an abrupt change in rhythm the past weeks as all events were canceled and the only time I ventured out was to get some provisions for our meals. 

I have learned some things in this time,

I have found there are material things I thought I needed that I don’t. I have found more efficient ways of doing some things around the house now that I have had time to think straight. I have discovered some stuff I have held on to that needs to be let go and I have realized that I overcomplicated relationships when really just sitting and talking to someone or taking a walk with a friend or throwing some cheese and crackers out on a table with a couple of chairs distanced 6 feet apart counts as fellowship. 

The pastor finished with this quote from Winston Churchill “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” and he added his own thought to be pondered…”We do not have to return to the same rhythm of our pre-Covid life.” 

I don’t know how I am going to manage adding back in and yet retain a healthy rhythm of time spent here at home, but I know that I have seen a better way to thrive instead of survive and I do not want to waste what I have learned. 

I pray for God to give me wisdom about marching to His beat in the days to come. 

May you be blessed as you find the pace for the race marked out for you <3

Love and peace and have a beautiful weekend <3

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Who do you really want to be like?

Russ and I have been watching the documentary on Michael Jordan, The Last Dance, on Sunday evenings. 

When he first mentioned the series, I had trouble imagining how they were going to fill that many hours with information from his career, but it seems the NBA was rather busy behind the scenes back in the day. 

I must have been oblivious. 

All I knew was our kids loved him and he literally could fly.

All these years later as we watch him soar through the air and remain suspended for several seconds, I struggle to think of any players who have ever made the sport look more fun or more graceful.

As the filming moves from interviews with current Michael and others from that era to clips of games and the team and news reports, it is a sharp contrast to see young Michael and the man he is today.

This past week, the program centered on the whole “I want to be like Mike” advertising campaign.

I can’t say I would have remembered, but it all came back to me as I watched flocks of young people gather around him. From commercials to public streets to pre and post game, he is surrounded by adoring fans. 

I remember our kiddos and their friends all sporting #23 and he certainly inspired a generation of hoopsters in our neck of the woods. To go to a Bull’s game was about on par with Disney.

It was a world wide love affair, yet at some point this stopped selling air time, I guess. Or someone was tired of him and so an author went after him to try and discern his real character. 

This led to others using a microscope to examine all of his activities and thoughts and words and actions.

Michael fell short of the image that had been created by a public that is always hungry for a hero, and rather than defend himself, it would seem he just wanted to be left alone. 

Flash forward to current Mike, sitting in an artistically created living room with a drink at his elbow and a bit of a hard edge and he wistfully expresses how he would have liked to have never been held up as a role model. 

It created a place where he had to perform to meet all expectations and since that is not humanly possible, he ended up having his character and personhood examined and exposed as not meeting expectations. 

We could perhaps sarcastically say, poor Mike…bet he cried all the way to the bank…but we would miss such an important lesson. 

Human nature is always looking for some kind of god we can understand and manage. 

We do it in our culture all the time, creating heroes and then when we tire of them, gleefully tearing them down and moving on. 

One of the things I have noticed as I am reading through the collection of accounts of the Kings of Israel and Judah found in 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles is that we are a mixed bag and God is not undone by us. 

There were evil kings and good kings and yet sometimes the evil ones repented and God extended mercy. Often the good kings didn’t fully do all that they should have done and yet God was with them. 

It would seem that we humans tend to pass sentence in black and white far more quickly than the God who created us. 

With our limited thinking and our limited understanding we deem someone as worthy or unworthy based on our assessment and values. 

I realize I cannot stop our culture from building elaborate pedestals for their hero of the day and then, in some bizarre shift, gathering to knock them down…but I can guard my own heart from trying to find my salvation and deliverance and joy in another person. 

It is too much to ask of a human to be perfect so that I can have someone to look up to. 

It is too much to ask of myself to allow anyone to convince me that I am going to fill that role for them. 

Often in the testimonies of the Kings of Judah and Israel who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord was that they still failed to remove the high places…the places of worship that had once been dedicated to idols. 

Maybe the people were now worshiping God there, but it was not where they were supposed to be.

As followers of Christ, it is imperative that we are very careful about where we offer praise and worship. 

It is a fine line between love and appreciation of others, and lifting them up to an exalted place from which they, like us, will surely one day fall off. 

It is a mistake to take something that is almost good and right and true and lift it to the position that only God can hold.

Only God deserves our adoration and praise. He is the only hero of our story. The rest of us are just works in progress. Imperfect and a mixed bag of holy and messy…but always loved perfectly by our God <3 

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