Tuesday, November 17, 2015

John the Baptist

The other night I was reading John 1 and was struck by John the Baptist's testimony of Jesus. John was a young man who lived in the wilderness, eating wild honey and locusts. He was a wild man. I'm pretty sure the hell-fire-and-brimstone preachers of the 18th century had nothing on John the Baptist!

He had a strong sense of his calling to 'prepare the way for the Lord'. Although he had recognized the Jesus as the Lamb of God while still in the womb, in John 1:31 he says, "I myself did not know him," This gives me a picture of John and Jesus as cousins. They probably spent some family time together - just conjecture on my part but his mom was the one Mary told when she knew she was pregnant with the Messiah. Even though he knew Jesus, until God told him (verse 33) that the one whom the Holy Spirit descended upon was the Messiah, he apparently didn't know that about Jesus. But then, in verse 34, John the Baptist says, "I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." Can you imagine what a huge revelation that must have been?! 'Hey cuz! Woah!!!'

But then we find John the Baptist in Luke 7. He is in prison when he sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus, his cousin, "Are you the one or should we look to another?" Jesus answers by performing many miracles and says, "Go and tell John what you have seen and also tell him blessed is the one who is not offended by me."  This spoke to me so deeply. I feel such sadness for John in that moment! He knew Jesus was the answer to his life's purpose before he was born and then the Holy Spirit revealed Jesus to him by descending on him as a dove, after the Holy Spirit had told John to expect that as a sign to him. Yet in his darkest hour, from the dungeon in which he would soon be beheaded, John asks again and Jesus says, "blessed is he who is not offended by me."

This is so encouraging to me and also convicting. Even John the Baptist questioned things God had directly revealed to him. Jesus settles John's longing heart by doing great miracles that confirmed what he had heard and also calls him out on being offended at God's ways. Then he honors John to those listening by saying, "among those born to women, none is greater than John the Baptist."

Do I get offended at the way God fulfills his promises and his call on my life? My offense doesn't offend him. As a matter of fact, if I will ask him about it, he will beautifully confirm truth to my heart. And then he will correct me on the offense and remind me to be 'blessed' or 'happy' at the truth he is showing me.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Longing for Beauty

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”― C.S. LewisMere Christianity
I hold in my mind a picture of a number scale called 'Holiness'. On that scale I see Hitler sitting on my right side and Mother Teresa sitting on my left; representing the whole of humanity's holiness from the very worst of us to the very best. The scale then ranges to the left all the way to the moon and there I find the Father's holiness.

This picture came to me as I pondered why it might be true that even the best of us must forgive even the worst of us for the 'hundred denarii' they owe to us because of the 'ten thousand talents' we have been forgiven for (Matthew 18:23-35). We are called to be holy like our Father is holy and miss that mark so badly that nothing anyone ever does to us will compare with our own offenses against God.

Today I am contemplating another truth that is similar to this one. C. S. Lewis said that the hunger for something better that we experience in this world gives us hints that there is something better and I believe it also gives a clue that this world is far more broken than we first believed.

My experience is that sorrow, trials, and tragedies are partly terrible because i don't expect them and they don't line up with my view of a beautiful world that is mostly good. This view of the world is partly true. God created an incredibly, indescribably beautiful world. With each day that he brought beauty from the void, he stated 'it is good.'

And it is good isn't it? Waterfalls and children's laughter, mountain breezes and ocean roars, jungle flowers and puppies; they all tell us that this world is good.

But what do I do with terrorism and the frequency with which the medi-flight helicopters leave the hospital? What about child abuse and pollution and selfish ambition? And what about earthquakes and tornadoes and cancer and amputations?

I find an answer in Romans 8:18-25. This passage tells me that creation has been subjected to futility and waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God and that we ourselves grown as we await the redemption of our bodies.

This brings to mind the number scale. Let's call this scale 'Beauty' and think about our longing for a world without cancer, without terrorism, without a need for mediflights or ambulances. Picture your experiences on that scale, from the very worst, most putrid or horrifying thing you have seen or known about in this world to the most gloriously beautiful experience or sight you have ever heard of or experienced. They seem so far from one another, don't they? Yet, I am coming to believe that what God has prepared us for and is preparing for us is so far beyond the most beautiful thing this broken world has to offer that you could condense that scale to the size of your sofa, with your current experience in the middle, the worst on your right and the best on your left and then expand the scale to the left beyond the moon and you might begin to see the glory of what God intends for us to experience.

We were made for more. We were made for beauty without shadows and joy without sorrow. And we wait for it patiently.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,    nor the heart of man imagined,what God has prepared for those who love him”—1 Cor 2:9 ESV
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:18-25

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When Have You Asked?

A couple of weeks ago my husband told me about a conversation with a family member who said, "Where is this God I've always been told about?  I've never seen him.  Have you?"  He shared it with me as a prayer request, but my response was more like, "I know just how he feels.  I've been feeling that way too."

It's been weird. In my life and my job, I pray for people frequently.  We pray about heart issues and sometimes I even pray for physical healing as part of those prayers. But somewhere along the way I had stopped expecting God to answer with a yes, especially if it was something REAL. Something that would have evidence. Something that only God could do. And especially if the person I was praying for was fragile or young in Christ. Or an unbeliever.

Then we invited a dear friend who 'believes in science, not God' to live with us for the summer. And she had some REAL needs. Instead of praying for her and with her, I told her I would pray about it. What a copout. But I was copping out for God. Protecting his reputation.


So, the night that my husband and I had that conversation, it became really clear and I began talking to God about it.

"Where have you been? Why do you always say no? To the real stuff.  The stuff that would be easy for you, but impossible for us."

And I sensed Him whisper to my heart, "When have you asked?"

And I knew. I knew I had NEVER really asked for the REAL stuff. I'd see a guy in a wheel chair and feel inclined to pray WITH HIM for him to be healed. Instead I'd pray for him as I walked away and tell myself it was better for him because if (when) God said no, it would make the guy feel bad.  Yeah right.

So that night I told God I would start asking.  I asked him for courage. I asked him to say yes sometimes. I asked him for wisdom.

And I've prayed. For real stuff. That only he can do.

And He has given a job to a dear one who had been looking for months and got one, a good one, the week we prayed.  And he got rid of a tormenting voice that she had experienced her whole life.  It was gone. Not there anymore. What!!??

I have been praying for some other people too and I am hopeful that God will say yes.  We will see. Because I've been asking for things you can see.

I trust him whether he says yes or no. I used to say that but I am asking him to change me so that I actually trust him. And ask. And let him take care of his own reputation.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas!

For my devoted reader(s),

Today I am getting ready for our girl to COME HOME!

That means cleaning, and folding laundry, and
So, because I love you so . . . My gift to you is this awesome, DECADENT Cinnamon Roll recipe.  You are welcome. And I'm sorry. 

Amazing Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe is a combination of Tupperware Bread, Paula Dean’s Cinnamon Roll Recipe, and a variation of the Cinnabon Frosting recipe. It’s incredibly decadent so don’t make it if you are counting calories, fat grams, carbs, or ANYTHING.  I don’t know how you would make it without a “thatsa bowl” from Tupperware

Dough:                            Filling:                                       Glaze:

10 – 11 cups AP flour      1 ½ cups butter                         2 sticks margarine         

1 ½ cups milk                 2 cups light brown sugar            1 block cream chs

1 ½ cups water               4 Tbsp ground cinnamon           1 pound powdered sugar

4 eggs                             ¾ cup raisins (for half)               1 tsp lemon juice

2/3 cups sugar                                                                  1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp salt                                                                                     

4 ½ tsp yeast

2 sticks unsalted butter

Yield: 2 9x12 pans and one 8x4 bread pan of cinnamon rolls.                               

1.       Put 9 c flour in large Tupperware bowl. Make a well in the center, set aside.

2.       Scald 1 ½ c milk and cool with 1 ½ c water.  Don’t start the next step while you do this because it needs to cool while you do the next step.

3.       In a medium bowl beat 4 eggs, and then add 2/3 c sugar, 2 t salt and 2 pkgs. yeast (4 ½ t).  Mix thoroughly, and then add scalded milk.

4.       Pour liquid into well of flour.  DO NOT STIR!!!

5.       Seal, burp, and wait until seal pops.

6.       After seal pops, melt 2 sticks butter and pour into bowl.  Stir everything up, adding 1-2 c more flour to make thick but still sticky consistency. Seal, burp, and wait until seal pops again.

7.       Knead out all the air. 

8.       Refrigerate overnight.

9.       Divide into two. 

10.    Roll dough out to about 14” x 8”.

11.    Melt 1 ½ cups of real butter.

12.    Put about ¼ cup of butter in bottom of 12x9x2 pan

13.    Put about ½ cup of butter on rolled out dough.

14.    Mix 2 cups of brown sugar with 4 tsp cinnamon.

15.    Sprinkle some of this mixture in bottom of pan.

16.    Spread about ¾ cups of this mixture on dough.

17.    Sprinkle nuts on cinnamon if desired.

18.    Roll tightly

19.    Cut into 1” slices

20.    Place in pan close together.

21.    Repeat steps 10-20 in another 12x9 pan

22.    You may also need a bread pan for any cinnamon rolls that are left.  Repeat butter and cinnamon mixture on the bottom of this pan as well.

23.    Allow to rise about 30 minutes.

24.    Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until brown.

25.    While rolls are baking, mix 1 cup Margarine with 1 block of cream cheese till well blended.

26.    Slowly add in 1 lb powdered sugar.  After all of the sugar is mixed in, mix for a long time (12 minutes recommended).

27.    When almost done add in 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

28.    Slather topping on cinnamon rolls while they are still hot.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Warfare in Community

One of the great benefits of community - especially multigenerational community - is the realization that I am not the only one.  My sorrow, my temptation, my wound, is not against me alone; rather I find it is common to man - a part of being a broken person living among broken people on a broken planet. 

This revelation is both a comfort and a chastisement.  I have comrades who have faced my temptation and overcome.  Rather than my sorrow dragging me into self pity, it brings me into the tightly knit ranks of the wounded overcomers where I learn the deep truth that life is both bitterly painful and astoundingly, truly beautiful. 

I not only learn how to stand against the enemy's lies but I learn that I must stand against them, just as my comrades have stood against them - just as they still stand today.  I am welcomed into the battle, where my comrades will fight for me but will also expect me to fight beside them and we will joyfully and tearfully learn to wield our weapons, side by side.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day Two

Just got the email that she has arrived!
The email said
"This is to inform you that your loved one has arrived safely in Pemba without being eaten by wild hogs or carried away by huge roaches. Praying that it continues this way for them:)"
Great sense of humor they have there in Africa ...
I'm so excited for her great adventure! Thank you Lord! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Day One

This is Day One of my girl being gone.  This morning (afternoon there) she arrives in Africa. 
Last night at about 10:40 I wondered what time she would get home and remembered that she will get home in 3 months.  3 months.
This morning I took a bath in my ridiculously large (and wonderful) bath tub and thought of whether or not she will have water to wash her face tomorrow morning. 
Today I carry her in my heart before the Father.  My Abba.  The one who sees us both and knows every need we have before we have it. 
And I remind myself that a layed down life happens in Mamas too.
He is good.
He is worthy of more than I have to give and I have given my best.