Against them.

“And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land.  And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them . . .” Mark 6: 47-48a

I have a deep respect for storms.

Living in the Midwest, I have nurtured a wariness for weather’s fury: the power of sudden, golf-ball sized hail in a summer thunderstorm, the screaming wind that announces the arrival of an F-4 tornado overhead, the smothering white-out of a winter blizzard rolling over the the frozen prairie land of Illinois . . . mountains of powdery, dry snow . . . and the deafening silence after.

Storms have a way of commanding our attention. Sometimes, too much.

Read the story of Jesus walking on water in the middle of a huge storm, and see this picture: the night’s blackness, the pitching waves in the Sea of Galilee, the growing unease with what may be coming, the small group of men in an open fishing boat terrified of it all.

But focus too much on the storm, and we can miss one of those, ” wait a minute. . . ” moments that signal something . . . astonishing.

Continue reading “Against them.”

All things new

“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.'” Revelation 21:5-6

There is something about the start of a new year that is transforming. New day, new month, new year, (new budget-ha!) And for me, it helps when it is sunny on New Year’s Day. We’re at the top of the calendar with 364 days to come. It’s an adventure.

But what if it isn’t sunny that day, or on January 2nd the budget still doesn’t pay the bills, or the 364 days to come are known to be already brimming with likely pain, overwhelming challenge or stinging regret? What do we do when the coming year is merely new, but not . . .  happy?  Continue reading “All things new”

A sign for you

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

When I was a young boy, Christmas was, in every sense of the word, magical. The sparkling snow (when we had it), the soul-lifting music, the pine-scented decorations, amazing food, the anticipation, laughter and love of my family were lights in the night getting us ready to hear again the deep message in God’s greatest announcement: Emanuel has come.

But this year, the whole story is brand new. This year among these familiar events, I found something new, and it has changed me. Continue reading “A sign for you”

Double blind in Shiloh

“At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, ‘Arise, and disguise yourself, that it not be known that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Behold, Ahijah the prophet is there . . . He will tell you what shall happen to the child.’ Jeroboam’s wife did so. She arose and went to Shiloh and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age.” 1 Kings 14:1-4

We live in a culture where truth is becoming vague.  More and more people are finding it less and less problematic to be false when it is inconvenient to be honest. Can we trust anyone? How do people of integrity navigate in the thickening mist of intentional deception? Continue reading “Double blind in Shiloh”

Heavy choices

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:30-33

When you think about how God provides for you, is it your experience that He is generous and delighted to give to you or do you see Him as stingy and reluctant with His care?  How does that perspective affect your idea of how He loves you? Continue reading “Heavy choices”

We are seen

“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” Luke 7:13-14

This is such a cool story. I love the way it is told. But there is something missing….

Jesus is approaching the village of Nain, and a funeral procession is coming out of the city. He sees the dead man’s mom weeping, and he has compassion on her….asks her not to cry. Everybody stops. Jesus touches the bier, and brings her son back to life.

What’s missing?  Continue reading “We are seen”

In or out?

 “But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there; then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die.” Jeremiah 42:13-16

When challenges flow strongly into the day, are you “in,” or “out?” Too often, I’m out. Continue reading “In or out?”

Get carried away

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.” Psalm 91:14 

The Hebrew language is as high and as wide, as deep and as long, as it is old. That is to our advantage. Many of its words and their varied uses are rich portraits of shade and nuance into which we can gaze wonderingly and get drenched well with meaning. To read it is to walk in a story that unfolds on a pathway of color and ideas that beckons one to join in and explore. It calls one to become an active participant in understanding. It is alive. Continue reading “Get carried away”