Our sweet story

I’ve been reading through the book of Romans this year. I started in January. I read through a chapter a day and start over when I’m done with chapter 16.

This month I have been posting as I read through and verses jump out at me.

I am up to chapter 8.

Anticipating what I would say about chapter 8 before I read it because it holds my “life verse”. That verse that explains me and my relationship with Jesus better than any other single verse in the bible.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

My childhood was traumatic. I have a steel plate in my jaw and some nasty burn scars on my face. I got these before I turned 12. When I was burned I almost died. Getting the injuries that resulted in the steel plate I was actually clinically dead by the time I reached the hospital.

Again, ” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

You’d think scars on a face would be a deterrent to finding love. It worked the other way around for me. Mary was actually drawn to me because I was scarred yet I was still laughing. Our story reminds me of the joke about the soldier in a doctors waiting room with a spear stuck through him. He was asked if it hurt. His answer was “only when I laugh”. Mary and I became friends in part because of my scars. We became friends, then boyfriend and girlfriend and then we got?

Broken up. You thought I was going to say married. Well we did, eventually but first for almost a year we were broken up. We even dated other people. I did not do well with that. I wanted out of town. I decided to join the Air Force. I was going to quit school, I had all of my credits already, quit and join and get out of town. I had all the papers signed except one. The medical release form. The recruiter went through rather casually until we got to the question about steel pins or plates. As it turns out the Air Force wouldn’t take folks with steel plates in them. I was stuck in Soap Lake and that and a big blue Dodge Polara are how Mary and I got back together.

The steel plate in my jaw God used to keep me around so that I could participate in the greatest blessing of my life. That blessing was to make up with Mary and get engaged to Mary on the same night then get married, have 4 kids and 10 grandkids and still be married 39 years later.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Even burn scars and a brief dance with Death with a steel plate as a bonus prize. God has used all things in my life, even ugly and painful things for my good.

Tomorrow is our 39th anniversary. Happy anniversary baby! Love you SO much.

(I originally posted this in 2015, I updated the numbers to post it again this year)

Prayers for the broken

Nehemiah 1

When I read about tragedies, when I see the life of a family destroyed by the effects of sin, how do I respond? Do I get angry and rant? Do I yell and scream and take my stand?

Nehemiah received news that his people, his extended family that had returned to Israel and specifically to the Holy city of Jerusalem were under constant attack.

“Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. ” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: “ Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.

Nehemiah 1:2-6

How did Nehemiah respond to the news of his people being ravaged by enemies back in his hometown of Jerusalem? He wept and prayed and fasted. He began to ask God for a role in the rebuilding.

Families in my neighborhood are under attack. They are like sheep without a shepherd. Some don’t know about Jesus yet. What is my role? What is my response? “Too bad for you, I got my Jesus, heaven is for sure for me and mine, you people should get a clue…”

I want to have a heart like Nehemiah.

One other thing that Nehemiah did that I glossed over on my first pass of reading was that Nehemiah acknowledged the sin of his people and he owned it and repented of it.

Nehemiah had it good. Cup bearer to the king. It was a dangerous job but I can imagine that it had some perks. And yet he identified with those of his family that were suffering.

Another thing Nehemiah did was to praise God. He reminded himself as he prayed about the character of God, the great God of love, the great God of compassion, the God who keeps his promises. Even after the 70 year exile and the return to a devastated city, Nehemiah declared God’s goodness and faithfulness as he prayed.

God may I be given a heart like Nehemiah, repentant, worshiping you, dedicated and sensitive to the needs of others. And God use me to touch the lives of my neighbors with your love.

Stinking weeds!

Have I publicly expressed my deep hatred of the tree of heaven? It’s the weed tree that is also called stink tree. It grows so fast. I cleared one section of my garden two weeks ago. Not a tree left standing. Now two weeks later we have close to a hundred some as tall as 5’.

Imagine if we could grow carrots or broccoli or pine trees that fast?!

I think they are spawning from the mother tree which was cut way back but not cut out.

To put a spiritual spin on this, it’s a picture of a bad behavior that we cut back on but don’t uproot. Sin will sprout from the roots of behavior we just “cut back on”.

I hate the trees. I want to do whatever I have to do to destroy them. Do I hate my sin? Do I hate it enough to uproot it and burn the brush pile?

Reconciled

Reconciled. I can’t get past that word. I’m reading in Romans chapter 5 today and the word reconciled is like a road detour or a stop sign. I have to sit here and think about this for awhile.

Being reconciled. Two parties that have been separated have been brought back together. Another definition is making what is into what it should be. At McDonalds we had to reconcile the cash drawers. Making sure the amount we had equaled what should be there from receipts. I don’t remember what we would do if it came up short. Somehow we had to make up for what if anything was missing.

How can a morally bankrupt person, someone with a moral cash drawer that is empty be reconciled to a God who has the receipts of what should be or what could be in our moral cash drawer?

“…we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation.” Romans 5:11b

And this is how and why he did this.

“You see, at just the right time, when we still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will Anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man some one might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrate s his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God himself made up for our morally empty cash drawer through Jesus. He paid our debt. He reconciled our debt AND he has reconciled our relationship to him.

“Since we now have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from Gods wrath through him! For if, when we were Gods enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life.” Romans 5:6-10

Our Account with God has been reconciled and now we are free to have a good and right relationship with Him. Him who made us and loves us.

Whose son is he?

Jesus- not just for Jews anymore.

I have been working my way through Matthew 22 and it ends on this verse about whose son is the messiah. What does that matter?

“Matthew 22:41-46 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. ”

If the messiah is just the son of David then the kingdom he will rule is at a minimum, Jewish. Even if he were to rule the Jews and the Jews were to take over the world, his kingdom would be earthly and only continue as long as he or his son would maintain the throne.

But, if the messiah is God’s son? The playing field just got bigger. The players list just went from exclusive to inclusive.

Jesus had come as the messiah, the redeemer, the savior from the Jewish people but he was promised to all people, all the way back in the garden of Eden, God would provide a way for us to re establish our relationship with Him. He was from the Jews but he will be for all people.

We have a king, we have a savior, we have a redeemer. His name is Jesus. He has beaten our two biggest enemies; death and sin. He has restored our broken relationship with our creator God.

It is a transaction that you must initiate. If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Today is a good day to start.

Erasing the lines

Train musings:

As I’m looking out the window of our train to Venice I’m realizing that the air, the water, the plants and trees don’t know or seem to care what country they are in. They listen to and obey a higher authority than a man who draws a line in the dirt and says “this is mine and that is yours”. They obey a higher authority, the one who made them.

People have some strong opinions about who belongs where. I’m sure that there were meetings in a smoke filled room somewhere. men wearing suits looked at a map and argued where the lines should go.

I don’t think that God sees it that way. The planet that is. One reason might be his vantage point looking down from

Heaven it all looks the same. No colors of states or countries. No lines.

Another reason could be that it is all his. All the land, all the animals, the trees plants fish birds all are his. He made it. He made it and he made us. All of us. No matter what hue our skin is or what language we speak or inside which lines drawn on the map we find our feet or our home. We are his. God is an international God because he only made one planet earth.

Growing up I thought God dressed like captain America Except he wore a robe but his robe was red white and blue because he loved America more than any other country. We were right and they( whomever) were wrong. In any fight, God was on our side.

In the revelation of John the apostle described the vision of the city of God. In that vision he describes the foundation stones of the heavenly city. It is made of 12 different colored stones. I wonder if those 12 colors encompass the colors of all the flags of all the nations?

From Johns description There isn’t going to be an American heaven and an Italian heaven and a French heaven. There is just going to be heaven, the place God dwells. Neither will there be sections for Catholics and a part for Protestants, a space for Jews there will be an all inclusive home for those who believe and receive Gods gift of salvation, being bought back to be a child of God from slavery to sin. No denominations of Protestantism , one God, one heaven, one family. Strange to think about.

One of the creeds I learned as a child said about us believers that we’re one holy catholic, which means universal, church. We are after all part of one body, the bride of Christ, his church.

Lukewarm and intermittent

What is worse than a device that doesn’t work at all? I think one that only works some of the time is worse. Intermittent, the word that sends chills down the spine of trouble shooters everywhere.

Phone call to service person.

“When does this problem come up?”

“Intermittently”

Click buzzzz.

At least that’s how I wish i could respond to requests. It is so frustrating to be ready to fix or replace a part, but when I arrive, it’s all working. How can I troubleshoot a problem when it isn’t happening?

I was thinking about this and somehow the words of Jesus came up in my memory.

““I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”

Revelation 3:15-16 –

Intermittent Christianity, is that the same as lukewarm? How am I doing with that? Am I a fire lit disciple sometimes but not others? Does my fervor, my heat, my passion go out? Why?

On the other hand I think of the smoldering wick that Jesus won’t snuff out and the bruised reed that Jesus won’t snap off.

Maybe if I were the wick or the reed I would have been broken by external forces, but lukewarmness is a decision I make on my own. My own will will decide what I will be passionate about.

“Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.”’

Matthew 12:15-21 –

Maybe I stumbled on the answer. I almost typed “my heart” but changed it to “my will” because my heart is deceptive and wicked. It wants what it wants and will chase any feel good experience it can find. My will, my decisions, I own those. I choose those. Sometimes I choose wrongly but there is forgiveness for mistakes.

I don’t want lukewarmness or intermittent failure. Jesus help me to remain passionate about sharing your love and your truth until I breathe my last breath.