Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ever Remembered

A poem for Memorial Day, to say thank you to those who gave.

Ever Remembered by Glynis Becker

In every generation
                       and in every nation
there are unselfish souls who
          stand watch so others may sleep.

They are the ones who give
                       so others can hold on.

They run into the fire
           to keep others from being burned
And we owe them everything.

"Thank you" is too small a token
           for a family who endures
                        an empty chair at the table
                        thunderous silence of a loved one gone
                        a folded flag and a solemn salute.

But we who enjoy the fruit of their heavy labor
           take this moment to say
                       that we are indeed grateful.

Your sacrifice will be ever remembered.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Living Worship

The word "worship" in American church culture has come to be synonymous with "music". I love worship music and I love to worship using music. But I've decided that I want "worship" to characterize my life, not just what I do on Sunday morning. In order to do that, I need to understand what worship is. God impressed something on my heart during the women's retreat this weekend. This is the essence of what he said to me.

Worship is primarily about responding to what God has already done for us. It is an outpouring of gratitude for His great love and mercy and care and faithfulness.

Worship is about opening ourselves to whatever God has to say to us in this moment.

Community worship is about sharing together this faith journey that we are on. We are not alone. We together remember that our beliefs are shared by others, our struggles lessened. Even if we only share a single hour with one another on this earth, we are bound together forever as the Body of Christ.

Worship is about encountering and re-encountering, in this moment, the Eternal, Immortal, Everlasting God. We are letting Him brand us, like the sheep that we are. We are letting Him mold us like the dirty clay that we are. We remember Who He is and therefore Whose we are. Let these words from Paul's letter to Colossae remind us Who He is.

"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that he Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of the cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before him holy and blameless and beyond reproach." Colossians 1:16-22

Remember Christ is here. In our daily lives and in our community worship. He wants to be with us: His creations who are beautiful and broken and blessed. He wants us filled with peace so that we can be peacemakers, He wants us filled with love so that we can love not only the world, but those closest to us who cause us the most heartache and who are sometimes the hardest to love. He wants us filled with faith so that when the darkest days come we have a light by which to take our next feeble steps.

That is what daily worship is and should be.

We should go into worship--at church or at home--expecting to be changed.

And we should leave expecting to change the world.


Sunday, February 09, 2014

Warning: Facebook rant!

Maybe it's the weather. Or maybe it's just my introverted personality giving me a backlash from the two parties we attended this weekend, but I'm really feeling done with everything and everybody. I'm sick of the snow. I'm sick of the cold. And I'm sick of Facebook. I'm tired of all my Facebook friends who throw out an incendiary status or share a ludicrous quote meant to inflame, then make the comment that "If you don't like it, just keep scrolling."

Am I the only one that sees that as ridiculous? Why would you share something on your status that is meant, I suppose, to tell everyone how you feel, but then immediately let everyone know that you don't want to talk about it.

People say they want to "dialogue" but they don't. They want everyone to think like they do.

We are all allowed an opinion. But I'm hoping that when it comes down to brass tacks if I say something that someone else might take offensive to, that I'm able to have a real conversation about it. A loving, heartfelt I-want-to-know-where-you're-coming-from conversation. Like I would do with a person in real life.

Online social media makes it easy to stand on a soapbox, no matter how rickety and unstable it is.

I would never stand up in a crowded room and shout at the top of my lungs: "I think the Bible is Spirit-breathed, inerrant Word of God and that Jesus is the only way to salvation!" then sit down and put my fingers in my ears when someone wants to talk about it. Ridiculous.

What about getting back to why I joined Facebook in the first place? I was hoping it would be a place where I could watch your children grow up, hear about your new job or see pictures of your last vacation. I'd even be happy if we went back to a time when everyone felt they had to post a picture of every meal they ate. I'm just tired of it being a place to put down people who don't agree with you and to push an agenda. Maybe it's time to get off Facebook in any case.

I've surely got better things to do.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Death of the Dragon

I'm not sure if I really qualify as a "writer". But I do know that to really work through things I need to write them down. Or write about them. Or write around them. get where I'm going. Amelia's diagnosis of leukemia came out of the blue. It hit me over the head with questions: Do I understand how fragile we all are? Do I live with a foundation of faith, so that when the tough times come I'll be as prepared as I can be? Do I really understand walking through a valley? Do I know how to give a defense for the hope that is within me? (1 Peter 3:15). I'm not sure, but writing this helped me. I hope it is an encouragement for you as well.

Death of the Dragon

The family laughed. They ate. They moved about their home, living their lives as they always had, not knowing that just beyond their safe haven, a dragon awaited. He moved closer, quietly, stealthily, day-by-day until one morning he was close enough to knock on their door. They opened it, still unknowing, and try as they might to slam the door against him once they recognized him, he swung wide with his tail and created a barrier through which they could not push.

That is the day the dragon moved inside. He brought with him sulfurous breath, burning fire and a heavy cloud of despair. From the day he roared into the house, he stayed with them, audaciously eating at their table, sleeping in the front room, an obstacle around which they always had to step.

Every day the family held hands around the table and asked that the dragon be removed from their home. They wanted him gone, to be sure, but as they were so few and small and only had so much power against him, they resolved to continue living their lives, stepping around him as best they could. They still laughed, they still ate and they had faith that one day they would have freedom from this dragon.

Once a week, they opened the door and marched out into the forest, a line of warriors holding their swords firmly and singing songs to encourage and strengthen each other. The trees that lined the road were thick, a canopy over their heads, blocking out the sun that they were certain was still hanging in the sky, although they could not see it.

When they reached the clearing, each member of the family, each a soldier in the fight, pulled out his or her sword and chipped away at the dragon's tail or took aim at his clawed feet or open maw. Even the littlest one of them, although her sword was heavy and was too big for her tiny hands, stabbed away at the awful dragon. Because, out of all of them, the dragon had come especially for her. And when the sun went down, they trudged back through the dark forest, saddened although never defeated with the dragon following, scathed and wounded, but never dead.

Yet, behind them all, close to the tail of that dreaded dragon, followed Another. They knew He was there, even when they could not see Him, because He was a strong Warrior, a Healer, poised to defeat the dragon when the time was right. But until that moment, He would quietly march at the end of the line of soldiers and prayer warriors and would fight in the clearing with them, sword clashing along with their own. He walked back through the forest with them, entering the home when they did, smiling when they laughed and holding them close to Himself when they lost heart, doubting the dragon would ever leave.

Some days the dragon would shrink, becoming transparent, a shadow rather than shape. The family could imagine, for a fleeting moment, that he was gone. But as suddenly as he disappeared, he would fill out, becoming substance again and they were reminded that this battle was a long one, not to be finished overnight.

On occasion, when the night was especially quiet, the sky dark and starless, and the dragon slumbered the sleep of the victorious, the Healer would speak words into the ears and hearts and souls of each of them. “I am here. Sleep well, my warriors. I will keep watch. In the end, this battle is Mine. I will defeat your dragon.”

Those battles were relentless. The tides of championship ebbed and flowed, as one often sees during a long war. Victories small and large were celebrated with gusto. Setbacks always felt like defeat. But the Healer remained close, available for consult, though only seen through the evidence of His care, never seen Himself.

And finally, one day when the blanket of forest seemed ready to suffocate them, they came to the clearing as they had done so many times before. Set to take action, swords raised and ready to strike, they were taken aback as out of the darkness came One with a mightier sword, a broader swing and a greater authority. With one stroke, the tail was cut off, no longer able to sweep their feet from under them and with another slice, the dragon's head was removed, no longer able to breathe his disgusting fire of sickness.

The dragon lay where he fell, defeated. The family was free. They danced back through the forest, its darkness holding their joy close to them in comfort instead of suppressing and stifling it as had been the case just moments before. The littlest warrior was lifted high on their shoulders, home again and healed.

The Healer joined them as He had before and remained with them always, continuing to speak words of life and comfort into them, because He knew that even as that particular dragon was now gone, others always lay close by, each biding their time. This family, as every family does, will have dragons come in and live with them for a time. But He will fight with them against the dragons' pain and the brokenness and the suffering they cause, until that time when He defeats all dragons. Then we, each of us, from the biggest to the littlest, will be made whole.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Speaking Truth in Love

“No way Christianity is anything but a big joke. Just a bunch of hypocrites judging everyone else and talking to the air like there's someone listening. Seriously, no one but an idiot could really buy into that nonsense.” The tone was derisive and Josh's heart immediately started pounding.

He was fresh out of college, the new guy, sitting in the break room eating his lunch and trying to make friends. Somehow today's lunchtime chat session had turned from last night's big game to the cosmic battle of good vs. evil.

He continued eating his sandwich, although it had become like dust in his mouth. What was he supposed to say? One part of him said, “You could start an argument. Then where would the love be?” while another part said, “You can't let them talk like that without standing up for your faith,” while another said, “If you don't argue it's not like you're agreeing with them. You're just not making a big deal out of it.”

Speak the truth in love, Josh. Hardly able to hear himself over his own heartbeat, the words tumbled out before he could lose his courage. “Many really intelligent people have been Christians throughout the centuries. I think maybe you've never heard anyone communicate the Gospel effectively before.”

Suddenly the laughter and chatter stopped. Everyone stared.

“Are you saying I don't know what I'm talking about? You must be one of those wackos who believes all that hocus-pocus stuff.” The voice was belligerent and defensive.

Josh swallowed another bite and looked Kyle square in the eye, now feeling more confident. “It's not hocus-pocus, it's not nonsense and yes, I do believe in it. Christianity is the Truth. I'd be happy to talk with you about it sometime.”

“That'll be the day. Don't try to shove your so-called Truth down my throat. Just be tolerant of other people's beliefs, okay? Let's go, guys.” Kyle and his cronies moved out of the break room, laughing and shoving at each other. Not exactly a glowing evangelistic encounter, Josh thought, but probably not the worst either.

One man left at the table leaned over. “You handled that pretty well. I'm never really sure what to say. What are you, some kind of preacher's kid or something?”

Josh just laughed. “No. I grew up in a Christian home but when I got to college I started looking around, listening to the world's views on things from my friends and professors. I kind of walked away from the faith. Then I found I took a reasoned look at Christianity and chose it as my own faith, not my parents'. I also vowed then that I would be ready to stand up for the faith, too. If I speak with love and use the Sword of the Spirit, I can't really go wrong. Check out the resources. You'll get confidence and courage. And you need to. It's that important!"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Discovery and Treasure

Join me today over at The MOB Society (Mothers of Boys) for my guest post on discovering the joy of being a mother to a boy. For many of us ladies it doesn't come naturally--at least not for me!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Dirty Dishes Reveal God's Heart

I threw my hands up in surrender. How is it possible that the four people living in this house could generate so many dishes? I sighed, pulled out a dishtowel and set to work. On the counter were seven plastic cups of varying colors, lined up like a dirty rainbow. Muttering under my breath, I grabbed the first glass, took a step to the sink and dumped the contents into the disposal with a splash. As I touched the second glass, though, I was hit with this realization: I just threw out perfectly clean water like it was nothing more than trash. I stopped. My spirit suddenly ached and I knew that God was ready to speak. I needed to be ready to listen.

In the quiet a voice, not an audible voice, but a Voice nonetheless said to me:

Do you remember that photo shared through Facebook this morning? He is one of my precious children, dying for water, yet you glanced at it and moved on as if it was no concern of yours.

Do you remember reading that book where you were so disturbed by the statistics of how many children die every day from lack of clean drinking water that you decided you needed to do something, but too soon you became distracted with your own life and forgot?

Do you remember when you told me you were willing to give up everything--everything--to follow Me?.

I was broken. I sank to my knees in hurt and conviction. So many people spend their lives trying to gain access to clean water so that they and their children can live. And not just survive, but thrive. How can you build a business, go to school or bless others, when you don’t have the most basic of human needs?

Through my tears came a strengthening resolve: How can I help? How do I keep my children and myself from taking our water for granted? Can I somehow give someone clean water and a chance to hear the Gospel? Is there some ministry loving people today like Jesus did through wells and water? I sat down and searched the internet using phrases like donate a well and global water crisis. In no time, I was directed to the ministry of Water4 Foundation...exactly what I was looking for!

Father, please forgive my apathy. Remind me that all good things come from You and You alone. I live in a wealthy nation and have a comfortable life. Help me to be mindful that I have been given these blessings, so that I can be a blessing to others--at home, in my neighborhood and around the world. Make my affluence a sweet fragrance and sacrifice as I share with others, so that those who need it most would be taken care of. Break my heart as Your heart breaks and help me fulfill Your purposes here on earth. Thy will be done. Amen.