Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christ the King

I just arrived home from a special Christ the King service in which I sang Bach for the first time in a long time. It made me nostalgic for my college days which were so enriched by the best of sacred music. I remember Dr. Gieschen's constant reminders that or voices were a gift and hence a responsibility! He reminded us often of the privileges of sharing the gospel in song!

Soon and very soon we are going to see the King and we will get to sing even more glorious music forever! I long for that day! And I am blessed as I consider how many old friends will be singing with me! Thanks Tom Gieschen! I know you are already up there directing some choir; your hands moving at the impulse of His love!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Word

As I write, the associate pastor of my church is jamming on his guitar and singing his heart out to the Lord.  I love my church.  It is a church that follows a weekly lectionary and this week's lessons really got under my skin.

The gospel lesson appointed for this week, the umpteenth week after Pentecost, is Matthew 13.  You may recognize this as "The Parable of the Sower,"  at least that's what the subtitle in my Bible says.  So here's my question; why do we call this the parable of the sower and then spend so much time thinking and talking about the quality of the soil?  The vast majority of sermons and teachings I have heard or read on these verses exhort and admonish us to remove the rocks or watch out for the thorns.

I think that misses the point.  I think the point is the sower sows lavishly in all kinds of soil and stuff generally springs up.  God is generous.  He sows lavishly and He wants us to do the same, to share His grace and His word abundantly without becoming soil inspectors.

The importance of this is emphasized in this week's OT lesson Isaiah 55 where the prophet reminds us that God's word "will accomplish what I [God] desires and achieve the purpose for which I [God] sent it."  He further promises that "instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of the briers the myrtle will grow.  This will be for the Lord's renown."  So maybe we should quit with the soil inspecting and just rejoice in the liberality of God.  As we liberally slather on the sunscreen during this hot July, let's apply the Word of God just as liberally and see what  He will do.

Friday, June 24, 2011


So, I am reading through the book of Joshua because it is assigned summer reading for Charlotte United Christian Academy and I am on staff there.  What started as a duty has become an adventure, a treasure hunt as the Holy Spirit shows me all kinds of cool stuff.  I love how He does that!

For example the other day I was in Joshua 6 and I read, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands..."  I got stuck on the word "see" rendered in KJV as "behold".  It is a word used often in the Scriptures and one which I used to think of as sort of just a precursor, an interjection of sorts; designed to get our attention but not really significant other than that.

Now, I believe that single word was key for Joshua and for us.  It is a spiritual imperative!  God invites us to see into the spiritual realm.  He gives Joshua the outcome of the battle before He gives him the battle plan.

"See" is an invitation and an exhortation to step out of fear and into faith; to step out of old mindsets and opinions and embrace God's vision.  If we don't see what God sees we will never be who He wants us to be.

As a young woman I wrote a song that says, "One thing I would Lord that is that you would make me the woman you've envisioned me to be."  That is still my prayer!  Open our eyes Lord so that we can walk into our destiny.  After all seeing is believing!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Passion for His Presence

I had a truly fabulous day yesterday due mostly to the amount of time I spent in the word.  I got on my ipad (Thank you to the friends who purchased it for me!) and looked up one of my teachers from my DTS in Scotland.  I was dismayed to learn that Ken McGreavy recently went on to be with Jesus but so grateful for his archived teachings available through the wonders of modern technology.

I listened to a teaching on Mark 2, the story of the friends who dig the hole in the roof.  You know the one?  Ken was talking about the magnetism of the presence of Jesus.  The crowds that inevitably surround Him testify to that.  He also spoke of the disruption of the presence of Jesus;  the hole in the roof, the offended people certainly testify of that.

I got to thinking how much I love the magnetism of Jesus.  I love the touchy feely sense of His presence during worship.  I am not so much in love with the disruption of His presence.  Yet both are necessary if we are to be made whole.  He did not come so things could remain the same and I think there is a whole lot of shaking going on just now.

Ken closed by saying while he loves all the talk of having  a passion for the presence of Jesus, he wants to remind us that God has a passion for our presence; THE CROSS testifies to that.

Stir up within us your passion and presence. Disrupt us Lord!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Freedom Isn't Free

It has been a while since I've posted.  There has been a lot going on and frankly I have been in a bit of a funk.  So maybe I can blog my way out of the doldrums. 

So yesterday was Memorial Day and such days of unbridled patriotism make me think of my dad who has been with Jesus for over a year now.  I think of watching him in parades and of the salutes from NCO's as we went into the PX.  I think of the nightmares he had when he came home from Vietnam, all unmentioned by him.  He shared little until many years later when my little brother became a Marine too and even then he would not share everything.  His private horrors were unknown.

I watched the HBO series The Pacific with my brother over Christmas vacation.  Those men and countless more men and women suffered hell so that you and I could be free!

All of this led me to dive into Galatians this morning.  Jesus literally suffered hell so that we can walk in freedom.  So today and everyday from now on I want to live in a way that says I appreciate the cost of freedom, the freedom I enjoy as a citizen of the USA but most especially the freedom I have as a citizen of God's kingdom.  "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened agian by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

Friday, April 22, 2011


IT IS FINISHED!  The most powerful words in human history!  What it takes three words to express in English the apostle John records in the single Greek word-tetellestai.  Finished!  Complete!  This is no whimpering word of surrender-no throwing in of the proverbial towel, though one may well imagine that Jesus' enemies and indeed the enemy of our souls believed it so!   No!  This is a victory shout; for in surrendering His will to the Father, in surrendering His back to the smiter and His body to the executioner JESUS IS VICTORIOUS!
Tetellestai-IT IS A VICTORY SHOUT  for Jesus and for us!

In Greek it is an artist's word-the word a sculptor  would use when having put down his chisel he stepped back to admire his work!  Finished!

It is a merchant's word often scribbled atop invoices and shouted in the marketplace to proclaim a debt paid in full!  TETELLESTAI  Our debt paid in full, God's masterpiece of redemption accomplished!

The tense of this verb is interesting though.  It conveys the sense that while it is an accomplished work it is somehow ongoing, leading scholar Richard Niehaus to conclude that perhaps the best translation for John 19:30 is, "It is finished but it's not over!"  Indeed our work has just begun as Jesus gives us the task of sharing the "goodness" of this Friday with a world lost in sin.  Redemption's story demands that we live our lives in such a way that when we are ready to give up our spirits we can say with Paul, "I have finished the race"  and with Jesus, "Father, I have accomplished the work that you gave me to do."

It is finished but  it's not over because to borrow a phrase from a sermon oft quoted by Christian sociologist Tony Campolo, "It's Friday but Sunday's coming!"


Monday, April 18, 2011

Mercy Triumphs

This evening I am posting from my iPad, a gift from some very dear folks at my church. The grace and love shown me at Resurrection transforms me much as the Beast and Belle are transformed. (Spent the past few weeks helping out with CUCA's production of Beauty and the Beast.). Maybe more on this at another time.

Today I am contemplating why it is that when I witness someone do something dangerous or stupid in traffic I get angry and cry out for justice? When someone is late or doesn't come through for me, I want justice. I yell loudly (at least in my head) for vindication. However when I am the perpetrator, the transgressor as it were, I demand mercy.

The cross of Jesus means that "mercy triumphs over judgment". He didn't just pay for my sin. The words of a song from a number of years ago proclaim that the wrongs we have done and the wrongs done to us were nailed on that cross.

So because justice was satisfied on that cross, I should not be so swift to demand satisfaction for other's offenses. I need to learn mercy and it's triumph, for Jesus sake. Paul reminds us that He is a God rich in mercy. Good thing because I am a person in such need of mercy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Can these Bones Live?"

I have been asking the title question frequently of late, since I am aging and spending time at the gym is not as effortless as it once was!  You may recognize the query as the one the "Son of Man" asks the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 37.  As I have thought about the question I have come to see it as an encouragement for Ezekeil and by extension us to see things differently.

Where Ezekiel saw not just bones but dry bones- not just dry bones but very dry bones, the Lord saw hopelessness and a need for His powerful prophetic word to breathe life. In short, Ezekiel saw a problem, the Lord saw an opportunity, a need that He was fully capable of meeting.  He wanted Ezekiel to see what He saw and to speak life. 

He wants the same from us.  I am by nature somewhat of an Eeyore but I am learning to rebuke the Eeyore within and to ask the Lord to help me see through His eyes- to see the prophetic, life-giving opportunities that surround me everyday.  Even very dry bones can become a vast army when we acknowledge along with Ezekiel, "O Sovereign Lord, you know!"  He does know and He does care and He will breathe life even into very dry bones!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Your Kingdom Come!

First of all, I can see now that my goal of being a Monday, Wednesday, Friday blogger was a pipe dream.  Life often crowds in and crowds out some of my more enjoyable activities as well as the ability to ponder!  Often I become so busy with obligations that thoughtful devotion is difficult.  I am working on this!  Please bear with me.

Right now I am about halfway through Rob Bell's new book Love Wins.  (YES, I am reading it on my ipad.)  I am being very challenged by the urgency this pastor has to see God's kingdom come now.  If our idea of eternal life is only about where we will be after we die, then we are totally missing out.  Eternal life is not merely quantitative; it is qualitative.  Eternal life is about living in a way that makes a difference. 

Eternal life is letting God's spirit inhabit me in such a way that my neighborhood is powerfully affected because I live there.  As my friend Graham would say, "No one is safe from a blessing."  :)

So I am asking myself, what I am doing, how I am praying, who I am being that would ensure that His kingdom come and that His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.  AND I am crying out for mercy and grace because frankly I am really not doing much to advance the kingdom in my little neck of the woods.

May the Lord ignite us with His passions and fuel our hearts with His desires!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Handicapped Accessible

When I go to Phoenix to see my family I generally drive my mom's 12 year old Ford Taurus.  (It only has 60,000 miles on it.)  The perk to driving this car is that it comes equipped with a handicapped parking sticker so I can get those prime spots right by the door of most establishments.  However, sometimes I forget that I have that all access pass to premium parking and wind up parking pretty far away.  That's not a big deal except when it is 115 degrees in the shade at the height of summer. 

I thought about this while I was reading Romans 5 this week.  And yes I do know how odd my brain is!   That's a topic you will need to take up with Jesus.  Anyway, Paul writes that through Jesus "we have gained access into this grace in which we now stand."  How I praise God that the throne room is handicapped accessible!  Indeed my sin, my stubbornness and brokenness were/are more than a handicap!  They were totally debilitating and cut me off from God's amazing grace.!

The CROSS and my faith in the efficacy of its work gives me access to the riches of God's grace.The dictionary defines access as "The ability or right to approach, enter, exit, communicate with, or make use of."  That's awesome!  A whole lot better than premium parking; I stand before God soaked in grace! 

Yet often I forget the access I have, the permission, ability and right won for me to approach and communicate with the God of the universe.  I fail to take advantage of my all access pass and forget the grace in which it is my privilege to stand and the favor in which I walk.

JESUS PAID IT ALL!  I don't want to forget that!  I want to remember to say thank you and I want to take full advantage of the access He won for me!  I want to be soaked in God's grace so that when I am squeezed that's what comes out!  When I do that I'm not handicapped anymore!  I am whole.  That too is a gift of the cross.


Monday, March 21, 2011

My God is so Big!

So, last night at youth group we watched a Louie Giglio video called "Indescribable."    For those unfamiliar with Louie, he is the pastor who started the Passion tour from which all the Passion CD's come.  Anyway, I highly recommend the video!

Louie gave a timely visual reminder of how big God is and how small we are!  By showing the relative size of earth, the vastness of the universe, the beauty and order of creation he drove home the message I have been hearing for some time, "It's not all about you (or me)!"  The world does not revolve around me; planets do not orbit around me.  I am really pretty insignificant!

Oddly that thought brings me great comfort and hope!  It is pretty counter cultural.  Advertising and contemporary self-help psychology encourage me to focus on me!  What a recipe for disaster!

I was made to magnify!  When I magnify God things stay in perspective.  I recoginize that I am like a Who down in Whoville- small, sinful, and insignificant-UNLESS the indescribably big God of the universe chooses me, loves me enough to send His own Son to die for me.  Guess what?  He did choose me giving me even more reason to magnify Him and not me.

The picture is our galaxy!  Can you spot earth?  Ya, me neither.  Amazing that God calls each of the stars and you and me by name! 

Some favorite song lyrics come to mind- "I have made you too small in my eyes; O Lord forgive me!"  and then one of my cousin Marty's favorites which certainly puts things in perspective, "Great Big God-itty bitty devil."

And finally one of Mrs.  Hasty's favorites-  everybody sing:

He really is!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Angry Birds

Earlier this week I was sitting in a frien's office with several other adults enjoying a little fellowship.  And then it happened!  All the ipad and iphone users including me began to compare notes on a game called "Angry Birds."  Before you know it we were all on our respective Apple powered devices trying to get past one more level.  At this point all real fellowship stopped because we were all so absorbed in this silly little game where birds are attempting to get rid of pigs (really cute graphics by the way).  The whole thing made me say I am starting a 12 step group for Angry Birders.  At which point one ardent Angry Birder said, "I do not have a problem."  Well, isn't denial the first sign that you do have a problem? :)

Anyway I could write for days on the effect that technology is having on genuine intimacy and effective communication.  My students will tell you my soap box for this topic is very big!  However that is not what I felt the Holy Spirit whispering as I was trying to master level four of the St. Patrick's version of Angry Birds. 

The sense that I had was that the Holy Spirit was asking, "What is this drive to just get past this level, to move up, to have mastery?"  Seems I do this in many areas in my life and by so doing I miss the beauty of the process.  God is much more interested in process than in results because it is in the process that we learn to walk with Him and become like him. It is in the process that we learn to hear and respond to His voice.  I love 2 Corinthians 3:18, we "are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."  Are being transformed sounds like a process to me!  We are works in progress by a Holy Spirit process!

By the way we become more like Him as life rubs up against life.  We become more like Him by spending time together in genuine fellowship.  I am not sure the App store can facilitate that but a 12 step group might. Hmmm!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Living on Credit

Now, don't be alarmed!  Though I did just apply for a new credit card via USAA, I am not advocating a departure from Dave Ramsey or biblical financial principles.  I am just studying Romans 4 and pondering.  Paul quotes the book of Genesis and reminds us, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."  He further reminds us not to get into a wage earning mentality.

I confess I often do have that mentality developing a sort of tit for tat thing with God-expecting that because I have been extra good and done x that He should do y.  (That's as much algebra as I can stand.:))  To try to live that way makes my relationship with God laborious and not glorious and certainly not gracious.  To live under the law rather than on what is credited to my account because of Jesus is to exist without the sheer wonder of His love!

I am listening to a Hillsong album a lot right now.  My favorite song is called "Forever Reign."  It begins, "You are good, You are good when there's nothing good in me... " and goes on to say, "I'm running to your arms; the riches of your grace will always be enough."  Living on anything other than faith credit makes those words powerless and meaningless.

I want to live in dependence and wonder this Lent, depending on God's crediting my faith as righteousness  When God does this he is not rewarding my good deeds but displaying His amazing grace! 

What God is, He is all the time, relentlessly as Graham Cooke says.  HE IS GOOD AND GRACIOUS and I am content to live on that kind of credit.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thoughts on Prayer

Well, this is my initial outing into the blogasphere so here goes nothing!  The children's church lesson this week is on the Lord's Prayer.  As I read and meditated on Matthew 6:5-15 I was struck by a few things.  Number one I became aware in a new way that prayer really isn't about getting our needs met but about building relationship.  So little of the Lord's prayer is about the "stuff" with which we seem so preoccupied most of the time.  "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:8)  To me that reminder in combination with the powerful opening of the prayer, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name," is the Lord reminding us one more time that we really do walk in favor.  He is our Father and in my family the Father did provide and protect. (My dad has been on my mind a lot this week.  He would have been 83 on Monday.) These verses also reminded me of how much I need to be caught up in the majesty of God, to encounter Him in His holiness so that I can do His will.

So during Lent I am going to be preoccupied with Jesus.  Then I think I will be like the baby in this photo, just resting in Daddy's arms, knowing that I have favor.