God Help Us!

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‘The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live’ –1 Timothy:1-3 (The Message).

Remember the guy who wrote ‘All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten’?  I want him to run our government.  After reading a newspaper article this week that we shouldn’t expect Congress to accomplish much when they return from their vacation and before they break in August, it doesn’t take a genius to realize our nation’s leaders need a sanity check.  We pay them more than most of us who actually have to accomplish tasks on a daily basis make.  Why do we put up with their political tantrums and pouting?  How have we made it okay for them to collect their sizable paychecks and yet not improve our country or move it forward for months at a time?  Why are we not firing them during elections and hiring people who might actually play nice together and work toward the common good?  Why do we not insist on laws for term limits so that ‘politician’ ceases as a career path.  Our forefathers created our government with the idea that politics should never become an elitist occupation.  So, how do we-the-people take back our power in government?  By voting.

I would vote for a few teachers.  Those teachers who have won awards and have proven that they know how to handle students who have given up.  The teachers who inspire movies and believe our nation still has so much untapped potential.  The teachers who won’t allow Congress to just limp along, content with living far away from the constituents who voted them into office.  Teachers who would hold government accountable to focus on the good of the country and not the schoolyard scuffles of politics.  Teachers who haven’t stopped learning and respect the wisdom that youth bring to the table.

I would vote for a few business managers who have pulled their companies out of the landfill and created work environments that encourage productivity because they remember real people work for them and not just automatons.  Small business owners who sacrifice their own comforts to make payroll every month deserve some recognition in government–those bosses who understand the lives of their employees and know when to show grace and when to prune some dead branches.

I would vote for a few mothers who have successfully raised children to live productive lives.  Moms who have developed workable budgets and kept the checking accounts balanced.  Not to leave out fathers, I would also look for men who have a team mentality toward their family.  Men who exhibit an ability to share in the joys, responsibilities, successes and failures with their partners in mentoring children and setting a nurturing, disciplined home environment.

I would vote for some minorities who understand what it’s like to have your voice diminished and have risen above their circumstances.  People who have experienced all the -isms we have in our country and have found a way to succeed without malice toward those who have made their journey more difficult.  People full of grace, confidence, compassion and wisdom.

I would vote for a few people who have worked hard in blue-collar jobs, paid their mortgages, put their kids through school, paid their bills on time and struggle to make ends meet in retirement.  The ones who understand the power of humilty.  The ones who have known shame because they never made it to the financial or corporate level our society deems successful.  The ones our society may look down upon because they don’t epitomize our dream of a ‘Hollywood lifestyle’ with big homes, seemingly unlimited resources and $300 jeans.

So, that’s my dream government and the character qualities I will look for as political ads begin to inundate our lives.  As a new election season kicks into high gear, I hope we will listen to what candidates say and how they communicate.  We need people who are willing to work together.  We need more than party-line politicians.  Our country deserves leaders of the people, by the people and for the people.

May God help us as we vote and our leaders as they serve.

What about you?  What type of person would you like to see on the ballot?  What qualities are important to you in a leader?

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Just As He Said

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“After the Sabbath, as the light of the next day, the first day of the week, crept over Palestine, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb to keep vigil. … A messenger of the Lord had come down from heaven and had gone to the grave. He rolled away the stone and sat down on top of it. … The soldiers guarding the tomb were terrified. They froze like stone.  The messenger spoke to the women, to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, ‘Don’t be afraid. I know you are here keeping watch for Jesus who was crucified. But Jesus is not here. He was raised, just as He said He would be’“–Matthew 28:1-2, 4-6 (emphasis mine).

CHRIST IS RISEN!  How can we not feel the thrill through our hearts?  As I reflect on the heart-stopping awe that all the Marys in the various resurrection accounts must have felt, I rejoice with them and all the others that paved the way for me to celebrate today!

For many years (and probably decades) I have reveled in the angel’s words, ‘just as He said.’  Because Jesus told all the disciples outright that God would resurrect Him.  None of them believed it at the time He said it, let alone once He died.  The women watched and remembered at the tomb; but they seemed to believe that He would stay physically dead.  The whole exchange between the women and the angel fascinates me.  In that culture, women were not considered credible eye-witnesses.  Yet, the angel does not address the soldiers; the angel addresses the women.

The women who worshipped.  The women who financed Jesus’ work.  The women who waited.

The women who believed what Jesus said.  

Yes, God gave one of the highest honors in history–proclaiming the resurrection of Christ–to the least valued voices of the culture.

Humbling.  Validating.  Awe-inspiring.

In life, Jesus brought honor to women and other less-than people in His society.  In death, the Gospel writers honor the oft-forgotten women.  In resurrection, the angel commissions the lowly women to proclaim Christ’s new life!  A beautiful picture of healing the power struggle between genders.

In the beginning, when the world was innocent, God created all humanity in His image.  A balance of power.  We created the power hierarchy.  We needed Someone to free us from the shame environments that hierarchy created.  Only He could show us how to embrace that image once again.  Only He could rescue us from ourselves.  Only He could invite us to join His way of life.  Only He could teach us how to risk without shame and live bravely, even when others don’t approve of the freedom we gratefully receive from the unconditional love and grace of God.  Only He could show us how to die to the facades we’re told we have to exhibit so that our truest parts can resurrect and bloom!

Christ’s resurrection life created a better way–one where everyone gets to play.  Just as He said from the beginning.

I’d love to hear from you!!  How can use your voice to proclaim freedom in Christ to others?

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The Forgotten Disciples

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“And then, starting at noon, the entire land became dark. It was dark for three hours. In the middle of the dark afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘… My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ … And then Jesus cried out once more, loudly, and then He breathed His last breath.  … So Joseph [of Arimathea] took the body, wrapped Jesus in a clean sheath of white linen, and laid Jesus in his own new tomb, which he had carved from a rock. Then he rolled a great stone in front of the tomb’s opening, and he went away. Mary Magdalene was there, and so was the other Mary. They sat across from the tomb, watching, remembering”–Matthew 27:45-46, 50, 59-61.

I wish churches would focus on the women who followed Jesus more.  The women of the Gospels play an often overlooked role in showing us today what it means to follow Him.

The disciples scattered.  The disciples doubted.  The disciples missed so much.

The women worshipped before Him.  The women financed His work.  The women waited.  The women watched and remembered.

No, this post is not idolizing feminism or women.  However, what we have focussed on is the humanity of the male disciples without balancing those thoughts with the spiritual intelligence of the women who also followed Jesus.  Yes, we all scatter, doubt and misinterpret.  BUT, the women show us that we can reflect and grow into steady, focussed, faith-filled Believers.  We need both examples; but too often we glorify the earth-bound humanity of the disciples without challenging ourselves to become Jesus’ other disciples.

The overlooked disciples.

The forgotten disciples.

The female disciples.

As we ponder the wonders of the final moments of this Passion Week, let us also honor the women who followed Jesus by waiting, watching and remembering.  Let us allow God to fill our hearts with hope and faith that will help us process the confusion, tragedy and fear in our lives.  Because the story is only beginning …

I pray that we will learn equally from those who walk with Jesus, regardless of gender, social standing, identity or background.

 

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Voices In The Heart

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“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” –Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Dear Weary One,

I know you have heard many things spoken against you and people you love in My name.  

Those words assault Me also.

Some people speaking those words love Me and desperately want to know that I am proud of them.  So they speak words that they think are Mine because others with authority in their lives have said they are My words.  I know those words hurt.  

They hurt Me also.

Hear My words.  I speak healing over you.  I speak grace over you.  I speak acceptance over you.  I speak love over you.

I speak the same words over them.

Does that shock you?  Offend you?  If it doesn’t, it should.  I came to bring unity and accessibility back to God.  For everyone.  Not just you.  You are not the only wounded one I see.  Remember, your words have also brought pain–sometimes unintentional … sometimes with great intention.  I spoke healing, grace and acceptance over you then, as I do with them now.

So learn from Me how I lived without shame before all the ones who tried to kill Me … how I live now.  Let Me remind you of all the exciting adventures we’ve experienced together.  Let Me give you a glimpse of the future as I see it.  Have you forgotten the breathtaking awe of walking alongside someone who didn’t know how much I love them?  Have you missed the joy of watching the light bulb go off in a person’s soul as we work together to show how life could be?  Remember all the times you wept and prayed and didn’t know if I saw what was happening?  Remember how you laughed when you realized I did see and accomplished what you thought impossible?  Remember and learn from our past encounters and take heart now … laugh now … because you must know I see now and am working now.

The other voices have grown strong in your mind.  You have exaggerated their power.  Come away with Me.  I will show you a place that silences them.  I never meant for you to fight their war.  I never meant for you to live on their terms.  I created you to live like a child–freely, joyfully … including anyone who would play.  

Don’t listen to the other voices.  Mine is the only one that matters.

I love you, My beloved–Jesus

Have you given your heart over to discouraging voices that want to engage you in a war you don’t feel equipped to fight?  Is God calling your heart to live like a child? How can you focus on the ones who want to play, and ignore the bullies on the playground?

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