Saturday, March 31, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 34

LENT DAY 34 - Saturday, March 31
2 Corinthians 4:8-10    Revealing Glory
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in us."  (NIV)
    If life were a smooth highway with no curves, no bumps, no rocky sections, we could drive it all by ourselves!  No help needed.  But because we need God's help to travel the road of life, God's glory can shine through us.  Focus on service to God, focus on service to others, and we will find the silver lining revealed in the midst of the storm clouds!  
     I came across the following poem  in both materials from my father AND on an on-line devotion for this scripture yesterday.  It gives voice well to the promise of God's glory in the trials of God's time.  

Natalie Sleeth 

In the bulb, there is a flower;
In the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise;
butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter
There's a Spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

There's a song in ev'ry silence,
Seeking word and melody;
There's a dawn in ev'ry darkness,
Bringing hope to you and me. 
From the past will come the future;
What it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see. 

In our end is our beginning;
In our time, infinity. 
In our doubt there is believing;
In our life, eternity. 
In our death, a resurrection;
At the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season
Something God alone can see.

Unrevealed until its season,
Something yet unknown,
Which God alone can see.     

Friday, March 30, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 33

LENT DAY 33 - Friday, March 30
2 Corinthians 4:6-7    Cracked Pots
"God said,'Light up the darkness!' and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful...We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.  That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us." (The Message)
    I don't usually think of my life as a plain unadorned clay pot; nothing special in and of itself.  But God has chosen the very ordinary of our lives to reveal God's power, so that there can be no doubt that when we reveal "the light", it is God himself that shows through.  A fancy pot, festooned with decorations and "extras", can't reveal the light - it becomes hidden in the "extras" and can't penetrate through.  A fancy pot is concerned with its own beauty, not that of God.  But our plain ordinary pots must have endured some hardship, some difficulty, in order to crack enough to let the light of God break forth.  Each time the pot cracks a little under the duress of life, the light of God is better able to shine!  Every curve life throws at us only allows the light of God to shine brighter from our "cracked pot".  
     The message of God's love is light to the world!  Let your light shine!

Today's devotion is NOT from, but from one of the Lenten lectionary scriptures.  We were on the road today, hence the very late posting!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 32

LENT DAY 32 - Thursday, March 29
John 12:27-30     FOR GOD, NOT ME. 
"Right now, I am storm tossed. And what am I going to say? 'Father, get me out of this'? No, this is why I came in the first place. I'll say, 'Father, put your glory on display.' "  (The Message) 
     Jesus knew what was going to happen.  He knew it was going to be painful and he would suffer.  How could he go through with it willingly?  Because he also knew God would be glorified.  He knew people would come to know God through his death.  He knew if he concentrated on the "God focus", he could endure the painful ME part.  
     When life gets tough, taking the focus from Me to God can always help us endure.  Seeing how a painful (be it emotional, social, or physical pain) experience can glorify God can provide just the impetus needed to carry on. It somewhat reminds me of the adage, "When life gets tough, the tough get going."  Be tough in our focus, be tough in pointing the glory to God, and everyone can be a "winner". 
     What difficult or painful experiences are you having right now?  Am I? Could they help others to see God, to see Christ in you and me?  Let us keep our focus on glorifying God and we can endure.   

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 31

LENT DAY 31: Wednesday, March 28
John 12:25-26   RECKLESS IN LOVE
"Anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.  If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me... The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me." (The Message)

     I love Eugene Peterson's choice of words here in The Message: be "reckless in love".  To follow Jesus, to serve the living God, is to be lavish in loving: to love the marginalized, the poor, the terrorists, those who believe differently from us, those who speak against us, those who have different skin tones from us.  To love ALL, not just in word, but in ACTION!  With this wild abandonment of loving, God will honor our actions.  What high praise to be criticized for or described as being "reckless in love"!  What am I doing to earn this label?  What should I be doing?  What is keeping me from it?  What about you?  What about our churches?  How reckless is our love?  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Lent Day 30

LENT DAY 30 - Tuesday, March 27
John 12:23-24    Planting Wheat.  Planting Life. 
"Listen carefully.  Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat.  But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over."  (The Message)
     Planting seeds!  It's spring!  This reminds me of all the catalogs I've received in the past months and the on-line reminders from Gurneys and Michigan Bulb to "Order Now!"  It makes me recall all the unplanted packets of seeds I found when cleaning off my desk.  Envelopes of unrealized potential.  Little kernels of hope, new life, and promise still waiting to be buried in the soil and brought to life.  
     Your can't help but look around at the our natural world and realize that God created it as a cycle of life, death, and new life.  Without the death of the old, we can't bring out the new. Without autumn, we can't have spring.  If we don't plant the seed, we can't realize the blossom.  What glory and promise can one single death bring?  One seed can bring the harvest of much fruit!  
     What are the wheat kernels in our lives that we need to bury?  Resentment?  Conflict?  Choices?  What new opportunities and hopes might result? 

Bandon Spring 2012 Part A

     Ah!  It is late Sunday night in Bandon and time to head for bed.  But first a quick posting of our trip to date so far.  
     We arrived Friday night right around 5:30 pm following a relatively uneventful drive over from Baker City.  Considerable snow in places, but the roads were clear for the most part.  We left with a light sleety snow falling in Baker City, and arrived with a hint of misty rain on the coast.  We went through clouds and sunshine on the drive.  Highlight view for me was the snow crusted crags of Three Fingered Jack sparkling in the snow with a deep blue sky in the background.  We caught just a glimpse in one curve of the highway just past Santiam Pass.  The drive over Santiam is stark this time of year as the "remains" of a years past forest fire still mark the route with black sticks in a snowy ground.   Rick drove most of the way (I was nodding...) as we listened to a Clive Cussler Book on Tape and I finished two shepherds for the needlepoint nativities.  
     Right to "work" after dinner as Mom and I got started with some games and I scanned the first few of the 4 boxes of slides I brought over to process.  (Each box has about 400 slides, but I won't be scanning all of them!)  More likely - I'll end up doing about 40% of the pictures.  
     Saturday was pretty lazy!!  Scanned slides, played games, and worked on Mom's taxes!  Ate leftovers for dinner.  More games, more slides.  Mom and I went to see the Bandon Playhouse production of "Barefoot in the Park" with Cathy Combe.  Not bad, but probably not the best one I've seen in Bandon.  
     Sunday dawned wet and rainy.  I got my scribble drawn before leaving with Mom for church at 8:30.  I went with her to Sunday School class (another round of John 3:16!!) then church.  Then to the store to pick up veggies for tonight's stir fry.
       Afternoon spent working on slides, taxes, cleaning out files, and updating tyhe pictures on dfisplay in Mom's room. (I went on Facebook and got new pictures of the grandkids for her!) Shrimp stirfry dinner, good visit with Mac on the phone, and a walk on the beach for some awesome sunset pictures with Rick.  Our barefeet were freezing, but the sky was worth it! 

Monday, March 26:
     I was thinking I would get up and head down to the beach this morning as the tide was low (well, lower, but not great) AND....believe it or not....the sun was temporarily shining!  The forecast for later today is 90% rain!  However.....I did not get up as early, then I got distracted with books Mom kept showing to me, so I didn't get my scribble finished and the blog posted until 10am!!   At that point it was apparent the sun wasn't going to last much longer, so Rick and I headed out for a walk to Coquille Point and the National Wildlife Refuge that has been in construction out on the point.  (Rick has walked down here often, but I had not been out to the point in years.)  I wanted to walk on the road today as the cold sand was really hard on my feet last night!  
     Nice walking north!  A little bit of sunshine still warming things up and since the wind was at our back we didn't notice it!  Walked down to the point where Beach Loop Road takes its bend to the east and the path cuts down the hillside to the jetty area on beach level.  Then back along the new path around Coquille Point, Table Rock, and Elephant Rock.  At the 11th St. Junction we rejoined the Beach Loop to head back to Mom's.  The wind was picking up steam out on the point!  I was glad we were walking back along the road with its sheltered spots here and there.  It was nice getting some new views of the rocks, etc.  
     After a lazy lunch, a few more slides scanned and games lost to Mom in S&M, Mom and I headed down to the church to work on laying out a quilt.  It proved to be a futile venture:  the quilt back was not as big as required.  We were going to have to come back another time after adding some strips to the backing, material which Mom had at home.  So .... down to the fish market for some salmon for tonight and a little clam chowder to boot.  Back to the house to see Rick's accomplishments on fixing the front door so it doesn't stick anymore, and the lock in the kitchen door is loosened up  and working!  He is crossing off his list much faster than I!!!  (Although we mailed Mom's taxes today!)
     After dinner Mom and I perused washing machines on the Sears web site. Rick thinks it is time - Mom's machine is making horrible noises.  We shall venture up to Coos Bay tomorrow!  Quiddler and S&M follow, which give me time to FINISH scanning the slides I brought!  


Monday, March 26, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Lent Day 29

LENT DAY 29 - Monday, March 26
John 12:20-21    Who do you see?
"There were some Greeks in town who had come up to worship at the Feast.  They approached Philip:...."Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help me?" (The Message)
     Wouldn't we all like to SEE Jesus today?!  Images abound on the Internet - usually with flowing brown hair, fair skin, blue or brown eyes, a warm understanding smile, gentle hands.  In searching for Jesus (on-line!), I did find a few multi-racial Christs, one with a Superman Logo half hidden under his robe.  I rather liked that image - isn't Jesus one of the most SUPER MEN we have ever known?  I also found the lion from Narnia and multiple symbols - the cross, a fish, a butterfly, a star or a heart.  
     In my Scribbles, I have tried to portray in my image of Jesus both the diety and the humanity of our Lord.  The colors are the same as the image of God (as if I knew what God looks like!) and the wings are our pop cultural attempt to show a heavenly, or "beyond this world" being.  But my Scribble is also human - the same tuft of hair as all human figures, the same shape figure.  Jesus is God.  Jesus was man. 
     But the question really is, "What does Jesus look like today to you?"  So many say they can't wait to see Christ when he returns.  I ask, can we not see Christ today in the faces of those we see now?  A child?  The beggar?  A gift?  A word?  Open your eyes and heart to see Jesus on your journey of life.  Look!  He's come back already!  He's here!  Now!  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Jeremiah 31:31-34   A CLEAN SLATE
"I will put my law within them - write it on their hearts! -and be their God... They'll know me first-hand...I'll wipe the slate clean for each of them.  I'll forget they ever sinned." (The Message, 33-34)
     God is omnipotent.  God can do all, see all.  God knows all.  And most importantly, God can forget all.  How many times did he forgive and forget the sins of the Israelites?  Over and over.  And he does it still today.  
     God loves.  God forgives sin.  God forgets sin.  In Christ, it's written on our hearts.  We don't have read about it.  This good news is IN us.  Read your heart.  Forgive and forget the sins within yourself, as well as the sins of others.  God already has.  

On this week the theme is TO SEE JESUS, written by Atlanta Baptist Bo Prosser.  His benediction for the week:
Look there at Jesus.  
Who do you see?

Follow him.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 28

Lent Day 28 - Saturday, March 24
Ephesians 2:8-10     Good Works!
"Saving is all God's idea, all his work....It's God's gift from start to finish!  We don't play the major role....God does both the making and the saving.  He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing."  (The Message)
     Like a good tool is designed for a particular job, God created us to be "tools of good works" - to perform acts of kindness, justice, to care for one another.  We may not all be made for the SAME good works or jobs as we all have different gifts.  We need to develop those gifts and use them.   But the overall task or job is the same - do good for others!
     Why?  Because of Christ.  Because we are saved.  Not to gain salvation.  We already have that through God's grace.  But BECAUSE of salvation.      

Friday, March 23, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 27

Lent Day 27 - Friday, March 23
Ephesians 2:1-7    Made Alive!
"Immense in mercy and with an incredible love, God embraced us.  He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ."  (The Message, v. 4)
     Alive in Christ!  Truly alive!  How often do we sometimes feel like we are "going through the motions" of life, but not REALLY living?  As we get older, we start to think that "life has passed us by".  Zombies are the rage in pop culture.  Maybe they do represent our "pre-christ" lives, stumbling around in a haze, not fully dead, but surely not living the life God intends.  Let God put his love into us and bring us to true life and living in all its fullest measure!  Let us enter God's "Re-Creation Factory" and be made new!  What a glorious concept! 

(Posts may be irregular over the next week as I am on vacation and don't have regular computer access!)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 26

Lent Day 26 - Thursday, March 22
John 3:19-21     God Light!
"...God Light streamed into the world, but men and women ran for the darkness....Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil..hates God Light and won't come near it, fearing a painful exposure.  But anyone working and living in Truth and reality welcomes God light so the work can be seen for the God work it is."  (The Message)
     Light and Dark.  What a contrast!  What a difference it can make!  Just ask those who live at northern latitudes who bear the depression of long periods of darkness. I know my sleep patterns are all messed up by the Daylight Time change - it is dark again in the morning!  I don't wake up as well.  
     God Light is a different kind of light.  God Light can shine in the darkness anytime.  It will scatter the darkness of sin and evil.  God Light reveals what is sinful in us, often causing us to run from that exposure.  We all will have moments of questioning and confusion, of making mistakes.  But God Light can shine anew again and again to show us the way!  To scatter those mistakes and poor intentions!  Seek the God Light to illumine the way to do God's work! Live in the Light!   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 25

Lent Day 25 - Wednesday, March 21
John 3:17    God Saves! 
"For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its Savior." (TEV)
     John 3:16 is the verse always seen on a placard at ball games and major events, but it shouldn't be separated from its companion verse 17.  To put them together gives you the FULL Gospel in a Nutshell: God loves us.  All of us.  God sent Jesus.  Not to judge, but to save.  
     Jesus didn't come to tell us how bad we were or to condemn us.  He came to show us, by example, a better way.  He came to make things right in our relationship with our Creator God.  He came to make our lives whole and filled with purpose.  In loving us, he saves us.  
     "Jesus is not judge or jury, but brother and friend." (PH  In the name of Christ, can we not treat each other in the same manner? 
Footnote:  At some point during the night, I realized I was composing this scribble in my mind.  I had thought I would make an additional John 3:16 drawing when I arose this morning.  Imagine my surprise when I found the parting line to today's devotional to read, "God came to save us."  I dreamed the scribble before I even knew the verse!  Is God at work?  Wow!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 24

Lent Day 24 - Tuesday, March 20
John 3:16    "God Loves ALL"
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son.  And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." (Message)
     Peter Hanson of concentrates today on the first part of this best known and memorized New Testament scripture.  The part about God's love; love that is for all of us, regardless of race, economics, politics, geography, spirituality or purity.  Love for the "good, the bad, and the ugly".  Love for saints and sinners.  An all-inclusive love.  We can grasp the concept of that love, but it is harder to turn it around and say "We are all loved by God."  Now WE are the subject of the statement, and we don't always make it the same all-inclusive loving WE that God uses.  WE means noisy neighbors, prison inmates, terrorists.  WE means rude businesses and friends who break promises.  WE means we share a common bond that we don't always want to share.  Do we treat each other with God's brand of inclusive love?
     How great was God's love for all of us?  He gave the most precious possession he had - his Son.  We can understand that kind of love....the love of a child.  It's a huge kind of love beyond description. 
     "Here's the gospel in a nutshell: God loves us.  All of us.  The whole world.  No exceptions." (ph)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 23

Lent Day 23 - Monday, March 19
John 3:14-15    "Re-Purpose"
"As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." (TEV)
     Two symbols: a snake and a cross.  Two representations of death and plague, torture and humiliation.  Negative symbols.  But God gives them a new life, a positive image.  They aren't just re-cycled or re-used, they are totally changed into a new purpose! The snake becomes a symbol of healing and wholeness.  The cross becomes one of the most recognized symbols in the world - the ultimate symbol of Christ's victory over death and a new life through God.  
     God makes things new - he can and does no less with each of us.  To what new purpose is God calling us?  As Rick and I retire, how are we being called to "repurpose" our lives?   This goes right back to the question Rev. Katy posed yesterday in her sermon: What good works has God prepared/created me to do?  What does our purposeful life look like?
Resource: Hanson 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Fourth Sunday

LOVE COMES TO THIS Weekly author: Peter Hanson
"Love has its reasons....Love intends a result; love has an end in mind.  When we say, 'God is love', we need to remember that." (PH)

Psalm 107:1-4
"Oh, thank God - he's so good!
His love never runs out!
All of you set free by God,
Tell the world!  (Message, v. 1)
What do we do first when we hear REALLY great news?  When a hoped for event occurs, a letter arrives, or a promise is kept?  We want to tell someone!  We pick up the phone and send a text or make a call.  We go to our computer and post it.  We probably don't stand on the front porch and shout it out, but we could! 
God's love and action in our lives is no different.  What is the FIRST thing we should do?  THANK, GOD!  And then, tell the world! God's love is not something we can or should keep to ourselves.  It is truly THE Good News.  Why do we become hesitant to share the miracles, the extent of God's powerful love?  This is news that must be sent out!  We must witness to God at work!  
God is good.  God is love.  All the time!  Spread the word.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 22

LENT DAY 22:  Saturday, March 17
Psalm 19:1-4   "A Shout-Out to God"
"God's glory is on tour in the skies,
God's craft on exhibit across the horizons....
Their words aren't heard, their voices aren't recorded.
But their silence fills the earth, Unspoken truth is spoken everywhere."
(The Message 1, 3-4) author Julie Pennington-Russell used the term "shout out" in her devotion this morning.  Not being up on city vernacular, I had to google the term on the "Urban Dictionary" website.  A shout-out, used as a noun, is an acknowledgment of high respect and regard.  I think the key words here are acknowledgment and respect: unspoken and silent, yet an ever present witness to the presence of our God in the world He has created.  Unrecorded music is sung in the heavens.  Are we listening in silence?  In awe?  In worship?  Stop in busy pursuit of daily activities.  Take time to wonder - to stand in awe of God's handiwork - and to return the "Shout Out" to God.  That is and can be a form of worship. 
     Pennington-Russell closed each devotion this week with the following benediction from Hebrews 12 (28-29).  I'll use it to close out this week.  
Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
Let us give thanks,
Which we offer to God in acceptable worship
With reverence and awe.
For indeed our God is a consuming fire.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 21

Lent Day 21 - Friday, March 16
1 Corinthians 1: 20-25   "God Wisdom"
"Christ is God's ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one.  Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God.  Human strength can't begin to compete with God 'weakness'."  (The Message)
     God has chosen and will continue to choose the most unexpected ways to reveal himself, his power, his message, his purposes.  We simply DO NOT have that knowledge.  Paul calls it "foolishness".  We might call it the absurd: 99 year old women giving birth, giant arks, time stopping, waters parting, and God coming to us in a humble birth.  This is not the way that our intelligence works.  This isn't the way is should be!  But it IS the way of God! 
     God does not work through the power and knowledge of the wealthy or wise.  Not his modus operandi!  When we see the cross, we must see God, in all the craziness the cross represents.    We must continue to see God in all his unexpected ways with his up-side-down wisdom  (at least to our view!)  Maybe we should stand on our head and we would get a better picture of God!  Expect the unexpected!  Be prepared to find God in all his foolishness!  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 20

Lent Day 20 - Thursday, March 15
1 Cor 1:18-19    "Foolishness"
"For the message about Christ's death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God's power.  The scripture says, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and set aside the understanding of the scholars."  (TEV)
     We live in an age of rapidly expanding knowledge, multiplying so fast it is beyond human capacity to understand.  God operates in that same world - beyond our ability to comprehend.  God works through the weak and the powerless, so there can be NO DOUBT that it is only through God, his power, that the work is done.  God works through those we consider "fools" - it's how Christ was regarded.  
     This was also the text for last Sunday's sermon, coupled with Psalm 19.  I didn't quite understand how it fit in on Sunday.  But perhaps we consider the wonder of God, the proclamations of the heavens and nature, to be unworthy of "conventional wisdom" or that of the "scholars".  We can't begin to understand the magnitude of the nature of God.  Is it foolishness to think God might speak to us through a butterfly, through a sunrise or sunset, or the glory of a night sky?  I think not.  Let us set aside our understanding and operate from God's wisdom.  Let us regard it a compliment is someone were to tell us, "You are a fool for Christ!"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 19

LENT DAY 19: Wednesday, March 14
John 2:18-22     "Temple Address"

"Jesus answered, 'Tear down this temple and in three days, I'll put it back together.' .... Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple."  (The Message, 19-20)

     We love to "put God" in his "place" - at church, a temple, a holy site.  But buildings can be destroyed in a moment of time - a fire, a flood, a tornado.  The Israelites considered the Temple and Mt. Zion as the abode of God.  But in this passage, Jesus is saying HE is the NEW temple, a temple that cannot be destroyed, lost, or taken away.  NOTHING can take the presence of God from us - it is about relationships, not buildings.  
     This made me think about God as having an "address" for the mail (our concerns & petitions?) to be delivered.   God can never be in the "dead letter" box, because we have an all-present, ever-current forwarding address.  Jesus is God's forwarding address.  
     What about our temples or churches today?  We need to remember the physical building isn't what is important - it's what we do inside and outside those building walls, in relationship and service to God, that matters.  Buildings are temporary, God is eternal.  Where is your temple?  Where is mine?  Is God's mail being delivered?  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 18

Lent Day 18 - Tuesday, March 13
John 2: 13-17   "Spring Cleaning!"

"It was almost time for the Passover Festival, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.  There in the Temple he found men selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons, and also the moneychangers sitting at their tables.  So he made a whip from cords and drove all the animals out of the Temple, both the sheep and cattle; he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins; and he ordered the men who sold the pigeons, 'Take them out of here!  Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!'  His disciples remembered that the scripture says, 'My devotion to your house, O God, burns in me like a fire.' "  (TEV)

     Jesus shows a little of that passion here.  He gets "all fired up" about the abuse he finds in his Father's house.  Rev. Katy recently asked our church, "What would you do if Christ came tomorrow?"  Our response was to "throw a party!"  Katy suggested that we might want to clean house first, suggesting the question might really be "What would CHRIST find if he came to our church tomorrow?"  
     Our Father's house, our temple, is where we meet God.  It might be more than a building - a place, a relationship, a dream, a passion, or an experience.  Regardless of the shape of our temple, if God were to enter, what would he find? (Not to mention that God enters daily.....)  Hopefully he would find some positive actions and responses, but what else?  What spring cleaning do we need to do to honor our God and show the value we place on his relationship?  What clutter of life has gotten in our way to prevent a pure relationship with God?  Clutter of over-scheduling?  Clutter of priorities?  Blight of mis-spoken words?  Mini sins?  (Is there such a thing?)  
     We need to do a little spring cleaning in our hearts, our lives, our churches, our communities to prepare for the party of God.  Let's take our passion for our living God and get out the mops and the rags and CLEAN!    I'm off to clean the kitchen!  (And those who really know me, understand that cleaning is usually at the bottom of my list!) 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Day 17

Lent Day 17 - Monday, March 12
Exodus 20:4-6   "No Generics!"
"Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, because I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals." (verse 5, TEV)
     Store brand cereal, generic drugs, imitation vanilla, fake Oreo cookies, used cars, Salvation army clothing.  There are certainly times when you don't need top quality, when the Dollar Store variety will fit your needs.  But not when it comes to God!  God accepts no substitutes!  God is the REAL Oreo cookie, the Coca Cola, the Kellogg's of Gods.  We wouldn't think of having a relationship with a picture of our spouse, would we?  We can't have a relationship with anything other than God himself (herself?)  He is the ONE worth building all else of life around.  Worship ONLY the best.  Trust ONLY in the one true God.  Accept no substitutes, because there are none.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Journey to the Cross - Third Sunday

Third Sunday in Lent: Sunday, March 11
Weekly Focus:  PASSION
Featured Writer: Baptist Pastor Julie Pennington-Russell

     Passion is what inescapably drives us to attention, to action.  I love the saying that our calling should be where "our passion meets the world's greatest need".  Passion is what we get "all fired up" about!  God has a passion, too.  His passion is for the renewal of life and reconciliation with all he has created.  JP-R writes, "When a person gets close to the fire of that which drives God, it can set that person aflame."  What a great thought!  To be on fire with God's passion, which can and should create a passion within ourselves.  Can you feel a "holy heat" saturating your body when you spend time in company with God?  

Exodus 20:1-3   "Boundaries"
"I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves.  Worship no god but me." (TEV) 

In Exodus, with the Ten Commandments, God established boundaries for his people, a basic set of rules as a framework for living in right relationship with God and with each other.  We are free to live outside these limitations, but it will NOT be life to the fullest.  Our parents set boundaries as children, boundaries that said, "I love you enough to make these rules!"  God has done nothing less.  Boundaries are a sign of utmost love.  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Birthday Hike

     The weather forecast for Saturday, March 10, was cloudy and possible rain.  I was disappointed as Friday had been gorgeous, but filled with things to do.  But....we awoke on Saturday morning to a clear blue sky and decided....let's go while the going is good!  Not knowing how long we would have, we headed up to Dooley Summit with snowshoes in hand, prepared for whatever.  Even if the outing ended up short, we were going to get outside for my birthday!  
     The snowshoes stayed in the car.  We could have used them, but didn't need them as the road surface was fairly well packed and made for relatively easy hiking.  Later on, up on the hillside, we had a few moments of sinking in to our knees, but nothing major!  
Our destination is the large knoll in the background.
     Mostly we revealed in the sunshine, the incredibly blue skies, especially to the north and east, and the wonderful colors on the rocks.  The temperature was in the 40's!  
Rick in front of our Truffula Tree
     Our hike took us past Trail Creek road to the area where the road is drifted with snow (and we felt the wind definitely pick up!)  We decided to veer off-road and climb to the top of the knoll just east of Dooley.  We usually call it Jed's Knoll or Jed's Dooley as he climbed it the first time thinking he was up on Dooley! I mostly find this windswept and fire desolated area fascinating for the wild trees that remain with their dry and white branches.  The fire that swept the Dooley Summit area was over a decade ago, yet little has returned to grow.  The lower hillsides are covered with the tidy rows of replanted trees, but nothing is growing back too quickly.  Near the top is a huge tree with a mass of intertwined branches - I thought it looked like the truffula trees of The Lorax (which then made me think we should go to the movies later today and see the movie!  Which we did!)  We took a few pictures up on top, but the wind blew hard or the sun made our eyes squint, so they aren't photo album quality!  
     We were back down to the car by noon!  A great birthday outing! 

See all the pictures HERE!  

Elkhorn Mts. in distance 

Journey to the Cross - Day 16

Day 16 - Saturday, March 10
Romans 4:13-17   "Beyond the Rules"
"For if what God promises is to be given to those who obey the law, then man's faith means nothing and God's promise is worthless." (TEV, v. 14)

     This passage is filled with Paul's wonderful, twisted and convoluted phrasing which, when finished, means you really aren't sure just what he is saying!  In particular, chapter four focuses on Abraham and the belief that Abraham is blessed not because he "followed the rules" but because he LIVED his faith and place absolute trust in God.      

     Faith isn't just a noun meaning to believe.  It is a verb implying living in trusting obedience to God.  It is more than following the rules.  It is receiving from God and acting on that trust.  The law, the rules, are guidelines, a necessary setting of boundaries within a community.  But they are not the end in themselves.  (I think of the many discussions on "intent of the law versus the letter of the law").   I have a framed quotation in my living room that reads, "Faith is not believing that God can, it is knowing that God will."  It is in the knowing that we act in trust.  Just following the rules isn't enough. 

Note:  My sons have informed me that "edit-repost" doesn't necessarily send out the email notification each time, so I guess I will go the route of a new post everyday from now on!