Monday, February 25, 2013

Upsetting Your Normal

You remember the story, don't you? Jesus had just ordered a legion of demons out of a tormented man after they'd greeted Jesus with a plea to not torment them.

When Jesus was done with them, a large herd of pigs was drowned and the once naked man was clothed. Torment and terror had been exorcised, replaced by peace and clarity.

The villagers came en masse to see for themselves. They found the crazy man sitting at Jesus' feet: calm, thinking straight, hanging on Jesus' every word. He drank in Jesus' healing presence and wished he could stay with Him forever.

The villagers and demoniac had exchanged places: the man now calm at Jesus' feet, the villagers terrified asking Jesus to leave.

Some had tried to clothe and chain "Legion." They had failed, trumped by unearthly terror and violence. Jesus, above all powers, encountered him and brought restoration.
Photo from PhilosophyGeek
You'd think the villagers would have wanted Him around. Instead, they were scared. While Jesus had done the impossible, He cost the pig farmers their livelihood. And He had upset their normal.

Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. (Luke 8:37, NIV)

Unexamined fear slammed shut the door of their hearts. What would Jesus do to them? Would His interventions bring further loss? Discomfort? Changes in their routine?

So [Jesus] got into the boat and left.

Read Luke 8:26-39.

Consider how fear of the unknown might chain you away from Jesus' restoration.

What might be Jesus' motivation in drawing close and upsetting your "normal?"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Guest Blog--Insights in the Dark

One of our daughters shared this experience with me and kindly agreed to share it with you also. Thanks, Charissa.

It's 4 a.m. and I am wide awake. My alarm certainly didn't go off, and I didn't get to bed till 1:30 a.m.. I lay in bed for a half hour hoping to fall asleep. My day is full--I know I need rest, but it makes no difference. So I get up and go to my desk to get some work done for the day.

It's now after 5 a.m. and yoga seems like a good idea. If I can't sleep, I might as well relax and stretch out my body from the craziness of the week. It's only 5:30 now. What to do?

I get a sudden urge to go down to the beach, so I peer out my window and see a quiet sky lit only by stars. The urge is so strong I don’t question, just change my clothes and grab my phone.

No one in the elevator, no one in the lobby, not even in the gym I pass by. I get to the stairs that lead down to the ocean. I stop and wonder, What am I doing? It's 5:45 in the morning--not a soul out, it's pitch black, and here I am going down to the beach by myself.

What if there are scary men down there? I feel a quiet check in my spirit saying what I’m doing is right, so I proceed down stairs I can barely see.

It is beautiful and creepy stepping into the sand. Not a person in sight, the little I can see is directly in front of me. The stars in the sky envelop me and the sound of the waves crash around me. I stumble upon some chairs near the stairs, so I decide to sit in what seems like a safe place.

I look up admiring the stars and the moon, thanking God for the beauty he has put on display for us. I close my eyes and breathe in the fresh salt air, thankful that God has worked healing into nature for mind, body and soul.

I open my eyes. There is a dark moving object on the shoreline. With each wave crashing, it takes new shape. Is this an animal coming out of the ocean? Will it harm me? Will it kill me? Should I be afraid? Realizing I shouldn't have watched those videos of killer whales surfacing on the shore to kill their prey then return to the water, I begin to feel fear release from my body. At a tender rebuke from my Creator, I close my eyes, focus and meditate on God, and breathe calmly again … even though I occasionally open my eyes to confirm there is no killer whale coming out of the ocean to harm me.

With eyes opened and focused on what is most likely a rock, I become aware of how fear separates me from the sweet connection I have with God when I focus solely on him.

I wonder: of what else am I afraid?

What if a man is going to walk up towards me, realize I am alone and harm me?
What if the company I so love working for has to close their doors and I am out of a job?
What if the house I am in now sells before I can find something else? Will I even be able to find a place I can afford?
Will I ever meet a Christian man I want to marry?

The waves continue to crash around me, but calm has come. God is replacing fear with truth.

The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?

Fear and trust don't work together. I will focus on what I can't quite see, or what I can't see at all. Gazing up at the stars and the moon that is taking on more light from the rising sun, I choose to trust.


Read Psalm 27 and Luke 12:22-43.

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze up on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27: 4).

David had reason to doubt and fear. Evil was planted at his door, but he made the choice to live in trust, not fear: to seek, dwell, gaze and seek some more.

What are the things that breed fear in your life?
How can you actively shift your gaze from the things you fear to God who is good, strong and our salvation?
What does it mean to seek, dwell, gaze and seek some more?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Come and Listen

It's one thing to come, another to listen.

Sometimes we dress up for God's banquet but we're distracted by demands clamoring in the background. We look and smell good, we think, but procrastination or disobedience smear our shoes and untie our laces so that the threat of tripping keeps us occupied with ourselves.

God's longing is not merely that we come to Him, but that we listen and apply His insights.

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare (Isaiah 55:2b, NIV).

Our attention to Jesus' invitation becomes our invitation that He nourish us and fill us with joy. We put aside foods that bloat and fatten. At His table, we relish grace's provisions, no longer distracted by empty calories. We bow in holy delight, the reward of saying yes to Jesus' call to come and eat His food.

Isaiah calls these full and amazing plates of food the richest of fare. Nothing frugal about it. The King's food nourishes. It calls eyes and taste buds to enjoyment. Jesus' food and drink satisfy with goodness like nothing else can.  

What takes the lion's share of your attention?

Is God's Spirit calling you to listen to a new perspective on your activity that will help your soul delight more fully at His table?

Monday, February 11, 2013


Years ago I stumbled on Picasso's Frugal Repast. The gaunt lines and hollow emotions pulled me into their plight although I myself had never experienced deep physical hunger.

Not long after, the Holy Spirit showed me His art work in Isaiah 55. In contrast to empty plates and bellies, empty calories and frustration, Isaiah pointed to wine, milk and satisfying bread at God's table.

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; ...
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy? (Isaiah 55:1-2, NIV)

The One who said He'd give living water freely (John 7:37-39; Revelation 22:17), Who said we need not thirst again if we drank from Him (John 4:13-14), welcomes us to His table with open arms.

Thirsty from spinning endlessly on our hamster wheel, we can stop our unproductive activity and go to Him. He freely offers water, wine, wheat, and oil. Broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, and cakes are all on the table.

There, He provides nourishment for weary, sad souls. He knows we are unable to meet our needs without His intervention.

Jesus Christ has spread a lavish table at great cost. He stands at the corners of our life calling out, Come, you who are thirsty!


Do you hear Jesus' call to you, "Come?" What might He be calling you to leave, to exchange for greater satisfaction?

What food is He offering you today?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Treasure Hunt

I was hunting for a verse in Psalm 119 before going to the book of Colossians. My Bible opened to Daniel where an underlined sentence grabbed my attention.
There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries (Daniel 2:28, NIV).
I refreshed my memory with the context. Daniel and his friends desperately needed divine intervention so they could discern and interpret the king's dream and save their lives.
When I read Psalm 119:18, Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law, it was as if Daniel’s God, the Revealer of Mysteries, shone His spotlight on the page. So, I released a fresh breath of anticipation as I headed to Colossians.

"Mystery" was my next clue on this treasure hunt. Very aware of the mysteries ahead in our transition of housing and job, I searched for more clues in Colossians.

Historically, God revealed mystery through His law. Then as Christ revealed Himself, His followers discovered that He—Himself--is God's mystery revealed! Christ in us, the hope of glory! (Colossians 1:26-27.)

The Revealer of Mysteries will make His ways known. The Lord of Daniel, David, and Paul does not change. He revealed dreams, battle strategies, presentations, and navigational routes.
Christ in us still reveals mysteries. As we search out His ways, He leads us to amazing treasure. Each spotlights breathtaking discovery: Christ in us, the hope of glory.


 How does God reveal Himself to you through "Christ in you, the hope of glory?"