Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ever feel like Mishmannah or Makbannai?

It’s my guess that you have never heard a sermon preached from 1 Chronicles 12.  It is just full of names of people we had never heard of before.

For example here are verses 8-15:

Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the wilderness. They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains.

9 Ezer was the chief,
Obadiah the second in command, Eliab the third,
10 Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth,
11 Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh,
12 Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth,
13 Jeremiah the tenth and Makbannai the eleventh.
14 These Gadites were army commanders; the least was a match for a hundred, and the greatest for a thousand. 15 It was they who crossed the Jordan in the first month when it was overflowing all its banks, and they put to flight everyone living in the valleys, to the east and to the west.

And there were plenty more names in 1 Chronicles.  But here is what hit me when I was listening to these verses:   Each of them did their part. Similar to the book of Nehemiah that talks so much about teamwork, David was an amazing warrior because of his army — each individual person who was willing to risk it all for the sake of the cause.

Maybe you feel like Mishmannah or even Makbannai some days.   Whether it’s at work, at church, or even in your family — you can sometimes feel like you are the fourth or even the eleventh in the line of power.  (That can happen when you have 12 kids :-) — but it can also happen in a large extended family situation).   

As I read through the names above it strikes me that even though there was a pecking order, they were all considered important.  They were all said to have the same characteristics.  Even Mishmannah the fourth and Makbannai, the eleventh, were reported to be brave, to be ready for battle, to handle the shield and the spear.  They had the faces of lions — and were swift as gazelles.   It wasn’t just those who were “high up” in the chain of command that were awesome.   It worked because everyone was all of those awesome things and were willing to play the role God, and David, had given them.   And everyone faced the same enemy.

I don’t know what application that has for you, but I believe we it’s important that we all remember that we have roles to play that God has assigned us and that someone's role doesn’t make them any more or any less valuable than anyone else.   If we are fighting in God’s army and totally committed to him, we are ALL brave …. we are ALL to be ready for battle…. we should ALL have the faces of lions.

Two songs this morning, possibly repeats, but equally awesome.

Friday, May 25, 2018


“Seriously?” you might be saying.   “I have stories for you about how love has failed.  Let me tell you about them.”

I can imagine that is your response because it is mine too.   There have been times in my life where I have loved well.  I have poured myself into a friendship, a romantic relationship, or a family member until I couldn’t do more.  I look back and I feel that I couldn’t have loved much better.  But it didn’t turn out like I thought it might so, doesn’t that mean that love failed?”

I believe the answer is a resounding no.    Why?  Because the story isn’t over yet.    

One of my favorite quotes by Tracy McMillan says, ““Everything works out in the end. if it hasn't worked out yet, then it's not the end.”

Our perspective is such an earthly one.   We see endings and beginnings within the constrains of time as we know it.  But that’s not how God sees things.

We may never know how the story ends until we have the perspective of eternity.  And we may not be able to understand the realities and impact of our loving until we reach heaven.  But I believe with all my heart that if we love like God loves, it never fails.

Today I was trying to decide between two songs and can’t.  Both of them are repeats.  So here they are.

The first reminds us of God’s eternal perspective:

and the second talks about God’s love and how it never fails.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Love Always Perseveres

In Romans 8 Paul asks what can separate us from the love of God.   Makes a list saying, “Can these hardships stop God from loving us?”








In other words, if you have problems and trials to the point where you have nothing to eat or where, if you are facing dangers, even if your life is threatened or taken, can that stop God’s love from persevering?

His response:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

And then he makes another list.  He says “I am convinced that none of these things can separate us from God’s love either:

the present
the future
any powers

or ANYTHING ELSE in all of creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ.

Wow.   Just wow.

So today, my question is this:   If we love and attempt to love as God did, then our love should others in the same way.

When it comes to my children, Bart and I can make this statement:   What can separate you from our love?  Neither stealing from us, nor lying from us, neither jail time or expected pregnancies, neither curse words nor threats on our lives, nor false allegations, failing school, refusing to speak to us, or even your indifference will separate you from our love.

I’m not saying that we have loved perfectly, in fact many of the adjectives that describe love in the First Corinthians passage aren’t always true of us.  But we have persevered.  We have not given up.  We still hope for and pray for all of our children … no matter what.

We serve a no matter what God… so our response to others should be a love that perseveres, no matter what.

Monday, May 21, 2018


Knowing all weekend that I was going to write about this this morning I have been struggling with these three words.  Love.  Always.  Trusts.

I’d love to have time to sit down and talk with each of you about what you think this means, because I’ve been stuck.   So I’m going to do some rambling.

We have a mindset that says that others need to “earn our trust.”  But there are no qualifiers to this statement “love always trusts.”   So maybe if we want to be a person who loves we should start with trust.

But what it someone has betrayed our trust?  It’s foolish to keep trusting them, right?  Or what if we have had our trust destroyed by someone in our past, so it’s too hard to trust anyone?

Trust is defined as “the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”   Can we trust once trust has been broken?  Can we firmly believe in the reliability of someone who has proven themselves to be unreliable?

So far (and I’m not done thinking about it yet) I have concluded that love always is in the process of trust.   I either have trust or I am finding ways to rebuild it.    Possibly trust in an individual person is impossible, but I am seeking to rebuilt my ability to trust myself, and, most importantly, to trust God.   Concluding that I can never trust anyone, including God or myself again, is not an option if I want to be one who loves.  

We have often applied 1 Corinthians 13 to apply to our relationship with others, but it may more importantly describe what we do if we love God.  Or, as my husband suggested last night when we were discussing this, that it is talking about God’s love for us.

As I still wrestle with this, I’ve decided that I am going to continue to approach each new person I meet with the idea that they can be trusted until proven otherwise.  As I get older, I’m wiser about what this looks like so that I don’t get taken advantage of, but I don’t want to be a person who assumes the worst about people before I know them.

Furthermore, if I have a relationship that is strained and where trust has been broken, as long as I am not in danger, I will seek to restore it.  No matter what, I want to live my life without fearing trust.   Perfect love casts out fear, so I am going to hold fast to that and work to trust people —  potential new friends, old friends
 and acquaintances  who may have hurt me, myself and, most importantly God.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Love Does Not Delight in Evil, but....

Good Christian folks don’t delight in evil.  This is an easy one, right?

Or maybe not so much.

Of course we don’t delight in things that the world calls evil, but hopefully that is a given.  But maybe there are things that are more subtly evil that we can catch ourselves delighting in.

Have you ever met someone who almost seems gleeful when someone else fails?  Know someone who is thrilled to start a Facebook conversation that results in furious anger between two opposing sides of an issue?  Known someone who you felt “got what they deserved” when something bad happened to them?

That may be the kind of “delighting in evil” that Paul was pointing out to us is not love.

The contrast to delighting in evil is rejoicing in the truth.  There are so many verses in Scripture that tell us the truth about who we are.  I encourage you to rejoice in these things today.  If we are busy rejoicing with the truth, there’s no time left to delight in evil! 

Say these things... out loud even!

I am God's child.  (Galatians 3:26)

I am Jesus' friend  (John 15:15)

I am a whole new person with a whole new life.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am a place where God's Spirit lives.  (1 Corinthians 6:19)

I am God's Incredible work of art. (Ephesians 2:10)

I am totally and completely forgiven.  (1 John 1:9)

I am created In God's likeness.  (Ephesians 4:24)

I am spiritually alive.  (Ephesians 2:5)

I am a citizen of Heaven.  (Philippians 3:20)

I am God's messenger to the world.  (Acts 1:8)

I am God's disciple-maker.  (Matthew 28:19)

I am the salt of the earth.  (Matthew 5:13)

I am the light of the world.  (Matthew 5:14)

I am greatly loved. (Romans 5:8)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m competitive.  I LOVE to win.  I like anything that involves keeping score, but try to avoid participation in anything I’m not good at.    And if I can find a way to keep score on something to turn it into a game it makes me more motivated.

If you were to go back in time with me to 1979 you’d see me at my first job.  Interestingly, I was a secretary at a place called Denver Girls which was similar to Big Sisters and I was the secretary.  I was typing case notes at 16!  They just weren’t mine.

But if you were to go back in time and open the top door of that desk you would find a small stenographers notebook with the words “Secretarial Olympics” written on the front.  In there I kept my stats.  How many envelopes could I stuff in 5 minutes?  How many labels could I put on in 3?  How many letters could be folded in 10 minutes?   And I timed and tracked it every time — always working to beat my own record.  All at the age of 16.  I’ve changed some, but not much since then.  :-)

So that may give you a little insight into the way my brain works.   So with a brain like that, that tracks everything, I have to work really hard not to keep track of the ways I’ve been wronged.

I think all of us, to some degree, start to build a negative script about a person that we simply add to.   We interpret the behavior of others based on that script.   We then start to see them as the person we have created them to be in our minds and start to build a case against them.

Love doesn’t do that.   Love offers grace.  Love assumes the best.  Love gives people the benefit of the doubt every time.

When attempting to love the way God wants us to, it’s easy to feel defeated, like we will never get there.  But the good news is that as we grow closer to God and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us, it’s Him working through us, and we don’t need to depend on our own strength.

This song says it well:

Monday, May 14, 2018

Not Easily Angered

I attended a seminar on anger way back in 1996 right after we started doing foster care.  The presenter held up an orange and asked, “If I squeeze this, what will come out?”  The response, obviously, is orange juice.  He went on to explain that if anger comes out of you, it’s because it was in there in the first place.  

Considering how many times I had become instantly furious with the then 16 year old we had in our home for a period of time I realized that there must be anger in there somewhere.   I had a reality check when I recognized just how many things I had become resentful about and realized that it was no wonder that all my anger was coming out.  

As you know, we have had many kids who have done way worse things than Chris, our former foster son, even knew how to do.  But two things have helped me to not respond in anger.  The first one is to make sure that my inner life is not filled with anger and resentment that has nothing to do with my children.   And the second is love that has grown over time.

The more we love someone the more grace we give them and the less time it takes us to become angry with them.   Because, you see, as 1 Corinthians ove is not easily angered.

I challenge you today to do an inventory of what is inside your heart.  If it is full of anger, bitterness, frustration and resentment, than anger is going to be your instant response when life squeezes you.   

And finally, the next time you encounter someone you love who has done something that frustrates you, let love be your guide.