Thursday, September 16, 2021

What Now?

Steven Curtis Chapman (SC squared) wrote the soundtrack of my life, something I share with Jason Weber who was one of the MCs for the general session of the CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans) summit.   I can remember so many of his songs that became a huge part of me and what I was going to.  He is only a year older than I am, and he started his Christian music career very young, so he has been with me through the ups and downs of all kinds of seasons.

"My Redeemer is Faithful and True" held me up when the first guy I ever fell in love with decided not to marry me (and you can imagine, with my personality, that I was fairly intense about that marriage happening).\

"His Strength is Perfect” was a theme when I headed to take the position formerly known as “Vice President for Student Development” at the ripe old age of 25.

“For the Sake of the Call” was on repeat in my head as I contemplated walking away from my favorite job to enter the mission field four years later.

“The Great Adventure” and that whole cassette tape accompanied me to my years in Mexico.

“Burn the Ships” was playing in the background as I decided to marry a man who had decided to leave the Wesleyan Church to become a United Methodist Pastor… 

“When Love Takes You in” was so significant as we went to Guatemala twice to adopt two boys from an orphanage (In fact, that album was released literally 4 days before we left to pick up our son Jimmy)

“All I Really Want for Christmas” was a song that motivated and inspired me through many years of recruiting adoptive families for older children.

“Cinderella” was a constant backdrop to watching our two daughters grow up.

“Every Little Things You Do” was a constant reminder that providing 17 rides a day to 9 teenagers really was something that pleased God.

“The Glorious Unfolding” became real to me as I entered my second year at a hard job with Bethany that I really loved l… but had no idea where it was leading me.

And I certainly needed to hear “More Than Conquerors” during 2016 — my first and hardest year at PHFS.

And last night again it happened.  He sang a new song that I hadn’t heard yet -- the perfect song for this season in my life… a season where my free time is spent meeting CarePortal needs.  I have become aware of this whole concept so completely through CarePortal.   Jesus is all around us waiting for us to find him and asking “What now?”

We can KNOW Jesus by meeting the needs of those around us.

Here are the lyrics.

I saw the face of Jesus 
In a little orphan girl 
She was standing in the corner 
On the other side of the world 

And I heard the voice of Jesus 
Gently whisper to my heart 
Didn't you say you wanted to find Me 
Well, here I am, here you are 

So what now 
What will you do now that you've found Me? 
What now 
What will you do with this treasure you've found 

I know I may not look like what you expected 
But if you'll remember 
This is right where I said I would be 
You found me, what now? 

And I saw the face of Jesus 
Down on Sixteenth Avenue 
He was sleeping in an old car 
While his mom went looking for food 

And I heard the voice of Jesus 
Gently whisper to my soul 
Didn't you say you wanted to know me 
Well, here I am 
And it's getting cold 

So come and know 
Come and know, know me now 
Come, come and know, know me now 

Powerful, huh?






https://youtu.be/FsnHV23c_5Y

Monday, May 17, 2021

I preached yesterday .... (in a church though, not just online :-)

Saturday night my husband got pretty sick with a stomach bug and by 8:30 Sunday morning had decided he couldn’t be away from the bathroom long enough to lead worship and preach.

And there’s only one person in the world willing to do those two things with 2 hours notice.  So I quickly prepared a sermon on the text that her had chosen for the day.  (Well actually what the Revised Common Lectionary had chosen for the Ascension, but I digress.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.  They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

I talked about how this season of COVID has had all of us standing still.   We have been, in essence, looking up waiting for guidance — not always from God, sometimes from the CDC and sometimes from the governor.  But we had to do a lot of standing and a lot of waiting.

I mentioned the feeling we have as parents when we look at a group of small children or a group of teenagers (who have much in common) and say “It’s time to go” and they all just look up at us and stare and don’t even start to move.

The passage above clearly states that the disciples were going to receive power and then be God’s witnesses of who He was and what He did.   And then he was lifted up and disappeared.  

And the disciples kept looking up at the sky until two men in white robes asked them why.   Why are you still looking up?

And of course, I ended it with a story about CarePortal and said, it’s time to stop looking up and start going out to be witnesses to our community — our Jerusalem — by not only what we say, by what we do.   

My final words “Let’s stop looking up…. let’s continue to come to church to learn how to go outside of our walls to BE the church.  

So I say the same thing to you.   Stop looking up — the Holy Spirit has given you power to be HIS witnesses where you are.  Now.  Today.



Thursday, May 13, 2021

Extremes

The song I’m sharing today is a song that I’ve shared before …. but the one I have shared before is the tame version.


John Mark McMillan wrote the song “He Loves Us” but there are two versions out there.   In the song there’s a line about a kiss that is a simile used to describe the love connection between heaven and earth – the Father sending the Son to earth as an action of love.

David Crowder sings it with the words ‘unforeseen kiss” while Kim Walker from Jesus culture sings “sloppy wet kiss.”

There’s a lot of discussion about these two versions and some say that the “sloppy wet kiss” is too extreme.

And I got to thinking about that today and thinking about how extreme God is.    Have you read the Old Testament?

And then there’s Jesus who uses hyperbole often to make a point.   "If your hand sins against you cut it off," remember?

And think about God’s plan to redeem us.  It wasn’t an easy plan  — it was actually kind of extreme — sending his son to die a bloody gruesome death.

So…. all that to say this …

Sometimes when we are talking about crazy God-sized stuff …. extreme language may be necessary — because we don’t serve a toned-down, watered-down, insipid God.   

Now enjoy this amazing song as you envision the love connection between heaven and earth as a sloppy wet kiss.




Monday, May 10, 2021

Happy Mother's Day?

Since I took PTO on Thursday and Friday to get our taxes done (and yes, you can imagine with my personality how fun that was for me) I didn’t get a chance to share thoughts about Mother’s Day before it was over.  But I have a few so here goes.

If everything is pretty good in your world and everything lines up, Mother’s Day is a great thing.   But for many folks, Mother’s Day can be a painful day.  

It’s painful if you happen to have lived through the death of your mother.

It’s painful if you are unable to have children for one reason or another.

It’s painful if you have a distant or conflicted relationship with either your mother or one of your children.

For many folks, yesterday was a challenge at a minimum or maybe you were even crippled with depression.

In my world, mother’s day has always been hard for my kids, and thus hard for me.  Even yesterday, with my kids now being ages 22-35, there were some stressful moments.

I started my day reading a blog post I wrote in 2009 because I needed to read it to remind myself of what the day is like for my kids.  I made my own self cry when I read it.  It’s worth the click.

The bottom line is this….. God, while our Father, also has many traits of a loving mother and God is always with us.   In Isaiah 66:13 we read:  As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.   

So whether or not Mother’s Day is a positive or a negative trigger, just know that God as our mother is ready to come to us and help us.

This verse from this great hymn reminds us of this:

Praise to the Lord, who doth nourish thy life and restore thee,
fitting thee well for the tasks that are ever before thee.
Then to thy need
God as a mother doth speed,
spreading the wings of grace o'er thee.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Abide

 If we hear the word abide, we kinda know what it means … but have you ever looked it up.

The definition is to live, or to dwell, or “to continue without fading or being lost.”

Apply those meanings to this scripture:

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

If we live/dwell in Jesus without fading or being lost, He will do the same for us.  Isn’t that an amazing promise?

Let’s all take time to remember how amazing it is that He abides with us.

Here’s a couple old hymns that focus on this thought.  Bonus points if you’ve heard both of them.  We used to sing it at old fashioned camp meetings when I was a holiness girl in the 70s.


https://youtu.be/84YASWe3_2Q

https://youtu.be/ZdW03C1qbrA

Thursday, April 29, 2021

For such a time as this...

Have you ever been told that you talk to much or that you just need to shut up?  I hear that occasionally.  I hear about being too passionate or talking about things too much.  I hear it from others and sometimes even inside my own head.  “Why can’t you just shut up?"

The story of Esther shows how one woman who said what needed to be said, saved her people.  Do you know the story of Esther?  If you don’t you should probably read it cuz it’s cool.  Basically God orchestrates it so that one person is in the right place at the right time and her saying what needed to e said woman saved her people.

One of my favorite verses is Esther 4:13 where it says “

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Wow.   God wanted to use her — and basically he was going to get the task done one way or another, but Esther is reminded that relief and deliverance could be her doing.   Her words could be the ones that made the difference.

So who around you needs relief and deliverance?  Have you been placed on the earth for such a time is this to talk…. and not stop talking … until that deliverance comes to pass?

If you’ve never heard this Wayne Watson song from back in the day (and even if you have) you should listen to it.  And it’s based on that verse from Esther.

So I won't stop talking about CarePortal or Vision 30 (check out the new website) because as long as their are children and families in our world who needing relief and deliverance, I refuse to keep silent.  

https://youtu.be/LXcJUIAJNW0

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

and or so that...

If you have been involved in the “child welfare space” as a Christian these words from James 1:27 have become engraved in your heart:


Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

These words were motivation for us as we began our foster care journey.  I mean if you’re going to have religion — it might as well be a religion that the Father accepts as pure and faultless right?  Is any other kind good enough?

The two parts of the verse seemed disconnected to me, though.  I mean what does keeping oneself from being polluted by the world have to do with looking after orphans and widows?

And then it hit me.   What if it’s because they are mutually exclusive?

If you and I are busy looking after the needs of orphans and widows — we won’t have time to become polluted by the world.  I would even go so far as to say that the fatherless — the orphan — the brokenness and pain that comes with those situations — are so close to the heart of God that if we are with those folks and walking with them in their brokenness, the world can’t polite us.   

The word fatherless or orphan is in the Bible 45 times and it is so clear how much God wants his people to step into this space.  I won’t quote all of them, but here are a couple of them:

Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.

(Isaiah 1:17)

‘Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deuteronomy 27:19)  Wow.  Storng words.  

So if it is your goal to keep yourself from being polluted by the world, look after orphans and widows.  It’s hard to allow the world to grab ahold of your heart, when you are holding a baby, or looking into the eyes of a child,  or giving a ride to a teenager knowing that you are diving into their brokenness in order to discover the heart of God.  

I shared this song and video four years ago.  I know the family in the video and this song hits me every time.   Maybe God isn’t asking you to fly across the waves and bring home a baby from a special needs orphan in China — but he may be asking you to invite a single mom and her kids over for dinner even if it means driving to pick them up in a neighborhood you try to avoid.  

Whatever he asks you to do - -I guarantee you that it will be much harder to become polluted by the world if your heart and your eyes are on the fatherless.


https://youtu.be/BBVYBYZXafI