Tag: Jesus (page 1 of 3)

Missing Jesus

This is a picture of a stadium filled with women waiting for Jen Hatmaker to appear and speak.

This is a picture of me preaching recently at a church near us. (No, I didn’t move in. Those are props).

Looks pretty bleak, eh? There might have been 65 people in the congregation.

The guy doing the slides forgot to start and then kept clicking through trying to find the right one to fit with what I was saying. Just a tad distracting for those listening.

I’ve been a guest preacher here before, and there’s usually a young man with some challenges who burps loudly when I preach.

They had cobbled together my lapel mic which didn’t have a clip to attach, so it fell apart towards the end of my sermon. But hey, it was good practice for my ninja-like reflexes.

Yep, me and Jen…

Then, last Sunday I preached at different church, but it looked pretty much the same. Afterwards I was expecting out-of-town guests for brunch at home, about half an hour away, so I was anxious to bolt out the door at the end of the service.

So anxious that I blew off Jesus in my rush to exit.

After realizing who I missed, this is what I wrote in my journal:

Jesus, You were there yesterday! After worship You came up to me and awkwardly requested “a conference”. 

You looked like a crazy old man…kind of like a mad scientist with wispy white hair growing places where hair shouldn’t grow.

I had talked to You before and in my mind labeled you a little “off”.

Because I didn’t recognize You, and because I had to hurry home to prepare for guests coming for brunch, I said, “I’m so sorry, I have to go…” (READ: I have more important commitments with sane people.)

You handed me an offering envelope and asked if I could send you my sermon transcript. 

Later in the afternoon after my guests were gone, I thought, “What if it had been Bill Hybels who had stopped me?” Would I have rushed off, or would I have made time? What if it had been Jesus?

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40

Oh Lord, have mercy. Please forgive me. Help me to be present to You, to the Imago Dei in each person I encounter today.

 

The Question Fear Asks

This weekend I had the privilege of preaching on Matthew 14:22-32 – the super familiar story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water. I LOVE this story and I felt like God had so much to teach me as I prepared.

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One of the most important things I learned as I was studying the passage of Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee and sinking, was that it was about more than Peter’s faith. It was about Jesus’ greater grace.

Jesus reaches out when we’re sinking and lifts us up. 

This morning I was thinking about a related story I heard a million years ago about a little boy trapped in the bedroom of his home which was on fire.

He was at the window, the home swallowed up in flames, no way out.  Smoke everywhere.

Below, a fireman called up to him, “Jump son!  I’ll catch you!  I’m here!”

The little boy screamed “No!  I can’t SEE you!!!”

“I know,” yelled the fireman, “but I can see YOU!  Jump!”

Cheesy story?  Maybe.  But it makes me think about the question fear asks of God.

The underlying question in the little boy’s heart was the question that fear asks:

What if…?

What if you don’t see me?

What if you miss?

What if you’re not strong enough?

What if I get hurt?

What if I look silly?

Sometimes I can’t see God.  And I’m afraid to jump. (or step out of my boat)

 

What does Love ask of you today that’s scary?

To go someplace uncomfortable?  Talk to someone uncomfortable?  Serve in way that’s uncomfortable?

Quit a job, or stay in a job that’s hard?  Give something away?  Build a bridge, or shake the dust off your feet?

Are you afraid to jump?  I am.  And I’m thinking about the lyrics from this Nicole Nordeman song:

But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

Jumping, or taking a step outside our boat of comfort. There are different things that God may use to prompt us.

Invitation to go on an advocacy trip with World Vision when that’s not “my thing” prompted me to step out this summer.

Frustration over the lack of sanitary equipment for girls in northern Uganda, causing them to miss school, prompted our daughter Maggie to step outside her “boat” and solve the problem.

Fear of the overwhelming emotions around returning to church after her husband died, prompted my sister-in-law to cling to Jesus and take the hard step back.

Loss of her beloved son Brett, who had Downs Syndrome, prompted my friend Nan to start ministries to kids with special needs.

What are you afraid of?

What might God be using to prompt you to jump, or step out, trusting Him? 

If we step out and sink, we can be assured that God’s grace is greater than our faith.

The Other “F Word”, part 2

Yesterday I re-posted on the F- word in our family. Today another one, and tomorrow one more – I’ll let you decide which you relate to most! 🙂

On reflection I think there’s more than one other f-word.  There may be a whole slew of others that lurk around like stealth ninjas ready to take us down.

So here’s number 2.  Fear.

I don’t think I’m a particularly fearful person.  But I might have slept in the car instead of with the bats in a mountain cabin once upon a time.  And Maggie and I might have told the producers of the Amazing Race that snakes were a no-go for us when we were auditioning.

I’ll admit I AM afraid of heights, failure, suffering, looking foolish in public, and dying in an airplane crash to name a few.  But so is everyone, right?IMG_0767

(John, not me, bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, Zambia)

If I’m honest, what I’m really afraid of is losing control.  At least the illusion of control.

Continue reading

When God Seems Like a Short Bald Guy

Many years ago I was invited to a dinner with Dustin Hoffman. And this is what I expected.

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Clearly, I’m not a celebrity, and I don’t have cool actor acquaintances, but my friend was on the board of the Chicago Steppenwolf  Theater Company and Dustin was in town to star in Death of a Salesman.

My friend was invited to dinner and her husband didn’t want to go so…I got to be her date. Continue reading

Mamas in Pajamas Who Wannabe Wave-Walkers

“Adventurously expectant”  is my “one” word for 2016. As I sit here in my pajamas I don’t look or feel it.

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I wrote earlier that this year I am going putting some practices into my life to help me pay better attention to what God might want to teach me through this “one word”.

One practice is looking at places in Scripture where these words are fleshed out. Peter is certainly one I think of as “adventurously expectant”. i can’t picture him sitting around in his pajamas, so I decided to look at one of his “moments”.

When I look at a passage, I always try to look for (at least) 2 things: Continue reading

Moving Through a Crowded Life, part 2

One of the scariest moments I’ve ever experienced was standing in the middle of Paris on Bastille Day.  I was packed, shoulder to shoulder with one million people like…well like one million people smushed together.

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One spooked tourist moving quickly and many would be trampled to death.

Reporting on that day, CNN didn’t see individuals. It saw a crowd.

But Jesus doesn’t see crowds.

Jesus saw me in the middle of Paris, His beloved child who has blue eyes, and is a little goofy, and is afraid of being left out and gets impatient easily.

I wonder if the woman in Mark 5 felt the same way. Was she afraid of being trampled? Or just afraid of being overlooked by Jesus and a crowd with more important priorities? Was it hot and dusty? Was she perspiring with hope?

Monday Jesus let Jairus, a synagogue ruler interrupt Him, but he was a man, and an important man. What about someone like you or me, who’s just…ordinary? Jesus is heading to Jairus’ house when He gets interrupted again.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

The woman was a distraction to Jesus, but He moved slowly enough through the crowd to notice and respond to her as an individual too.

I love it that Jesus saw the woman who touched Him, and Zaccheus in the tree, and blind Bartimaeus waiting by the roadside…The unimportant folks like you and me.

He sees you, and you are oh so precious to Him. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. 

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In the middle of a crowd or all alone in your room.

A discipline I sometimes try is to stand at the edge of a crowd, or on a balcony and just look. Look for anyone who is standing alone or looking uncomfortable and then go to them.

When we truly see and value others, maybe it’s a small reminder that Jesus does too.

 

Moving Through a Crowded Life, Part 1

A few Sunday mornings ago I was rushing a young staff member through our crowded church Great Room between worship services, trying to get to John’s office to shoot a video resource with her and get home.

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“Didn’t you once tell me the more successful you get the more slowly you need to walk through a crowd” she asked pointedly.

“Yeah, yeah, but this is an exception!” I tossed over my shoulder as I simultaneously “Excuse’d” my way around bodies, wishing for a parting of the Red Sea.

People (including my young friend with her annoying memory) can be so…inconvenientright?

I had quoted a mentor of ours whose line had really impacted John and me even though I resist the word “successful” because I’m definitely not. But being in ministry I seem to know a lot of people, so I’m trying to learn this discipline of walking more slowly through crowds.

When I rush through a crowd

  • I’m saying I’m a big deal because I’m busy.
  • I’m saying tasks are more important than people.
  • I’m saying my time is valuable and you’re not a priority.

Ouch, ouch OUCH!

My words sometimes often almost always come back to bite me.

This morning I was looking at the passage in Mark 5:21-43 that is about Jesus and crowds and individuals. I may or may not have heard the Holy Spirit say, “Ahem…”

And IF the Holy Spirit had eyebrows He/She might have been raising them looking meaningfully at me.Unknown

Can you put yourself in this setting with Jesus?

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders,named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.

We all live crowded lives. But Jesus did too.

Even in a crowd, Jesus is present to individuals.IMG_1332

Jairus was a distraction to Jesus, but Jesus moved slowly enough through the crowd to notice and respond to him as an individual.

You’re single or married, a coach, an employer, a mom, a leader, a pay-check earner, and you have a crowded life. You want to be like Jesus – want to respond to the “holy interruptions” that come your way, but it requires discernment.

Maybe the best we can do today is to start moving more slowly through the crowds, look people in the eye, and pray,

“Lord help me to be present to You and others. Show me what love requires of me today.”

 

 

#nofailchristmas

Merry Christmas Eve Morning!  I’m guessing if you’re reading this either you’re ahead of the game with ALL OF THE THINGS done and the Hallelujah Chorus playing on Spotify, candles lit, and presents perfect, or you’re hiding in the bathroom binging on Christmas cookies, reading this and pretending you don’t hear your kids fighting outside the door.

For us it has been a delightful week of having both our daughters in town with lots of hugs, and catching up, laughter, and a Christmas before Christmas brunch with Maggie who headed to Texas yesterday to be with her husband and in-laws.

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But lest you picture our lives as a Norman Rockwell painting, let me just share a few other snapshots. Continue reading

After Easter

Good morning!  So many of you are new to this blog that I decided to re-post an offering from last year about this time.  I pray it is encouraging to you today!

My cousin died last week.  And a friend was deeply wounded by something a loved one said to her.  And another friend continues to pray for healing from a painful illness.  And another is deeply discouraged.  I imagine each of you could add something to the list.

And last week, after Easter, I was reading in John 20 when Mary comes and finds the tomb empty.  It was my “scheduled” devotional reading, and I’m a rule-follower, so I was obedient, and read it, but inside I was thinking…”Easter is OVER!  Been there, celebrated that.  Let’s move on.” (I’m not proud, just being honest).

I felt like those people who leave their Christmas wreath up til May.  Easter didn’t feel relevant after Easter, which I know is soooo wrong, but like at the tomb, God was gracious and showed up

I was clonked on the head like one of the Three Stooges as I entered into this passage as Mary.  Yes, Mary Magdalene, the one who Jesus miraculously cast all the demons out of, but at the same time, someone like all of us, any of us, who are ever in pain, lost, confused... Continue reading

Changing the Hashtag

Is it just me or does it seem like Christians have been acting a little meaner lately?

Maybe this shouldn’t surprise me, but it does.

My mom was one of those who said “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  And mostly, my tribe has lived by that.  Certainly you who read this blog are in that camp.

But, it turns out that church world can be a pretty darn ugly place.  Especially in social mediaville.  Go figure.

World Vision is a vibrant, effective, non-profit organization that exists to serve the poorest of the poor in Jesus‘ name. We believe the work they do, with extraordinary commitment and love, is amazing.

Two weeks ago the leadership and board of World Vision made a series of mistakes. Mistakes they are heart-sick about.

Mistakes that have undercut the trust of supporters, and deeply wounded gay people who are beloved children of God.

But I’m thinking, maybe the biggest mistake the leadership of World Vision made was to drastically over-estimate the ability of Christian brothers and sisters to live in unity and love while not agreeing on everything.

Sadly, it seemed to me that many in the evangelical world responded with swords of self-righteousness drawn, marking battle lines.  It felt like everything was end-of-the-world-dramatic and horrible.

As I read the comments and tweets and posts I thought about our two daughters who are very different from each other.

One is an introvert – strong, with brown hair…wicked smart and a runner. The other is petite, blonde-haired, creative and committed to social justice. She does yoga.

Both are followers of Jesus.

They are beloved children of ours.                                                                                                                                     They are beloved children of God.

They are different from each other, and different from us and (surprise surprise), we don’t agree on everything. But…

We wouldn’t say to either of them, “You can’t possibly love Jesus or spend eternity with Him or do good in the world because you disagree with us on gay marriage.”

But that, essentially, is what many in the church did in response to an HR decision that was trying to love employees well and fairly, and recognize that although World Vision as an organization doesn’t endorse gay marriage, not all Christians agree with them.

It’s like the church people with the loudest voices were shouting with hashtags like #WHOSINANDWHOSOUT.

I confess that there have been times when that has been me.

The thing is, I don’t see anyplace in my Bible where, because someone didn’t agree with Jesus, He said, “Nope, that’s it!  Not gonna love you anymore.”#REJECT.

I don’t know that He’d be a hashtag kind of guy, but if He was I’m guessing it might be different than some of the ones I’m tempted to use.

In spite of the loud, pharisaical voices the world hears and has come to equate with “evangelicalism” – I am encouraged by some gentle-strong voices of friends who are saying with humility and grace, “We may disagree, on some things, but we both love Jesus and are trying to be kind and brave and love like He would.”

I believe there are many who would like to model a different kind of love to the world.  I believe there are many who, even if they disagree about some of the things, would unite around the Main Thing.  

I believe many who love Jesus would like to encourage one another under a new hashtag.

What if Christian organizations and churches and leaders united around the love that Jesus modeled?  What if we flooded social media with words of compassion and life and encouragement?  

Maybe we could talk to each other about the places we disagree face to face, where there’s room for nuance and expression and deeper understanding.

Will you join me in changing the hashtag?

#LOVEGODLOVEPEOPLE

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