So I thought I was doing so much better with the jet-lag thing this time around, but maybe not. This morning I was awake at 4:00, up at 4:30 and out the door at 5:00. Problem is my Starbucks doesn’t open til 5:30. So I walked the long way, through the dark silent streets of my neighborhood, most folks still snuggled in their warm beds, dreaming of sugar plums or something.
It was cold and crisp and as my breath showed up in white wisps, it gave me a chance to pray and to reflect on the upcoming Advent season.
The silence and peace of the early morning was such a contrast to the noise, and hurry that can dominate this season when we long for the “heavenly peace” of Silent Night – to be preparing for Jesus.
It got me to thinking…What do you want for Advent this year? What do you love about Advent? What are your hopes? How do you make choices instead of allowing the world to squeeze you into its mold? I wrote last week about having a plan.
So, two questions that lead to choices around Advent: Continue reading
When I started doing “Soul Food Friday” I didn’t intend for it to just be focused on what happens around the table, but instead about everything that feeds our souls.
But truly, something very special happens when we show up as we are, and amidst half eaten chili or chicken we celebrate or cry or question.
We gather around a table, and when it’s good it’s messy, and real, and a little island of safety where our stories can be shared and God’s faithfulness recognized.
Everyone is welcome. Nobody’s perfect. Anything can happen.
So, this week…. Continue reading
One night recently this fall I had a group of women gathered in my living room. I asked them what character quality of God they need most right now. They were brave and vulnerable and one after another said they long for Peace in the face of anxiety. Almost every one said she was struggling with worry, fear…Feeling out of control.
I’m not usually a big worrier, but I confess there have been a few nights recently where the “what if’s” and “what should I do’s” have swirled around in my brain like the eddy in a fast-moving stream.
In If, Mark Batterson notes that “A ship’s anchor doesn’t just keep it from drifting. An anchor can be thrown in front of a ship and used to help it navigate through treacherous channels. The nautical term is ‘kedging'”.
So here’s what I think. Peace is anchoring ourselves not to our circumstances, but to the character of God.
Experiencing peace is not based on what I feel but on who God is.
We need to participate in the discipline of throwing our anchor out in front of us so that we’re continually filling our mind with the power and provision of God.
When we see God as He really is, we see our worries in perspective.
If I’m anchored to the all-sufficient God I’m not focused on the problems, but the Problem-solver. Continue reading
A few weeks ago a friend asked me to be on a panel of women peace-makers at a conference for peacemakers. These are courageous women who are all in. They are PEACE-MAKERS.
I’m more of a peace-wanter.
My exact text response was “Are you freaking KIDDING me??!” I felt I was totally unqualified to be on the platform with women who are on the front lines in Israel, Palestine, Fergusson…
And I was, but they wanted me anyway and the reason I eventually said “yes” was because I think I’m like many of you who need a little encouragement that we all have a part to play.
We’re the “small things” people , the cheerleaders and the story-tellers and that’s ok, at least for a start.
When I got home, I was listening to a podcast message by Clay Scroggins and heard a phrase that was new to me. It’s really stuck in regard to my role in WORLD PEACE. Continue reading
People say I have the gift of hospitality, but I once put a cup of salt, instead of teaspoon of salt, into a batch of lasagna so clearly it can’t be about gourmet cooking. I also once totally forgot that we had invited six people for dinner, so hospitality apparently doesn’t hinge on attention to details. Instead, I would agree with someone I heard recently who said, “Hospitality is inviting heaven into the house”.
Actually I’d expand that to say, “Hospitality is inviting heaven into the house…the bus, the office…the coffee shop…the airplane…the parking lot.” And I know many people who do that much better than I do.
A couple years ago, John told a story in a sermon about a mentor of ours. For a season, Gordon and Gail MacDonald were pastoring in New York City. They befriended some city bus drivers who were Christ-followers, but felt they didn’t have an environment for ministry. Gordon pushed back and suggested:
“Why don’t you start up your buses each morning and, while the engine is warming, walk down the aisle of the bus and shout, ‘In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, I declare this bus to be a sanctuary where passengers will experience something of the love of Christ through me.’ You can be a pastor in your own sanctuary.” Continue reading
Ok, so here’s the thing. Two years ago when I traveled back to the Holy Land, I didn’t know where the West Bank was. West Bank of what? And if the West Bank is so important, what’s up with the East Bank? Anything?
I didn’t know what, where, or why the settlements were so controversial. The Nakba? Is that a type of falafel? It was all Greek, (or, more accurately, Hebrew) to me.
I didn’t know the mean things Muslims had done to Christians, or Christians had done to Jews, or Israelis had done to Palestinians. Or what everyone had done to everyone else. Continue reading
I’m writing this from the balcony of another hotel in Israel. This time in Jerusalem. It’s early morning and church bells were just echoing nearby. I kind of expect to see Maria from the Sound of Music scurrying by below me – late to morning mass. But here she’d be passing Imams and Rabbis as she ran. A tad different than Salzburg.
My times here in the Middle East are always ones of competing images.
Yesterday morning we spent time in Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. I try to picture him running the hills of pine and cypress trees and working by His father, the carpenter. In the afternoon we were in Galilee, where Jesus fed crowds, and healed and preached on the Mount of Beatitudes. He walked on the water and calmed the same.
And Jesus walks alongside me with the command that often seems impossible, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Alongside these visual reminders of Jesus’ time on earth are the overwhelming images of a land divided, a land in conflict – unable, seemingly, to get along. Israelis and Palestinians. Christians, Muslims, Jews. Some think supporting the state of Israel means hating Arabs. Others think that those who want to talk about the plight of Palestinians must hate Israel. Continue reading
Good morning from Tel Aviv! I wrote on Monday that I’m going to be traveling in Israel/Palestine this week. It’s a trip devoted to entering into the heart of God for peace and reconciliation. Today we’ll spend some time here and in Nazareth.
We just arrived last night so I’m a little fuzzy, but I’m wondering if you might want to join me virtually. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post or how much time I’ll have to reflect, but this morning here was my view from the top of our hotel as I soaked in the goodness of God (that’s pretty easy to do with this view, sunshine and 70 degrees).
As I sat here, these are the words I read. As you read them, what words stand out to you? Continue reading
Last night most of America was watching the Oscars...the red carpet beautiful people who seem to be as good at dodging questions as a politician running for office. Many questions the press hurls at them are inappropriately personal or just stupid. Who wouldn’t want to avoid some of that? But there are other times when changing the conversation is positive, and important to growth.
This afternoon I’m leaving on a trip to Israel/Palestine. I’m traveling with a few people from our church, led by Telos, an organization we’ve been partnering with that desires to engage evangelicals in conversations with Israelis and Palestinians pursuing peace.
This is hard stuff. Complicated and intense and emotional, and personal for so many. Frankly, I might prefer it if Jesus invited me to follow Him into, say…Hawaii maybe. Continue reading
I thought it might be timely to share two posts from a couple years ago. Here’s the second.
Some things are just tough.
Like figuring out why people are fascinated with Snooki, or how to fold fitted sheets, or what makes some people able to eat a kabillion Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt and not gain a pound.
Or, you know…how to achieve peace between all the people in all the places.
When it comes to the Middle East I keep wanting to say, “Lord I’m a bear of Very Little Brain” like Winnie the Pooh.
I have a long way to go, but God is patient and often a theme gradually emerges. Yesterday I wrote
The truest thing I’m learning about peace is that keeping people at a distance makes it easy to demonize them.
But coming close topples the walls of misunderstanding.
This morning God reinforced this as I re-read the story of when God comes close to Hagar. Continue reading