Tag Archives: Jesus

Roads and Paths

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Several years ago we took a family trip to New England. We quickly discovered that they think highly of their roads. The tolls were exorbitant.

So this year when we took another family trip through the highways and byways of New England, we checked a couple of boxes on the GPS- namely *Avoid Highways and *Avoid Toll Roads.

The scenery was beautiful, it didn’t take much longer, and our wallet stayed a little fatter.

Which road we traveled didn’t make much difference since we were going to end up at the same destination whether we went straight away or took our time and meandered a bit.

Every Christian ends up at the same destination, but every Christian has a different way to get there.

Some come to Jesus on the super highway- fast and straight away. They knew as children that Jesus was their destination and they didn’t mess around.

Others suffer from car sickness. Disease, mental illness, disorders, or physical catastrophes drive them to Jesus.

Some take a very scenic route, stopping to experience all of the road stops along the way. These travelers worry those of us who have already arrived. We tap our foot, look at our watch, and mutter about their lack of concern.

I have taken the scenic route to places before. Along the way to my destination I discover new insights into myself and those around me. I learn about what makes me tick and what’s really important.

If you have a “Sunday driver” in your life, just keep on giving them directions. Direct them to the best restaurants. Guide them to the right rest stops. Get in the passenger seat and listen to their ramblings sometimes.

Remember there are many roads and paths along the way. It doesn’t matter how we get to Jesus, just that we do.


“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11:9-10 NIV

Recognition

Christianity isn’t a religion we join- it’s a person we follow. ~Samuel Deuth

A friend was clearing out her mother’s house. In a box of memories she found her mother’s nursing school pictures from 1941. She posted them on Facebook, and they were correctly tagged through facial recognition.

Wouldn’t we all love to look the same seventy or eighty years later?

Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder who that is looking back at me. On the inside, I’m in my early twenties, full of life and hope, excited for the future.

On the outside I’m graying, less toned, and more wrinkled. But I’m also not twenty.

Jesus had been gone for three days, and no one recognized him.

Granted he’d been whipped, beaten, and crucified. He wasn’t looking his best.

But, really? No one recognized him?

Mary Magdalene didn’t know Jesus until he called her by name.

The disciples in Emmaus only recognized him after he broke bread and gave thanks.

The apostles identified him when he came through a locked door.

These were people who spent most of their time with Jesus. They traveled with him, ate with him, prayed, sang, and baptized with him. They acted like him, healing and raising people from the dead. They were known as his followers.

But there came a time when they turned- out of fear, disillusionment, frustration. It doesn’t matter why they turned away, but that they turned back.

They took a second look. They believed the unbelievable. They recognized Jesus.

Are you in a dark place? Does Jesus seem like a farce? Has your faith waned and wandered away?

Don’t give up.

Listen for your name. Let him break the bread. Expect a miracle.


They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. Luke 24:33-35 NIV

Famous or Infamous

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself. ~Henry Ward Beecher

 

I was dropping off my first child at college. He was going to a place he had never been before, hadn’t even visited. I, however, knew the place and many of the people.

Students and parents stood outside in the blazing sun waiting to pay bills, get assignments, make final decisions. Faculty, staff, and upperclassmen helped direct foot traffic and lend a hand where needed.

An older gentleman approached.

“Welcome.” He smiled and shook my boy’s hand.

“Thanks.” The apprehensive man-child continued reading instructions.

“This is the school president.” I introduced the man to my son.

“Oh, sorry.” He shook the now-important-person’s hand.

There are people in life you don’t expect to meet. A university president moving boxes and greeting students is one of them.

A former United States President building houses for the poor with his own hands. A real Princess who touches lepers and AIDS victims.

Presidents and Princesses are out of most people’s circles. But maybe you know a mayor who packs sandbags to stop a flood. A wealthy podiatrist who gives his time to veterans with foot problems. A lawyer who moves to a poor neighborhood and mentors fatherless boys.

When people discover that I’m a preacher’s wife, it often changes their expectations of me. I get called “Mother” a lot. When people need answers, they come to me.

There is the possibility of forgetting my true place, my true calling.

“Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Luke 20:46-47 NIV

The leaders of Jesus’s time were more concerned with how they looked than with the looks they gave.

They didn’t look twice at the broken, oppressed, lonely, or sick. They didn’t feed the hungry, visit the widow, or sit with the hurting.

They were too important, too above all that. Jesus said their honor would be punishment, their importance would be forgotten.

Maybe you aren’t President, Princess, Mayor, or even Preacher’s Wife. Perhaps the most recognition you get is an apple at the Teacher Appreciation Banquet.

But no matter what your status, you can learn from Jesus’s own  display of leadership.

Serve quietly. Speak kindly. Touch gently. Love completely.

Are you leading from the front of the crowd or guiding from the middle?


Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 NIV

Climbing a Tree

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. ~William Blake

There was a cherry tree in the yard of my childhood home. My brother and I enjoyed climbing it.

I remember once, during cherry season, my brother and I climbed higher than before, trying to get to those sweet cherries. When he had had enough, my brother climbed down.

I, however, was stuck.

There was no going up and no coming down. My mother had to come out, climb the ladder, retrieve me, and carry me down.

About a day later, I climbed the tree again.

I got stuck again.

I wasn’t allowed to climb the tree after that.

Zaccheus was familiar with a tree, too.

Luke 19 tells us that he ran ahead of the crowd to climb a sycamore-fig tree. He was short and wanted to see Jesus among the people.

He must have had a relationship with that tree for it to pop into his head. Sycamore fig trees are about the size of apple or cherry trees, full of ripe fruit in the autumn.  I wonder if his mom ever had to rescue him when he was a youngster.

Maybe he had a relationship with lots of trees since he was short. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that Zaccheus used what was right in front of him to get to know Jesus better.

He was excited, curious, determined.

He had heard something that piqued his interest and he wanted to know more. When Jesus saw him in the tree, Jesus invited himself to dinner at Zaccheus’s house.

What trees are along your path?

Is your child asking you questions about faith? Settle in those branches to read the Bible together and look for the answers.

Are you struggling with a health issue that the doctors don’t understand? Hold tightly to the trunk for a month of fasting and prayer while looking for healing and/or other options.

Maybe you’ve lost a job, a loved one, or hope. Don’t worry. Even a dead tree can be climbed.

Are you using what’s right in front of you to know the Savior of the world even better? Are you climbing your tree?

What does your tree look like?


As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19:41-44 NIV

Artful Worship

14315502_1383328978348505_269235813_o-1The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people. ~Vincent Van Gogh

I grew up in a church with plain walls. I counted boards in the arched ceiling that soared over top of us, the only indication that God is grand, majestic and great.

We didn’t display pictures or statues or tapestries. A fear lingered around these items. The fear whispered we might focus on the art and forget who we were there to worship.

Then, around my high school years I think, a member of the church was granted permission to paint a mural over the baptistery. It was a landscape scene of a brook and trees and a sunrise. The brook appears to flow into the baptistery pool. The artist explained the symbolism of the painting, its message that pointed back to the beginning of our Christian birth.

I’m sorry that it took so long for me to discover that art is intended to draw us back to the Creator. My friend, Alison, is a talented photographer. She took the picture at the top of this blog over the summer and posted it on Facebook. I stared in wonder at the stars traveling in their predetermined paths. I marveled at the lights God made that shine so far away, and then cringed at the tiny light that I am, thinking I cast a mighty glow, but in reality I am small, insignificant. I contemplated the people in the house who can’t see the stars because of the house lights. I transferred that thought to all of the false lights that I shine in my life, the ones that blind me from seeing true light. Then I spent thirty minutes looking up scriptures about the stars and God’s power. Her art led me closer to the Creator.

Words are my art form. Words sing to me, they paint beautiful pictures, they dance before my eyes with grace and elegance. I hope my words lead my readers to the original Word, Jesus. I want my art to make the reader stop and meditate on a thought, a scripture, or an event. Other people use music as their art, some speak their art, still others serve their art (as in acts of service). No matter what form the art embodies, great art will always bring us back to God the Father and his son, Jesus the Christ.

God is the original artist and his creation reminds us of him. How are you, his creation, using your art?


13879336_1340191275995609_3379140990770479506_n

. . . since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Romans 1:19-20 NIV

You Get WHAT For Christmas!?

presentsMy husband’s family is a bit odd. (Read REALLY strange!) I met Matt in September, we had our first date in October, and by December I was invited to the family Christmas. Matt knows a good thing when he sees it.

Anyway, his family would spend Christmas Eve with his grandparents, Aunt and Uncle and their two boys, and his family of four. That first Christmas Eve was spent at Aunt Linda’s house in a room with a huge picture window the length of the room. It looked out on the West Virginia countryside full of snow and beauty. Inside the window I looked on an equally beautiful scene, a family that loved and enjoyed each other.

Piled high all over the floor were fancy paper-wrapped presents. This was before the day of gift bags. Yes, I am that old. The unwrapping began, one person at a time, while everyone watched what the present might be. There were sweaters, jewelry, colognes, and tools. There were also Lifesaver Books, potato chip bags, and duct tape.

The idea was that everyone had to be equal, so toward the end of the shopping season, my future mother-in-law and her sister would get creative. Matt’s dad suggested every guy needs duct tape and a tradition was born. Every year, without fail, the guys get duct tape.

It was all a big joke until one year when Cousin Jerry was driving the two hours back home after a Christmas celebration and his car broke down. Jerry is a mechanical genius and he whipped out the duct tape to make a fix until he could get back to town. Then he knew the great worth of the present.

Jesus lived in a “hole in the wall” sort of place. He wasn’t a GQ model or one of Fortune 500’s Men on the Move. He didn’t look like much of a present. You certainly might have considered him a present you just throw in the back of the car and forget about.

But then, your life breaks down, you look behind the seat, in the trunk, down in the cracks with the jack. . . And you find HIM. The present that you need to fix the mess you are in. You pull off a small piece at first and wrap it around your broken heart. The blood loss eases a bit. You yank off a longer piece, tear it off with your teeth in your hurry to stop the pain, and affix the tape to the cracking heart of your life.

The duct tape holds. It is just what you need. The perfect gift that you have had all along and never even knew you needed.

Won’t you let Jesus be your duct tape this Christmas?


Who can believe what we have heard,
    and for whose sake has the Lord’s arm been revealed?
He grew up like a young plant before us,
    like a root from dry ground.
He possessed no splendid form for us to see,
    no desirable appearance.
He was despised and avoided by others;
    a man who suffered, who knew sickness well.
Like someone from whom people hid their faces,
    he was despised, and we didn’t think about him.

It was certainly our sickness that he carried,
    and our sufferings that he bore,
    but we thought him afflicted,
    struck down by God and tormented. Isaiah 53:1-4 CEB

Love that Heals

courtesy healthimpactnews.com
courtesy healthimpactnews.com

In 1500, there were rumors of Caesarian-section births, but that was all they seemed to be, rumors. In order to qualify for the surgery the mother had to already be dead. Perhaps the baby could be saved, little hope was ever offered.

Mrs. Nufer was an attractive, young Swiss woman. She was in excellent health, and she was expecting a child. Everything should have gone well, only it didn’t.

The child was overdue, the contractions not progressing, and the pain unbearable. Finally the midwives called in the surgeons. The surgeons refused to perform the surgery because Mrs. Nufer was not yet dead.

But there was one among the doctors who refused to accept their decision. The surgeons left the house, Jacob stayed. Pulling instruments from his bag, Jacob took the chance that he might save this young woman’s life. If he didn’t try she would surely die. But if he failed, he would be an assassin.

It took about an hour, but Jacob was successful. In fact, both the child and mother would live long lives. Mrs. Nufer would even give birth several more times.

Besides the fact that the mother and child both lived, there is another factor to this story. You see Jacob was not a doctor, nor a surgeon. He was a hog butcher. But he had something the other surgeons didn’t: Love. Jacob Nufer, local butcher, loved his wife enough to do the impossible.

Love is the only weapon against certain death.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV

Jesus is the surgeon waiting to heal you. He has the tools, the knowledge, and most of all the love.