Resurrection To Deception

Riu Palace Riviera Maya

Every day on our vacation I walked by her.

This faceless, right-hand missing statue.

She holds a water bucket in her left hand.

It’s rather small, I wonder how she fills it?

She is surrounded by Phoenix.

Early Christians adapted the Phoenix to signify death, burial, and resurrection after the mythology story.

It wasn’t lost on me that this statue, if it is symbolic, has resurrected without a brain, without power, unable to give the right hand of fellowship, and without rest. The right hand also signifies favor and sonship.

So it is with some who although born again are not at peace.

Can you imagine how she walks through life?

Threats real and imagined have stolen her thoughts.

These perceived threats that hold her tomorrows, steal her peace, her rest, and more importantly, without her right hand of fellowship, her power.

I begin to see her from my imagination.

Does her anxiety keep her up at night, infiltrating her every thought and conversation as she flails at the wind pretending to be strong in her own might?

Lacking in faith she runs here and there looking for a manmade solution.

Her need to be significant to a social construct is flimsy at best.

Scared of the future she is afraid to lose what little she thinks she possesses and yet she has no hand to put more in.

Here she stands.

Memorialized.

A resurrection of conflict and deception.

Adorned without the only things that make her His. His hand in her right hand.

She stands upright in declaration sure she has fooled the world. For you see, she has anointing in her left hand but can’t grip her appointment.

So she poses.

She stands sure she has it all together. She believes she is the model of transformation.

She is the new version of the emperor who wears no clothes. We smile at her because to tell her the truth is to bring wrath upon ourselves.

Without the ability renew the mind, she is lost. I wonder how long ago she lost herself?

A woman at war within herself and she can’t even see it. Vapid at best.

“You were resurrected for so much more”, I tell her as I pass her by to sit quietly on the ocean to read my book on this fabulous vacation. “I wish you knew you can create a life that is happy if you just let go.”

Then the Holy Spirit whispers:

“She believed her own press instead of pressing in.”

I answer with a deep sigh, “Nothing smacks you down quicker than the humility of the stumble when your eyes are closed and your ears are stopped up. Lord, thank you that even in the middle of a rest you allow me see visuals of what I don’t want to become.”

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.” Proverbs 3:13-18 NIV

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13 NIV

“The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Psalms 110:1 NIV

The Breaking of Day

Traveling through the sky this morning before daybreak I could not help but be enamored by the heaven above me, the ground below me, and the dawn before me. God is wondrous and is too great for me to even speak His name in this moment. He created everything from nothing and spared no detail.

My heart soars with love for Him alone and His mysteries. I may never understand the depth of His thoughtful nature toward us since His nature is too great a force for me not to believe that His everlasting love surrounds me.

He alone gives His angels charge over me and commands the beauty of His art to produce with intention. He activates His every thought meticulously forming every cloud and mountain. Could He alone have made the world plain? Of course He could, but why would He limit us in examples of the creativity that exist through Him? He admires beauty and creates a palate of sight and sound, of color and dimension.

When I look out of this plane’s window I marvel at all that I see and yet, and still, everything my eyes gaze upon in this moment was not enough for Him. He created me, He created you, in His image and called us His crown of creation.

How that is even possible I will never have any idea, but I’m grateful. Yes, truly I am grateful.

I will spend the remainder of my days in awe and wonder of His majesty. I will spend my days in surrender to His will and firmly planted in His hand.

Fully worshipping.

Fully believing.

Fully His.

Take a look around you today. Admire each and every convenience that is set before you. Look at the sky wherever you may be. Look at the trees and scenery that surrounds you and admire its beauty. God made all of that for you. Beloved, you are truly loved with an everlasting, enduring hope for your success.

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭8:1-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We’re Back!

Blue White Job Post _ Vacancy _ Announcement Flyer-4

 

A new season of TLC4Women is ready to begin and I am so excited to start up again. It seems that it has been a long time coming. We will have studies in two ways this year. Please do what feels most comfortable to you. We will have in person gatherings Monday evenings at 7 pm beginning August 24. We will have Zoom gatherings on Tuesdays at 7 pm beginning August 25. Registration will be required so that we may order books and get them to you ASAP. Cost is $16.00

To register for in person gatherings please register here

To register for Zoom gatherings please register here

 

It’s A Little Thing

Driving through the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone on vacation, my husband easily spotted buffalo, elk, antelope, even a mink. I said aloud, “Jesus I only want to see a Moose. If you could just show me one please.”

My husband smiled and patted my arm. I no sooner said that then we drove around a corner and we saw this:

Yes, I am sure you are laughing as we did upon seeing it. I told my husband, “Don’t laugh too hard, God is just reminding me of specifics in prayer and that we need to take this vacation lightly.” So I said, “Ok Lord, you got me! Now just so we are clear I’d like to see a real moose please. If it’s not too much trouble to make that happen.”

We spent three days exploring. We saw chipmunks. squirrels, swans, geese, and everything you could imagine. We walked a little ways on a moose trail and my husband said, “Do you think God is just going to bring a moose to you? Maybe we need to hike in?” I smiled and said, “No, he’s going to show me a moose. I won’t have to work for it that way. I just have to have faith and know.” We went to the gift shop and I bought my granddaughter Erin a stuffed moose toy in faith.

The last few hours in the car I whispered, “I know I’m going to see a moose at the last minute. You’re dramatic that way.” We drove out of the park and heading towards Cody Wyoming. My husband said, “Sorry Babe, I really thought you’d get to see your moose.” I patted his arm and said. “My mom said I have always had great faith. How are you a Pastor and you’re already giving up on seeing a moose?”

We drive out of the park a good hour and a half and just as the sun begins to go down I point to a meadow and say excitedly, “WHAT’S THAT?” My husband, and I know he is stunned and excited because he never talks like this says, “That is a frickin’ moose.” I laugh and say, “THANK YOU JESUS!” Then we get out of the car to take pictures.

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So why do I tell you this story? Because God is interested in every little thing in your life.

Big or small.

Silly or serious.

When you begin a conversation that turns into a prayer life, these things begin to happen.

My husband said to me that this story doesn’t seem extraordinary in and of itself. Then he said, “But I’ve seen it happen to you so many times that it is extraordinary.” And it can happen to you. Just believe and trust and know. Does it happen all the time? No, but happens most of the time and it builds my faith and I hope it builds yours.

He Saw and Believed

Dear Cameron Joshua and Erin Marie,

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Today there is a crisis in our nation and the country is in a Stay In Place order due to a virus called Corona virus, which means we aren’t able to meet together for what for us is the most blessed celebration of our faith, Easter Sunday.  I have been missing you both so profoundly as you, Erin, turn 6 weeks old, and you, Cameron, turn 3 in a few weeks. I am missing more of your life than I ever thought I would but today Hope resurfaced.

Today my beautiful grandchildren, today, your Papa got up and made coffee for us, then he showered and put on a suit and tie. I followed his lead and dressed for church as if it was any other normal Sunday. We got in our car and drove off to the church.

John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.

Today your Papa went into an empty church, and said to the essential staff that it takes to preach an online message to and said, “The church may be empty this morning but so was the tomb and we are going to proclaim the WORD to more people than we would have reached normally.”

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Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

Your Papa met Jesus when he was not much older than you are and he has proclaimed him since. He wasn’t going to stay home and not reach anyone on this day, THE DAY,  our faith is built on. He was going to go to his pulpit and shout it out to the world. This isn’t any ordinary day and this isn’t a day to be taken casually. Is any day really?

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If you’ve ever preached to an empty room it isn’t easy. You get feedback and body language from those who are present and came to hear. It helps you move forward but your Papa has been doing this a long time. And he pushed through knowing he was called by God to give Hope and an invitation.

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So today he was a Pastor to a world who is scared that they will get a virus. He preached for you both, that you always know that Jesus is the center of our life. He preached to the ones who still don’t know about Jesus and he reminded me and himself that Jesus is the center of it all. While God has sat us all down, Papa is still doing what he has called to do.

I wrote all of this out in my bible today but just in case it is lost, technology will live on. One thing you will have forever is that Nana and Papa love you with their whole heart and you have a strong legacy of prayer and service to the Church and Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! He is Risen. We have hope and God’s Promises.

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Aiming Faithfully

Garett Kelli

The disciples were asked to watch and pray while their Shepherd soon to be Savior went off to pray. Distracted, not sensing the importance of the training and the hour they found themselves in, they quietly fell asleep. How alone Jesus must have felt. Yet in just a short while he would endure the cross and let God be famous.

Pastors feel this way sometimes too. Lonely. Yet their faithfulness to their calling keeps them steadfast knowing they are truly never alone and that Jesus is nearby. Never wavering to the allure of slumber or limelight although both sometimes seem appealing they keep moving forward. Big boisterous voices wagging fingers in condemnation or watered down gospels get applause and a sensation of grandeur for a moment while the pastors in the trenches of community work year after year to train those at the sound of their voice to listen for the voice of Jesus. Let God be famous.

Beth Moore said, “Cynicism is just arrogance pretending to be smart.” We can criticize the church and/or their leaders, tell you how we would do it, tell you that she is irrelevant but we would be exalting ourselves and not the one who reigns supreme. Let God be famous .

No, it would do us best to serve and love faithfully. When my husband was a young pastor a pastor and mentor told him, “Doug, if you want to make a difference in your community, plant deeps roots in the city, buy a pick up truck, and serve the people.” In other words, don’t quit. Make a difference where you are planted. Serve God faithfully, do what you can do for people and let God be famous.

I Wonder If She Knows…

I watch Cameron intently as he plays. He is serious, studious, loving, funny in a sarcastic way, and I can’t help but see my son in him. His profile, the way he assesses the environment before he either engages or not. The way he moves closer to us as a stranger walks into the room. His total refusal to call my mom Nana because as he pointed out, “No, you my Nana.” It points to his loyalty. The way he sees himself as protector.

I point all of this out to my daughter-in-love and while she smiles and laughs with me I recognize she has no point of reference to her husband as a toddler. Nor should she.

I wonder if she knows that as she mothers him the time flies quickly by? I wonder if she knows that the reason why he will pick a great wife is that she will raise a great man and have faith in herself that she can? I wonder if she knows the love she feels for her son will multiply a thousand times when she looks at his child?

No, she doesn’t know yet because none of us do before it happens. Instead good moms stress kindness, love, manners, respect, honor, humility, and education all while juggling a huge to-do list and worrying that we aren’t doing enough or that we are doing too much. In the meantime our children wrap themselves around our heart and we know that we will never be the same and we don’t want to be. No, no one can prepare you for those feelings that will come until they do.

I look at my grandson and my heart swells with joy. When we sing together or when he says, “Nana I will sing you a song” and breaks out in a toddler version of Amazing Grace it is as if angels are singing. Yes, yes, off key and pitch but nevertheless beautiful and a sound you wouldn’t trade for the world.

In those moments we do not have the profound revelation that all that we have lived through, all the hurts, pains, dysfunction that we all face will be worth it for the results that await us in the near future.

My daughter-in-love is beautiful. She is real, honest, loving, filled with integrity and character and the most amazing mom on the planet. She along with her husband are teaching Cameron the value of family, creating a strong and stable home where violence and love are opposed to one another. I heard Anthony say to Cameron in the middle of a toddler tantrum, “No, I don’t hit you and you don’t hit me. You can be angry but you can’t hit.” Above all their home is Christ-centered and they are laying solid foundation in our faith as Christians.

I am grateful she continues to humor me as I tell her stories of my son as a toddler, listens to recordings of his bath time, and has taken time to read through every single piece of art he made in pre-school. She is preparing Cameron to be a good big brother, a worthwhile friend, a man of character who will one day lead his family well. And although she doesn’t know it yet, she is preparing her heart to guide a daughter-in-love, to love her well, and to laugh and hold her grand babies one day.

I wonder if she knows that I hold her close in my heart because of who she is all by herself? My son’s wife, my grandson’s mom is all secondary to who she is. Her name is Frances Martinez and you are blessed if you know her.

Tribalism Continued

While sorting through my feelings of tribalism and it’s non-ending cycle of inclusion and exclusion I found Joaquin Phoenix and his acceptance speech something to be thought out. Take a listen:

Words like championing causes vs commonality of passion towards any issue doesn’t necessarily include or exclude unless we have no room for opinion. He talked of an egocentric world view and while his point was a natural world view, it wasn’t lost on me that even in discussion of causes we leave no room for difference. As he so eloquently put it we are best when we support each other instead of canceling each other out. There was another layer laid on my heart as I continue to work out my thought process on this issue.

I Didn’t Post It

Social Media is becoming the bane of my existence and yes it is not lost on me that I am typing on a blog.

It all started December 2. My husband’s birthday. Well, maybe it started before then, but this is when it clicked for me. We each have social media accounts but due to metrics which I don’t care to understand, nor research, nor change, my posts rarely, if ever, show up on his feed nor do his show up on mine. We comment to each other about it even.

I decided that for his birthday I was taking him out of town. I also made a self discovery that the long flowery post for his birthday on how great he is wasn’t for him since he may not see it. So why write it? I mean, do I need to tell the world how much he means or was I simply posting to be seen? No, instead I decided I would tell him everything I thought face to face. We arrived at our hotel and we stood out on the balcony watching the waves and I told him everything I would have written on Facebook. Eye to eye watching his smile reach his eyes cause he’s a words of affirmation guy.

Only I found myself answering questions. People noticed I didn’t wax poetic on social media they wanted to know was everything alright? Perhaps because we’ve all been sucked into believing it was the thing to do in the past. Were we in trouble? No, but at some point you have to get real, real about who you are and what you are doing. Maybe I’m changing because honestly prior to this I thought how special it was to post what I felt for my husband on social media, but really? How I feel about him shows. It shows when we sit together. It shows when we look for each other in a crowded room. It shows when we have dinner together and talk about everything and nothing. I don’t have to prove a point.

We are both pastors. Between us we host four small groups a week. We each host one alone and two together. Those two together we host in our home and so our friends are over twice a week which means we share our home with about 20 people a week. We love it. We love our friends and we love our life but there are some things we determined some time ago we would not share. So our bedroom is off limits. That is a sacred space that belongs to the two of us. There isn’t anything special about our room except it’s a room for us in our home that only the two of us share.

Can we get back to a place where something doesn’t need to be wrong to not make an over the top public declaration that the person who it was meant for wasn’t going to see? I post vacations after they happen. I don’t always post when our grandson is over. Sometimes things are in the moment and I don’t need an audience. Yes, I want to share my life. Yes I want to keep in contact with people in my life, but I want the sacred as well. I’m not a fishbowl person and I recognize that I live a fishbowl life in many ways but still there remains private, not secret, places in which I can choose not to share.

So I took a piece of my life back. I honestly don’t think anyone cares what I do all day. I don’t think you care or have time for what I ate today, unless it’s some fabulous recipe that I may want to let you know about. Beyond that, my makeup routine, coffee routine, workout routine, it’s all mundane we all have them.

I am grateful to those who reached out to see if my marriage is intact, if it’s good. It shows my friends noticed and they care. I loved that but it’s time to get real with myself and with you. I want to look into those blue eyes and tell him what he means to me and I don’t need an audience.

Intimacy can’t be found in media. When it is attempted it’s called pornography.

Intimacy is found in tangible expression.

Intimacy is real, sacred, private.

The Shadow Of Tribalism

When we began to speak of our tribes several years ago, I embraced the concept wholeheartedly. Growing up third generation American my ancestors told stories of why we needed to stick together against racism and for survivalism in a country that didn’t always embrace its diversity. Tribalism embraces a poverty mindset that says we must preserve ourselves in the midst of those who would take away who we are.

Growing up in California I was privileged to have grown up with a wide variety of culture yet even then there was tribalism. When we go to eat Chinese Food in China Town we know there aren’t going to be stores where we can buy tortillas.

So the concept of “streams” and “tribes” didn’t signal any alarms until I began to examine how we use them. We use them to keep people rounded up and to keep others out. We hang onto to a sense of who is in, who is allowed to visit, and who is definitely out.

Jesus came to dispel tribalism or at least redefine it. He brought about the discussion and complexity of community while he mingled with many. When Jesus is among the people his mother and brothers show up to talk to him.

Matthew 12:46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

In fact his detractors questioned his choice of dinner companions.

Matthew 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Ultimately the inclusivity of whosoever is what brought him down. The tribe could not fathom sharing their lives with those who did not belong and that is the shadow which we walk in today because tribalism is still our thing. When we determine who is in and who is out not based on qualification but based on standing within the tribe we are acting out of the lack instead of embracing the abundance Jesus tried to bring. When we decide we can’t live in community within the confines of a tribe not because of evil but because of our perceived notions of where we stand within that tribe it shows we have yet to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.

As I struggle to dispel the concept of tribalism and embrace inclusive community I doubt this will be the last post on the topic but it begins the process of discovering my role in it all.