Lent 36: trash or recycling?

20 03 2013

In Philippians 3:4-14, the Apostle Paul states that the former gains in his life he now considers garbage–that he may gain Christ. Lent 36: trash or recycling? In The Message (paraphrase of the Bible), Eugene Peterson translates part of the passage this way:

“Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him.”

It’s a great image…. dumping the former stuff in the trash, the garbage, the rubbish… and considering it dog dung. Yet I can’t help thinking about how often we humans still hold on to the former stuff. It’s almost as though we consider the former stuff recycling, rather than trash.. something we can re-use, upcycle, whatever… whatever is most useful, when we need to rehash stuff. Trash. Maybe it’s time we stopped recycling some of these things, and throwing them out instead, so our lives can be free from trash, and more useful for God. Maybe it’s time we lay our burdens down at the foot of the cross.

Lent 35: Extravagance

19 03 2013

Still reflecting on John 12:1-8. Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, and, in a move that likely made everyone else tense up with awkwardness, she then wiped his feet with her hair. Lent 35: ExtravaganceHer actions were extravagant. One of the definitions of extravagance is “exceeding reasonable bounds; unrestrained; extremely abundant…” (from The American Heritage Dictionary, Copyright 1982.) I am not sure how extravagant I ever have been with my adoration of Jesus. And, I think, one of the most abundant, unreasonable, extravagant gifts I could and should give to God these days is my time.

Lent 7: glitz and glamour

20 02 2013

Once again, I tried to post last night, and it just didn’t work. Only this time it was my brain not working, not the website. So here’s yesterday’s photo: “glitz and glamour”. I took it during the day, as I was thinking about the devil’s second temptation to Jesus: worship me, and you can have all these kingdoms of the world…  the devil didn’t actually say, at least not according to the translations I’ve read, “glitz and glamour”. My words. But in the TNIV, he said,  ” authority and splendor”. The devil led Jesus to a high place, showed him all the kingdoms… and then offered them all to Jesus in exchange for Jesus worshiping him, the devil. Lent 7: glitz and glamour

Authority and splendor, glitz and glamour…. whatever we call it, it’s settling for earthly power and praise, in exchange for worshiping someone or something instead of God.

So, the question is, what things/people/situations draw us away from worshiping God, and worshiping something or someone else? I don’t mean on Sunday mornings, or in our regular Christian worship services… though if that’s an issue, one could certainly reflect on that. I mean the daily living stuff–how do our lives reflect our God-worship? And do they need to be a little less earthly glitz and glamour, and a little more God-power?



Day 39: save now

16 04 2011

Save BIG. Big savings. Save now. Save 10%. Save 50%. Save more than the other place. Save by doing ______ now. Save, save, save… savings. Even before our economy went downhill, our culture loved savings. And we still do. But I wonder if we would truly understand the significance of shouting out, “Save us now, Son of David!” As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the bystanders shouted, “Hosanna!”, which means “Save now…”

We in this century can look back to that era and recognize that Jesus’ audience wanted saving from the Roman superpower. So it’s easy for us to say, “Wow, were they wrong!” But what do we hope to be saved from? And how much are we hoping to be saved from? Sometimes I think that we’d be happy if Christ would come and save only 25% of our lives, and that’s a big enough “savings”… because it would be too difficult for Christ to save our whole life. Too much work on our part.

Though God is more than a slogan, or a gimmick, we know that God does save. BIG. Now–and whenever we give our hearts to him.

“Hosanna!” the crowd called out. Save now!

Alright… Jesus might say. Hang on a few days, and you’ll get your saving. 100% salvation, for all who believe.

Day 36: teamwork

14 04 2011


Teamwork is not a strange concept to us these days. I don’t think it’s been a strange concept for ages, actually. Though certainly a couple decades ago, I think (?) there was greater impetus among corporations, etc. to have employees learn more about teamwork. The church has been in the business of teamwork for centuries (though not always successfully).

When Jesus sent the disciples off on their donkey-fetching-errand, (Matthew 21:1-11, again) he sent two of them out, as a team. My guess—and this is totally my guess—is that either one of them could have done it alone. But Jesus may have hoped they would learn and grow together, by having minister together. Clearly, by the Gospel accounts, the disciples didn’t always work well together. No surprise there. They were human, after all. But look at the result of their growth and learning and faithfulness!

I am grateful for the teamwork experiences I have had in my life—especially the positive ones. I am grateful for the fact that I’m a co-pastor, and with my husband. I give thanks for the staff and ministry teams here at Christ Covenant Church. I am blessed by the friends and family members in my life who have been in my life. And I am grateful to God for giving me these people, teams, experiences, and ministry.

Day 35: needed

13 04 2011


Lord and donkey–those are two words that I would not typically think go together. But then again, Lord and sinners, Lord and manger, Lord and cross, Lord and empty tomb….none of these word pairings fit our stereotype of what a Lord might be. Yet, Jesus doesn’t fit our normal stereotype anyhow. Never did, never will.

This Sunday’s Palm Sunday gospel passage, from Matthew 21:1-11, illustrates this even more. Jesus sends two disciples on an errand to get a donkey. If it’s not shocking enough that the Lord sent for a donkey, Jesus instructed his disciples to tell anyone who asked about it, “the Lord needs it.” Needs? If Jesus is Lord, why does he need anything? can’t he snap his fingers and have things appear? A regal horse, perhaps, instead of a lowly donkey? Why send the two disciples?

It’s part of the Christian faith that I both appreciate and am puzzled at, at times: the fact that God needs people. Including me. God needs us to help carry out the mission he began while Jesus was on earth. Talk about risk-taking. It seems much easier to do things oneself, than to leave it in the often-erring hands of humans. But then again, this is the same God who pairs words like Lord and manger, Lord and cross, Lord and empty tomb, and Lord and donkey.

These phone book pages help me think about the bigger world beyond my circles. The names and organizations listed on these pages (including Christ Covenant Church) represent God’s bigger kingdom here on earth. And even that, this phone book, represents only a small portion of the earth. And though at times it might seem ridiculous that Jesus Christ needs and uses each of us who call him Lord, it is the reality of following this humble King.

God’s blessings as you discern where God needs you to participate in his kingdom. And God’s peace and strength, as you faithfully follow.

Imagine the possibilities, if all of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, responded in faithful obedience….

Day 34: donkey and a king

12 04 2011

donkey and a king

I am not kidding when I tell you that yesterday (Monday, Day 34) as I read through Matthew 21:1-11, I thought to myself, “So, I need a picture of a donkey. Where am I going to find a donkey?” I wasn’t thinking of a donkey picture for Day 34… more like the end of the week. But, as I walked into the church where Jim and other Christ Covenanters were playing volleyball last night, there was this car with this image on the back.

I’m not sure what the image is supposed to mean. Obviously, something to do with a woman I presume is Mary, an animal that I’m hoping is a donkey and not a horse (hoping so that it fits better with this Sunday’s text), and the cross. A bit odd… not the normal three images we think of together. But for me, it is a reminder that the events in Jesus’ ministry over the past several weeks, and the one of this coming Sunday–these all lead to the cross. And, ultimately, the empty tomb. But for now, the cross.

In the Matthew 21 passage, Jesus sends the disciples to find a donkey and colt, untie them, and bring them back to Jesus. Why? To fulfill Old Testament prophecies about the coming King. Jesus.

The crowd at the original “Palm Sunday” has my sympathy: throwing their palms down, in celebration of the coming king… hoping against all hope that he would finally be the one to overthrow the Romans… and then they would realize, before long, that he was not who they hoped him to be. Their dreams might be dashed.

Jesus isn’t always who I hope he will be for me, either. I’m a little more realistic than to expect him to answer all my prayers all the time in the ways I want.. I realize that’s not practical. But I wouldn’t mind a little more help in some areas. Help as I define it, of course. Yet the Jesus of reality, the Jesus of my faith, the Jesus who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in the midst of “hosannas”… would die on a cross. For me. And for you. And sometimes that’s a little hard to fathom.

Day 21: emu mud

31 03 2011




Dirt + warmer days awhile ago (not lately) + Mr. Emu walking by his fence = emu mud. Emu mud + _________ (fill in the blank)  doesn’t = much that I’m aware of. I could be wrong.

Dirt + Jesus’ spit + a man-born-blind = a life-altering event.

For a modern-day-paraphrase, try reading John 9:1-41 from The Message.