Ultra Sonic

23 Aug

10608590_831490100573_8387665045652513522_o A baby will come into our family this December. The ultrasound images of our little one give us shadowy glimpses so life-like that our arms ache to understand why we can’t hold him/her. On the screen we have seen ten perfect fingers at the end of two flailing arms. Two little feet– every bit as active as the hands– each have five nubby toes. But we are most captivated by the wee little face.

We have seen the baby!

When God was knitting our kids together in my womb, ultrasounds were expensive and not routine. We spent nine months wondering if the baby was OK, whether we would have a boy or a girl, and who he/she looked like. By a miracle of technology, this week we got to see our first grandbaby swimming and wiggling via ultrasonic waves.

An ultrasound image is created from sound waves pitched too high for our ears to hear traveling in two directions– toward the baby, then bouncing off and returning back. Ultrasonic waves are exactly the same as those within our hearing range, just pitched much higher. As the sound returns to the ultrasound device, the sound waves are translated into an image by an computer interface. We are seeing sound.400px-Sonar_Principle_EN.svg

 

Creator God spoke. “Let there be light,” and there was light. “Let there be sky, and water, and dry ground. Let there be plants, and day and night, and moon and stars. Let there be creatures in the deep, and birds in the air, and animals on the land. And let us make mankind in our image.” And it was so, and God saw that it was good.

Sound translated not just into an image, but into physical reality.

Jesus said, “I chose you,” and “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they do,” and “It is finished.”

Sound translated into spiritual reality and relationship.

Hi words wash over us and are reflected back to Him. All He sees is the blood of His Son.

The ultimate ultrasound.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

That God sees me through the blood of Jesus which has fundamentally changed my nature, grabs my soul… and my knees collapse under me in utter amazement and profound thanksgiving. This single truth causes me to worship Him (without having to think of any of the myriad of reasons).

Today, as I was looking at the ultrasound image of our grandbaby above, I imagined the ultrasound waves going between this little one and his/her Creator as the knitting continues every minute of every day until the time for birth is right. Then I thought of us, His followers, and imagined more sounds waves coursing through the air – “I created you and love you with an everlasting love” – “My Lord and My God” – “I see you, perfect and righteous, completely cleansed, new, and beautiful” – “There is no one like you, perfect in love and beauty” – Back and forth, God speaking from His Word, and each one of us answering in worship.

On Sundays it may be easier to hear what has been happening all week.

———-

Bonus Question: If an ultrasound device emits a sound in a forest and no one with a receiver is around to hear it, does it make a sound? (Sorry… I couldn’t resist!)

Needy

16 Aug

Driving at 70 mph for a day and a half gives me time to think. A LOT of time to think about the previous week spent with a very dysfunctional family that doesn’t follow Jesus.

My heart aches for them to know Him. My soul feels so helpless… and worn out. I read the Word and prayed in the morning and in the moment constantly. I’m not sure whether I’m beat from the hard work of praying so much, the constant interaction of so many who need Jesus, the very, very long roadtrip… or maybe the combo. In any case, I need the family of God.

While driving I was also thinking about getting ready for Sunday.  Man, am I ready! I am needy. Having been in the fray all week, I need the fellowship of kindred hearts like all these cars going in the same direction have. I need perspective like the hawks have hovering above the tangled strings of highway. I need the family of God.

During the week I have not been apart from God. I have had to be close to Him. But I have been alone with Him.

I need to lift up His name with those who also love Him.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Sometimes I take worship for granted, or at least I value it more at times. This week is one of those high-value, can’t-wait-for-Sunday kind of weeks. How about you? When was the last time you deeply desired to worship God with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Why?

I can’t wait for Sunday! Until then, this is on… at 11!

 

 

 

 

The Crowd

9 Aug

crowd crop

Driving by the corner store by the high school I felt free. The crowd around the store was made up of students, and I was now a college freshman. But being a graduate wasn’t why I felt free.

For the first time in my entire K-12 school career, peer pressure had no hold on me. It didn’t matter who my friends were or what group of kids invited me in to their closed circle. I laughed out loud when I realized that none of the important social complexities mattered to me anymore. Not one little bit!

I couldn’t believe how different it felt to be on the other side of graduation from the way I felt just a couple of months earlier. Regret followed that feeling almost immediately. Much of my time, energy, and emotions had been squandered on petty and trivial concerns that dissipated quicker than the cigarette smoke rings being blown out of the pursed lips of those in the cool crowd hanging out on the corner.

This memory revisited my heart earlier today as I read chapters 4-8 of Revelation. God gave John a glimpse through the doorway to the throne room in heaven. In response to being in the presence of the One seated on the throne…

The four living creaturesday and night… never cease to say,

‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!’”

The twenty-four elders bow before him and cast their crowns at His feet saying,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

They were joined by “many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!'”

After that, John heard “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!'”

Not a single one of these beings thought about any of the concerns that filled my day. Instead, they were filled with the presence of the Lamb, and they fell down and worshiped Him.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

Very soon we will be on the other side of the ultimate graduation and will understand how little of what we are giving our hearts and minds, time and fortunes, devotion and experience to really matters.

One thing that will remain is the worship we give God now. Like an eternal echo that continues, never losing intensity or volume, the worship I will give God tomorrow will join the worship in heaven that will continue forever.

This I Know

3 Aug

photo-5

For the last few hours (and I do mean hours) I have been caulking the crack between the new countertops and the freshly painted wall.

 

“Use this special colored caulk,” they said.

“Simple application. Just squeeze to apply,” they said.

“Easy clean-up with water,” they said.

My “squeezing to apply” shoulder has a cramp, my hands are water-logged, and my patience is out in the garage with the plain white caulk. The line between countertop and wall is blurry and wiggly, and the new paint has lots of little bits of primer peeking through where I had to do some “easy clean-up with water”.

Trying new things intrigues me. I decided that this new caulk would be fun! White can be boring, after all. If I had stuck with what I know, however, I would be in bed now. I understand how to apply the white stuff with a caulking gun, and all mistakes are easy to hide under paint. One of my greatest joys in home renovation (I know this sounds a little crazy) is seeing a nice straight line – where wall paint meets ceiling, between wall and trim – any place two surfaces join. The result is clean, neat, and refreshing after living with a sloppy job from previous home owners. I am now that homeowner.

At least for my efforts I am ready for Sunday. While applying, cleaning, and reapplying dark brown caulk, I’ve had lots of time to think about the white caulk just steps away in the garage and how all this relates to leading others in worshiping God tomorrow morning.

What I heard God say through my frustration, is to think about what I know– what I know about Him. I don’t have to get all fancy and look for trendy ideas or interpretations. Returning to basics is not boring, it’s refreshing and comfortable. To get ready for tomorrow, to refocus from my kitchen fiasco, all I need is to remember what I know about God.

He is good. All the time.

He sent His Son to this world in an act of love to us before we loved Him.

He provides everything I need and all I have.

He knew me before my parents were born.

He is the beginning from eternity.

He is truth and cannot lie.

He is the King over all.

He is my Savior, my God, my Lord, my Father, and my friend.

He loves me… this I know.

Now I am ready for Sunday.

 

More than Enough

27 Jul

This week I don’t have a compelling Scripture or a coordinating photo.

All I have is the thought that if everyone in the world was to be in the same room with Jesus, we would all see Him a bit differently through our need. Some would see the Mighty Warrior through their desperation. Others would be in the presence of the Prince of Peace because their lives were spinning out of control. Still others in the midst of grief would know Him as the Comforter. And some would simply be captivated by his glorious beauty.

The same God revealed, but seen through individual situations, perspectives, and longings.

In every one, and altogether, He is more than enough.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

I will be in that room this weekend– with individuals gathering together with independent needs, but we will be united in task and purpose: to glorify the One who is more than able to care for all of us and all of our distinct needs. He is more than enough for all of that.

Though we will each worship a slightly different facet of who He is, we will be united because He is the unifying reason that we gather.

He is more than enough for each and all of us. And more.

Two Sides

19 Jul

IMG_2965

I like to clean. Or, rather, I like a clean house when I’m done cleaning. Everyday I touch most of the doorknobs in our home several times (more than ever right now since we have a puppy and leave doors closed to keep her out of certain rooms). I don’t look at them or give them a second thought. My brain is engaged in more important task of remembering what I came into the room for in the first place.

But when I clean I do notice doorknobs. They don’t discriminate. Everyone turns them, whether their hands are clean or dirty. When I clean, I see the dirt, and I remember that touching them spreads germs. The rest of the week, I don’t notice the dirty build-up, but when I take the time to look, there’s no denying that a good cleaning is needed.

Several passages in the Bible hit me the same way. Or maybe they don’t hit me. Common passage that we all have memorized disappear in the text, hiding in plain sight.

This week I read through Revelation 2 and 3 – the Letters to the Churches. You probably have Rev 3:20 is addressed memorized: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Those of us who attended Sunday School as children remember a teacher holding a picture of Jesus standing at a door and knocking, while she told us how to ask Jesus into our hearts.

But that’s not what this verse means.

Looking at the context, we see that Jesus said this passage to a church, not an individual. Because the letter is written to a church, the implication is that individuals in the Laodicean church had received Christ. So why is Jesus knocking on the church door? If not for salvation, for what?

Because of their unrepentant hearts. The church had become proud, not needing anything. Not even Jesus. He was standing outside their church, knocking to be let back in. They didn’t realize they were poor, blind, and naked. The emperor had no idea he had no clothes. But Jesus did.

The church has the power, the ability– and the prideful audacity– to leave Jesus out in the cold, to adopt an SOP: of self-reliance, doing ministry out of its own human resources without the wealth offered by Jesus.

And so Jesus knocks, giving us the choice: do we invite Him into our church, opening the door with humble repentance, and enjoy sweet fellowship around the table?

Or do we leave Jesus outside?

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

What if I substitute “worship team” for “church” in the above? Is Jesus inside or outside the door of our worship team? Do we lead out of our own resources? Or is our leadership humble, repentant, and reliant on Him?

The wonderful promise we have in Jesus is that although His resources are costly, He gives them freely:

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.”  Isaiah 55:1-2

 

 

and

12 Jul

ampersand

You are Creator and the Word

The One who spoke and the Speaking

Speaking life out of nothing

Giving chaos meaning

You said, and it was so

Morning and evening

 -

You are the Voice and the Way

The Narrow Road and the Whisper

Whispering which way to go

Hearing cries to deliver

The Way and Only Truth

Small Gate and Life-Giver

 -

You are the Cloud and the Fire

Shekinah Glory and the Burning

Burning up soaked wood and stone

Igniting, overturning

Behind and before

Thirsting and soul-yearning

 -

You are the First and the Last

The Final End and Beginning

Beginning all things new again

Glory never dimming

The Root and Branch of Jesse

Victorious and winning

 -

You are the Lion and the Lamb

Perfect Love and Agonizing

Agonizing wondrous cross

Conquered death by sacrificing

Fully God and Fully Man

The Crucified and Hope-Rising

…and…

Opposites and paradox.

Remember Venn Diagrams from math class? Circles that describes sets – if one circle is “Green Things” and another is “Round Things”, the circles both contain the green lollipops, traffic lights, and round-cut emeralds, overlapping with an intersection of “Green Round Things”.

But what if the circles are “Green Things” and “Blue Things”? Do they overlap, or are they exclusive– independent circles without an intersection? What about “Blue-Green Things” (green and blue mixed to make blue-green). And what about rainbows… every color is part of a rainbow.

Groups that seem to be exclusive, after thoughtful inspection, do share concepts.

Sometimes the set names are so specific the intersection contains a single item.

Often God is described with conflicting concepts. Like Morning and Evening, First and Last, Lion and Lamb; like Crucified and Lord… At first these seem to contradict each other, creating a paradox. But think about these pairs and how they relate to each other. Taken together they complete the larger concept.

How wondrous that conflicting concepts meet in God!

He is the total set. The Both/And. The Ultimate Concept. The All-in-All. The Complete Union.

He is greater than any single concept for several reasons, among them that He created the concepts.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  Eph 4:4-6

The intersection contains one Item.

And: Christ the Lord.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

When I think about all the “ands” that describe God, my soul spontaneously worships Him.

Please leave a comment with other “and” statements that cause you to worship our Lord and Savior!

 

Free

5 Jul

Yesterday 238 years ago, 56 men signed a document that changed everything. The world became a very different place because of their sacrificial act.

Today I am wondering what they were thinking 238 years ago the day after they scratched their signatures on parchment. Did each one spend extra time with wives and children, worried for their safety and lives? Did any take a walk through his estate, knowing it would soon be seized or destroyed?  Did they meet together, grim yet resolved? Did they rejoice that a new direction had begun? Did the gravity of what they had done weigh heavier than the oppression they had experienced as subjects of the British Crown?

Their freedom had been eroded by a despot, but all of the 56 did very well for themselves under King George’s tyranny. Their pledge to the new Republic, one another, and their descendants was total, all-in, sold-out, and no-turning back. The last sentence of their Declaration states: [F]or the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. It is followed by the signatures of 56 men who had much to lose, and little to gain personally.

Watch the ever-eloquent Paul Harvey tell “The Rest of the Story”.

Can you imagine any of our current politicians acting this way?

Can you imagine followers of Jesus doing the same?

What if we signed away the rights to our future– to our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor? Is liberty more important than security? Before we can answer that, another question must be answered: What is liberty?

As Nelson Mandela was freed from South African prison after 28 years of incarceration, he had a moment to think about the turning point for his life. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

In Galatians 5 Paul describes ultimate liberty – freedom in Christ. Freedom from the law. Freedom from the tyranny of our own self-centeredness.

The Galatians were relying on circumcision to be the saving act for followers of Jesus. Paul, in his harshest letter to believers, wishes they would emasculate themselves (verse 12)! Paul was extreme and caustic because of what is at stake – their salvation and freedom in Christ! Nothing saves except the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. No human act will ever translate us from darkness to the Kingdom of Light. Trusting in anything other than what Jesus did for us is the highest form of slavery because it tricks us into a false hope, keeping us from true freedom. This is the worst form of oppression.

Toward the end of the chapter (5:22-23) Paul shares what true freedom looks like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Imagine a world in which this is all that exists. Imagining that world is to have a vision of true freedom.  “Against such things there is no law,” there is only total freedom. This was the vision of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. This was Nelson Mandela’s vision.*

Living under the fruit of the Spirit is not about restriction. The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew they faced a tough journey filled with hardship and struggle, yet they were freer after signing than they had been the moment before. Nelson Mandela could have lashed out against the injustice he and many others suffered under despotic tyranny, but he chose the way of freedom. In both cases the world changed forever for the better. What would have transpired if these men and their families had given in to self-preservation and hate?

What can transpire if followers of Jesus turn away from self and pursue true freedom?

How will we be different? How will the church change? How will our cities, towns, and countries be different?

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

And how will our Sunday morning worship be different?

———-

*I am not saying that the signers of the Declaration or Nelson Mandela were or were not hoping to establish a religious state, but that the ideals of the Gospel, specifically freedom and peace for all people, was their goal and motivation as they turned away from self-gratification.

The Same or Different?

28 Jun

IMG_3012Am I that different from the demons?

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:5-11.

The Beginning

God created everything and everyone – including Satan. Satan was glorious! His traditional name is Lucifer, meaning “light-bearer”. Satan rebelled against God and fell from heaven (Luke 10:18). His angels (demons) fell with him (Rev 12:9).

We are created beings (Gen 1:27). We fell from grace (Gen 3; Rom 3:23).

Both angels and humans were created by God, and both left His presence and were banished by God. Both wanted to be out from under God’s authority but found after disobedience to not only still be under His authority, but also be under His wrath (Matt 25:41).

The End

In Philippians 2 the words “should bow” are one Greek word: kampto – to bow or bend. The implication is not that they should bow, but that they will. Kampto means: “…the gesture of full inner submission in worship to the one before whom we bow the knee. Thus in Rom. 14:11 bowing the knee is linked with confession within the context of a judgment scene, and in Phil. 2:10 it again accompanies confession with reference to the worship of the exalted Kyrios [Christ] Jesus by the cosmos.”*

The little word and appears twice between beings in three locations: those “in heaven AND on earth AND under the earth.” The Greek word translated as and (kai) is “a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force.”** In other words, the addition of each group adds scope, breadth, and importance. The implication in mentioning every sphere in which beings dwell is that every one, without exception, will bow before Jesus, declaring Him Lord. (See also Rom 14:11 and Rev 5:13.)

Humans and fallen angels then, defined as created beings, will both worship Jesus.

The Same

Are there differences between humans and fallen angels? Certainly. Too many for this short post. However, the similarities are striking, and they are what have captured my mind lately– especially regarding worship. Another similarity of these two groups is that the eventual worship (kampto) of Jesus will not be forced. There are other Greek words Paul could have used in Philippians to describe obligatory homage. The picture here is that Jesus is so great – His name is so far above (Greek huper means far beyond and exceeding, not just the first or most important) every other name, we won’t be able to keep from bowing.

His presence will send us all to our knees.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

The questions for me are simple… and profound: will I choose to worship God, and will I allow His presence to send me to my knees.

If not, am I any different from the demons?

———-
*Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–). Theological dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman
**Strong, J. (2001). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

White

21 Jun

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” wasn’t my family’s Golden Rule; “If it’s broke, fix it, and fix it again before you throw it away” was.

With grandparents who went through the depression, this was one of our Ten Commandments right up there with “Never pay full price for anything” and “You better have a really good reason for buying something brand new.”

All four of my grandparents have long since passed away, yet I continue to live by these economizing principles. They have evolved into a game for me. It’s a challenge to see how inexpensively I can accomplish tasks and replace needed items. Maybe it’s the primeval hunting impulse combined with my northern European upbringing. Whatever the source, economizing is part of who I am.

Although my family is no longer in the “have not” camp, we still watch and squeeze every penny. Today I took apart our patio chair cushions. (The whole set– glass table, umbrella/stand, 2 gliders, 4 chairs, and 6 cushions– cost me $40 on an on-line resale site!) Covered with a faded print from 1990 the cushions had several rips, so I had a good excuse to update them. (If they were in good condition, changing them for fashion’s sake would be blasphemy.) I cut the fabric away to find the inner fiber-foam intact but full of green mold and algae.

AlgaeNothing that a dunk in bleach water couldn’t fix! I submerged and agitated them in a large tote with my garden rake. The nearby chain link fence made a sturdy rinsing and drying rack. Four times I went over each section with the “jet” setting on the hose nozzle and watched the nasty greenies run down the length of each cushion.

 

Four times seemed like enough rinsing, but I still wondered if they were completely clean. What if the first rain brings out hidden green stains to the surface discoloring my new fabric? Maybe I should do the entire process all over again? My back told me “no” (saturated cushions are VERY heavy!) and my head told me I would probably never get them as clean as new. If I had wanted brand new, I should have thrown these out and visited the garden center.

WhiteAnd so they hang on the fence very white-looking and bleaching out a little more in the sun while I sit inside sewing new covers.

They remind me of my heart. Scrubbed clean with Jesus’ blood-bleach. The old has gone, the new has come. I am a new creation! He has washed me!! My heart is true and clean!!!

While I am washed clean, I also look forward to being being made completely new. Here’s where the analogy to the cushions breaks down. Right now, this very moment, I am brand new. But I also live in this world tainted with sin. However, there is a time and place coming – eternal life – when everything will be made new! A complete and total do-over! This “now and not yet” is both fulfillment and promise, position and hope, inheritance and dowry.

I deserve to wear rags, but my wedding gown is white.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

The One who redeems me, who sees me as pure and clean, is also my bridegroom… and worthy of all my worship. To Him I am not a do-over, I am brand new, clothed in fine white linen.

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