Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Most Important Message as We Prepare for Christmas

I chased a bible-rabbit the other morning, and landed in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4. As the chase wound down, I caught my breath, while contemplating verse 18 and the Apostle Paul's mandate:

"Therefore, encourage one another with these words."

Turns out, this was a valuable chase, considering this upcoming Holy-Day-season, and some important thoughts as we enter Advent.

"What is Paul talking about?" you might ask.

Glad you asked. Basically, it boils down to these four words:

JeSuS iS cOmInG aGaIn!

He is!

Tragically, that truth is often lost in the Christmas chaos.

Don't get me wrong - I'm so thankful for Christmas. 
I love celebrating the birth of my Savior.
His sacrifice in leaving heaven for earth, in order to rescue me from my lostness, is overwhelming.
There must be special moments set aside for reflecting on what that means for you and me.

No, I will never get over Jesus' birth.
Not even if I live a million years, which I hope I don't.

Yet, in real life...
In the middle of this moment's messy...
In the hardship of our trials and pain...
In this world filled with evil and catastrophe...
Focusing only on Jesus' birth does not always bring much needed solace.

So, Paul says, 

"Draw near to one another; console and comfort; admonish and appease; exhort and encourage with whispers ever so soothing: Jesus is not staying gone. He will, physically, come again. When He comes, He will fix the messy, heal the hurt, obliterate evil, and save us from ourselves." 

There is to be another Advent; and this Advent's planning was in the making from the moment God-the-Father prepared Jesus for His earthly birth.

Christmas should be both a looking back and a looking forward.

As we celebrate Advent (The Coming #1), we should be celebrating Advent (The Coming #2)...

...because we all need hope!

There is no greater hope than this: Jesus is coming again!

Sadly, I've been guilty of marking, and commemorating, only half of that equation.

It's time for change in our house.


This year, I will purposely, and with as much intent, as possible:

throughout this season,
not just that Jesus came born to die;
but that He's coming again 
to LIVE, and REIGN, with us on high!

Advent is near.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

An Appropriate Thanksgiving Offering

Ten were healed.

All lepers.

Their skin ulcerated...issuing a foul discharge.

Eyebrows probably gone.

Vocal chords thinning, leaving a raspy/hoarse voice.

Nerve endings numb (which in many cases left them with missing fingers or toes)...

Eyes glazed over & staring.

Muscles wasting away.

Progressively dying.

Shunned by society.

That's how William Barclay describes the hideous disease in his Study Bible...

The ten had come seeking Jesus, and found Him along the road, traveling somewhere between Samaria and Galilee.

They kept their distance, as was the Law.

But, despite the difficulty in talking, they cried out for answer to their most difficult prayer (ten voices are more easily heard than one)...

They'd heard the stories of Jesus healing other lepers, I'm sure...

I don't know if they expected the response from Jesus that they received, but they listened (in the sense of they did what He said):

"Go and show yourselves to the priests (Luke 17:14a)."

The outcome was what they'd hoped for, however:

"And as they went they were cleansed (Luke 17:14b)."

Ten were healed.

Ten received answered prayer.

"One returned to Jesus when he saw that he was healed (Luke 17:15)."

Just one.

With restored voice from healed vocal chords, he cried out with an exceeding large and loud voice, praising God, glorifying the Lord, extolling His name.

He recognized there was a GREAT WHO behind the answered prayer.

"He fell on his face at Jesus feet (Luke 17:16)." 

There is only one response to a GREAT WHO.


There is only one thought towards that GREAT WHO...

I owe you a debt I cannot pay.

The beginnings of paying that debt start this way...

"He gave Jesus his thanks (Luke 17:16)."

There's so much more to this much more; this is enough.

But I wonder...

Is the ratio the same today? Do only one out of ten of us recognize our Heavenly Savior's hand of blessing? Do only 10% humble ourselves before Him, leaving 90%, who are so excited about the answer to prayer, that we disregard THE GREAT I AM without a word, or any kind of a sacrifice of thanksgiving?

Am I the 10% or the 90%?

We've set aside a day here in America to do just this...give thanks out of a grateful heart.

May our words of thanksgiving be many...

Our  hearts be humble...

and our recognition of God's gifts of blessing loudly proclaimed!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why Worship...Why Praise (with a few snapshots from PNG)

When? How? Who? Where? 

Psalm 150 is practically a complete handbook on worship.

When? Anytime!

How? With whatever instrument of praise is handy!

Who?  Everyone!

Where? Anywhere! From God's sanctuary on earth to His firmament above...from the mountains to the valleys...and to the uttermost parts of the sea...(even as uttermost as Papua New Guinea)!

On Thursday, October 26th, I boarded an American Airlines flight in Durango, Colorado and 38 hours later, landed in Madang, Papua New Guinea.

It was a ministry of a lifetime...

...and there is not quite enough breath in me to adequately praise the Lord...

...I returned home humbled that I got to play a small part in bringing a little of the "joy of the Lord" to a group of missionary women in one of the remotest outposts on this planet. Joy that spreads to strength to keep-on-keeping-on (for it is TRUE: the JOY of the LORD is our STRENGTH!)

Women committed to bringing the gospel (through translation) and literacy to a significant number of tribes that still do not have their language written down.


These women (and their spouses) have been hand-picked by the Lord for this ministry. Note: we aren't all called to do the same work.

Yet, a truth from Scripture began to resonate in me during the 12 days I was in Madang. I can't say I've really cemented it firmly in my brain, but allow me the opportunity to try and explain.

If you read last week's blog, you know I've been contemplating the Hebrew word "halal," which is translated "praise" in Psalm 150 (and several others, as well). The word took me back to a picture of King David, as he returned the Ark of Covenant back to Israel. His praise was a wild abandon to the Lord. His wife's response to his actions was less than cordial, however.

I made mention of the fact that while I want to think I'm a David when it comes to praise, often I fear I'm more like Michal - reserved, perhaps fearful, even...

Yet...with Advent coming, I, also, mentioned, that I want to explore new ways that the Lord of All Creation could be "reborn" into the middle of my heart this season...

I read and re-read David's response to his wife, Michal - here's a portion of his words:

David goes on to explain why he will celebrate with HALAL:

It was before the Lord who chose me...and appointed me...and, I will celebrate before Him...I would make myself even more undignified than this and humble myself...

There it is.

Our reason to celebrate.

Our purpose in praise.

Our starting place, as we move toward Advent, for allowing the Christ-child to be re-born into our midst ONE MORE YEAR...

We are all chosen.

We are all appointed...

...just in different ways...

The missionaries around the world have been called and appointed to their areas of service. They serve in multiple capacities from support staff to piloting to translation.

The past two weeks, I was appointed to get to speak to a handful of gals who serve in Papua New Guinea...then, from there, flew to Shipshewana, IN (Amish country) where Bay and I were chosen to speak at a marriage conference, as well as at a Missionary Church.

But, you have been CHOSEN, too...

You have been called by the Lord of the Universe, who has appointed you to be an "instrument of [his] to carry his name to the world around you that the gospel of Jesus Christ can go forth" (see Acts 9:15)"  

You have been chosen to be a vessel, an instrument of honor... for the Master's good use!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What Worship Could Look Like

Note: This was supposed to be last week's blog entry, but because I couldn't get connected to internet in Papua New Guinea, it sat in my inbox, and I could never update the blog. So, this is a follow-up to the post two weeks ago... And, can I's nice to be back on US soil! Next week's blog was written in come back!


After many months of studying and praying through the Psalms, I have come to the end of the book.

Recently, I told my husband that every time I must begin afresh in a new area of study, I feel like I'm saying good-bye to a best friend; and, I don't really want to make new friends with anyone else.

Maybe that speaks to the number of times I've moved and travelled, made new friends, and then had to say good-bye. Perhaps I need a counselor...

...but, I've digressed.

As I focused on the final chapters in this book that warms my soul, and speaks to the humanity of man at all levels, I noticed that the word "praise" is repetitive. You can't help but notice it.

 In practically every passage, the Hebrew word used is "halal"... I love its meaning:

To be clear of sound, or color, to shine; hence, to make a show, to boast, to thus be clamorously foolish

To rave; causatively to celebrate

To boast, commend, give glory, sing

(Poel): to make a fool of oneself

(Hithpoel): to act madly, or act like a madman

Of course, my mind traveled to a faraway spot, way back-in-time, to a place somewhere in the midst of Jerusalem, as King David helps escort the Presence of God (AKA: the Ark of the Covenant) back into the city after a very long absence. He's stripped to his underwear, dancing, celebrating, blessing and praising the Lord of Hosts. He blesses the people, gives some pretty costly gifts, sacrifices burnt offerings in the temple...there is nothing to compare to it in all of Scripture. The closest we see is the celebration following the crossing of the Red Sea.

Then there's Michal. The King's wife. Saul's daughter.


The look on her face reveals what's in her heart:  contempt.

Her husband is vile and worthless in her sight.

My heart wrestles as I read the account tin 2 Samuel 6.

I want to be David.

Wildly abandoned to the praise of all God has done in my life.

Celebrating the moments of His Presence.

But I fear, I'm a bit more Michal, than David.

The words David spoke to her, resonate with me.

I rejoice before the Lord, who chose me...who appointed me...and I will celebrate before Him.
Indeed, I will make myself more contemptible than this...

The result: "and, the Lord God gave David rest from his enemies..."

What happened to Michal?  "...and Michal was barren..."

I desire David's freedom, his rest...

and, as we approach the beginning of Advent, in a little over a month, I want to see some new ways that Christ can be born into the midst of my life.

May I be known as a woman of praise and celebration of my Lord.

May I learn how to "halal..." in a way that is appropriate to each instance of God's interaction into my life...and, in a way that celebrates His arrival.

After such incredible ministry opportunities in PNG, I feel like "halal" is the only appropriate word to use as I sit with the Lord this morning....and I pick up an instrument of praise (right now, that would be my pen) to celebrate and bring Him glory for all His mighty works!

I desire to bring the Lord a true heart of worship...