Thursday, May 31, 2018

UK Bound: Planning Ahead

As I'm writing this blog today, Bay and I are preparing to leave tomorrow for a ministry trip to the UK.

We're excited about the opportunities ahead.

Besides ministry, we will be seeing a lot of places and countryside we've never experienced.

We've been planning for months.

We've often been in contact with the people who invited us, and are helping us put the pieces of the journey together (probably so much so, they are sick of us before we get there).

We've consulted maps.

We've googled places to stay, destinations along the way where we might stop, and, of course places we want to eat (because what's a trip without food?)... Pilgrim's Korai we are coming for you!

We've read books from other travelers...

We've looked at images of the countryside...

We have ideas about what the entire 3 1/2 weeks of this journey will look like.

In doing so, we have created expectancy.

In all our planning, we have gotten excited about what's ahead.

In all the looking, researching, and communicating at the other end, we are as prepared as we can get on this side of the pond.

Whenever we have an upcoming trip, we spend a lot of thinking-time, getting our hearts, minds, and messages ready...

I am planning another trip.

I don't know when I'll depart.

I just know it's coming.

This trip will take me HOME.


The thought of this trip makes me HOPE-FULL!

Hope and Heaven.

The two just simply go together.

Did you read that?  To catch a glimpse of heaven is to fill the hope-bank of our souls...

As I've begun this side-road-study, transitioning from hope to heaven, I've certainly learned one thing about me:
I do not think about heaven enough!

Not in the way I think and plan for other upcoming trips.

This is just plain wrong.

I highly doubt I'm alone, but this is not about you... it's about me...

What I've come to recognize is that thinking about thinking about heaven just isn't my normal.

I need a new thinking-normal.

Reflecting on this as I was out walking the other day in the forest, I realized I need a mental shift.

I needed a boost in getting my mind's perspective to look heaven-ward more often.

This blog, and next week's, is where all of this pondering has led...

Because the overall idea is this:

What Satan wants us to think about is absolutely contrary to setting our minds on heaven.

No surprise there, right?

So, what does Satan want us to believe? Ah...that is the question!

However, before answering that question, I had to answer this one:

What does the Lord want from me when it comes to heavenly-thinking and why?

As Christians we are asked (no, it's not an ask, but, rather, an admonition) to "set our minds (and keep on setting them over and over again) on things above, where Christ is seated, and not on earthly things; for our life is hidden with God in Christ (Col 3:1-2)."

What God would desire is for us to set out on a quest.

A never ending quest until the day we arrive...

A quest of curiosity.

A quest that inspires our thoughts of heaven.

As Bay and I put time and attention into upcoming ministry trips, so the Lord would want my attention focused on my upcoming trip to a place that will be home for me one day.

With that in mind, how much more should I be planning, researching, seeking what's ahead?

For one means my faith will remain more steadfast.

For another...the anticipation, expectancy, and excitement will be far greater....

And, yet another thing (and, this is a BIG DEAL), it eliminates Satan's goal of getting me distracted by the things of this world.

Heaven knows I'm easily distracted.

One sure truth is that when my focus is heavenward, I prevent the enemy from getting a foothold into my life.

A quick cross-reference of the Colossians passage, takes us directly to this one:

This little incident with Peter falls on the timeline of Jesus life just before the Transfiguration on the Mount, where three of the disciples were privileged to behold Jesus' glory - a foretaste of heaven (Mt. 17:1-8). Sandwiched in between is the call of Jesus for His disciples to "deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him (Mt. 16:24)"  The two events are intricately connected.

We cannot stay focused on following Jesus, without setting our minds on the things of God, which include a little "foretaste of heaven."

"Satan no more wants our minds on a quest for heaven, than he wants us to be passionate, sold-out, followers of Jesus."


Well, that's why.

The more I think about heaven, the more excited and passionate I become!!!

Yes, Satan wants us to believe something totally contrary.

Next week, we'll look at exactly what Satan wants us to believe.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dear Duke and Duchess of Sussex: An Apology to Their Royal Highnesses

Dear Duke and Duchess of Sussex;

I owe you an apology.

It's not for missing your wedding; no, I attended, seated comfortably on my couch in my of millions.

It's not for falling asleep during the ceremony; no, even though I was up at 4:00 AM Mountain Time, I was definitely wide awake (otherwise, I would be apologizing for missing the Grand Event - I was, actually, thankful I had woken up and could tune in).

It's not for lack of noticing the details - my eyes literally soaked in everything. May I mention a few of my favorite things?

💗 The moment you first saw your bride, your Highness...your eyes said it all, no words were necessary...your great love was evident. Then, as you turned to look in her eyes, you said, "You look amazing!" (Oh, sigh...that was all that mattered to your bride - every woman longs to KNOW that her husband thinks she is beautiful, and,  that he sees her as his beloved.)

💗 As Prince Charles placed Meghan's delicate hand in yours, Prince Harry, you looked him square in the eye and whispered, "Thank you, Pa..." I felt quite like I had invaded an intimate family moment. For some reason my eyes leaked a little...

💗 The sneak-side-peaks at one if you couldn't quite capture enough of the event, or of each other...and you were afraid you might lose the memory. I loved that you both seemed to be savoring the day... It made me smile...often.

💗 The simple (albeit, EXPENSIVE) and exquisite beauty - St. George's Cathedral was dressed to the nines, the flowers were stunning (and a lovely tribute to Diana), the lone diamond bracelet on the bride's wrist (and no other jewelry to detract from her loveliness), the simple bouquet made up of flowers the groom picked himself the day before in Kensington Gardens, the small and open carriage that spoke of a desire to be available to the common man... In a picture dictionary, your wedding pictures would stand beside the word ELEGANT.

💗 The flowers on the bride's veil - a tribute to every country in the commonwealth; the colliding of two cultures in a myriad of details. Your wedding in every way shouted a desire for the coming together of all men, all nations, all lands. I certainly took notice, it is a prayer of my heart, too.

💗 The passion of the Episcopalian Bishop who delivered the wedding address - I loved his message on LOVE.  These words resonated in my heart:

"Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in all of human history: a movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world and a movement mandating people to live that love, and in so doing, to change not only their lives, but the very life of the world itself."

"Think and imagine a world when love is the way...Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other like we are a family.  When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all...and we are all brothers and sisters...children of God."

💗 Oh! The JOY of all who shared in the day...

My apology is for this:

I could not keep my MIND on the ceremony.

Everything I loved, sent my imagination soaring HEAVENWARD.

Everything I loved about your wedding, reminded me that there is coming a day when Jesus finally marries His bride, and we celebrate the event in a significant, marvelous ceremony that is incomparable in beauty, simplicity, and intimacy.

Every detail I have mentioned will all be a part of our wedding-to-be: beauty, passion, love, family, unity, peace, joy, and, a coming together of true brothers and sisters (children of God), from every tongue, tribe, and nation (a DAY where "love is the way," because LOVE will be present).

What I saw with my eyes was multiplied a thousand times more in my mind....and even that is just a drop in the bucket, I'm CERTAIN, of the actual upcoming marriage of Heaven's bride and groom.

I, also, apologize for this:

No matter how elegant, your wedding pales in comparison to what is ahead for me!
It was downright boring, in fact...

Your wedding was a simple fore-shadow of tomorrow's BETTER DAY.

It is an echo of the true and ultimate marriage-ceremony-to-come; because, what we experience on earth is just a taste of what is waiting for us in eternity...

So, I stopped thinking of you almost from the beginning. You ceased to exist. You were no longer the "stars of the show."

Your "day" became a day-of-imagining for me:  IMAGINING THE INCREDIBLE WONDER of my upcoming wedding...using yours as only a banal image of WHAT WILL BE.

For this, I am sorry...................................................................................................................not sorry.

And, for those who might read this letter of apology, let me challenge you to begin now (!) basking in the GLORY OF WHAT WILL BE!

Don't worry, or use the excuse, that you might become "so heavenly minded, you're no earthly good." 

I wouldn't be concerned...
it seems to me the more heavenly-minded we are, the more earthly good we will want to do. 

I found myself charged, motivated, and ready to make a difference creating a mentality of hope for those around me - Christians and non-christian alike.

Here's to what I learned from your wedding:
We all need to commit to a little more mind-wandering, imagining of heaven....

It will be life-altering on earth, I have no doubt!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Emergency Room, Dishwasher, and Youth Group - What These Three Have in Common

This morning I sit, coffee in hand, praying before I begin to type:

"Lord, let these jumbled thoughts turn into something usable...and, well, useful, to You, because You've allowed them to be useful to someone else."


Wednesday was an interesting day.

There were THREE BIG THINGS about Wednesday. Somehow, I'll tie these events together (at least, that's the desire)...

1) Husband went to the emergency room for several hours. He has this heart-thing going on. It's been a norm for us for years. Without rhyme or reason, he starts going into A-fib, and his heart rate begins to soar, even when he's resting (or trying to). So, think of his problem in this way: his poor heart works as hard as if he is running two, or three, marathons back-to-back (but, contrary to the "run-Forrest-run" mantra, in this house, Forrest's-don't-do-run); so, to say this is exhausting seems redundant. Nothing works, not even the meds they give to slow it all down. It seems like his heart just has to work itself back into a regular beat. However, we have a heart doc, and we are in process of figuring this out...

The whole incident reminded me how quickly life can change, and that eternity is just a heart-beat away.

2) I found a dishwasher on sale, bit-the-bullet, and bought it. I've been without for some time, and, while I love doing dishes, I am grateful for appliances when life is full and busy, which ours often is. It's my Mother's Day, birthday, Christmas present for a lot of years to come... I'm wanting it to be the last dishwasher we ever have to purchase.

3) I had the privilege of sharing my most-important-life-story with around 65 youth. All combined, they have a lot of life left to live on this earth. They should have A LOT OF HOPE, but truth-be-told, when I walked down the stairs, and into the room, I sensed this prevailing emotion of HOPELESSNESS... To me, it felt like a heavy presence hovering about. Processing it as I stood there, I realized the only answer to this void is THE-HOPE-of-HEAVEN...Jesus. GOOD NEWS - this is the gist of my story. So, prayerfully, I brought a little of that Heavenly Hope down to earth... It seems cliche, but there is so much truth in these five words (emphasis on the word ALL):

I know you are already getting the connection.

The all-day, consuming theme of Wednesday revolved around eternity.

Heaven, mostly.

Not surprising.

This is where my study on hope has ultimately led.

So much of hope is intertwined with passages of Scripture on Heaven. Scriptures that remind us of the glimpses that the Apostle John received during his exile on Patmos Island:

Hope and Heaven can not be separated.

When we find ourselves stuck in the middle of life, and wondering if tomorrow is worth it, thinking about heaven reminds me, there is just so much purpose in living fully today. Why? Because tomorrow-in-Jesus really does promise me the "happily-ever-after" of Fairy Tales. Let's face it, the cry of our hearts is to know our lives all work out for good.


Heaven tells me that one day, I will dwell in the Palace with the King forever.
It is my happily-ever-after-ending.
It is yours, too, if Jesus has laid claim to your heart.
And, it is definitely beyond imagination...even though, Scripture makes me think we should try.

If you are at all like me, thoughts of heaven are rare...

...and, when I do have them, they aren't necessarily biblically based.

Randy Alcorn, in his book titled, Heaven, says this:

"Tragically, most people do not find their joy in Christ and Heaven. In fact, many people find no joy at all when they think about heaven." 

John Eldridge (Journey of Desire):

"Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea that eternity is an un-ending church service... We have settled on an image of the never-ending sing-along in the sky, one great Hymn after another, forever and ever and ever...Amen. And, our hearts sink - Forever and ever? That's it? That's the good news? Then we sigh and feel guilty that we are not more spiritual. We lose heart, and we turn once more to the present to find what life we can."

I realize I am often guilty of not making heaven seem more desirable than earth; a place-beyond that offers so-much-more!

Heaven is a place of HOPE, beyond expectation, that we can constantly turn to for filling our ever-emptying-hope-banks.

This earth is not the end of my story.

Here is where I start to take a road-in-the-bend journey in my study of hope, to capture a little glimpse of heaven from the view-point of the Creator of it all.

I'd love for you to join in...

...And, as we start down this road, rest easy, I won't have to take much time away to do my dishes. They will be getting clean as I dig deeper.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Blessing of a Broken-Hineni

This week, I digress from my discombobulated blogs on hope for another little life lesson the Lord taught, while I was speaking at New Brunswick Bible Institute last week.

For those of you, who follow regularly, you may remember that back in December, just before Christmas, I wrote a blog on a Hebrew word I'd been studying. Truth is that blog received the most hits of any blog I've written (probably because I combined the two words "tattoo" and "Christmas" in the same title, and you were curious). If you didn't read it, or want to re-reference that article, then just click on the link here: Tattoos and Christmas.

I mentioned that if I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be the Hebrew word "hineni." You'll have to go to the blog to read why; it has to do with the meaning of the word. What I didn't mention is where I would have it placed. I know that, as well. It would go on the index finger of my right/write hand. That way, whenever I wrote anything, I would see it, and it would be a reminder to me, of what I long to have remain as my heart's cry...

With "hineni" ringing in my ears around Christmas, I made several little signs for our board members to put somewhere they might see them, and not just think about the meaning of the word, but to pray the depths of its meaning for Bay and I as we minister in FOCUS. As I did that, I made a few extra little boards to give away as gifts.

It seems wherever I have opportunity to travel, the Lord has a way of connecting my soul with folks I meet along the way, who become "family." In the case of NBBI, there are several of those heart-connections. However, having experienced the "Dean of Women" position in my recent past, I developed a quick & heart-felt friendship with the gal who holds the same job at NBBI. So, I found one of my little "hineni-signs" and wrapped it up to take to her as a gift, since I know a huge bulk of the responsibility for me being there fell on her shoulders.

I watched as Beth opened her gift...and, to my horror, it had broken into two pieces on the flight. I'd wrapped it carefully, rolled it up in the clothes of my carry-on, but as Bay recalled, our first flight had a tight over-head bin, and he'd crammed it in, undoubtedly causing the fracture. Sigh. The broken-gift was out of my control, but I was embarrassed anyway. Immediately, I responded, "Oh my goodness, it broke...I'll send you another one." From that moment, through the day, I planned a new sign...bigger, sturdier, better...fixed. (Smile) That's just like me, wanting to cover imperfection with perfection! Get the broken FIXED! For one thing, I appreciated this friendship enough to want to match the gift to the value I felt for it.

I've been taught, that along the road of life, I need to "PAY ATTENTION TO THE TENSION." Somewhere in the midst of most of the push-pull that goes on inside me, there is generally a "burning bush" experience with the Lord. In the middle of that "burning bush" is a life lesson I need to learn...
and, I did...I learned a lesson about a broken-hineni.

That's the lesson, I leave with this blog.

The Lord has offered me, not only salvation, but His friendship.

Jesus said:

It's a friendship, I value greatly.

Hence, I want to give back to the Lord...and, I don't want to give imperfectly.

I want my offering to be PERFECT in every way.

The best I have to present to Him.

Unfortunately, just like that little hineni-gift, I'm "broken."

I'm still in process of being made completely whole...

And, when, I offer Jesus my broken-hineni, I feel sometimes, I want to wait until the broken is fixed to give Jesus ANYTHING...

My broken-hineni is not much to give in response to what I've been given from Him.

Yet, it's all I have to give...

The good news is Beth graciously received my broken-hineni; and, Jesus does, too.

(The red line is where the "hineni" broke.)

(The broken-hineni on display.)

In fact, Jesus wants our broken offerings.

His DESIRE IS FOR our broken-hineni's.

Why? He works best in our brokenness and weakness.

He's most glorified in it, too.

This morning think about the blessing of brokenness.


Never resist offering your broken-hineni to the Lord to be a "sign on display" for God to use...a broken-hineni, sanctified, useful to the Master, and prepared for every good work (2 Tim 2:20-22).

Isaiah 61:3

P.S. I've decided to leave Beth the broken-hineni...she'll have to make do with that irreparable representation of my friendship "as is"...just as Jesus does. SMILE!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Do You Ever Wonder About Your Calling? Wonder No More!

There are mornings when I simply feel like I have NOTHING left to give.

I'm banking on the fact that it's just THIS morning, and not two mornings from today, when this appears on my blog for the first time.

At that time, I'll be in Victoria Corner, New Brunswick.

Yes, it's a blip on the map.

I reckon, if you blink as you're driving through, you might miss it.

However, it's home to a Bible college that graduates students who will impact their world: New Brunswick Bible Institute.

These students might become pastors, associate pastors, worship ministers, youth leaders, children's ministry directors...

...very few go on to become doctors, attorneys, political leaders....occupations we might connect with being world changers.

But, they will change the world, nonetheless, each in their own way.

So, on this morning, when I have nothing, and I simply sit here at the computer thinking about what I don't have to give to make a difference, some of my own words have come back to bite me.

I do have something to offer.

Something that makes a difference.

My life stories with Jesus are of use to Him.

This is why I have come all the way to Victoria Corner to share, along with Bay, for their Spring Conference (not just for students, but open to men and women around Canada, and the Eastern States).

The Apostle Paul reminded me of this truth, as I moved my eyes from the blinking cursor on the white screen, to the next passage of Scripture that's open in my Bible. Wouldn't you know it's also a passage that speaks of hope? Of course, it is...

Here's what I read:

(substitute the name, Peg, here) 
a slave of God, and a messenger of Jesus Christ.
I have been sent to proclaim faith to God's chosen, instructing them in the knowledge of the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.
This truth gives them hope (an internal confidence that is lived externally) in their eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised...

It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.
Titus 1:1-2, 3b

The Apostle Paul had such a big personality.

Wherever he went he left his mark in a huge way.

Sometimes, it landed him in prison.

Sometimes, people chucked stones at him.

Sometimes, they pressed so hard, he nearly landed at he bottom of a cliff.

But at all times, Paul's life and his words made a big difference.

He was truly a man on a mission...he saw himself as God's slave.

Not just any slave, forced into service, but a "doulas," one voluntarily compelled to devote themselves to another's will.

For Paul, that meant he was God's messenger.

Wherever he went, and whatever happened while he was present, he was ALL THERE to do exactly what God had sent him to do.

God's message for Paul:

to speak the story that gave him HOPE...a story that would deepen the roots of God's chosen into the soil of faith, spur them on to greater knowledge, and stronger HOPE.

It was a message that perpetuated itself...all the way down through the ages to me.

Thank you, Paul.

I do not have Paul's big personality.

Others, who have been called to do what I do (and off the top of my head I can use all my fingers to count some), also have big personalities.

My calling is proportionately smaller...right in line with who I was created to be...with the gifts that God's grace instilled in me at my new birth.

I'm perfectly ok with that (frankly, I don't want the responsibility that comes to those with the big personalities)...

Paul's call is my call in my own way;

and, yet, that doesn't mean the influence has to be small...

...because the same Lord who called Paul, called me with the same message, using my own stories;

and, HE IS SO BIG.

Now, I get the opportunity, as you read this, to be a perpetuator of hope to God's chosen who may be spurred on by my stories. 

Guess what? 

You are called to do the same.

Go back and read the words Paul penned to Titus again. 

Now substitute your name in that passage.

Yep, it belongs there!

Go and tell.