Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Most of the time, I meet life's challenges with Martha-faith. Martha-faith isn't bad -- she knew that if Jesus had been there, her brother Lazarus would not have died; Martha even believed that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world" (John 11:21, 27). Martha knew that her brother would rise again at the resurrection on the last day, and she believed that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. So far, so good.

But Martha did not believe that Jesus could or would be able to help her today with her immediate problem -- her dead brother. Jesus threatened to make things worse by commanding the stone to be removed from Lazarus's tomb: after being dead for four days, Lazarus's body would smell really bad. Martha didn't want her brother back dead! Why in the world was Jesus going there?

So too, I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; he is the resurrection and the life; he has conquered death through his death and "everyone who lives and believes in [him] shall never die" (11:26). But I naturally lack faith to believe that he is bringing new life today into dead things. Some days I wake up eagerly anticipating what God will bring into my life that day; other days, I wake up thinking that the day will be no more than one mind-numbing task after another. On the latter days, I have to force myself to remember that the resurrection power of God is present today no matter what I am doing. I am finding that God will give me this faith if I will receive it. If I will trust Jesus for today, then I am willing to go with him as he opens tombs -- perhaps showing me my hardness of heart in a relationship, or a bad attitude -- and it is a joyful thing to see him do little things each day that show his presence and power. Life becomes an adventure.

When Martha objected to the tomb being opened, Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" (11:40). If I will only give up my own ideas of what Jesus can't or won't do today, their removal allows the glory of God to become visible now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Casino Royale

The kingdom of God is like a poker game . . . hang in there, I'm serious.

Michael and I visited his cousin's family in Austin over Labor Day weekend. Sunday evening we watched Casino Royale (well, Michael sensibly went to bed instead). Like any Bond movie, I guess, it had lots of action and excitement and a superfluous plot. But one scene has really stuck with me. Bond is playing high-stakes poker. I don't know what the game is called, but each player is dealt only two cards and the rest of his hand comes from the dealer's cards, which are turned over only one at a time. I.e. the player uses whatever cards the dealer has that work best with the cards he's been dealt, and the player doesn't know at first what kind of hand he'll end up with.

In the movie, in the game's final hand, several players have impressive looking face cards, but Bond's winning hand is actually pretty paltry-looking -- I think it was a five and eight of clubs or spades. Those cards on their own are worth nothing in poker -- but here, combined with the dealer's cards, add up to a straight, so Bond won and saved $150 million from going to terrorists. (I hope you don't mind that I gave it away. You weren't planning on seeing it, were you?)

As a mother, I frequently feel inadequate. And that is how it should be. "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." (2 Cor. 3:5). Since watching this movie, I've been encouraged by picturing God dealing cards that I have yet to see but are turning my humble hand into a winning one.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Sometimes I try to feed John something I KNOW he likes and he just won't let me get it in his mouth. He puts his arms up in front of his face and turns away, while I try to spoon around his arms and get a little chicken (or whatever) in. Eventually he gets a taste somehow and then is very compliant for the rest of the meal -- but only after I've gotten annoyed and impatient at his resistance.

I've always been an impatient person but only recently have I realized that this is a spiritual problem. Fortunately, we have a God whose patient love (1 Cor. 13) enters our hearts through his Holy Spirit (Rom. 5). Patience as a fruit of the Spirit had never caught my attention the way love or joy or others did, but now I think patience is a huge, key component of love. I want to love and accept John just the way he is, and that includes letting him sometimes set the pace for mealtimes and diaper changes, among other things.

I wonder how often sin is the product of impatience. If I'm impatient with a person, I may get angry at them and say or do something unloving. It's impossible to be compassionate and impatient at the same time.

If I'm impatient with God, I may take a shortcut to get something (even a good thing) that I want in my timing rather than wait for God's timing to be fulfilled. I hate waiting! I look forward to heaven when we will have all of eternity to enjoy everything good, rather than as now living in a time-bound world.

But I am willing to learn patience and to see waiting in a different light. Waiting is inevitable when you live in a universe bound by time; time is one of God's parameters for his creation and so it too is good. If we didn't experience life in time, we wouldn't have music (all the notes would have to happen at once!) or film or any kind of story. When I'm impatient I'm viewing time as a limitation, when really it is a structure that allows life to take shape.

A friend told me that God gives us children to teach us patience. School is in session!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

free at last

Some of you know what a difficult time I've had emotionally and spiritually since John was born. Well, after 9 1/2 months, God set me free! I feel like myself again, and I'm enjoying John so much more. SO many people have been praying for me, and after everything else failed (medication, clinics, counseling), God showed up through Smokey John's BBQ Bible study.

Two weeks ago there was an article in the Dallas paper about a Bible study being held for 26 years by Smokey John himself at his BBQ restaurant on Tuesdays at lunchtime. Michael read the article and said, "You need to read this and go." The article emphasized that this was a place where anyone was welcome and that God's Spirit was present. So on Tuesday, John and I went.

I cried much of the time, and afterwards several people came over to pray with me. One of them was Livingston, a Nigerian pastor, who prayed over me for the spirit of depression to depart and then said, "You will get better." I didn't have much hope, but I had hope in his hope. The next day, he and Libby, another Smokey John's regular, came to my hope and prayed with me. They told me to memorize some particular Scripture passages and to speak the Scripture out loud so that my subconscious could hear it instead of the lies I've been hearing in my head. In desperation, I tried this for several days.

Then, last Monday afternoon, I was speaking to Libby on the phone, and when I got off the phone I realized that I felt like myself again. I can't describe the difference -- like being released from bondage, having the sun come out, and having a huge burden lifted off of me, for starters. Life is good again. John and I continue to go to Smokey John's on Tuesdays.

"This happened so that we might rely not on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." (2 Cor. 1). Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!