Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s a great day to listen to Irish tunes and day-dream about strolling glen to Irish green glen hoping to hear the pipes “a-piping”.

But who is St. Patrick and why do we celebrate this day?

I checked it out on Got Questions.*

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St. Patrick (Maewyn Succat) was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland to a wealthy family in the late 300s. He was kidnapped at age sixteen by Irish raiders. While he was enslaved in Ireland he learned the culture, rituals and Druid language. He eventually escaped Ireland and later returned to share Christ with the people there.*

Not only did Saint Patrick forgive, he went back to those who enslaved him. He went back; not to demand retribution or justice, but at the risk of re-enslavement he returned to care for the people who had served him injustice.

Saint Patrick was obedient to the call of Christ. Additionally, Patrick exercised profound wisdom and grace. He used wisdom recognizing that his time as a slave provided him with valuable insight. Patrick took the knowledge he gained of the culture and used it to engage the Irish within the culture they knew while pointing to Christ with truth and love.

The Irish people were receptive to Patrick’s teachings in large part because he used their own Celtic symbols to teach them Christ’s ways. The most well-known of Patrick’s illustrations is the shamrock, a certain type of clover sacred to the Druids, which he used as a symbol of the Trinity.*

Who knew?! And what a great reminder to ask ourselves, “Are we so in love with Christ that we are compelled to live intentional; sharing news of our Redeemer with everyone –even those who deal wrongly with us?”

Like St. Patrick, we always have experience to share and something –even a three leaf clover with which to tell of our three in one; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Whether you wear green today or not, do think about the example of St. Patrick and consider who you can reach to in love and acceptance. Meet them within their unique “culture” and share the truth of Christ and His Kingdom.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28: 19-20 NIV

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Unusual Encounter

This post is in response to a post I read this morning from Joel, a blogger I recently started following. Joel’s post was about an exceptional encounter he had.

He referenced Hebrews 13:2

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. 

The post reminded me of my own unusual encounter.

Over 25 years ago I used to jog the beach path with my son in the baby jogger. Occasionally we’d pass a man who my husband and I privately called the ‘Bum of Huntington Beach’. We weren’t walking with the Lord then, and there were few vagrants roaming HB.

Sometimes Brad and I saw the man walking along Goldenwest Boulevard, but more often Jake and I passed him on our runs at the beach. Every time we saw him, he piqued my curiosity. He was tall -like really tall, and though his clothes were tattered and raggedy, he possessed a strong presence. I found it odd that when we passed him, he never smelled. He walked slow, but his posture was upright. He wasn’t just confident looking. I’d actually say he was… poised, almost elegant -in a manly way. His eyes were piercing in a kind way.
There was something different about this man, and I couldn’t figure it out. I wanted to know more about him.

One Christmas morning I went for a jog before we our traditional big breakfast. There on the lonely beach was our man sitting on the sand before the shore. This was the first time I saw him sitting. He always walked.
The thought came to me, I’ll bring him breakfast!

Excited at the thought of meeting the mysterious man, I quickened my pace and took the shorter route home so I could make up a plate and get it back before he was gone again.

At home, I piled the plate high with egg soufflé, toast, and fruit; and put juice in one of Jake’s sippy cups. My family looked at me like I was nuts. But I had too. “Hurry Shell. We’re hungry.”

It’s Christmas. He needs a gift.

I had some crystals that I kept in my jewelry box (again, not walking with Jesus). I held on to the stones thinking they could somehow guide, enrich, and protect my life.

At the time, I was blind, holding on to worthless objects instead of reaching out to the true source of hope.

Laden with a big plate of Christmas breakfast, and a cup of juice. I tucked the gift in my jacket pocket and hurried back to the spot near the pier. The air was cold and damp that morning. The ‘bum’ was still there, just gazing out to the foggy sea. He had a blanket wrapped around him. It was so strange to see him sitting, but he still looked so…tall.

I crossed the bike path to the sand, awkwardly caring my gifts. As I approached the man I began second guessing my brilliant and ‘extravagant’ gift.

What if he’s crazy -or dangerous?

Maybe I’ll insult him and make him mad… What’ll he do?!

I continued thru the clinging sand, contemplating random thoughts. The beach was vacant except for a family taking a walk and a few die-hard surfers.

Now I was beside “the bum”; past the point of turning back. He looked up slowly, his eyes meeting mine. I saw gentleness and wisdom and suddenly felt incomplete in whatever I thought I had to offer. In that moment I realized this man was more than what I judged him to be by his appearance.

I scrambled for words, “Um… Sir. Uhhh…” He seemed to see right through me.

“It’s Christmas.” I offered the plate, feeling like I’d just barged in someone’s private home. Maybe I had.

He looked down at the plate.

Maybe he’s already eaten.

Maybe he owns one of the beach homes and simply chooses to walk in tattered clothes.

It struck me again; he doesn’t smell. Suddenly I realized I did smell. I still had my sweaty running clothes on.

Oddly, I felt quite safe and welcome in his presence despite my embarrassment.

“Here’s some juice.” I handed him the sippy cup, painfully aware that my gift was not so extravagant after all. “That’s… you know; so it wouldn’t spill.”

Hoping to ease the awkwardness, but failing dismally; I handed him the crystals.

“A Christmas gift. Their supposed to help. Bring you luck.” I didn’t know what else to say, but he set the plate on the sand and accepted the clear stones in his hand. He simply looked at the stones unmoved.

Ahhh -what am I doing?! I’m giving a man stones?

He looked up and I wanted to run, but he met my eyes; smiled and kindly replied, “Thank you.”

He didn’t say another word, though his eyes said much. They were filled with wisdom. I could see that he had answers where I had questions. Somehow, I perceived that he knew what I wanted to know, but wasn’t ready to hear. He had answers to the hard questions of life, and he knew I wouldn’t accept them yet.

How did I know? Some things you just know -you know?

I looked down where the sand met his weathered blanket and managed, “You’re welcome.”

I wanted to stay in that unusual place. I wanted what he had but I didn’t know what it was. Very aware of my iniquity I could stand the awkwardness no longer. I stood up and began walking away, weakly mumbling, “Merry Christmas”.

I went home and ate Christmas breakfast with our little family, but instead of feeling fulfilled, I felt empty. Why? I thought I’d had such a good idea.

I had not brought a man food and gems. Rather, I left a man to sit alone on cold wet sand with useless rocks to weigh his pockets.

I gave him breakfast, stones and a sippy cup, but withheld the warmth of opening our home. And though he gave me nothing, he offered peace and warmth.

Brad and I continued to take Jake for walks and runs on the beach. I looked for the unusual stranger, but never saw him again.

That minute spent with “the bum of Huntington Beach” stirred a hunger in me that eventually led to Jesus. I didn’t recognize it then, but that man gave me a desire for peace, wisdom and kindness that could only be found in Christ.

I still look back and wonder, Who was that man? Do angels walk in tattered clothes?

Whether he was simply a wise and peaceful man or a special messenger of hope, he accomplished much with little. Twenty five years later I still think of him.

In the same way, children of God are to impact others. Some of the surest ways are those most simple;

-living in such a way that others are compelled to Christ; the ‘bum’ drew me first to himself, and ultimately (without a word) to Christ.

-being content with what we have: the ‘bum’ never appeared wanting or forlorn -his peace despite his apparent lack was exceptional, making a profound impression on me.

-showing compassion by meeting others at their point of need: the wise ‘bum’ appeared to see my need and accepted the crystals without mocking my ridiculous gift. Sometimes a person need only be seen, heard and accepted. The Holy Spirit will fill in the blanks in due time.

And you? Are others moved towards God Almighty because of what’s in you?

Do they see evidence that compels them to search that which cannot be bought, sold or contained -only given?

Kindness opens the door for truth.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  Romans 2:4

Lord, stir in us a hunger for Your presence and satisfaction in you alone, that You would be glorified and others be drawn to You.

to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

 

Eleven 32

Today is a very special day.

Today our home church The Harvest in Allen, Texas announced its’ new name.

When I first heard that the name was changing I was crushed. Our family had been part of The Harvest from some of its’ early beginnings. It was our family, our community and our home. I served on staff for over 13 years.

The Harvest was and still is family1456093874217

It felt like how I imagine our daughter Jessie felt as we sold our home and moved out-of-state. (Jessie remains in Texas studying and serving at our Texas church).

I’m thinking –But that means we’re not part of the church now. We are only part of the history of a church we no longer are active members at.

We hadn’t wanted to leave, but followed the tugging of the Holy Spirit.

Brad and I made the choice pursuing God on a new path in a new state; starting over again with our vocation, home, and community.

The first several months were rough. I felt as if we were being punished. Maybe we were not good enough for what God was going to do back home and He needed us out of the way. (Unguarded; the mind is such a playground for the enemy!)

This hurt at my core, so I turn to Father.

Lord, I know You are doing great things at home. You have clearly drawn us to this new place and people.

But Jesus…  I still miss home and now it has a new name!  Will we still be family there or some old ‘used to be’ strangers?

To which I get His response; Child, really?

I am doing marvelous things. You cannot know it all. You are not capable.

I am growing My Kingdom and the ways I do it will always be new to you.

Remember,  ‘Living things grow and growing things change.’

Pastor Dustin is a man of God filled with the fire of Father’s Spirit; burning fiercely to advance the name and glory of the King.

Bear with me as I segway a minute; this is cool.

 We really love how Pastor Al at Calvary Worship Center has tied together the message of Christ in our lives and culture today -throughout our study of the book of Daniel.

It’s historical, but as last week’s title “Back to the Future” implied; it really is looking back at the prophecies of God to His people, telling of things to come thousands of years ago and things yet still to be fulfilled. It’s all about Jesus.

In Daniel, we see God showing His sovereignty and goodness to His people in the midst of crooked times, leaders and cultures. Daniel helps us to look back as we look forward.

Lord, may we be a people who seek after You standing firm in Your ways no matter the times or the “political correctness”.

This week we would dive into Daniel Eleven.

Yeh, that’s the new name of our home church: Church Eleven 32!

In Daniel 11, we see that Antiochus IV Epiphanes appeased the cultures with deceit. He was all about his own kingdom and his own glory. His character was vile and he despised the Word of God. It was dark times for the people of God.

Motivated by hostility towards God and God’s people, Antiochus stops the holy offerings and desecrated the holy temple bringing in a sow. He attempts to scorn the One true God appealing to Hellenism.

In Daniel 11:32 he appeals to the culture, “By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant,”

We’re in dark times now. And there are plenty of smooth talking world leaders.

But –—! “but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.”

Here in COS we’re studying Daniel 11 and verse 32, while back home they banner the name in commitment to be the people “who know their God, will be strong and carry out great exploits”.

Of all the verses we would study today –it’s the very one our home is lifting as a beacon committed to advance God’s glory and Kingdom.

Only God knows the times and seasons, and yet, we are in a time where it is politically correct to honor all gods of all people. It’s not ‘acceptable’ to banner Jesus as THE ONLY WAY to God and heaven.

Jesus said,

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”    John 16:6

It’s all about Jesus, wherever we are –we are to be about standing firm, honoring the King of all kings; to know Him and make Him known.

So, I’m totally rejoicing here in Colorado, excited to see what God will do next here, there and everywhere that people will stand firm to raise the name of Jesus.

Wherever you are, bloom where you’re planted -and raise the name of Jesus!

 

See The Mountain

I drive around the city, looking in the rear view mirror; the side mirror; and the front window. I want to SEE the mountain.

I’m never disappointed. It’s always there: Pike’s Peak.

I can’t seem to catch enough sight of the majestic snow-capped mountain. pikes peak - Copy

Pike’s Peak is the most visited mountain in North America and the second most visited mountain in the world behind Japan’s Mount Fuji**. Standing 14,115 feet above sea level, it shadows Colorado Springs and overlooks the Garden of the Gods.

It appears as an incredible giant clothed in stone; a strong, quiet warrior broadly poised to stand watch and keep guard over the people.

The sight of the peak can take your breath away. It’s not just the altitude –it really is just that stunning.

The mountain reminds me of our relationship with God. He’s always there; larger than life, strong and unshakable. It’s a delight to steal glances throughout the day to find He really is still there.

One can go just about anywhere in town and see the mountain. Regardless of distance, height or vantage point, it’s hard not to see it. And who could tire the sight of the mammoth crests? The timeless beauty draws people from all over the world.

So it is with God.  He can be seen from anywhere …everywhere.

Any who want to see Him, need only face Him.

Once we do see Him we don’t want to turn away.

As we draw near the giant mound of granite, we realize how small we are and how immense the great heights are. We are wise to approach with as much respect as adoration.

Our approach to the Lord is not so different. His paths look steep, daunting, even dangerous. His ways often appear difficult and sometimes absurd.

Even so, His presence beckons, “Come!” “Explore.”

“Find adventure!”

“Delight in My nooks.” “Hide in My crevices.” “Drink from My streams.”

“Find My secret places. Behold My beauty…. “Experience my wonder.”

 

We all face mountains of different sorts.

How do you face a mountain? Do you keep a safe distance?

Do you accept the invitation to explore the upward ascending trails?

Maybe the mountain you face looks like anything but God.

Consider this:

What if you are called to climb that improbable mount looming before you?

It could be the very thing that will strengthen you for what lays beyond.

Perhaps you are meant to explore hidden crevices along the way. What treasures are waiting to be found? And what if part of those treasures is finding that you could go to heights you never before considered?

His ways are higher, His paths are sure. He is a refuge.

From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  Psalm 61:2

**http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/teacher_resources/best_place_species/current_top_10/pikes_peak_.cfm

 

 

 

More Than Clothes

More than Clothes

She glanced in the mirror admiring the dress. It is pretty.

It would never make it to a clearance rack. It was not the kind of thing she could hope to buy unless it showed up in a second hand store.

This is what I see window shopping.PicsArt_1408406666207

Hesitation crept in thoughts.

 What if people knew where I got it? What would they think?

What do I think?

The clock read 8:15am.  Church was starting soon. They were gonna be late as it was.

Ahh! No time -gotta go.

Conspicuously easing into an open row she held her husband’s hand.

Jesus, what do You think?

She listened for His voice as the drums beat and the band played. It was loud and ALIVE with passion for the King.

Her heart lifted in a posture of freedom and adoration. She was fully aware of His presence.

He understood her hesitation wearing the dress. He knew the story behind it.

Thinking about the woman again she wondered. So sad Lord…

The dress was one of hundreds of beautiful clothing pieces another woman had collected. The collection was exceptionally large. So much so, it was obvious that it had been a problem.

 Lord, she wore a lot of shame didn’t she?

Most of it had been stored away in storage. Hidden and collected, much of it never even worn. There were dresses, blouses, sweaters, coats, shoes, purses, jewelry and scarves.

I’ve never saw so many scarves –even in one store.

It had taken days preparing the garments to be sold in the estate sale. She wanted to protect the identity of the woman, carefully rearranging articles as customers picked thru them.

Did she know You Lord?

There had been Bibles and devotionals throughout the home.

She waited for her shift to end and picked out pieces to purchase. A wave of sadness ebbed by her as she tried them on.

The woman had ended her own story.

 Lord…

Would I have seen her? Not just her clothes – her?

Such nice clothes. So many clothes.

Recollections raced thru her thought stream. How many times had she looked at others, admiring their clothes, “Oh! I love that!”?

We spend a lifetime working to cover up emptiness.

Jesus. You provide much more then clothes

How many know of You, but miss You in their darkest hours?

The singers transitioned to another song. She was aware of people near her.

 Lord, don’t let me miss anyone. Help me to see beyond appearances.

“It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”  Revelation 19:8  (New American Standard Bible)

 Concern yourself with My garments and you will see others, not their clothing. I have given you everlasting garments. Be adorned in kindness, peace, faith and generosity. Boldly wear righteousness and joy.”

 Watch and listen. I will lead you.

 “And child, -the dress is pretty, but you are beautiful wrapped in compassion and humility.”

 As you pick out your clothes tomorrow, remember whose you are –who you reflect.

We have reason to step out in confidence, and beauty -not because of what we wear, but because the very presence of Christ adorns us!

“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10 (NASB)

And who will you really see today?

Dressed in awareness of Him you’ll find Him leading you to action.

It may just be a silent prayer, a kind smile or a word of encouragement. It may be having coffee with a new friend or helping someone pick up a pile of books they dropped.

You never know how such a simple act can save a life and advance God’s Kingdom.

Courage

courage4“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”  – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Attitudes and Impact

The other day an intern asked if I could talk to the lady waiting in the reception area.  “She needs to talk to someone about gas money.”  I was short on time, in the middle of a project.  This was not convenient.

Frequently, we have people come in asking for money.  We often see the same people come back with the same story, “My sister cousin’s sick and I don’t have enough money to get to Houston.”  They don’t come back except to ask for the same thing, repeating the same story.  It would be comical if it weren’t so sad.

Her name was Betty.  She smiled gently as I entered the room.chipped paint - Copy

The sight of her took my breath away.  She must have been in her late 70’s.  A tiny thing, she couldn’t have weighed more than 80 pounds.  She was at least a foot shorter than me, but it was difficult to gauge her true height -her back was so severely hunched.  With her long, stick like limbs she resembled a spider walking upright on two legs, except for her curly white hair.

I asked if she’d like some water.  “Oh no dear, I’m fine thanks.”  She wore a simple flowered shirt and polyester pants; outdated and well worn, but clean nonetheless. I touched her arm in a gesture of kindness as I sat near her.  I almost gasped, she was so frail.

Betty’s mouth was sunken in. Most of her teeth were missing, save for one lonesome tooth sticking out over her lip.

There remained a trace of beauty in her deep blue crystal eyes all but hidden beneath layers of leathery wrinkles.  Surprisingly, her eyes danced happily as I spoke with her.  Fragile and tiny in frame, she was lively and had a sense of humor.

I listened to Betty.  She was easy going and confident though humble.  Usually the teller will speak of hardship focusing on their woe.  Always, it ends with, “All I need is money for gas to get to —–.”

Betty, went on about how her momma and daddy raised her in church and how they’d loved her well.  She told me how good her life was and how happy she was.  Her face lit up as she spoke of Jesus.

In the end, she still was in need.  I went to my office to get a gas card thinking, “Wow, she’s really going to use it for gas.”  Betty was legit.

Of all times, this was the exception that we were out.  I returned, “Betty I’m so sorry.  We don’t have anything”.   We usually have $20 in petty cash, but even that was empty.

She looked at me, raised her eyebrows beneath worn rimmed glasses, and granted me a big smile, “Oh honey, that’s okay.  It was good just to talk.”

I walked her to the door and remembered I had cash for my daughter’s class project.  “Wait!”

Betty was so thankful for that $16.  She tucked the cash in a little hand bag with fingers misshaped I would guess from arthritis.

We prayed together thanking Jesus for “being so good to us.”  With a squeeze of my hand and a wave with her gnarly hand she left.

Her gratefulness made a lasting impression on me.

Whether you realize it or not, you are impacting others around you.  What kind of impact to do you have?  Is it positive?

Do you have something to give?  Wisdom to share?  Kindness to extend?  A smile for a stranger?  A helping hand to a friend in need?  A simple thank you.

It doesn’t take much to make a lasting impact, if your eyes are fixed on Jesus.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.  -Winston Churchill

Glory

This morning as I ran, I thought about the word GLORY.  We talk a lot about God’s glory.  We sing about “glory”.  We cry “show me Your  glory”, but what does it really mean?

As I pondered GLORY, the Lord drew my attention to the path of roses I pass on my run.flower

Most were still weighed down from the onslaught of recent rain.  Beautiful blobs of amazing color bowing to the ground.  Some had begun to raise upward to the emerging sun.

In that moment I understood glory to be evidence.  Glory is a presentation of God’s magnificence; a glimpse of His majesty, a portion of His residing presence revealed unto us.

The verse from John 15:5 came to me,

” I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Anything that is of worth or value ultimately originates from God, our creator.  He is the only true source of every good thing.

As we abide Him, His glory resides in us, not unlike the beautiful rose on a bush.  And though the storms of life come raining upon us, and the winds of adversity whip us about; still the beauty of His presence remains.

The rose bows it’s head from the weight of heavy rain, but it doesn’t loose it’s vibrancy or fragrant aroma.  When the sun comes out, it quickly lifts to once again reflect the splendor of that which it was created from.

Jesus is the ultimate glory of God.  The Spirit of God is the one who continues to draw people to that glory and dispenses it in and thru the people of God by way of Jesus.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever.”  Romans 11:36

If your looking for something magnificent, look around and BEHOLD His glory is everywhere!!  Take time to drink in the goodness of His presence as you recognize Him all around you.  If you really look, you won’t be able to miss it!