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

A Word for 2019

If you could pick one word to focus on in 2019, what would it be?

A few years back our Pastor gave a New Year challenge encouraging us to consider one word to focus on for the entire year. I had felt the Lord spurring me to trust Him more in unchartered areas of my life so the word I chose was GO.

I wrote GO on my mirror as a daily reminder. It became the filter I processed thoughts through. Every time I contemplated a matter I remembered my word and choose to “go” forward with my eyes on Jesus. It was tough, but soon I became fascinated with the word. It was such a simple word and yet it stretched me in every area of life. When I faced heavy issues I found GO as an invitation to once again place trust in Christ as I proceeded forward.

What surprised me was using GO in small matters. I found myself trying little things I would have otherwise overlooked. It made a huge impact and my world expanded.

By the end of the year GO wasn’t just written on my mirror, it had become a part of me. GO was on my mind and in my heart. It also happened to be the year the Lord drew my husband and me out from one very long and sweet season to an exciting new one in another state.

The beauty and simplicity of one word can impact your life in powerful and dynamic ways.

Consider what your life would look like if one word changed it this year. What would that defining word be for you?

Pray about it and choose your one word. Root it in your heart and mind. Write it on your mirror (dry erase marker), write it on your calendar. Weave it into your vocabulary. Take an hour to write 12 simple, separate notes using your word. Seal them and open one each month.

Then, allow every area of your life to be filtered through that word. Look for Christ to magnify His will and His very self through the meaning of that word applied in your life.

Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:12 (NASB)

Some starters to get you thinking:

Give                            Grow                           Legacy                        Wait

Simplify                      Forgive                        Humility          Fortify

Phonto

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

 

Jesus Squeezes

Ever wonder how Jesus would approach you if He walked into the room right now?

I was thinking about this recently on an exceptionally draining day.  I was hungry for a hug.  I wouldn’t see my husband for hours and all I could think about was a big, wrap your arms around me and let me melt, papa bear hug.

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered, “How would Jesus embrace me?”

The song I can only Imagine by Mercy Me, came to mind.  It’s a great song full of imagery, provoking a question of what it would be like to approach Jesus were we to see Him face to face.

But I wanted to know; how would He approach me?

Later that day, my eyes were drawn to a truck in a parking lot.  The tinted rear window caught my attention.  On it were two bold lettered words; Jesus Squeezes.20130426_124024

Those words hit me as if Jesus had walked up in person, picked me up, and squeezed me with all the joy and intense affection I could handle.   Jesus Squeezes!

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with an unfailing kindness.”  Jeremiah 31:3 (New International Version)

Though He is gentle in wooing us, God doesn’t hold back.  He’s deeply passionate about us.  How could He not be when He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us?!

When we look to Jesus, God’s greatest representation of love to us, we find He is already watching us with caring eyes.  His arms are wide open, expecting nothing. He welcomes us with acceptance, strength, comfort, protection and passion!

Are you aware of the presence of the One who longs to embrace you most?

How would He embrace you?  What would He have to say to you?

What happens when you close your eyes, sit quietly and just listen for the voice of Christ.  He’s there.  Are you willing to be still?  Will you recognize His presence?