Tag Archives: Jesus

Dear Children… About Your Inheritance…

“I need something.”

The cryptic words from College Son flashed across the screen. After 3 weeks of minimal contact, this could mean almost anything. Historically speaking our relationship dictated this typically meant some research advice or proofeadery.

“What?” I replied while  bracing my jetlaggy brain for a challenge.

“Your recipe for spice cake.”

I stalled.

Ummm….  Seriously?

Inheritance Title

See, this is no ordinary recipe for no ordinary spice cake. I’ve been making and perfecting this dreamcake for over 20 years. This is my closely-guarded recipe for THE spice cake  I’ve kept tucked under my (ahem) “belt “ all this time.  It’s the kind of recipe a Ninja-Chef really must have in their personal arsenal for special occasions and surprise guests, new baby welcomes and potlucks. Savory, spicy-sweet and best of all: sinfully simple. I don’t part with it easily.

My daughter asked for it a year ago. Unbeknownst to me, she entered a contest and won a 250-dollar gift card to Ikea. She bought a chair. A chair. (Isn’t that like selling your birthright for stew? Never mind.)

Something they’d grown up with, now it was College Son’s turn to ask.

“Never.” I teased. Emoji-smiling, he explained that his girlfriend (the one I am trusting God to make my DIL someday!) wanted to make it for him.

At least she can cook.
From scratch.
My mock-resolve melted.
I sent it.

“There.  Now you have your inheritance.” I said Emoji-winking back. Digitally, we exchanged smiles, hugs and kisses and he was happily on his way with a piece of his family history. Truly, as silly as it sounds, he now possesses a solid piece of his shared inheritance.

Doesn’t seem like much, does it?

It’s no surprise though that if you took any of our children aside and asked them about their inheritance, three out of three times, their first response would be a mixture of low-toned laughter and chagrin. They know, by the worldly definitions, we’re “broke” and planning to be “broke-r” before it’s all over with. At least this is the current nature of our estate in terms of dollars and not a whole lotta sense!

Love And Marriage

Still I have a strong feeling in the pit of everything within me that their next response will be a knowing and satisfied smile. Because in reality, they know we have given them everything we have to give and oftentimes it’s been far more than anything our parents were able to give to us.  They also know it’s never been about money in the bank.

Make no mistake: it’s been a touchy subject through the years as they’ve reached the ages and stages where their friends were given cars, educations and luxury items we never were able to afford—at least not the way most people have done it. There have been many tears and tantrums on both sides of the equation. But we’re here. We’ve made it and we’re better than intact: we’re whole.

And while we pray there’s still plenty of time to amass more “wealth” to add to their inheritance, there are many things besides a knockout recipe for spice cake we’re striving to leave as our legacy– solid and eternal things we hope they’ll always treasure and, if Jesus tarries, preserve and pass along to many future generations.

The Family Bible

I hope they’ll find treasured comfort in knowing that we not only loved them and each other to the highest best of our ability but that it was a love deeply rooted in our shared love for God.

I hope they’ll find great inspiration in how we found this God-love so wild and wonderful that it was worth risking our place in a world-driven status quo to spend an adventure-filled lifetime stumbling along the lesser travelled path towards His greatest good.

I hope they will hold close and share often the stories of these adventures–many spent with them– and discover this same courage in themselves to step out in new directions to spend and experience their one beautiful life serving our one amazing God.

Humbly I hope they’ll cling as tightly to Jesus as we have because they’ve witnessed time and again how His grace, mercy and forgiveness have seen their two imperfect parents through many…  many….   many times of failure.     And every success.

I hope they’ll talk about how their Mom “trusted God and sought to pray the hell out of any situation!”, how their Dad was never so afraid of failure that he wasn’t willing to try—fail and try again and how both of them together fought arm in arm against the enemy who came to seek, kill and destroy their marriage and family.

And how through that same powerful grace from God, together… they won.

The Great Commitment

So that here now and in the future when they’re possibly surrounded by little ones of their own and telling the “once upon a time” portion of our newly-written family history— when they talk about the things they share together, most of the story will be told from the perspective of vast wealth and riches— of lives that were shaped and held together by God— all the while knowing and communicating that their inheritance from us was never merely “enough”:    it was always everything.

That’s our prayer.

And that amazing spice cake?
Well,  that was simply a bonus.

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Critical Mass

 

Back in the day there was an advertising campaign that said, “If you want to capture someone’s attention, whisper.”  I’m sure it sold a lot of perfume.  Honestly, that notion has never been more relevant than it is today. It’s so freaking noisy.

In this day of mass consumption and mass communication everybody has the ability to talk things to death and beyond, leaving little room for the thinkers, doers and listeners. We’ve been pushed to the fringes, trapped on the jagged cliffs of Mt. McBlahBlah while the lemmings leap over us to their deaths. Somehow, we need to regroup and remember there is a better way.

Critical Mass

You don’t necessarily have to be “qualified” to become an outspoken expert in the field of   ALL THE THINGS— along with half a bazillion others— myself included. I realize this truth.  However, there is something important to be said for motive, wisdom, logic and integrity—necessary ingredients for any decent conversation. I must ask myself this all the time, “Where is your heart anchored”? Because Jesus said that’s where the words flow from.

Until yesterday, I refused to read the recent news. I couldn’t. Not because I do not care or don’t want to know. I simply could not bear the cacophony and white-hot frenzy of more “qualified” experts quite unwilling to listen, hear, empathize or, for God’s sake, REASON with any level of intelligent compassion. Genuineness and integrity getting tripped up and stomped on by those just “here for the show”.  Loud voices with fingers poised on the trigger of their chosen weapon, lobbing word bombs from the safe distance of their comfortable homes. Bang-Bang.  AK-47s may not be the most dangerous weapons in the room considering the power of mob mentality versus the truth.     Think about it.

Satan couldn’t possibly be more pleased. Chaos and confusion—his specialties— are in perpetual supply and we have become a society that thrives upon them. His task is so easy now: drop the hint that the problem is “out there” in the form of terrorism, sexuality, religion, politics and patriotism—whatever. Set the bait, stand back and watch hungry masses tear one another to bits because somebody took a bite out of their sacred cow.  It doesn’t take much because we’ve reached the point of critical mass: the bare minimum required to initiate and sustain a chain reaction.   We’re close.    Feel it?

Sadly , it’s all satan has ever been good at: fear-flavoring every good thing. “Did God really say….?”  BAM:

Doubt.
Confusion.
Anxiety.
Self-ishness.

That one question reverberating across every “modern day” situation we face.  If somehow we buy the lie or at least invest time doubting God’s faithfulness, presence, goodness…or existence… a chink in our armor forms just wide enough for the arrows to bring us down.

Real damage is being done by all the “Us’s” and every “Them”.  No matter where you stand, it’s nearly impossible not to feel the anxious, spiritual buildup like the forges of Mordor rumbling beneath our feet. Not everyone will acknowledge these things. Too many prefer living anesthetized lives of stupefaction through various forms of media and medicines. Numbed and dumbed by an excess of pleasure thinking we can somehow avoid the pain while ignoring how even amongst the most successful in our society, the suicide and drug abuse rates are climbing steadily.

Because there is real pain. But the fact remains that what we’re experiencing in our world today — every bit of it— is not the central issue. These are *symptoms*. Horrible, horrible mutations and manifestations of the terrible disease of sin within.

You know, sometimes.. I can imagine why Jesus wept.  Standing before Mary, He knew even sparing  her this moment of pain would not stop it’s flow immediately. Looking out over Jerusalem then, wanting to gather that city safely into his arms, surely He could see ahead to the world as it is today. His heart was grieved that even in light of His example and sacrifice, choices were going to be made to look away and hurt others anyway.

Even as a Christian, sometimes I find myself wandering into the middle of the fray forgetting that’s not they way we have been called to do this business of life. Sometimes I struggle to remember that God is not a part of the chaos and has no need to shout past Calvary. It is finished.  So how can I live as a part of the “it is finished” people? What is there to say on behalf of those who have to exist in the midst of a world entangled in all the “These things” Paul talked about?

It was this statement this past week from Audrey Assad that brought me back to the center of the issue and before the cross:

Not Easy to Offend

I was reminded that though I’m a warrior for the Gospel, my anchoring and methods of doing battle must be radically different from what I see around me today.

Sometimes I have to take a step back from the noise to gauge more clearly and remember thankfully, our Savior is still speaking ferocious love through the same, steady whisper throughout the ages:  “Return and rest.” ,  “Be still and know.”  and then  Go and tell through and with our stilled, knowing, returned and rested lives.

Salt and Light: It’s how we can be the healing, preserving and seasoning of salt while we illuminate and guide with our light-saturated lives.

Being still, knowing, returning and resting doesn’t seem like much of a solution when you look at it in view of the chaos.

Seems too basic—like putting a bandage on a gaping wound. Instead it’s more like a kiss from God on that ancient snake bite that doesn’t just heal for the moment…it’s the cure— the antidote for the poisonous sin deep in our souls.

And perhaps, in this age of hyper-awareness it may be the only way we can “capture the attention” of this noisy world around us so that the healing Gospel can whisper through the chaos.  It’s my prayer: Let them see Jesus in me.

SssshhhhhhhLorretta signature

Jesus Slept

Scattered, covered and nearly smothered.

Today is the first day most of the pieces of me are in the same place in awhile– have you ever felt that way?     Paper thin and bone tired.     Yeah.

God’s been working on me. Again.  Together  we’ve been wandering on the fringes of the wilderness. As I told my dear, sweet Ms. Jane the other day, I’m at that “Experiencing God” place: “The Crisis of Belief”.   She said, “ah yes… chapter 6!”   Love that crazy woman.

My youngest son and I had this conversation the other night— how in the wrestlings with God or various temptations, it’s important not to give in to the struggle but to call it by it’s rightful name: sin, pride, lack of faith or belief—whatever— and to thank God for the struggle that keeps us holding on to Him– to be thankful that He’s got his strong hands on us.                 Enemy = Defeated

That night, we talked about a lot of things.
You see, my big, soft-hearted teenager was sobbing.

Jesus Slept

Hard news shocked our community as we learned that a childhood friend was dead.  This was hard enough but seeing a family member’s  Facebook post: “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my brother you’ll be.”—  put my boy over the edge. Suddenly he was overwhelmed by the instant evaporation of this young life and the unimaginable consequences of the void left behind.

Finding me on the sofa, he crumpled into a heap, spilling his tears and heart into my lap.

For his own brother.
For his two closest friends.
How devastating it would be for us if it was ever him.
For wanting to be closer to his own brother and sister.
Over life’s storms and how hard it is hold on and keep your head high and faith strong.

He was struggling. 
My son was in pain.

Cozy Christian cliches weren’t going to cut it for either of us. Good theology was necessary but what he needed in this moment was to understand how it applied to what he was feeling now.

What does it look like?
How is it lived for REAL?

When he mentioned the storms,  I remembered a story about another storm found in the book of Mark chapter 4

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 Mark records that it had been a long day of teaching and beach ministry. The massive crowds were pressing in on all sides so Jesus took a seat in a boat on the water and taught the crowds from there.

He had spent the whole day breaking down  vast kingdom principles into digestible bite-sized bits. Most didn’t understand–even those closest to him.   Now He was exhausted.

At dusk Jesus says, “”Let’s go across to the other side.”  Leaving the crowd,”  (I love this) “they took Him with them in the boat  just as He was.*”   

Then Jesus slept.

The story immediately jumps to the storm, but with a pinch of holy imagination, I can almost picture moments before.  I can imagine Jesus asleep on His cushion and the disciples  discussing the days events—the crowds, the highlights, His words. Wondering aloud what this or that meant…but not for long.  Because soon that storm was all up in there. Waves were breaking over top of them and filling the boat with water….    and Jesus kept on sleeping.

Bailing, trying to keep their little boat afloat, the disciples are frantic with fear. Incredulous, they wake Jesus and cry: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Because…..  that’s only why He came.
Because…… that’s only what He’d been teaching about   all.  day.   long.

In the midst of the crisis they forget everything else they know and cry out for Jesus.
He has spent all day teaching about faith and now He shows them application.  Waking, Jesus hushes the wind, calms the sea and in the eerie silence that follows asks them, “Why are you so afraid? Don’t you have any faith?”   

Then maybe, He goes back to His cushion. I don’t know. Stunned…they’re left  asking one another…  “Who is this….?”    Good question.

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Who is this?
Is He in THIS?
NOW?
Doesn’t He care that we are perishing?

These were the unspoken questions buried within my son’s pain-riddled conversation.  In his head, he knows the “right” answers while he wrestles to summon up the necessary faith to reconcile them within his heart and soul. It’s no different for any of us reading this today trying to navigate our own public and private storms.  It’s the leap we must make from espousing “good theology” to courageously applying it when it matters most.

What my son needed was to feel the hush in his soul that Jesus was offering in this storm. I needed to feel it too.   We talked about what we can know and trust to be true no matter how obvious:

  • Jesus was in that boat with them.
  • Jesus was in that storm.
  • And just maybe, Jesus was the storm, sent by God for this moment.God is Good!

There are also some not so obvious things here I believe the Holy Spirit invites us to ponder:

  1. I’m 99.9% certain that when the disciples got ready to launch out to the other side, they were confident in their strength and knowledge of sailing and navigation. Why didn’t they notice the storm? I don’t think it was there. It came up “suddenly” catching them way off guard….without warning.

What if  God is trying to show us that we might actually be the ones asleep…complacent, perhaps secure in what we know and what we do, and needing to be awakened? Reminding us how sometimes it takes a sudden storm to shake us from what we think we’re so secure about causing us to run and “wake the Teacher” — crying out for the help we need and the faith to cling hard and fast. 

My son and I recognized that God wants us to fight to stay alert and strong in and through Him— especially now because these days are certainly getting more evil.

          2.  I am 99.9% positive that Jesus rebuked the storm— but not His disciples. I don’t
               sense  He was upset with them for crying out in the midst of the storm. They
               needed to see their need. They needed to see Jesus and figure out where their
               faith was anchored.

    • Was it in what they knew?
    • Was it in their strength and ability?
    • Was it in the appearance of things?

They needed to answer these questions …not only for this moment and this storm…but for the storms to come. So do we …and people are watching how we answer them too.

They also needed to answer their own question: “Who is this…?” later asked by Jesus himself: “Who do you say that I am?” Likewise, in every situation we face, that’s the question we are ALWAYS answering. That’s the moment we are living our “good theology applied” to a watching world in need. Sometimes it’s hard to keep this answer straight. Sometimes we say that Jesus is our answer but we don’t live or love like it.

There’s no time for that.

This world is in crisis. The storm clouds are gathering. There is a generation —or two— crying out for answers they can SEE and FEEL being applied to all of life  by those of us who say we know Jesus. They’re asking:

  • What do we mean by love, unity, eternity?
  • What does that look like applied practically to every situation?
  • What does biblical marriage look like?
  • How can I push back the darkness and fight the urge to retreat into numbness too?Sail boats

I heard it in the voice of my crying teenager and a quieter conversation I had later with my other son. I heard it back in March as young women testified of the dark struggles in their lives wrestling with attempted suicide, bullying, self-mutilation, eating disorders and molestation. I heard it in a neighbor’s voice yesterday— lost and trying to find a solution she’s not yet ready to receive….

Oh “Teacher… do you not care that we are perishing?”

As the Church we find ourselves in the midst of our own crisis trying to figure out how to truly minister in the name of Christ in all of these places.  Part of my personal struggle is sorting out how to do as much as I can before it’s too late. There are days I feel like a muddle-headed, panic-stricken disciple bailing water from a sinking ship: helpless and inadequate for the task. Because alone… I am.  Then I remember… as I reminded my son… of one more thing:

It’s the simple understanding of something that is NOT recorded in scripture but we can bank on it:  the disciples made it safely to the other side that night.  They made it all the way…together, with Jesus “in the boat” with them… “just as He was”.   We’re gonna make it too.

Somehow, that’s helpful to me.
Standing and wiping his face, I could tell it was helpful to my son as well.
Then together, in THAT faith…we made it to the other side….one more time.

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