Don’t Give Up!

Banished on the island of Patmos, can you imagine what the apostle John must have felt when Jesus’s beloved friend heard the voice of “one like a Son of Man”?  How long had it been? 16 yrs? . . . did he remember the breakfast smells of freshly caught fish wafting from the shore kindly prepared by a risen Lord? hope in the clouds Did he remember the day His dearest Friend left, his departure so stunning as he effortlessly ascended into the drifting clouds?  John’s own brother had now been killed by King Herod . . . faithful Paul, too, had been martyred. I wonder what he felt in the persistent silence of aloneness? John himself had been exiled for his testimony of Jesus, and now he was waiting weary & longing, patiently persevering.

Christ now stands in the midst of the churches, and we read what John records, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, & the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” The coming King . . . don’t give up, John. Remember who I am. The foundation for our faith, courage and endurance is laid on this cornerstone. Oh, how He loves His church! Jesus is still the Shepherd of His sheep, leading us safely home.

When Fear Paralyzes

key to my life   FEAR PARALYZES.  God gave his people an inheritance of land with a promise. However, the people of Joseph came to their leader Joshua complaining that that their population was too dense for the land space allotted to them. Joshua didn’t budge. If they were so numerous, then be a numerous people with great power and make something of the land. Still, they complained of the obstacles that seemed to define them in their shaky selves. Joshua kept pushing back with God’s promise already given to them.

What devastating weakness lurks in my life, that doubt that makes me shake in my boots?  Remember, fear paralyzes when we forget who is in control. Measure risk by God’s promise. His promise is a sure thing outweighing the loss every time.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
(Col. 1:11-12)

Tim Keller object of faith
Often, courage  is defined by NOT reflecting what we are surrounded by, but rather courage will call for us to step away from the devastating norm and lead into a new direction by faith in God’s promise.

 

love you….

“Love you.”
We postscript it.  We call it out as our kids hurriedly grab their lunches and run out the door.  We are sure to say it to our grandma after a sweet visit and a hug.   We also say it when we don’t know what else to say…
It can be the veil that shrouds the true meaning of the heart.
When does it become REAL?  Organic and raw.  Uttered from the deepest, most guarded vault of the heart and whispered with sacred awe.

Well, the wise old shabby Skin Horse knew the answer.  We would do well to listen in on this conversation…the secret of loving held the answer to real…as the very loved and worn horse knew.  velveteen rabbit & skin horse

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”  (Williams, Margery, The Velveteen Rabbit).

Ah!  Loving becomes a doing which must require time, patience, and well, some rough handling.  Love involves being carried around absently without proper appreciation or  being handled with clumsy hands that do not know how to carefully hold you.  Love involves comforting and being squeezed too tightly with wet teardrops smattering your best clothes.  Love gets terribly messy engaging in day to day honest life; the dirt of adventure and the hot sweats of fever bring glory and fear, deliver delight and despair, breathe familiarity and heartfelt hand squeezing. But, loving is belonging.  Loving is giving.  Love takes time.  Love gets a little rough, because compassion is a heart moving toward someone…
Loving is meeting a need.

Heart S T R E T C H

pear and roseWafting aromas of home-cooked goodness helped to create a warm coziness in our home this past holiday week.  The meals filled us to plumb happy as we gathered together around the table, and we now need to exercise this home-cooked goodness off our bodies!

About that…
Can I talk about the importance of stretching?
The after-workout bulge of muscles can make a person appear extra buff; but what is really happening is the pumped up muscles are still shortened in contraction and full of lactic acid and other by-products.  Overloaded muscles are shortened by the exhausting reps which only use a partial range of motion.  The build-up of lactic acid causes the familiar muscle soreness.  The muscle might loose some of its bulge, but stretching out the muscles helps them to become looser and to “remember” their original range of movement.  It also helps get rid of the lactic acid and other waste-products.  Although not “pumped up” as much from the tightness of the contraction, the muscle needs the loosening to return to its originial full range of motion.

But, there is a muscle that needs stretching far more than any other muscle…to the limits…as far as you can reach…and it needs to be done constantly.

Heart – s t r e t c h i n g

Did you know that Peter, a rugged fisherman in the Bible, actually talks about stretching out? Perhaps, being a fisherman made him keenly familiar with sore muscles? Fishing in ancient mediterranean times was hard, complicated work that required substantial and intensive manual labor.  Fishermen developed thick muscles and a strong physique through the strenuous activity involved in their trade.  casting1.jpg 19th century drawingImagine the wind blowing through Jesus’s hair as he walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee watching two burly brothers with muscles bulging as they cast their heavy fishing nets into the waters (Mark 1:16-20).  It was demanding work that required endurance.

Peter, a fisherman by trade,  called to be a disciple of Jesus, was then appointed an apostle of Jesus Christ to the church.  Having done very physical labor, he writesDragnet2
using “muscle building” language, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spiritin sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.”    The word “fervent” is the Greek word ἐκτενής (ektenḗs) and can be used relating to the body; it means without ceasing, fervent, stretched out.  Peter wants the church to “stretch out” their love muscles to their absolute limit, reaching as far as possible. He also wants them to “remember” what is the most important thing,  “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.”  Love is to be “stretched out” in a full range of motion getting rid of the build-up of self-aggrandizement.  Love must be stretched to its limit to cover many sins -not mere mistakes- but wrongs inflicted, not just once- but over and over- for there will be hordes of things to cover.   stretch“Stretch out” in order to hide the knowledge of wrongs against you.   Reaching out our genuine love muscles helps them remember what they were intended to be:  kinder, gentler, more humble, less self-seeking and to love authentically from a pure heart.  Jesus gave us instruction to love others as we have been loved by him.  That’s a whole lot of stretching!  But, this stretching does not hinder growth; instead, it enhances flexibility and intensifies strength building.  So, it is with our faith, hope and love “muscles”; but the greatest of these is love.

“Love knows no limit to its endurance,
no end to its trust, no fading of its hope;
it can outlast anything.
It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”