Monday, November 23, 2009

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd day of October, A.D. 1789.

G. Washington

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Our [AC] Story

Just before we left for summer vacation I got a call from Jeanne McKinley asking if I would write up our family's Advent Conspiracy story for a book they were putting together. I recently got a copy of the book and found an except of our exciting is that?

It was January of 2007, and we were driving home from Oklahoma in a flurry of wrapping paper. We celebrated a late Christmas with my brother and his family in Tulsa and the van was loaded down with loot. I remember feeling so frustrated that I had to remind my children to say thank you after tearing open their gifts. Something didn’t feel right. Looking back, I think it was all a crazy God-Set-Up!

Usually my husband, does all the driving but on this occasion he jumped in the back with the boys to watch Facing the Giants…a present from Grandpa and Grandma. David set up his ipod for me and said “You gotta listen to these podcasts”. So, I drove along listening to a collection of speakers from the Imago Dei Advent Conspiracy series. There was a woman with a swanky accent talking about drums….then I felt like I was just having a conversation with Pastor Rick as he talked about the empire of the day. But the thing that really got me was Chris Seay's story about a dad and his kids. I thought about my own children, two great boys. One wants to play football in the NFL…so my mind just ran with that. What if he makes it really big…hmmm…maybe I’ll get a new house for Mother’s Day! But what if my younger son struggles…living on the streets…eating out of trash cans….cupping his hands in the duck pond for a drink of water. Wouldn’t I want his big brother to get out of his Hummer and do something! I was wrecked. I was balling in the driver seat and David was in the back wiping away tears from the movie…we were a mess!

The truth is, that I have brothers and sisters in the family of humanity all over this globe who would be shocked at all the stuff I’ve accumulated in my cushy suburban life. I realized that our Christmas budget is actually enough money to really make a difference on the earth. I spend it and it’s gone…with not much to show for it…not even an unforced “Thank You”. How had I moved so far away from the humble story of the season? That day, I vowed that Christmas for the Cherry family would never be the same. When I got back to work…I sent out the link to the podcasts to all my co-workers planting a seed for Christmas 2008. You see, we are actually professional Christians, both my husband and I are employed by our church here in Austin.

Later on that summer…I was set-up again. My oldest son had a touch of something. A little flu bug, upset tummy. No big deal, right? I actually said to him "I'm sorry you don't feel well this morning, but you have a strong healthy body and you'll feel better this afternoon." And he did.While he was at home recovering, I went to the YMCA to work out with my favorite work out partner…my ipod. I listened to another story about global water needs. Something like 80% of the diseases facing people in undeveloped countries are related to water. Mothers in these countries are not so cavalier about things like vomiting and diarrhea. These are life and death issues for them.Anyway, I couldn’t stop thinking about the statistics I heard, that one in six people on our planet do not have clean water to drink. That children are dying each day due to water related diseases. I knew we had to do something; we wanted to bring the message Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All to our local church family.

David and I brainstormed on our Monday off. We pulled together some information and made a presentation to one of our executive pastors. He loved it and felt like out senior pastor would love it too! It sounded like everyone was on board but then things just went silent. It was challenging in that quiet season to wonder what was going on. Would Christmas for our church be any different than years past? We had to trust God that he was working out his plan for our body of believers!

During that season, I met with a creative genius in our Children’s department and pitched the idea of a relational gift fair. We decided to go ahead and set a date to provide whoever would come with options for relational giving. The gift fair was a blast. We demonstrated 5 hand-made gift ideas and then had 8 tables filled with a wide variety of items that we felt expressed relationship. We gave away worksheets to help them really clue-in to the people on their Christmas list. We put together pages and pages of ideas organized by roll….spouse, child, and friend …to inspire them in their giving. Our goal was to empower them to resist the spending frenzy and give the gift of themselves. To challenge them that if they were feeling stressed out and frustrated with Christmas that perhaps they’d bought into the wrong story. Our hearts know that there is a deeper truth than shop till you drop.

It is easy as church staff to get caught up in the season, there is so much to do. There are special services and rehearsals for special services and meetings about those rehearsals! My husband and I made an appointment to meet and plan what Christmas would look like in our home. We decided to cut our spending in half. We also gave bottles of water from Charity:Water to our friends and family with a note that one $20 bottle of water would provide clean drinking water for one person for 20 years. We bought 12 sleeping bags for the homeless in our community and the whole family delivered them to our East Austin outreach pastor. We were amazed by the response of the people who saw those sleeping bags. I know my children were deeply touched, I could see it in their eyes. But I have to admit that it was really hard to not slip back into our spending habits when it came to the boys. There was a lot less wrapping paper this year, and as typical American parents that was not easy. I remember sitting in our home office with David late one night wrapping gifts. We looked at the packages and thought, this is it? Everything is wrapped? We wondered how the boys would respond. We bought Legos this year because we all enjoy them. Mom and Dad usually get to help build that very first creation and then the boys rebuild and create all year long! We got an Uno Flash game that has provided some wild family game nights! David also made a year full of fun coupons for each boy. They LOVE those and eagerly await the first of the month when they get to cash in a new coupon. These are gifts that last. When we first talked with the boys about changing our Christmas budget I think they were a little disappointed. But looking back now, I don’t remember seeing any of that on Christmas day. In fact, it was at Thanksgiving that I started to see evidence of change. We each wrote down what we were thankful for and I noticed the boy’s thoughts were so simple, so basic. “I’m thankful for food, for my bed and a warm home.” I'm not sure they had every realized before that these were things to be grateful for. It was a shift in the right direction.

As the holiday season drew nearer, I got an email from our senior pastor requesting resources from Advent Conspiracy. So I did what any part-time administrative assistant would do. I printed out EVERYTHING from the website…even Rick’s thesis! I made copy for our family too and devoured every page. Pastor Rob shared beautiful messages and it was incredibly humbling to sit in the congregation, hear these truths and feel like we had a part in it all. Then just days before Christmas we got word that we would be receiving an offering at our Christmas Eve service for clean drinking water. We were overwhelmed. Our beautiful church family redistributed about $44,000 of their Christmas budgets to make a difference in Sudan. It was the chocolate icing on an already sweet, moist, gooey, made from scratch cake!

David and I are so grateful for Advent Conspiracy. We knew things didn’t feel right, that there was something askew with our Christmases….but we couldn’t pin point exactly what was wrong. I remember thinking something must be missing…maybe there was something more….now I know that More for us actually means a whole lot Less.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Am An Arrow

Shine conference 2009 was wonderful. Podcasts are available to download at or just click here. On Thursday night Pastor Laura shared a wonderful message on one part of the conference theme: Hear the Cry. One verse she shared really stood out to me:

Isaiah 49:1-3 from The Message:

Listen, far-flung islands, pay attention, faraway people: God put me to work from the day I was born. The moment I entered the world he named me. He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate. He kept his hand on me to protect me. He made me his straight arrow and hid me in his quiver. He said to me, "You're my dear servant, Israel, through whom I'll shine."

One of the things we believe is that what God said in the Bible about one of his servants can apply to his servants today. He shows no favorites, he never changes, so we grab hold of things he said thousands of years ago as if he is saying them to us today. We say with Isaiah "God made ME his straight arrow" .

During her message, Pastor Laura invited a 14 yr old girl who is part of an archery club to come and shoot an arrow across our stage. It was captivating! I watched her carefully as she prepared to shoot her arrow. I noticed that from the moment she stepped on the stage her eyes were on the target. Her focus was clearly intent on that bulls eye stage left. The few times that she had to look away for a moment in her preparation were followed by intense focus back on the target.

It's funny, how consumed we become with our little arrows. I think sometimes we assume that God is consumed with our arrows too. As I watched this young archer it occurred to me me that God's heart is focused on the target! In other translations of this verse I found a few different adjectives to describe the arrow. A "straight" arrow. A "polished" arrow. A "sharpened" arrow. Clearly, the state of the arrow IS important. God is depending on us to be sharp and to fly straight. Yet, all the while we obsess about our own small stories God is looking at the big picture. Focusing on His Story. He is looking toward the goal and counting on us to reach the target.

Our beautiful archer was intentional, deliberate and painfully slow in her preparation. There were several pieces of equipment that she had to put on and the quiet was awkward. I found myself thinking we should have some background music or something. Come on sound man! It was uncomfortable as we all watched her slow, steady progress. Then I remembered this little thought that times of preparation are never wasted. It was obvious that our young archer would not be rushed. The quiet, the silence didn't seem to bother her. She was thinking about the target, remember. Everything that needed to be done in order to assure reaching that target was going to be done systematically and accurately.

Doesn't God's timing feel excruciatingly slow? We may feel like we are ready to fly! Launch me to my purpose Lord! We question why other arrows seem to fly before our own. We feel stuck in that awkward place called preparation. It's dark inside a quiver. Our vision is limited and we don't see all that God is accomplishing in those quiet times. I'm confident that God is at work. Completing what he started. Bringing to pass his purpose (See Ps 57:2, Phil 1:6, I Pet 5:10)

Everyone in the room cheered as the arrow was finally flung and as it struck dead center of the target. There was never any doubt in my mind that she would reach the target. Her eyes had penetrated that same spot before the arrow was ever set in the bow. That canvas target was changed. It had been pierced, infiltrated. I remember years ago when I was not an arrow in God's quiver. I was the target. God sent another one of his servants flying to me. His love pierced my heart and I was forever changed. I'm so thankful for that arrow that flew into my life!

Now, as the arrow, and I wonder what target does God have for me to fly to? Where can I bring his love? Where can I bring hope and change? I'm not sure I know the exact spot right now and maybe the truth is that there is more than one bullseye for each of us. I do know that I have to stay continually surrendered to this awkward process of growth and confidently trust His timing in my life.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Way back in the beginning when God was creating the world, He paused at the end of the day and saw that it was good. He approved completely of the work he had done on the earth. Then we see something curious in Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone….. Something was ‘Not Good” and God set about immediately to fix it. He created woman. Eve was the solution for mankind’s first problem. And I believe with all my heart that God’s design for woman hasn’t ever changed. We are carriers of life, we are nurturers, and we are keepers of relationship. We are created to bring the answer. Unfortunately, I’ve learned from my own experience that we can’t very well reach out to offer a solution when our hands are bound. We desperately need to be free. For me, that is what the Shine conference is all about: God bringing freedom to His girls!

A few years ago our Shine conference was the catalyst for change in me. I was bound in shame, fear and pain. I had been hurting for so long and had learned quite well how to stuff those feelings inside. Denial was a lovely salve, until I began to reach capacity and all the junk I’d kept inside started coming out sideways. I was angry for all the ‘whys” of my life. I was lonely and sad and the last thing on earth I felt was shine-y. I did not want to go to the conference that year; in fact I was working on the excuses I might use with my friends…. “I don’t have anything to wear, and I’m so busy at work….” But in the midst of planning my avoidance I found this scripture, Psalm 18:28 reads You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With that, God melted my jaded heart. Yes, my light had been doused by the pain of my past but it wasn’t up to ME to make it shine again. God said HE would do it! I went to the conference with a heart to receive all God had for me. I really had no idea what that would mean, but looking back it has been one of the landmarks of my journey. I came away with two vital things: Courage to face the truth about my life and Hope to believe that I could be free!

When I compare who I am today with the woman I was several years ago, I see more wrinkles, more mid-life breakouts and a lot more gray hair. But on occasion, it seems like God changes my perspective and what I see amazes me; because I see beauty for all my mess, I see joy for what I felt was lost and I see a gorgeous garment of praise for the heaviness of heart that weighed me down (Isaiah 61:3). And I’m so thankful for the difference Jesus has made! It thrills me to tell you that I am more alive than ever and this is the reason: I know that if God did this for me - He will do it for you!

God wants you free. Galatians 5:1 says It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. God wants his girls to be free so we can reach out to a younger generation, so we can extend a helping hand to hurting humanity and so we can be the solution He created us to be. But I think God really just wants us to be free….so that… we are free!

Free to Hear the cry, See the need, Feel the pain and RESPOND with love!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Treasure in a Pot

Remember 2 Corinthians 4 and this idea of carrying around treasure in a jar of clay? I've written about it before

Why is it that I keep trying to make life all about the jar? I get so frustrated with myself! Now I don't think I'm the kind of person that you would suspect is stuck on herself. Prideful , puffed up or boasting. No, my vanity issues are cleverly disguised as insecurity and self-doubt. I lose sight of the unsurpassed value of the treasure when I take a magnifying glass to my jar. Pouring over each scratch and chip and mourning every flaw.

I was thinking about this metaphor and the fact that we don't have houses full of clay pots like they would have thousands of years ago. So, I thought, maybe it's like.....carrying around your diamond necklace in a plastic grocery sack. How strange would that be? How silly!

I was grinning and thinking to myself, that's kinda funny. I like being funny. But my new metaphor doesn't hold water, and I mean that literally....ha!

The absurdity of tossing your fine jewelry in a Walmart bag may give us clue into how wonderful, how great, how glorious the treasure of the good news of Jesus Christ and how ordinary we are as carriers of this treasure. But it really doesn't work for one reason:

Isaiah 64:8 Yet, O Lord, You are our Father.

We are the clay, you are the potter,

we are all the work of your hand.

Each earthen vessel was cupped in the hands of the Father. He sees the potential in a lump of clay, and with his own hands he forms us. Every grove, every line a reflection of his fingerprints.

The beauty of this metaphor is not only that the fragile nature of the jar only serves to make the treasure more glorious but that we are each uniquely created to carry and spill out this light, this truth, this life in a way that no other vessel can. We are all the work of his hand.

I am in awe and overwhelmed that I've been trusted to carry this treasure.

Lord, let each imperfection only serve to draw me deeper into dependence and help me to value the unique expression of your glory that flows through me!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Take Courage

I just love this little phrase "Take Courage". It's active and brave and it comes to me whenever I am shrinking back. Take courage, rise up, reach out, grab it! Two of my favorite Bible verses (Psalm 27:14 and Psalm 31:24) carry this thought and I was on biblegateway looking them up the other day, when I found my call to action in a few more places. How exciting!

Jesus actually spoke these words to his disciples and the story is recorded in 3 of the 4 gospels so you know it must be important! Jesus had just finished feeding the 5,000 and then he tells the disciples to get in a boat and go ahead of him to the other side. He climbs the mountain to spend some time alone with the Father and then in the middle of the night he comes walking across the lake...walking on the water...Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water with Jesus, AMAZING....

As I was reading over it I noticed a few things.

It WAS Jesus that instructed the disciples to get in the boat and go across that night. Don't you think they remembered that when they were out there and the waves were kicking them around? What was Jesus thinking, surely he knew that there would be a wind advisory tonight and he sent us out here anyway! Hmph! In Mark's account it says that Jesus went out to them walking on the water and was about to pass them by! Can you imagine? They were straining at the oars, tossed around by the wind for hours and Jesus would have passed them by. What was he thinking? Didn't he see the waves? Didn't he feel the wind? I'm sure he did. But remember, Jesus had just come away from time with the Father. I think he was full, so at rest, trusting the Father completely and none of that phased him. He knew his life on earth, and his 12 followers were safe in the hands of the Father and the wind couldn't change that.

The disciples think he is a ghost and they are scared out of their minds. The Bible says that immediately he spoke to them....I love that little adverb Immediately, that is my kind of response time! It is precious to me that Jesus was quick to respond to their fear. He says to them "Take courage, it is I. Don't be afraid" There is great comfort in knowing that Jesus shows up right there in the middle of the wind and waves. We are never alone and he is mighty to save!

I read in Matthew Henry's Commentary that "it is I" could also be read "I AM he" Henry saw this as a reference to the name that God gave himself when he was speaking to Moses. Standing there on the lake, Jesus says to his exhausted, distressed disciples "I AM". The God who delivered the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt is here to deliver you! I can hear Jesus speaking this to us in whatever we are facing. Wind and waves, storms come at us but just as we are straining, struggling with our circumstances Jesus reminds us "I AM". The God who strengthened and healed his children in the desert is here to strengthen and heal you. The God who brought them out with joy and singing is here to bring you joy. The God who led them with fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day can lead you too! When we're wondering "How are we going to make it to the other side?" Jesus says I AM, the God who provided food from heaven, water from a rock and clothing and shoes that didn't wear out in forty years is here to provide for you. Mighty to deliver, mighty to heal, mighty to save!

An interesting thing happens when Jesus climbs into the boat, the wind dies down. I don't know what wind is blowing in your life or what waves are rocking your world. I know that just this week I told my husband "It felt like waves were crashing over me." Sometimes life just comes at us like that. When I feel that way I have to remind myself to Take Courage! I AM is with me, standing right beside me and he is not shaken by this storm!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Zacchaeus Was A Wee Little Man

This past weekend we had the privilege of hosting Ricardo Sanchez as our guest worship leader at Shoreline. It was such an honor for me to be a part of that service! At our rehearsal the day before Ricardo shared some great thoughts with our team. One story has stayed with me all week. He talked about Zacchaeus and how he ran ahead and climbed a tree so he could see Jesus. Ricardo said: leaders go first, they don't look for a way out they look for a way through. They move up higher and gain a different perspective.

Those thoughts really resonated with my heart. And I've actually never considered Zacchaeus a lesson on leadership, so I've stayed here in this story for several days. Reading and re-reading and each day I see something's fascinating actually...

Here is the passage from The Message Luke 19:1-10

The first thing I notice is that he "wanted desperately to see Jesus". Zacchaeus had a desire, a dream. But there was some opposition to this desire. There was a crowd in his obstacle to him seeing what he wanted to see. There is always opposition. Notice that he doesn't pout about it. Waaaa, there is a crowd in my way, I'll never see my desire because of this darn crowd. God, can't you do something about this crowd?

But not only does Zacchaeus have this obstacle in his way, he also has his own limitations. Poor fellow, he's short or as the Sunday School song says, he was a "wee little man". Bummer. If I were might have heard me whine just a bit. I'm so short, I'll always be short, nothing I could do will ever make me taller. God, why did you make me this way? Why couldn't I be tall like Ricardo? :) The truth is we all have limitations that would try to keep us from our desire.

Instead of staying stuck in the muck with his obstacles and resigning himself to his limitations, Zacchaeus does two things. The passage says "he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus." He ran and he climbed. He did what he could do to see what, or in his case who, he wanted to see. He put forth some effort to gain his desire.

The amazing part is that he got so much more than he had bargained for. God is a so much more God! Not only did he get to SEE Jesus, Jesus invited himself over for dinner. Jesus said...Zacchaeus, I want to spend some time with you, let's get to know each other. You matter, You are valued. You were "out" but now you are "in". The meal they shared was so much more than food!

A funny thing happens at this point of the story and it just donned on me today. This place where Zacchaeus' running and climbing intersects with seeing Jesus is a powerful place. The Message says he just stood there, stunned and stammering. Hello! I can identify with this spot. That feeling of whoa, what is going on here? This is way more than I had hoped for and suddenly I feel really, really uncomfortable! I think this is the place where we start to get a glimpse of who Jesus says we are, who he thinks we can be even when we are are so stinkin' short! Jesus didn't dismiss the crowd or miraculously change his stature. Those things don't stand in Jesus' way.

Zacchaeus responds to the love and acceptance of Jesus by making things right with those around him. Taking care of the poor, and making restitution to those he had wronged. Jesus said "Today is salvation day in this home!". Everything changes when Jesus comes on the scene!

My favorite part of the story is summed up in Jesus' last statement. He says "for the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost". We might make the mistake of thinking that Jesus responded to Zacchaeus' efforts. Way to go Zacc, run ahead, climb the tree! You go boy! I'll be waiting for you down the road after you get your act together. Nope, thank goodness. All the while Zacchaeus is seeking to see Jesus...Jesus is seeking him. Seeking, finding and restoring the lost. Beautiful isn't it? Jesus restoring lost sons and lost daughters. Jesus restoring lost or broken desires and dreams. That's what he came to do!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stressed-Out but Stressed-Toward

Last week, I was struggling with a challenge. Wanting to learn and grow but feeling very tempted just to chuck it all and quit! As the day of the challenge arrived I grew more frustrated with my insecurities and more anxious about having to press through them. I went up to my room for a good cry! Thankfully, I've learned over the years where to direct those cries! I picked up my read-it-in-a year-Bible and turned to the passage for the day. Seriously, just flipped it open, hoping to take my mind off all my mess!

This is what I read:

2 Corinthians 7:8-9 I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don't feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I'm glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him.

Paul was following up with the Corinthians after his first letter had been received. He had written to bring correction, to encourage them in truth, to challenge them in their faith, and it caused them stress, just like my challenge. I felt so validated that I too allow my stress to bring me toward God. I felt like God was speaking right to me. Baby, I know this is hard. I see you are upset. But we are going to turn this around for good, you and me. So that's when the tears really started to fall.

Then I read the very next phrase: The result was all gain, no loss.

All gain and no loss. This momentary stress, this little bit of pain, brings with it gain, growth, progress. That's a good thing. Paul was saying in his letter, that good thing was worth every bit of discomfort.

Paul goes on: 10Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
11-13And now, isn't it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You're more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you've come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter.

No one says in the middle of their stress...Isn't it wonderful? Well, I guess Paul does. I would much prefer "Isn't it wonderful to live stress-free with complete confidence in the face of any new situation." That is so much nicer. I prefer things to be nice. But nice isn't the same as wonderful, is it? Who doesn't want to be more alive and more passionate? That IS wonderful.

I was so touched by the way this passage was speaking directly into my life in that moment. It was overwhelming. All I could think is...this book really IS alive and powerful! So I cried some more. :)

My dear son walked in and of course was curious about all the commotion. He asked why I was crying and I explained to him that I was challenged to sing during our worship team leadership class and I was feeling so nervous about it. He replied with the honest truth "Mom, you sing all the time"

"Thanks, I know, this is different and it feels harder and I'm not sure I can do it, but when I picked up my Bible it was like God was speaking right to me, encouraging me."

Pause....little boy thinking.....

"Maybe God told you that because He thinks you can do it"

Out of the mouths of babes.....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Believe in The Church

Despite it's tendency to condone co-dependent relationships and the pretending that has been prevalent, I believe in the Church. I do. In the past few years, I've read a couple of books that highlighted some of the failures of this thing we've called the church, and they were good books. I was challenged. I understood better, some of the hiccups in my life. I'm glad I read them. But recently I subscribed to author, Glenn Packiam's blog and I've been completely refreshed by his passion for large gatherings of believers, otherwise known as "church".

In a recent post, Glenn related from the book of Deuteronomy God's instructions to the children of Israel on the WAY they were to worship. One of those thoughts involved the place of worship. Place matters. Glenn says"Their worship was to be in the context of their tribe-- or in our language, community." Having a community of believers to worship together with is God's idea.

No other day was the importance of community illustrated to me than today at Shoreline Christian Center. Our beautiful Pastors are working through what I think is one of the deepest pains, the loss of a child. Their precious 17 yr old son, Caleb died in a car accident on July 14th. Today, just weeks later they shared some of their pain with us. We sang together. We laughed together. We cried together.This morning I looked out at a building full of people. More people than ever warm these seats on a regular Sunday, and I thought there is no place I'd rather be than here in this building, with these people, experiencing this together. Something happens in these gatherings that doesn't happen alone. Maybe it's the sharing, the joining. the 2 or 3 gathering. It's special. It's significant! And I believe

Ephesians 1:20-23 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. (The Message)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Well, it’s that time of year and we are gearing up for school again. As I prepare my children to get ready for learning I realized that there have been seasons of my life when I have had to unlearn some things I believed for a long time. Whether I was actually taught these things or whether I simply chose to believe I’m not sure, but to be perfectly honest I believed that if I was just a good Christian girl that life would be a breeze for me. And that if there was hardship in my life, I must be doing something wrong, not believing right, not praying was a self-focused faith.

There are three scriptures in particular that I’m re-learning:
John 10:10
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Jesus did not say: I have come to arrest the thief, STOP him in his tracks, and put him away so that you will never be bothered again! I wish that is what He said. What He is saying is that there is an enemy of our soul who will come with great focus. We may feel like we’ve lost everything. We may feel like we are dying. We may feel like life is lying in shambles around us but if we look to Him– we will find our life – real, full, rich life.

Isaiah 43:2
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.
God did not say you won’t have to pass through the waters – I’ll build a bridge for you. When you come to a river – no worries, I’ll just stop the current. On top of that, I’ll extinguish all the fires in your life. That sounds so nice, doesn’t it? What this passage does say is “When”. We know that tough situations will come, but it also says “you pass through” we are going to make it! We may feel like we are drowning but God is with us holding our head up above the water. We may feel like we are being swept away – but we will not be swept under. We may feel like all we know is being consumed in the fire – but WE will not be consumed. Maybe what we knew needed to be consumed and what we will know on the other side of the fire is that God bigger than we ever imagined before. When tough things happen – God’s promise is to be with us through it all

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Jesus does not always appear on the scene in my life with a super hero theme song: Da da da Daaa…saying ”I will stop the trouble!” Bummer! What he is saying to me is: this life on earth is not all there is –in fact it is very small compared to what I have prepared for you. His plan is not to stop all the trouble in my life. As crazy as is may seem in the height of our struggles, He is able to use our temporary trouble to work His desired outcome in our lives. (See Romans 8:28 and James 1:2-4) We need to find that “in Him” place! Trusting in him, we can have peace in the middle of whatever life throws at us, Now that’s a miracle!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

God and Sin

It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people.

Hebrews 10:11 The Message

I know that I need perfecting, so I love this verse, this whole chapter actually. The knowledge that in the one time sacrifice of Jesus, the lamb slain before the foundation of the world, God did everything that needed to be done to bring us into right relationship with him, and to keep us there!

Somehow it is easy for me to believe that my past is forgiven. That my sins were washed away. But, my imperfectness makes me prone to present-tense problems. And unfortunately, I am well aware that there are failures lurking in my future. The past? The past is under the blood. I know that. Embracing God's grace for today and tomorrow proves a bit more challenging.

I'm not the only one in the house wrestling with this. My dear 9 yr old asked me last week if he needed to invite Jesus back into his heart after he sinned. Quite a topic for tucking-in! He's just sure that Jesus must leave when he sins because God can't be around sin, right? My heart was broken for my boy and in my efforts to reassure him that God never leaves, I realized I needed reassurance myself.

I think this stems from a well-taught Sunday school lesson of some of Jesus' last words on the cross. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I remember all too well, being taught that Jesus cried out in anguish about God's absence, because in taking on all our sin, the presence of a Holy God had to flee. Back it up with Old Testament stories of the Holy of Holies and it is just so logical. When the high priest failed to follow all the purification procedures, he passed out...slain by the presence of a Holy God. When unauthorized folks touched the Ark of the Covenant, even when they were trying to be helpful, their life on earth ended. It's troubling, even for a King.

But do I really believe that God's presence and sin cannot exist in the same space?

No, honestly, I can't believe that at all. If God is indeed, by his nature, omni-present, then his presence is everywhere sin-free or sin-full. In Hebrews we read that as we are participating in the perfecting process, we enter God's presence boldly "we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into the Holy Place." This in our imperfect state, but only by the broken body of the only Perfect One. Jesus made a way for us. A way that becomes a well worn path called Repentance. This same chapter reminds us that the veil separating God's presence from the rest of our sin-stained world was torn as Jesus' body was broken on the cross. That barrier is no more.

Looking back to Jesus on the cross, I understand that Jesus may have felt forsaken. Haven't we all felt forsaken? Remember Heb 4:15: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses." He sympathizes because He knows! Jesus' words echoed David's prophecy in Psalm 22 and most of those at the foot of the cross would have known the entire Psalm...they would have heard verse 1 and remembered verse 24 "For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help." God made a promise to his children: I will never leave you nor forsake you. Surely, that promise applied to his Son, Jesus. I think that in that moment, Jesus felt for the first time what we all feel when our relationship with the Father is strained by sin.

I can't believe that God abandoned Jesus on the cross. That the Father would disappear as the son became obedient to death. I believe what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that God was reconciling the world to himself IN CHRIST. The Father and the Son are ONE! Jesus prayed in John 17:21 "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you." God was right there on the cross IN CHRIST. The cross was actually a bit crowded: A Holy God, a Sinless Saviour, and every sin past present and future of every person who has or ever will draw breath.

Reading over this, I sound so confident, but I'm still wrestling. Learning is hard work, unlearning is even harder. I need to dig a little deeper. I know I don't have it all figured out and I'm well aware that my degree is in Biology...not Theology! This is simply my interpretation as I see and understand today. I AM however, confident of this:

No baby, you don't have to ask Jesus to come back into your heart. Your sin didn't scare him away, He never left you.

He will never leave you!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nice Boys

I joined a Toastmasters group and today was the very first meeting. It was terrifying. I got called out to speak on a Table Topic, completely off the cuff with no preparation. I was walking up to the podium, tempted to make a mad dash to the bathroom instead and seriously feeling like I was going to cry. Actually, it's been a few minutes and I'm still shaking. I realized I'd much rather write than speak but I guess that's why I signed up in the first place. I enjoy having time for my thoughts and ideas to float around and marinate for a while! This was torture for me.

Anyway the topic was Pink and Blue - the greatest difference between the genders. And with just seconds to think about is what came out...along with all the stuff I thought about immediately after sitting down :) and knowing that things have been marinating just a bit and that I will edit this at least twice, or three times before publishing! In addition to that, I've already forgotten what I actually said in the meeting because of the trauma it caused me. Ha!

Violence, what is with the violence? My husband took our two sons to see G.I. Joe this week. I had thought I'd try to get a movie in with the boys before school started but when I checked this one out and saw the PG-13 rating for violence and general mayhem, I opted out! After the movie, I asked the boys what their favorite part was. My youngest proceeded to describe a scene when one guy thrusts information downloading spears into another guys head. Lovely. I'm so glad I missed this one!

Spears? Battle? Braveheart? I don't get it. Yet here I am, surrounded by Blue....the only Pink in our house is in my closet! One thing that helped me get a grip on this gender difference was Wild At Heart by John Eldridge. My dear friend Katerina recommended this book to me as the mother to two little boys and I devoured it. I think it is a must-read for any woman who has a man in her life! For me, it was a window into the Blue world.

Before this book I was not buying toy weapons for my children, now we have an arsenal of Nerf guns, SuperSoakers and Lightsabers! Before this book, I wasn't big on dress up costumes either. Thank God, this book rescued me! There is nothing quite like taking Spiderman in cowboy boots with you to the Walmart!

Sadly, there is one thing that hasn't changed. As much as I'd like to think differently, I am still trying to make my sons into "nice boys". When they get all crazy and competitive, I encourage them to play on the same team and not against each other. We had a bunch of boys over recently and I called my son, and asked him "Why don't you encourage your friend instead of trying to cream him?" My husband just rolled his eyes and answered..because they're boys Lynn....they're boys! UGH!

I know that I really don't want to end up years from now with two nice boys. The world needs strong men who know how to stand up to adversity. Men who will jump in front of the dragon to rescue the fair maiden. I want to raise men who know how to offer their strength to the world. But this stands in the face of my heart to keep these boys safe. I'll probably never understand the violent, battle, thing. Or why anyone would want to watch the History Channel. But when my son says he wants to join the military some day so he can give his life for his country, I can't freak out and talk him into a safer occupation. I value safety. But I want my boys to be free to take risks. So, my battle is with SAFE. The only way I know how to fight this battle is to regularly square up with my own fear and refuse let it bubble over and cripple the warrior within these two young men.

When my niece Kaitlyn was born, the one pink presence among the grandkids, I was holding her and watching her sweet expressions. She smiled a sleepy smile and I asked "What are you thinking about little girl?" My son answered "Unicorns and ponies". We all laughed. Just as quickly as that smile appeared, Kaitlyn whimpered and her lip puffed out. I asked my son "What is she thinking about now?" "A Dragon is eating the ponies and unicorns!"

Will you slay the dragon, my son? I won't be the one standing in your way.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


You is just a simple three letter word we use everyday, all the time. A pronoun that typically takes the place of a proper name. We often use this word to address groups of folks. "How are you doing tonight?" "It's good to see you." You may mean a bunch of friends or even a church full of people.

I guess that's how I've read it in different passages of the Bible, but for some reason this week, it sounded became even more the personal pronoun it truly is.

In Luke 2, introducing Jesus to the earth, the angel told a group of shepherds "I have good news! A savior has been born to you" I think the angel was saying... a savior has been born to all you guys up here tending your sheep. But I also think the angel was saying...a savior has been born to you Jeremiah, a savior has been born to you Nathan, there is hope for you Benjamin. And this week my Holy Spirit highlighter said to me...a savior has been born to you Lynn Cherry. You are a mess, you need rescuing. A savior has been provided for YOU!

Twenty chapters later, Jesus used this little word just before his death. In Luke 22, he says "This is my body given for you" and "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." I wonder if the disciples gathered with him at that last supper heard that word in a group sense, like...this is my body given for the twelve of you. Or did they hear...this is my body broken for you Peter, this is my blood shed for you Matthew. That is what I heard this week.

Lynn, my body was given for you. As the veil was torn, my body was broken for Lynn Cherry. (Heb 10) There was no other way for you to fully know the love of the Father, so I died for you Lynn. Yes I died for the whole world, for the you that encompasses all, but inside that word is each precious soul, each dear individual, each Sarah, each Chloe, each Jim and each Sam. Lynn, my blood was spilled for you. For each time you've lied, for each time you've cheated, for every time you fail. My blood washes away all your sin.

Jesus tells us to remember his broken body, his blood poured out. We do this as a church family on the first Wednesday of every month at Shoreline. We remember. I love the way the Message Bible puts it "What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master." (I Cor 11) I hold in my hands a piece of bread and the little cup of juice. But I remember his body was broken for me....his blood was shed for Lynn. I hold his death in my hands. A death that should have mine to endure, the weight of that is too much for me.

Sometimes it is easier to read these passages with a whole earth perspective. Its like a soft-focus lens on the cost paid for me, one, Lynn. When I read you in a private, personal sense...I'm shocked and overwhelmed that I am worth all that, but Jesus is saying I am.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fear Not

In the past week I've heard three messages from three different people all touching on fear.

Sunday, June 14th - Wm Paul Young

Tuesday, June 16th - Josh Lopez

Wednesday, June 17th - Pastor Earl McClellan

Gee, maybe I should pay attention!

The truth is that I have some fears I have been battling lately so these messages are very timely for me. I typed up my notes and decided to carry them around for a while. Thought maybe I'd share some thoughts.

Fear is a powerful emotion, I remember as a young girl dealing with various fears. I heard this verse from Job 3:25: What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. It was presented in a way that made me feel like if I was afraid of something I would make it happen to me! Holy Cow! Now, I'm not just afraid of stuff, I'm afraid of being afraid! How many of us have been slapped around with this scripture? Last night when I was mulling it over, I wondered is fear really THAT powerful? Was Job's fear the catalyst for his calamity? I'm just not sure. Perhaps if the story was about Job's fear, the introduction in chapter one would read more like this: Job was a scardey cat, anxious and nervous about loss, because of that, all this terrible trouble came upon him. In actuality God's introduction of Job reads like this: "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." God drew attention to Job's reverential fear of the Lord, not his worries.

There are hundreds of references to fear in the Bible. Why do you suppose? I think its because fear is a natural human response to life on the planet. God knows are frame, remember? He sees our propensity for fear. His response to us is beautifully reassuring:

Be strong, do not fear; your God will come Is 35:4

So do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel,' declares the LORD. 'I will surely save you Jer 30:10

When I think back to the message I heard years ago about that verse in Job, it sounded like God would be more apt to say something like this..."Stop being scared you silly little girl! Just quit it! You're ridiculous!" But He doesn't, he says: Do not fear..... for I AM with you! (Jer 46:28) It is the presence of a powerful loving God in our lives that disarms our fear. If God is for us, who can be against us?

To fear is Fear Not requires the Divine!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Bottom Line About Our Father

A few years ago my husband and I took the Financial Peace University class at Shoreline. We recently shared our experience with our church family on this video. We learned so much. It really changed the way we live and now I have a new friend…my spreadsheet. I just love it! Truthfully, I probably spend a little too much time with it but it is so great to have our money working for us instead of us working for our money. Anyway, it just thrills me when I look down there at that bottom line and see every column in perfect balance. It’s a great feeling!

So a while I go I read this scripture in Psalms and thought really, this is the most beautiful bottom line:

Psalm 62:11-12a
One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord are loving

That’s it – that’s the bottom line. Our God is strong –mountains melt like wax in His presence. He spoke and the stars were flung in the sky. His strong arms are there to lift us up and carry us through whatever life brings our way. His very breath is life. He is all-powerful. Strong. Mighty. Awesome. God. Yet all that intense, wild power is guided by one thing – His love. Yes, He holds the universe in the palm of His hand but did you know that Isaiah 49:16 (AMP) says He tattooed a picture of you on the palm of those hands? Our God is strong AND He is loving. That is a crucial conjunction! Sometimes those two characteristics are difficult for us to combine as humans. We don’t often see strong men as tender but that is the picture here of our God. We desperately need His strength – we need his power to move in our lives but where would we be without His love? Think about a father who is strong but not loving – that would leave a huge gap – a need for acceptance, care and intimacy. What about a dad who is loving but not strong, wouldn’t that leave us craving a hero, protection and someone willing to fight for us? God is all of the above and so much more. He is the perfect combination of love and strength.

God thank you that you fought for me – you sent your son to lay down His life for me. That is the ultimate strength. Jesus, you endured the cross for me. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you Lord that you never leave me helpless or hopeless. My great big God moves on my behalf. Thank you God for your love – you love me just the way I am. You delight in me, rejoice over me – you like me! You made me to abide in you and to fill a part in this world that no one else can fill. That amazes me. Thank you for your love that not only comes to me but can also flow through me. Thank you God for the two things I know – that you are strong and that you are loving. I can take a deep breath and find real peace and true rest right here.

Special thanks goes out today to two wonderful Fathers:
My Daddy, Bernie Steffan and my boys' Daddy, David Cherry.
Thank you for lending us your strength. Thank you for the many times you've laid down your lives for your children. Thank you for the love you give that says we are accepted...we are enough...we are special in your eyes. We've learned beautiful truths about Our Father God through you and we are grateful. Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who do you say?

In Matthew Chapter 16, Jesus has an interesting conversation with his disciples. He asks them a couple of questions, the first question is sort of an introduction to the topic...but it is the second question that really matters.

I have conversations like this with my kids. "How was school today?" That question usually invites a wide range of responses....."Cody got a red light today. Sarah was sent to the Principal's office. Trevor brought cupcakes for his birthday." All interesting details of the day. But I typically follow that with....So what did YOU learn today? or What color light is in YOUR folder. I don't mind hearing about the other kiddos in the class...but what I really care about is the life and times of the two boys buckled safely in my minivan!

It's the second question that really matters! Jesus asks "Who do YOU say that I am? Maybe Jesus was interested in public opinion...but what he really cared about is that his closest friends knew the answer to that question. Funny, really, that Jesus asked questions like this to begin with. As God he already knows all...the question and the answering is not for Jesus' ears.

I think Jesus is still asking this questions of his followers today....Lynn, who do YOU say that I am? What do you KNOW about me? What do I mean to YOU? I need to know the answer! And my ears need to hear it!

Based on Jesus' response to Peter, who spoke out on the coast line that day...his was a great answer. Not eloquent or deep just the simple truth of the Savior.

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"
Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one. Our Deliverer, Redeemer, Restorer! Isaiah 61 in the flesh! Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man...he chooses to humble himself and identify with our flesh and we embrace his humanness. But it is important that we recognize him as the Son of God. The lamb slain before the foundation of the world. The Son of the LIVING God. Not some dead idol that has eyes but cannot see, or ears that cannot hear. Our God is the God who sees! He hears. His arms are not short...they are STRONG! Able to lift us up out of the pits of life and set our feet upon a rock! A Living God who breathes life into the dead places in our soul. The Light of the world who shines in our darkness. The Almighty, Faithful God who says, I will never....NEVER....leave you, abandon you or forsake you in your weakness...I WILL BE WITH YOU!
Who do you say that I am?

Monday, June 8, 2009

One Thing

Ps 27: 4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

I've been thinking about this verse lately, and wondering, Is this really one thing? or is it three things? ....because it kinda sounds like three things, right?

Dwell in the house of the LORD
Gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
Seek him in his temple
Three things, not One.....maybe the Psalmist wasn't big on math :)

I am really challenged by the last thought...To seek him in his temple....the Psalmist expresses his desire for seeking...I confess, I am not particularly fond of seeking....I much prefer finding! As a mom, I am always seeking for things....a lost shoe, a favorite shirt, or the can't-sleep-without-it stuffed animal. Since our move, I do even more seeking than usual. Not fun. But in this verse the Psalmist is saying I ask, I seek: to seek. I have to stop and think about that. Selah.

I've bestowed upon myself a mom-title that I delight in "Finder-of-all-lost-things" . Somehow in my seeking, I typically do end up finding and it is the finding that makes me happy. I feel the same way about God's presence. I delight in those moments of nearness. Of finding. Of feeling: I'm not alone. God is here with me. Exhale. I've been convicted by this passage that often I am seeking an experience, I am seeking a feeling, hoping for God-goose-bumps. I do desire God's presence, his beauty expressed...but do I desire just the seeking? If I judge finding by my goose-bump-gauge....then I'm not sure I always feel like a Finder.

As much as I love feelings, thank God for feelings, there has to be more. I think that is where faith comes in. We all know from reading the Psalms that there were times the author came up feeling empty...God where are you? I'm all alone here.....maybe that is why he seeks the seeking and not only the finding. (See Psalm 22, 42, 102) Faith says...never the less, and I will yet praise him! Faith looks to the future, faith keeps believing, keeps seeking.

So I keep seeking. But how beautiful to be able to say with the Psalmist: my heart seeks to seek!

I am comforted in believing that we are not doomed to a fatalistic open-ended search. Seeking that says "I still haven't found what I'm looking for." God made this beautiful promise to us, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (See Deut 4 and Jer 29) What a great truth to hold on will seek me and find me...I WILL BE FOUND BY YOU! God is not giggling in some cosmic hiding spot we could never discover. He promises to be FOUND! I love that. We can know his presence, see his beauty!

Gee...that brings me full circle to David's one thing in Ps 27, probably as a poet, math wasn't his strong suit, but maybe it really is just ONE THING after all!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Who do you call when you need a hand or have a question you can’t find the answer to? For a bunch of us – it’s mom! Hey, I’ve been one for 11 years now and I still call my mother for help. “How do I get gum off of your grandson’s legs without shaving them?” “Please, tell me it’s possible to get candle wax out of carpet!” Moms are a wealth of information, thank God for telephones and email!

So, my question today is for the moms (and really it’s for all of us!) You’ve got a lot of people looking to you – who are YOU gonna call on? Who do you depend on? I kinda like being the one my family depends on. I especially enjoy being the Finder-Of-All-Lost-Things. But I know that I have to trust in the Lord and look to Him as my source. I may be well able to help with sixth grade homework but I am not a lamp unto my feet or a refuge in my time of trouble and to be perfectly honest, my mercy is NOT new every morning. I’m workin’ on being more like Jesus but I gotta long way to go.

Go grab your Bible and read Jeremiah 17:5-6….. that’s a little harsh, huh? Here is my paraphrase: The woman who trusts in man or in her own flesh is cursed. She is lonely because she sees nothing but herself. She misses out on the good things of life, completely unaware of her blessings. She lives in a hard, desolate place. She is dry and brittle – so she snaps under pressure. (Been there, done that.) Like the children of Israel in the desert she keeps going around in circles, taking 40 years to make a 35 day journey. She lives a lifeless existence. Nothing grows around her or in her. Whoa – I do not wanna be that girl!

Praise God there is an alternative life choice found in verses 7-8 so don’t stop at verse 6, read on…...completely different picture here. The woman who trusts God is blessed! She is full of life. She is cared for, intended, planted in a specific place where life-giving water flows with provision. She does not live in fear of the pain life brings. She is confident to face adversity. She is beautiful, green, nourished – ALIVE! She will not be anxious in dry seasons because she knows who she is. Her roots go deep to hidden stores and resources. She is always fruitful, able to bear fruit in any season because her source of life is deeper than what the weather may bring.

Yes, we’ve all got people who need us, who want to know what we know and that is exactly why we’ve got to be looking to Jesus, actively trusting Him. The longer I walk this Christian life, the more I’ve come to believe that it really is less about my capability and more about my leaning, my utter and complete dependence on Christ.

Happy Mother’s day to all you moms, I hope you get lots of hugs, slobbery kisses and hand-made gifts. For those of you with older children – I think a long distance phone call would be nice. Meanwhile in the every day’s of life – you know who to call – and He’s toll-free!

And a very special Happy Mother's Day to my own beautiful Mom. I love you, thank you for always being there for all your kids and grandkids!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

He's Able

Don't miss Shoreline this Sunday.
We'll be reminded to put all our Hope in God!
He is the Rock, a firm foundation, solid ground under our feet! And we will not be shaken!
He is able to do all that he said he would do

Numbers 23:19
God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?

People change their minds, we make promises that we don't keep. Unfortunately, we don't always follow through on what we plan to do. It's not that we set out to just happens some times...but our God is completely OTHER! He is not a man! He doesn't lie, he doesn't change his mind about you, he doesn't say something and then not do it....he keeps his promises! And he is faithful to complete what he started!

He's Able

Friday, April 24, 2009

Just a Clay Pot

This past weekend, the worship department hosted our Shoreline East outreach service. I love being a part of this, every 3rd Saturday of the month, and have the honor of coordinating the service. I have also been leading worship which is totally stretching and challenging me. I think about this service all month and plan the worship set-list weeks in advance...its funny. I kind of accidentally happened upon this responsibility, just trying to lift the burden off someone else's already full plate, and never intending to have the worship leader spot but now I really love it! However, I was so frustrated this last week because something blew in on the Tuesday before and my allergies have been nuts...drippy eyes, stuffy nose, scratchy throat. Grrrrrrr. I really want to do a good job, but I sound horrible and even with my ears stopped up...I can tell it's bad....

And the raw, honest, truth is that I really want to sound good! I want people to be lifted and encouraged, I pray that God's presence will wash over every person in the parking lot....but part of me really cares about how I sound...and I'm bummed....

Fortunately for me I am reading a good book that spoke the truth of God's word into my funk.....Glenn Packiam in Butterfly in Brazil said this: "God doesn't need me to be supernatural or mystical; that's what he is. He needs us to be human, common and earthy. We are the vessels of clay; he is the exceedingly great treasure."

So that took me to 2 Corinthians 4 Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.....this is not a self-promotion opportunity for me, or a stepping stone to some larger, or prettier group of folks...I believe I am in this place because of God's mercy. So I can't lose heart. If God placed me here then I have to trust Him to carry me!

The passage goes on to say The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. The word glory stood out to me in these verses....the gospel of the GLORY of Christ...the knowledge of the GLORY of God...and in both cases that word is followed by a tiny little preposition - OF. The Glory OF Christ....the Glory OF God. I want to be glorious. I do. But there is no glory in me....there is only the glory OF my Lord. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. I am just a clay pot...God is the glorious treasure.

I have a dear friend who always ends her prayers with this thought "And we will be careful to give You all the glory" I've heard her pray that way for years but today it just hit me...I'm not sure we're even aware of all the times we are hoping for a little bit of glory for ourselves. Jesus, forgive me!

In the end and Shoreline East was lovely, God's presence felt so sweet to me. I really am just awed that God is OK with my tragically flawed clay pot. I spend too much time wishing I had someone else's pot...God wants to express a unique facet of his glory through mine....

I need to put more faith in his ability, his desire to flow through me, to reach the people he loves....than in my ability to do a good job.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Mercies

When my son was in kindergarten, I had the privilege of volunteering in his classroom every Friday. I copied, cut and stapled countless little learning tools. It was wonderful to spend that time with our school staff and fun to get to know his classmates. His teacher, Mrs Porter was an extraordinary woman. I remember one morning watching her greet the students as they arrived and thinking, Mrs Porter is just like Jesus. Her mercies are new each morning. I knew after a few months and she had to know, exactly which kiddos were going to bring a challenge to her day but as she welcomed them in the morning there was not a hint of the anticipation of misbehavior. Only fresh new joy in the new day. I was awed by her godliness.

Lamentations 3: 22-23
Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

The Message Bible says those mercies are created new every morning. Our magnificent Creator God, created the world in just six days. But he wasn't finished, because for each day he creates fresh new merciful love for you and me. So, for whatever happened last year, six months ago, a few weeks ago or yesterday - there is new mercy TODAY. Wow. God does not greet our day thinking, here we go again... they are just going to make the same mistakes they always make. NO! He is just delighted that we are awake...he never sleeps, so he's been waiting.....

I'm not going to walk around kicking myself in the butt for what happened yesterday...I'm just going to reach up and receive new mercies today!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

King of Mercy

Have you ever experienced mercy? You know what you deserve - but for some reason the debt is cancelled, the speeding ticket is just a warning and all the pain you would have known is lifted. It’s a beautiful thing.

In the words of a very wise little boy I know “mercy is when you don’t get somethin’ you’re supposed to get.” He would know. Not long ago, there was an infraction of the family law in our home and disciplinary action was about to be taken. This little boy appealed to the judge, otherwise known as Daddy, and asked for mercy. Daddy paused and saw the opportunity to share a God moment with our son. We all make mistakes, sometimes we make really big mistakes and we should be punished, but we have a God who delights to show mercy, the Bible says he is rich in mercy, he has lots of it. So instead of getting what we deserve – we get his love and forgiveness – all we have to do is ask.

There is this verse in James chapter 2 that says “Mercy triumphs over judgment”. That phrase is so clearly illustrated in the Easter story: God’s mercy triumphing over our judgment. Undoubtedly, we deserve the worst, we deserve to live a life where our sin separates us from God but thankfully we don’t get what we deserve. We stand before the judge – our Father God and we know we can’t plead innocent. The truth is that we are guilty. We could plead guilty, but then what? We could never pay the price or carry the burden of our sin. But because of the cross, because Jesus was the Lamb of God, we can plead the blood. We throw ourselves on the mercy of our God, who in his unfailing love has made a way for us to be restored.

Jesus lived a life of tenderness toward the broken, discarded people in his world. He embraced those that others wouldn’t even be seen with. That is why he came – for the brokenhearted, the captive, the blind, and the bruised. And that is exactly how we see him in the context of Easter, always true to his character. Jesus the King of Kings in his death and resurrection, gloriously rich in mercy. Even while suffering and dying we see the tenderness of our Savior toward his mother, making sure that she would be provided for after he left the Earth. One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus knew that he was getting what his deeds deserved, still when he asked Jesus “remember me” Jesus responded so tenderly “Don't worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise” Jesus bathed Peter in mercy after he acted out in anger, betrayal and disbelief. Mercy triumphs over judgment, over guilt, over shame. Mercy says I know you are broken, but I can heal you. I know things are messy – I came to make it right. You may be disgraced but you still have a purpose. Easter demonstrates God’s tenderness to those who have been disgraced, disappointed, disconnected, distressed and discouraged....if you can identify with any one of those....this story is for you!

Shoreline Service Times:
North Campus - Where You There?
Saturday April 11 6pm
Sunday April 12 8,10,12

South Campus
Sunday April 12 9:30am

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Secret Place

Psalm 91:1 He that dwells in the secret place of the most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
We have five big trees at our current home, one is HUGE and it's shadow covers the entire backyard. Under that shadow temperatures will be several degrees cooler than in the heat of the sun. It is refreshing to walk out there in the middle of summer and enjoy the shade of this big Cottonwood. At our new house there are two tiny treelings :) I'm not even sure they have a shadow yet! I know I'm going to miss laying back there under the shadow of that tree, looking up at thousands of leaves rustling in the breeze, listening to the wind and contemplating the wonder of the earth. (I will not miss the raking and bagging of all those leaves in the fall!)
I know there is a secret place we all need to find with God, a shadow place that cuts through the oppresive heat of our lives. Sometimes there is a connection to an actual physical of my friends has an anointed quiet time chair she inherited from her mother. Generations of women have met God in that same chair. I'm not sure where that place will be in our new home. I can see the potential in lots of different spots...I'll just have to test them out!
Psalm 139:15 talks about this secret place: My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth... I prayed this verse over my babies when they were growing inside me....knit them together Lord! That is a fascinating place indeed. But I think this verse still holds true beyond the womb. There is a place where we cannot hide. Where we bare it all. Uncovering our frames of dust in the safety of our Father's embrace....that's where God puts back together the broken places of our lives. Life has a way of unraveling....and He weaves us back together there....
I think I have some loose ends that need to be gathered up and rewoven this morning....take me to that secret place Lord! Wrap me in your arms.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Favorite Verses

Last night at church our Pastor shared one of his favorite verses from Psalm 13 "But I trust in your unfailing love..." Pastor Rob has become so passionate about unveiling the beauty of God's love. This is just one of the verses he's landed on of late.

I've been thinking about this and how at different seasons or stages of life, different verses have resonated with my heart. As a child I struggled with sleepless nights. My precious father wrote this verse on a card, put it in a recycled calendar cardboard frame and set it on my bedside table: Proverbs 3:24 "When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. "I remember seeing those words in my Daddy's handwriting and feeling the comfort they brought to my young heart.

Then of course there is Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." That verse helped me make it through high school. College exam time? Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Pregnancy? Psalm 138:8 "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, endure forever--forsake not the works of Your own hands." I can look back at my life and remember situations I faced verse by verse.

Later in the journey Isaiah 43:2 kept me from staying stuck in a difficult situation. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you." The Lord so tenderly spoke through this passage....Just Keep Walkin' Baby. Another verse I've landed on lately Psalm 62 "One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving." Strong AND Loving! It's a great combination.

I was talking to a dear friend who is a few decades older than me and she shared a favorite verse Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. " In All Things...the good the bad the ugly. The happy the sad the painful. God works. Things don't always work out for good. I can't always finagle stuff out for my good. But somehow God is able to do this work. I've seen him do this in my life and countless others - bring good out of some crazy mess.

There is an interesting trend as I look over my life. Those early verses are really all about me. I need rest, I need peace. Thank God he speaks to those needs. But as life experiences happen or perhaps as I grow I seem to land more often on those passages that exalt Him above my needs. His work not my performance. His amazing ability to take whatever life throws my way and bring about something good.

Psalm 27:13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Easter, What to Wear?

As a little girl, Easter meant watching tulips grow, coloring eggs and hunting for baskets. All that was great, but truth be told…it was all about the clothes! My sister and I always got new dresses, shoes and sometimes even hats. One year we had matching Little House on the Prairie dresses complete with bonnets. There is always something so fun about a new outfit.

I love the show on TLC “What Not To Wear”. They take people of all ages and shapes and help them find clothes that really fit and flatter their frame. They simply learn to do the best they can with what they have. Often there is quite a transformation as people begin to see themselves in a new way. All they need is Jesus and the make-over would be complete!

I was reading my Bible and saw this instruction “Clothe yourself”. Hmmm, so what are the essential pieces that God is suggesting for our soul closet?
Here is the list from Colosians 3:12-15
Kind feelings
Gentle ways
Quiet Strength

Wouldn’t you agree that if we put on these garments they would be quite flattering? They would best compliment who we are and who we really want to be on the earth. Truthfully, it’s easier for me to wear some of these things than others. Some just fit my temperament, like a comfy old pair of jeans. Others are itchy and scratchy like the wool sweater that makes my skin red and blotchy! So how do we do this? I think our ability to do it is found in verse 12. The Amplified Bible says “Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself….” We can wear God well only by knowing His great love for us, and by reminding ourselves of the incredible makeover He does in us. He washes us clean from all our sins, he mends our brokenness. He makes us whole and holy. Knowing all that God has done for us and in us frees us to show the world His tenderness, His mercy, His love…. Wow! I think we’d all stand up a little straighter and walk with a spring in our step in those clothes!

For more on What To Wear see Psalm 30, Proverbs 31, Romans 13, and 1 Peter 5.

Easter Sunday is just a month or so away....What will you wear?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On the subject of change and The Shack

I'll admit that I am not fond of change. It has taken me a year to warm up to the new database at work. I still lament some of my favorite features from the previous one. I had to move work spaces a couple of weeks ago and that has been difficult. It's not necessarily's just really different! Even with the idea of moving to a beautiful new home, aside from the packing and loading and unloading and unpacking......I hesitate. I wonder. I'm in no hurry to get out there. Strange, I know. At least I am aware of my aversion to change. Maybe this awareness is the beginning of acceptance. There will always be quote my husband's favorite band "changes aren't permanent, but change is." So, I'm stuck with it. But I'm learning to embrace the idea that being stuck with change is actually preferable to being just plain stuck.

I read The Shack a few weeks ago. (I should have been packing, right?) It only took me a couple of days to devour this great read. I am fascinated by the author William Young's characterization of the God-head. I loved the Holy Spirit most of all. Maybe because I spend the least amount of my God-thoughts on the Holy Spirit. I also loved the personification of Wisdom and the amazing conversation in chapter 11. Wisdom commends the main character Mack on his love for his children, their dialogue goes like this:

....But you, you do love your children well - very well."
"I learned much of that from Nan." ( Mack's wife)
"We know. But you did learn, didn't you?"
"I suppose I did."
"Among the mysteries of a broken humanity, that too is rather remarkable; to learn, to allow change."


Something about that last sentence has remained with me. That God's wisdom would celebrate our ability as humans to learn, to change. Let's face it. We are all broken to varying degrees. We often choose to stay in that place. Sometimes, when its all you know, that brokenness feels like a warm blanket. It is comfortable to be unchanged.

But change is part of growth.

My little one complains at night from time to time about growing pains in his legs. He usually asks for a Tums because he has never forgotten our pediatrician saying that these are a good source of calcium and that calcium helps...sometimes I think he just wants to eat one and nothing really hurts! :) But, change can hurt and is often uncomfortable - even when the change is good, and something as perfectly normal as growing a few inches.

This interaction in The Shack is helping me to shift how I feel about this whole idea of change. I know God loves me just the way I am. But how sweet to have God look over my life and say "Remarkable! look at my Lynnie, she's growing! She's allowing change. She is learning to love like I love! I am so very fond of that girl!"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Identity - Classic Christianty

OK, so we are moving to a new house in a few weeks and I should probably be packing more boxes...but instead I've spent the past few hours chillaxing on the sofa with a good book. How completely indulgent! It IS a good book :) I confess, it has been a little hard to get into. I think that maybe I'm a bit of a book snob. There are no frills in this bold text, no italics, no font changes at all, no thoughts highlighted in a little box on the page. Nope. Just page after page of plain text. Kinda boring for a reader. Presentation matters, but content matters too and this one is big on content. (Oh dear, upon further inspection I have noticed a few indentations and occasional italics -just not quite enough for my taste...ha...I really had no idea I was such a book apologies!)

Anyway...I just finished the chapter called "Toward a Proper Self-Image". It was very interesting. The author, Bob George, suggests that we blame a lot of our human issues on "poor self-image" when perhaps what we are really looking at is a total preoccupation with self and a misplaced identity. Often we find our identity in relationships. I'm a mother, I'm an administrative assistant. What happens when relationships change? Whew! Sometimes our identity gets wrapped up in a label we've embraced. Hi, I'm Bobby, I'm ADD. I'm Sue, I'm an addict. Listen to this quote: "When someone accepts a label like one of these, it cements his identity in his own mind, as determined by his behavior. Therefore it is natural to assume that the behavior can never change." This week I was challenged to change. It was really hard. The kind of conversation that leaves you with a lump in your throat and puffy red eyes. I want to believe that I am capable of growth and change. It is way too easy to get stuck in a rut and just resign ourselves to the muck and mire. 2 Cor 5:17 is a familiar scripture "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come" The author points out that being made a new creation does not refer to our behaviour, it is a statement of identity. In Christ I am new creation. I am no longer identified by sin. Christ is my identity. I no longer walk in darkness...I am a child of the light! I am no longer ruled by fear, because His perfect love casts out fear. In Him I am completely loved and accepted whether I know it or not. So, what do I know about who I am? What do I say about who I am?

Try saying this.

I'm believing that if I can get this identity thing squared away in my heart and mind that my behavior will naturally fall into line with who I KNOW I am!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Woe To Me!

I Cor 9:16 "Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.
Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!"
I ran across this verse and it really caught my attention like verses do at times. I probably say that at the beginning of each post don't I? Anyway....Paul was explaining to the Corinthians how, as an apostle, he had some rights to the support of those he ministered to. Food. Drink. You know. Yet while he was among them he never insisted on this. I guess he just kept making and selling his tents. Supporting his own missionary efforts with the work of his two hands. He boils it all down in this statement. Like it really doesn't matter who appreciates him or who funds his ministry he has to do it....he is compelled to do it...and woe to him if he doesn't. Who talks like that? Woe to me...what on earth does that mean? I looked it up...but you knew I would, didn't you? Woe: grievous distress, affliction, or trouble. That's intense. Grievous distress, affliction, trouble, grief, lamentation to me if I don't do this thing I'm compelled to do.
Of course, I found this verse in a old book called My Utmost for His Highest. It makes sense, doesn't it, that an author who would offer his utmost would share his insight on "Woe to me". No one gives their utmost anymore...maybe their "best" but believe me that can be such a cop-out. I tried my best...sure...but did I give my utmost? I wonder. I wonder too, is there anything compelling me? I don't always feel compelled. I do desire to be a light in the darkness, to offer the hope that I've found. To share the good news of my experience with Jesus. Yes, we can all do that! But I think maybe, there is another facet here...this was Paul's passion, his calling. (His personal calling just happened to be bringing the message of Jesus Christ to the Gentile world and aren't we all glad that he was so compelled!) Thankfully he had some practical skills that gave him the freedom to pursue his passion. I just can't help but wonder if there would be less people dis-stressed and troubled if they were in tune with the thing that stirred their heart. Please don't mis-read me...I'm not suggesting we strive to perform....and that maybe God will love us more if we do. No, not at all. I'm saying respond. Be compelled.....and then respond.
What makes me feel alive, what stirs up the passion in me. What brings me to action? What thing....if I couldn't do it....would make me say...Woe....stress....sadness....
I have to do that! And I will give my utmost!