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Archive for August, 2006

It is amazing how a day can begin and end on completely different sides of the spectrum.  Sometimes this occurs as a result of a very clear interruption in the day.  A phone call.  A diagnosis.  A poorly-chosen lunch.  But sometimes you just shift ever so slightly throughout the day without awareness of movement like the earth rotating beneath your feet.  And in a dawning of clarity or the poke of the Spirit, your looking at a different horizon.  Or maybe the same horizon but through different lenses.  You wake up with that bad taste of depression in your mouth and you lay down with the aroma of hope lingering around you.

Whatever the reason or reasons, you are simply grateful that the day took a turn for the better.  Grateful that tonight you rest with pleasant anticipation . . . with peace . . . with hope that things will be okay.  Or at least better than you thought this morning.  And grateful that you passed on the late-night burrito from Taco Bell.

I’m heading to St. Louis for the day to visit a parishioner having heart surgery.  Please pray for Jennifer and her family.

Peace –
Melissa

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Hopeful News from Uganda

From Invisible Children:

We know youre all excited about the news coming out of Uganda right now, and so are we. However, there are many terms and conditions that go into ending a war. Right now the Ugandan government and the LRA have agreed to a ceasefire and a temporary truce has been signed. This does not mean that they have signed a peace treaty. It does mean were hopeful that in the coming weeks the peace process will come to an end and the war will be over.

This war has now lasted for 20 years and has affected millions of lives. It will take time to rehabilitate the people and their region once this war ends. We will continue to support children in our Education Program and our employees of the Bracelet Campaign.

This is an exciting time for Northern Uganda and for us here at Invisible Children. There have been peace talks between the Ugandan government and the LRA in the past, but none have ever made it to this point. We are encouraged by what has gone on thus far and are optimistic for the near future.

Please continue to support the people of Northern Uganda. They still need our help.

We will do our best to keep you updated as new information becomes available so keep checking back. The invisible children of Northern Uganda appreciate your support and were looking forward to the future.

For more information go to http://www.ugandacan.org.

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Getting My Post On

I know I haven’t been very regular about posting for awhile.  It seems like time to just sit and even think is rare, let alone actually share any thoughts worthy of a posting.  I will try to do a little better about carving time to think and to share here for me if not for my readers.

Today was a beautiful day here – low 70s.  Just a gorgeous day with much-needed rain coming the last few days.  Things have been so dry and thirsty for a nourishing rain. Most of us know what it is like to be parched and in drought spiritually. To feel like you are dragging yourself across a never-ending desert hoping for some oasis on the horizon.  It is a horribly long and lonely journey made worse by the dust that threatens to coat your lungs, choking out your remaining breathes. 

Water never tastes as good as it does when you are parched.  Your longing for water is never as strong as it is in a season of drought.  You never know how good you have it until it is gone.

So, thank God for droughts.  Thank God for seasons of thirst that send us gasping for the refreshing Spirit.  Thank God for parched lips that cry out for the Living Water of Jesus Christ and taste that he is good.

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I’ve Been Tagged

I’ve been tagged by my new web friend, Carmen,to extol the God-prints in my life. This is my first experience with being tagged so I’ll give it my best

1. A friend who has blessed me: Kailey – for teaching me a lot about being a friend; Marcia – for teaching me how two people different in some ways can still find common ground that is rich and fertile; Cari – for giving me "girlfriend" moments like you see in the movies – chocolate, movies, ice cream and boy-bashing if necessary

2. An unexpected gift: each day; my understanding of God today (meaning – God has gotten bigger, not smaller which is a beautiful thing)

3. A kind word shared with me recently: “Cause I’d like to know you better."; from Carmen in her post explaining why she tagged me. To know that someone desires to know you better is a very affirming and kind thought.

4. Something that makes me stop and praise God: when I’m aware that God has taught me something, it makes me praise God because when I’m taught, it reminds me that God is interacting with me. God-moments when you know you’ve interacted with the Creator of all and you’re overwhelmed with gratitude that God would even bother with you and you realize the only reason God would bother with you is because She loves you.

5. Something I’m looking forward to: new experiences and understandings from, with and of God as we journey together; the next day and the unknown possibilities that it brings; seeing my youth grow in wisdom; being content and at peace most of the time rather than being tossed by the waves of life

6. A particular part of me I’m pleased with: My empathy

7. Something in my life I wanted but never expected: Serving as a full-time, paid and licensed youth minister.  Females weren’t too common in my Baptist world upbringing.

8. A place that moved/moves me: Windermere Conference Center (many wonderful childhood memories there and God-moment memories; a quiet beach in Fort Morgan during the early evening as the sun is setting; Hospital rooms on pastoral visits when congregants are facing amazing health challenges; Cold Stone Creamery – yum yum

9. One thing/person that always makes me smile: my nephew, Blake; Good in the world; underdog victories; my youth at many various times for many various reasons; Stephen Colbert

10. Most recent “love note” from God: Tonight when I was walking God reminding me that there is no need to worry or fear about the future.  God’s got the lilies back; how much more does He have mine. 

And now it’s my turn to tag:

  • Kate – because you are me about ten years ago</li>
  • Kailey – because I always love to hear your thoughts</li>
  • Preston – because I know you lurk here religiously and even though you don’t have a blog (despite my insistance that you start one), you could post your thoughts in my comment area)

Thanks for the tag, Carmen.

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One Life. Do Something.

I wanted to share this video with you from World Vision.  This past weekend at our youth Back to School Retreat we spent most of the time talking about God’s call to us from Micah 6:8 – "Do justice.  Love mercy.  Walk Humbly with our God."  We watched a video titled "Invisible Children" and we discussed ways that we can make a difference. We’ve each been given one life by God.  Do something with that one life.

The video is a 2 minute poem that will touch your heart and give you a glimpse of what God sees everyday in parts of the world.  What God sees that breaks God’s heart.  What God calls us to do something about.

Get this video and more at MySpace.com

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Prone to Wander

This is a sermon I preached almost a year ago today. It was a sermon that God had been working in me for a long time before I ever preached it.  The Sunday I shared it last year was a significant Sunday for me personally.  I felt the need to repost and pray that the reminder cares for you the way it does for me.

Sermon Title: Prone to Wander
Sermon Text: Hosea 13:4-6; 14:1-8

They met their junior year of high school.  It was a cool Tuesday night in early March and the varsity basketball team was playing its biggest rival for the district title.  It had been an exciting season for the tiny community of Rockridge and every person in town had crammed the little 2A school gym for the big game.  The bleachers were a sea of green and white as the community displayed their team colors proudly.   The thunderous cheers were pierced with the squeaks of sneakers and the shrill of whistles.

  Tim played “the” trumpet in the little pep band and on the last strand of the school fight song which he knew by heart, he peered over the end of his trumpet at the crowd in the visitors section.  As he panned down the third row, there at the end of his trumpet was Kate. Her smile was dazzling, her spirit contagious.   She was decked out in red from head to toe and her face was painted for war.  Tim was taken with her from the moment he saw her.  Through the remainder of the game, Tim kept an eye on Kate – missing half of his cues on the songs that night.  And when the final buzzer went off, Tim made a beeline across the court, trumpet in hand.  The home town team didn’t win that night, but Tim did.

  Tim and Kate dated the remainder of their junior year as well as their senior year and these years were filled with wonderful memories.  The movie dates, the basketball games where Kate cheered as loudly for the pep band of the rival school as she did her own school’s team, their senior prom.

  After their senior year, Tim and Kate made the difficult decision to attend different schools but promised to stay committed to one another and the special relationship they had discovered.  Tim was steadfast in his commitment and love for Kate.   Kate cared deeply for Tim, however, she was distracted by new adventures and new possibilities.   She was lonely and impatient.  Tim was miles away but Jason wasn’t.   As her attachment to Jason grew, Kate’s detachment from Tim grew as well.  Tim could sense that he was losing Kate but remained faithful and full of love for her even when he found out about Jason.  But it wasn’t enough to keep Kate.  They broke up their sophomore year of college.

  From Hosea 13:
“Yet I have been the Lord your God ever since the Land of Egypt;
you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.
It was I who fed you in the wilderness, in the land of drought.
When I fed them, they were satisfied; they were satisfied,
and their heart was proud; therefore they forgot me.”

– Hosea 13:4-6

Tim and Kate didn’t talk much the remainder of their college years.  Tim returned home each summer to work in his father’s insurance business.  Kate spent her summers with friends, energized by the new adventures they found together.   Although Tim never dated, Kate dated often but never very seriously or for very long. Graduation came for both Tim and Kate.  Tim returned to Rockridge to work in the family business.  Kate earned a degree in Public Relations but wasn’t quite ready to settle into the working world.  She returned home that summer to stay with her mom while she tried to figure out what to do with her life.

It had been two years since Kate had last seen Tim.  But when she walked into the front lobby of the Stewart Insurance Company and saw Tim sitting at his desk, she felt like she had come home.  Her memories of Tim were full of love and safety and when her eyes met Tim’s, she was reminded of those feelings.  And Tim did indeed still love Kate and felt an indescribable joy when he saw her standing in the doorway.& lt; SPAN>  They began to visit again over coffee several days a week; then over dinners.  Over the next year, their relationship grew stronger and deeper than it had ever been before.

From Hosea 2:
“Therefore, I will now allure her [God’s people], and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.  There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.  On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, “My husband” and no longer will you call me, “My Baal”.  And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy.  I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.  I will say to “Not My People”, “You are my people.” And he shall say to me, “You are my God.”
Hosea 2:14-16; 19-20; 23

The wedding day was beautiful.  A small gathering of friends and family at the Rockridge Gardens where, under the glow of the sun and the love of those gathered, Tim and Kate vowed to cherish and honor one another for the rest of their lives.  They were happy.  They were full of hope as they joined their lives together.

Tim and Kate cherished their moments together as husband and wife – even the small moments of quiet evenings together. Over the next four years, they had built a home, gave birth to a son and developed a contented and safe relationship.  Tim loved his wife and cherished her.  Kate truly loved Tim, as well, but her restlessness returned.  She tried to fight it.  She berated herself for not cherishing a husband who cherished her the way so many women dream of being cherished.  But her heart went searching once again.  Kate left Tim and moved to a nearby city for a fresh adventure and a new career.   Tim was crushed and hurt but was faithful to keep communicating with Kate for the sake of their son.   It took a couple of years for Kate to realize her mistake.  She was victim, once again, to the Esau-syndrome: trading away a true blessing in order to satisfy a short-term appetite.

Hosea 14 says:
“O Israel, come back! Return to your God! You’re down but you’re not out. Prepare your confession and come back to God.  Pray to him, “Take away our sin, and accept our confession.  Receive as restitution our repentant prayers.  We’ll never again say, “our god” to something we’ve made or made up.  You’re our last hope.  Is it not true that in you the orphan finds mercy?
And God says, “I will heal their waywardness. I will love them lavishly.  My anger is played out. I will make a fresh start with Israel.  He’ll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring.  He’ll put down deep oak tree roots, he’ll become a forest of oaks!  He’ll become splendid – like a giant sequoia, his fragrance like a grove of cedars!  Those who live near him will be blessed by him, be blessed and prosper like golden grain.  Everyone will be talking about them, spreading their fame as the vintage children of God.
Ephraim is finished with g ods tha t are no-gods.  From now on, I’m the one who answers and satisfies him.
I am like a luxuriant fruit tree.  Everything you need is to be found in me.”

Tim loved Kate deeply but he knew Kate was prone to wander – in search of something that would satisfy her. Tim knew she would never find it where she was looking.  He let her go, loved her always but could never took her back.

God loves us deeply but he knows we are prone to wander – in search of something that will satisfy us.   God knows we won’t find it where we are looking but he lets us go, loves us always but God is always ready to take us back.

In seminary, I did a word study on the word “zanah” which is the Hebrew word for “prostitute” or “harlot”.  You may be surprised to know as I was that the most common use of the word “harlot” in Scripture is in reference to Israel , God’s people. It was used by prophets and by God Himself.  Israel, like us, continually struggled to stay faithful to God.  They would break their covenant relationship with God over and over again as they became restless and searched for something to temporarily satisfy.  They were prone to wander.  But God remained faithful through it all.  He never gave up on his beloved and God never will.

  That is the overall message of Scripture.  God’s unrelenting, unabashed, unending love and pursuit of us – his prone-to-wander children.

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