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As I write this, we are smack in the middle of Vacation Bible School. Our mornings have been noisier than usual with kids singing, learning, playing, making friends. There are many teachable moments . . for the volunteers. Children are great discipleship examples in many ways. Dave Shambach and I were doing a skit about carrying around your worries, and he was loaded down with a huge tub of worries. He would not let them down and before I could persuade him to let them down, the kids ran up and started to help him support the tub! If he wasn’t ready to let go, at least they would help carry it until he was.
What a wonderful witness to Jesus they were. Often we want to “fix” people – have them put down their worries, get over their grief, just do what we think they ought to. And yet, Je4sus often sat with folks until they were ready to do hat. Sometimes people just need us to lighten he load. help carry it until they are ready to set it down. That often looks like listening more than talking or giving advice; or just being present rather than needing to “do” something. Other times it means a home cooked meal ready for whenever they just can’t face the kitchen. And prayer – that powerful way to share hope and faith with one another.
How blessed we are by the witnesses all around us who continue to testify to the love of Jesus Christ among us. Those witnesses come in all shapes, sizes, and ages!
Serving Christ with you,
Since coming to New Mexico, my gardening has had mixed results. I have done well with flowers – geraniums, begonias, and such. But, my tomato plants have suffered under the insatiable appetites of the tomato hornworms and thus, not done well. Nothing has produced much. And last summer I was gone too much early on in the summer so I didn’t even get anything planted.
Each year, though, I have learned something. I have done research on how to hold hornworms at bay. I have come to understand more about container gardening (new for me), and growing vegetables in the high desert. This year I am hopeful that my plants will thrive and bear much fruit.
This is how our spiritual journey can be as well. We can get mixed results. Some aspects of faith thrive in us – mission work or worship – while others struggle – prayer and scripture study. There are times when it seems everything is eating away at our faith – questions, doubts, concerns of our own lives and the world. We end up with just a green stalk – no leaves or blossoms – no growth.
The good news is we can learn through these times. We learn that God continues to nourish us and strengthen us. Grace allows us to be replanted and try again to grow and bear fruit. We learn the power of forgiveness for ourselves and others. We grow our courage to love.
May this season be one of new life, beautiful blossoms and abundant fruit!
Growing in Christ with You,
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. -I John 4:18-19.
This is one of those verses of scripture, I have to keep close. For there is so much fear does in our lives. It prevents love, sows hate and misunderstanding, even can lead to indifference. The scripture tells us that fear has to do with punishment — which generally involves judgement and hurting another in some way. But what God calls us to is a love that casts out fear.
Recently we, as disciples of Jesus, have been called to cast out our fear and to love as we have been loved. First, there are the students of Independence High School; students who did not do well in the conventional learning environment, or have had trouble of varying sorts in their lives. It would be easy out of our fear of the unconventional or those whose lives are so different from ours, to simply walk away, saying they are not worth our time or investment.
Secondly, we have been made aware of the need to help asylum seekers from Central America with hospitality as they make their way to the families/sponsors. These are people who are traveling with nothing, often only the clothing on their backs, fleeing the violence in their homeland. It would be easy to be fearful of these strangers in our midst, to judge them as undeserving of our love and care. We don’t understand what their lives are like (and fear will keep us from finding out); we don’t trust that they are “good” people (and again fear will keep us from knowing them). It is easy to fear and step back from both of these groups.
That’s why I need to keep the verse from I John close at hand – particularly verse 19: “We love because he first loved us.” And we are not loved because we deserve it, or because we are worth God’s time and attention – we are loved because we are God’s children. As are these students and families. There are days I admit that I struggle with this. Which is why I need this reminder.
Jesus calls us to cast out our fear and to love as we have been loved – unconditionally and with boldness and wholeheartedness. Even those who cannot love us back . . especially those who cannot love us back. I think Jesus had something to say about that too.
Seeking to Serve Christ with You,
“He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my sout.” Ps. 23:2-3.
The season of Lent is meant to be a reflective time. Time for more prayer and self-examination. Time practicing spiritual disciplines in the hopes they will become habits. The work of greater faithfulness, not just in thought, but in action.
It’s hard to do this when your phone is beeping with text messages, when schedules become cramped with all those things we “need: to do. Sometimes our bodies will tell us when we are doing too much and not being enough. We get sick or exhausted.
David in Psalm 23 must have some of these issues for he writes that God “makes” him lie down in green pastures and “leads” him beside still waters. Apparently these are not places David seeks out regularly for himself. It takes the Creator of the universe to bring him to those places that will restore his soul.
What does it take for us? Getting sick? Being so weary we can hardly function? We are privileged because many of us have the Sandias as view from our window, or can hear/see the Rio Grande River. Neither is far for any of us . . .if we take the time to go. God has led us to this placer of the red mountain and flowing water (at least in some seasons) – these are our green pastures and still waters. We also have skies that are big and starlit at night and blue as can be. How can God “make” us lie down or sit beside what will restore our soul?
It is my prayer you will find your green pasture and still waters. That this season will help to restore your soul, that you might experience God’s nearness and peace.
Praying for you,