Friday, May 29, 2020

FMF: Born

My older son is graduating high school this year.  Tomorrow would have been his Senior Prom.  I can't help but get nostalgic when I think about it.  It doesn't feel that long ago that I learned I was pregnant with him and even less time since that October morning I woke up with a very distinct pain through my abdomen.  I was in labor.  My son was about to be born.

I was only 21 years old and had not prepared sufficiently.  Of course there is really no amount of preparation that adequately equips you for the birth of a child.  Then there's also all the people who have wisdom they must share with you, things you must do.  There was a very nice man who worked in my office building back then.  He had young kids and we would talk casually about my pregnancy.  One day he made a point of telling me how I must have a home birth.  I listened to his story; yes, it was a beautiful birth story, but I knew it was not for me.

As that October morning progressed and my doctor told me I need a C-section, I thanked God I had not listened to my co-worker. My son's umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. A home birth would have been detrimental for him. And so, as I remember that day, I pray my son's song will be the same as the psalmist:

I have depended on you since I was born; you helped me even on the day of my birth.
I will always praise you. (Psalm 71:6, NCV)

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Heart and Hands

Several years ago, a thought entered my mind that I couldn't shake for several weeks: What God lays on your heart, pick up with your hands.  Set that aside for a minute.

My husband turned to me one evening this week and asked if I had heard of a certain person, a Christian celebrity. Eek, Christian celebrity. I don't like writing that, but I don't have a better description. I told my husband that I had heard of this particular person, to which he responded, "I guess he doesn't believe in God anymore."

I asked him why, and he told me that he had read that the celebrity couldn't understand why an all loving God would allow bad things to happen, or something along those lines.  The conversation was pretty matter of fact. In part because my husband hadn't heard of the person, and I think in part because it seems to be happening more frequently these days.

Then my brain started turning.  To me, more concerning than a God who would allow bad things to happen are the 2 billion Christians who would allow those same things to happen.

From the very beginning we were meant to play a part in God's story. Genesis 2:15 (NASB) says, "Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it."

As we continue reading through scripture, we come to the story of God in Nehemiah's time.  Leroy Eims shares great insight about Nehemiah's faith in his book Prayer: More Than Words.  He points out that, in addition to prayer, we must do our part.  Or, as we read in Nehemiah 4:9 (NASB), "but we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night."  They prayed for God to do His part, and then they did their part.

God's word continues to tell the same story in Acts 2:42-45 (NASB) when we read that, again, the believer prayed and took care of each other:
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

Is your heart breaking for the millions of people who don't have access to clean water?  Do you think we we should do something to end homelessness?  Are you distraught by the spread of HIV/AIDS?  Do you cry when you think about orphans? God has called you to be like Adam, or Nehemiah, or the believers of Acts 2.  Turn your concerns over to God, and then turn your attention to problem.  What God lays on your heart, pick up with your hands.

Friday, May 22, 2020

FMF: Forward

Hope looks forward and finds peace.  Consider the woman from Shunem:
He said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.”

And she said, “It will be well.” Then she saddled a donkey and said to her servant, “Drive and go forward; do not slow down the pace for me unless I tell you.” So she went and came to the man of God to Mount Carmel.

When the man of God saw her at a distance, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Behold, there is the Shunammite. Please run now to meet her and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’”

And she answered, “It is well.”  (2 Kings 4: 23-26, NASB)

Her hope doesn't make sense.  That is the essence of hope.

For the Shunammite woman, hope literally meant moving forward, to the prophet Elisha, for healing for her son.  She had not always had this kind of hope.  Earlier in this chapter we read that it was the prophet Elisha, through God's power, who allowed her to have a son.  Back then, she didn't have the hope inside of her to ask for what she really wanted, and she warned Elisha not to get her hopes up.  She looked back.  She saw all the years she had been unable to conceive.  She believed no child would be in her future because no child had been in her past.  When the Shunammite woman was unable to look forward, Elisha looked forward on her behalf.  He had hope for her when she was hopeless.  What a different woman than one we see here.

Her son has just died, and the Shunammite woman tells her husband that she will be going to Elisha to fix the situation.  Like the Shunammite woman years earlier, her husband can not look forward.  He looks back.  He wants to know why she would go to Elisha for healing on a day that is not traditionally a day of healing. He was stuck in the past.

And there it is: You are either stuck in the past of looking forward to the future.  Those of us who look forward, and consequently move forward, can say like the Shunammite woman, "It is well."

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit

Thursday, May 14, 2020


A friend recently gave me a necklace that says "This moment matters."  (See it: HERE.) It is one of the lessons I am learning right now in my life. Lessons aren't always easily learned: sometimes you have to kick and scream and push until the outcome is what it is supposed to be; sometimes you have to shut up, sit down, and wait for the right results; and sometimes it's hard to know which method to employ.

The problem with a "moment" is that it is an indefinite amount of time. The problem with "indefinite" is that it can mean "unlimited" or "unspecified."  I mean the latter, but I digress.  I usually think of a moment as a short period of time, such as a second or a minute. We say things like, "Can we take a moment to thank Mrs. Smith for her contributions to this event?" We applaud, and the moment is gone. However, a moment can be a longer: In the 1980 Winter Olympics, the American men's hockey team beat the USSR in what is now known as the Miracle on Ice; it was a great moment in sports.  The moment was not only that exact second that the buzzer rang, but rather the hours leading up to, during, and after the game.

If you read an English translation of the Bible, it appears Matthew is focused on moments (moment appears in Matthew 3:16, 8:13, 9:22, 15:28, and 17:18).  The original Greek is actually "hora" or hour.  This may be strange at first, but let's think about it.  When we remember moments, most of us don't know the actual second.  We may remember the feeling of that second, but we remember in generalities. A few notable exceptions exist, such as a a birth, a death, or if we happen to look at a clock before something significant happens.  We don't usually know when something significant is about to happen, so our recollection is usually limited to a general hour.

Moments, whether seconds or hours, become days.  Days become years.  Years become a lifetime.  I am living in a moment that has its challenges.  You may feel the same.  When I think about the life I want, it does not always match the life I live.  I want to be healthy, but I have poor eating habits.  I want to understand the Word, but I don't spend enough regular time reading it.  I want to have meaningful friendships, but it's easier to hold people at a distance.  These moments are opportunities.  I can chose how I spend each moment, and that is why this moment matters.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Good Deeds

Before I get into the thick of this, let's have a little laugh. Watch as Friends' Joey and Phoebe debate whether selfless good deeds exist.

There's no denying that we are supposed to do good to others. The Bible makes that abundantly clear in verses such as "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it" (Proverbs 3:27, ESV) or "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17, NKJV). Yet, I still find myself thinking that somehow good deeds will offset my bad deeds, as if it wasn't something I'm expected to do, and, instead, is something I'm doing out of my own goodness.

If our good deeds, in fact, earn us something (love from God, admission into heaven, forgiveness, etc) then how good do we have to be? Is sharing a cookie sufficient? Is mending a relationship you would have otherwise given up on sufficient? Is selling everything we have and giving it away sufficient? Is it, as Joey proposes in the above clip, that there is nothing such as a selfless good deed because you feel better as as result of it?

It may be fun to debate the existence of altruism, but the selflessness of a deed is not the most important thing to consider. When unsure of what to do, we can ask ourselves:
  1. Is this how I want to be treated?
    "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38).
  2. Do I feel good about this decision?
    "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).
  3. Can this deed bring glory to God?
    "You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God" (2 Corinthians 9:11)
These questions won't tell you the right thing to do in every situation, but they're a good place to start.