Sunday, March 30, 2008

Just a Pinch

it's been a tough week
like salt in the wound
or sticky tears that creep between the lips
but I can still feel You near
still calling me to more than this pain
that is really
just a pinch
compared to that day on the hill
still calling me to be the salt of the earth
bringing out the best flavor in others
and getting lost in You
I know You will warp this pain
into some kind of salty goodness
so sprinkle me however You wish
just a pinch
so I can somehow lessen the pain of others
standing overwhelmed at the edge of an ocean
afraid to dip their toes in the salty waves
of the depths of You
Use me as I dive in and beckon them to join me
with a little salty hope
even if it is
just a pinch

"Salt does not exist for it's own sake. Salt is to lose itself in something more glorious than itself. Don't underestimate the power of the salt, the power of what God can do with small interventions. God puts his 'super' on our 'natural' and something supernatural happens."Rob Wegner Viral Interventions sermon March 29-20, 2008

"You are the salt of the earth." Jesus, Matthew 5:13

Friday, March 28, 2008

Table Settings for the Birds

With a list of excuses to worry today
swarming in my fettered mind
I'm choosing to take a deep breath
take in some truth like the gold finches
enjoying their breakfast on the porch
and trust in the One who sets the table

"If you have faith in the one who set the table, you have no reason to fear what goes on the plate." Ron Vangergriend, New Community "A People of Acceptance" 3/27/08

"Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds." Matthew 6:26 (Msg) Mark Beeson post 3/26/08

Monday, March 24, 2008

24 Hour Parenting

When you are a parent
a lot can happen in 24 hours
a pretty Easter dress
where we smile at the beauty You painted in her face
with the colors of our passed down DNA

eggshell masterpieces hidden in shoes and a decorated top bunk

where she painted beauty to make us smile

and search the house to say how how proud we were
a spontaneous original song called "God Knows Best"

Click here to get your own player.

rocking out to daddy's mad beat-boxing skills
where we laugh so hard it hurts our cheeks and bellies
as we realized we've given birth to the Wayne Brady of 5 year olds
and learned how much she loves what we love
But then . . .

then 3:30 am we hear a cry from her room
six hours of holding her steamy head
as Easter dinner returned, I liked it better the first time

cold washcloths to ease the 105 degrees
prayers pouring out like fever reducer in teaspoons
where we tried to love her like You love us
the highs and lows of parenting
reminding me of Your constancy
in the highs and lows, twists and turns
of our roller coaster lives

in one month

our friends the Sagarsees

will begin the ride of parenting

I pray they find new ways to trust You

in the highs and lows

as they discover a whole new meaning to the phrase

"in Your image"

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him." Psalm 103:13

Sunday, March 23, 2008

This Little Light

photo by Dustin Maust

a stunned silence today
in the presence of Your light
like a mouth-gaping child at a firework finale
sitting in Daddy's lap
smiling at the warmth of darkness dispelled
and how it reached so much more
than this little light of mine . . .
Happy Easter, Abba

"God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness."
Genesis 1:4

"Have you ever noticed that good news cannot walk? It just has to run." Mark Beeson, "Viral Moments" sermon Easter 2008

"It's not linear. It's viral. It's not one tells one. It's everyone tell everyone. It was not a slow-spreading announcement, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It didn't travel one person to one more person. It was viral. Each person told everyone they knew. The Light caused ripple effects that impacted everyone and everything around it. All of history has been marked and changed by the resurrection of this One, the Light of the World, Jesus the Christ." Mark Waltz, "Easter: the Good News Gone Viral" post

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

Thursday, March 20, 2008

8 Days a Week

"Eight days a week
I love you.
Eight days a week
Is not enough to show I care . . . "
-The Beatles

in our harried imacdonald's frenzy world
we tend to over stuff the calendar
like a kid's backpack until the zipper breaks
and we have a breakdown
so we countdown to the holidays
that we would probably miss
if they weren't pre-printed on our calendars
this weekend
we gather in places we haven't seen since Christmas
which felt like yesterday
a little more spruced up than usual
and looking forward to a steamy meal together
where we can over stuff something else
all the while missing invitations from You
because we have no time to sort the mail
then we take a look at Your week
a triumphant donkey ride of grass roots fanfare
miracles forgotten in a day
a meal where we missed the meaning
horrified as you knelt to wash our dusty feet
sore from our pace of living
a prayer in the garden as the torches approached
thirty pieces and a kiss from a friend
the trials, the torture, Your silence
the crown, the nails, Your promise to a thief
many of us mourn at the seventh day
and run back to our 24/7 lives
of emptiness in a full calendar
but there was a day we missed
and it's waiting for us
under the marshmallow peeps, pastel dresses,
bunny suits in the mall, dyed eggs,
and baskets filled with sweets and surprises
the eighth day in the week
the surprise party that the guests of honor can miss
if they don't get the invitation
and slow down long enough
to be loved
eight days a week

"The Gospels devote nearly a third of their length to the climactic week of Jesus's life . . . Jesus himself had mixed feelings during the clamorous parade . . . Voices who shout 'Hosanna! one week can shriek 'Crucify him!' the next . . . the Passover meal . . . the scene of the footwashing . . . Jesus symbolically overturned the whole social order . . . When Judas led a lynch mob into the garden, Jesus addressed him as 'Friend' . . . " Phillip Yancey, The Jesus I never Knew

"Not many people do down time very well, so our tendency is to rush past the down times . . .
God will be with you at Mach four in one way and he will be with you in the dark and dry and barren times in a different way. We know the places where God slows us down because those are the places where we tend to look up." Mark Beeson, Holy Thursday sermon 3/20

"Then he turned to the host. 'The next time you put on a dinner, don't just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You'll be—and experience—a blessing. They won't be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God's people.' " Luke 14: 12-14

Sunday, March 16, 2008


For years I was a secret admirer
longing to be closer but shy
to declare my distance adoration
wondering if You were out of my league
compared to the beauty of those around me
so I settled for other little gods
like A+'s at the tops of papers
like a pinnnacle pyramid with a tree at her side
or pats on the backs from adults
who marveled at my shallow wisdom and maturity
like a pretty Christmas package with tube socks inside
or the popularity game starring me as the doormat
that felt more like a demolition derby
with a crowd who cheered for more crashes in my side
I stepped out to sing the solos in front of the choir
memorized my weekly verse for a sticker on the chart
waved the palm branches once a year
singing Hosanna in a bobby pinned headress and bare feet
not knowing the early echoes of a plea for rescue
the comfortable agony of a secret crush
until You called me on the carpet under the pews
my two little words
a question in a statement
save me
Your two little words in reply
a question in a statement
follow me
and my life was changed forever
in this new chapter
keep me on the front lines
save me from the temptation
to play it safe
hide behind the palms
and fall back into the deadly complacency
of a secret admirer

"The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, gives up nothing, will not reconstruct his life, wil not be what he admires and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires." Soren Kierkegaard, Provocations

"Jesus isn't interested in admirers. He never was. And that's why his invitation was not 'Admire me' but 'Follow me.' That's why he was so blunt with the crowds. Jesus didn't want a fan club. He wanted a spiritual revolution." Steven James, Story

"We've been treading on thin ice, putting our faith in something feeble. Something that will never be willing or able to really sustain us . . . it's not a question of whether we worship something or someone other than God. It's just a question of what those things are. Everyone stands on something…what are you standing on?"
Jason Miller, "A Pastor's Confession" sermon March 14-15, 2008

"If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment's notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me." John 12:26

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sunflower Seeds and a Rainbow

watching students during production week
is like watching a sunflower grow six feet tall in a day
an epic story of your rainbow promise and a final bow
I can feel the curtain closing on this chapter
like a commercial just when the show is getting good
loving them while letting go
like a sunflower seed of faith
and You take care of the rest
so I can take my sqeaky seat
smile at the gifts You've given them
tears of joy that fall like rain
and land in my hands like a dove
and even when all they can see is the downpour
I'll be loving them from a distance
and trusting in the rainbow of You

"Japheth: Maybe God made a mistake, Papa.
Noah: God doesn't make mistakes!"
Two By Two (Musical by Richard Rogers, Peter Stone, and Martin Charnin)

"I thank God through Jesus for every one of you . . . every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God's gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don't think I'm not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you."
Paul, Romans 1: 8-12 (Msg)

Friday, March 14, 2008

One Isn't the Loneliest Number

We never grow out of our need to belong
in elementary nightmares of being chosen last for kickball
the first one out in the game of tag, we mope on the sidelines
in junior high cafeterias on the first day of school
we stand frozen, clutching our trays, fearful for our social futures
high school labels stamped on our foreheads
like bad t-shirt logos that still show when you wear it inside out
and we never really grow up
a family, a corporation, a political party
a football team, a Tv show with the power to vote
it all comes down to being a part of something bigger
like a distant, windy memory I have
second grade pen pal cards on helium balloons
all released simultaneously on one . . . two . . . three
and I stood in awe, bonded by the beauty of unity
until Phillip pulled my pigtails and it was back to dog eat dog
there were days that teaching felt like a funeral
for someone still living
Why all the sad faces? Why the lack of hope?
Why all the loneliness in a crowded classroom?
Why can't they catch my joy like the flu that's going around?
But the one lesson they needed was the one
I wasn't allowed to teach
the one truth that could free them
I couldn't force them to understand
through all my clues, leading questions, and clever metaphors
like a word search I just wanted to point to
but they needed to find the answers themselves
but now the gloves are off
the straight jacket teaching contract is null and void
and we are opening a site in their neighborhood
and you better believe I'll be there to welcome them
to the one place they'll never be lonely
the one group where they will always belong
to introduce them to You
the One love they can't find on the map
but they might just find in a movie theater

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all."
Acts 4:32-33

"Why do we keep the message simple? Because people need Jesus. We're in a real world where real people really need real Jesus. We need real help. We don't need an idea. We don't need a philosophy. We don't need another religion with just more dos and don'ts. We need the risen Christ. And it's not just you and me. It is every man, every woman, every boy and girl. We need Christ. So why we do what we do is pretty simple . . . And what is my heart beating fast for? It is not different from what it was when I first started this church 21 years ago. The difference is now that there are two thousand of us here tonight, and our hearts are all beating fast for one great thing . . . It is that everyone knows Jesus, so no one has to go to bed at night wondering if they matter . . . We are the followers of Christ. We have not been blessed to sit on the blessing and just enjoy the fact that we are the family of God. But we are blessed to be a blessing. And God has called us to go into all the world and make disciples . . . one heart, one soul, one blessing, one great conviction . . . And you say 'Well, what happens if the church grows?' Oh! Well, there's a problem that's enjoyable, isn't it?" Mark Beeson, "One Church Where You Are" New Community service 3/13/2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Fiddler on the Roof

I heard You play a song today
a brand new tune I somehow knew
I looked down at my friend in her exhaustion
greiving something she never lost
to see if she could hear it too
the lies in her mind were outscreaming the melody
like an orchestra with only You in tune
her breaths were heavy and her tears slid smoothly
like the bow on the strings
but each note seemed to lift her
like only Your truth can
and she stood up to look at You
for the first time and yet again
a brand new tune she somehow knew
and I smiled and celebrated
a simple conversation
where You played me like a fiddle

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You, too? Thought I was the only one." C.S. Lewis

"But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted."
1 Peter 2:9

Sunday, March 09, 2008

This Little Bank of Mine . . .

I aced a lot of classes in college that didn't matter
Breezed through Botony, Psychology, and Medieval Literature
smiled at my transcripts, did all the work for group projects
I took great notes, passed the tests with flying colors
and went back to our tiny one bedroom apartment
to argue with my husband
wonder when the fairy tale ended
and cry over the checkbook.
I graduated with double honors
and fiddled with my gold chords during the ceremony
but no one ever taught me how to balance a checkbook.
Now, after ten years of marriage
and a leap of faith made simple
we finally signed up for the right class
a much overdue course correction
like two offensive lineman tackling eachother every play
but in this elastic world of small business teeter totter
it's hard to hear the whistle blow and the field gets muddy
so we're heading back to the line of scrimmage
with a common playbook to learn
thirteen weeks of Tuesdays
that will offer our little girl a new inheritence
our love a new understanding
and the financial peace we never knew
that is
until we found this place that tells us we matter to You
and isn't afraid to address the issues
that matter most

"A lot of people ask me, how can you talk about money in church? Shouldn't you be sweating?" Mark Beeson, 'The MacGyver Plan" Sermon March 8-9, 2008

"In a survey of married couples, more than half of them said that sooner or later, money is the most important concern in a marriage. Yet most couples don't talk about it until it's an issue . . . Studies have shown that parents are more likely to talk to their kids about sex than money . . . Money is a "private matter", best left to intimate (or angry) discussions between business partners, spouses, or financial institutions."
Sarah Young Fisher and Susan Shelley, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in your 20's and 30's

"I am positive that personal finance is 80 percent behavior and only 20 percent head knowledge . . . most folks have a good idea what to do with money but not how to do it . . . I look into the eyes of a gazillion people who have followed this plan and experienced, as we did, excitement, hope and gratitude. I am so thankful that I have not only given them a proven plan but have also inspired them to change their family tree."
Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover

"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

Friday, March 07, 2008

Egg Hunt

a wolf in sheep's clothing isn't always easy to spot
like the truth in a game of telephone
I miss my former students
so many of them walk in darkness
a little on edge but too old to ask for help
groping as if blind, wondering if there's an easier way
when it's as simple as a slipknot blindfold
and a true story of the one place they belong
I wish I could make that story real for them
as real as their ipods, facebook pages, and favorite t-shirts
it hurts sometimes
like an exit missed and I can't turn around
so I poor myself into Easter service plans
loving their faces and their families in the back of my mind
Many of them will go to some kind of church this Easter
in suits and pretty dresses
an Americana Pink Bunny ritual
they may not come to this place
but wherever they go
let them find more than a family tradition
before the plastic egg hunt in the backyard
let them find some truth
in the light of You
and help them to start hunting
for more than just Easter eggs

"We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are. Could it possibly be that your reality is skewed by a lack of light? A lie that is told long enough, loud enough, and often enough, pretty soon sounds like the truth.While the power of the lie holds us captive, the person of Jesus Christ sets us free."

"In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't. " Blaise Pascal

"But you belong. The Holy One anointed you, and you all know it. I haven't been writing this to tell you something you don't know, but to confirm the truth you do know, and to remind you that the truth doesn't breed lies." 1 John 2:20
"Jesus once again addressed them: 'I am the world's Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.'" John 8:12

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hint, Hint

I woke up and saw the grass today
and found You waiting for me in the rustling pages
how You left Galilee behind and headed for Jerusalem (Mk 10:1)
a hint of spring with a patchwork of winter white
as You offered rest for the weary (Matthew 11:28-30)
buds spotting the trees with hope of friends chillin' in the shade
as You explained who our neighbor really is(Luke 10:25-37)
my little girl looked out the window and said "whoa, it is so spring!"
as You looked up and smiled at Your Dad (Luke 10:21-24)
a family of geese stopped by for a visit on their instinctual route
and You taught us the route of prayer (Luke 11:1-4)
new life sprouting it's way through a blanket of dead leaves
as You whispered a story of persistence (Luke 11:5-8)
and I knew
Easter is coming

"I have just thrown open the window on a glorious spring morning. A fresh breeze is stirring around the garden . . . All around, there is a sense of creation throwing of it's winter coverings and getting ready for an outburst of new life. All these are images early Christians used to describe just as strange as the story of Jesus, but just as real as their own lives." N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

"The signs are all around you, but even more the signs are all within you. Your soul is being pulled forward. You are being called to a God whose voice your ears have never heard." Erwan McManus, Soul Cravings

"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.' . . . Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, 'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see'." Luke 10: 21,23

Monday, March 03, 2008


I always wished I had a dramatic testimony
some epic tale of You finding me
in the dark places we only read about or see in movies
a climactic, cinematic, automatic blockbuster tale
that would bring out tiny tissue packets from old lady's purses
and the engraved hankies from the suit pockets of the men
at summer campmeetings where I learned to sing
some old bar songs with new lyrics
but mom and dad loved us well
with an apple pie, bubble gum, flannelgraph childhood
where Jesus was at the dinner table
pushing us on the swingset
smiling from the felt boards
dressing in itchy burlap twice a year
and kissing us goodnight in bedtime prayers
but my forever friend grew up too
the world wasn't as pretty as my bedtime stories
romance didn't end the movie
and I couldn't find the sunset to walk off into
then You came leaping off the flannelgraph
asking me for more than I wanted to give
the conversation never really ending
just fading in and out like a bad connection
with a static fear on my end
I almost lost You a few times
but found You again in the oddest of places
a party where You asked me to stay
Dad's face on my wedding day
Picadilly Circus in London
in the middle of a cornfield
in a coffee house in Texas
in an 8lb. 13 ounce invitation to chase You like never before
in the stories of the ones who couldn't pay attention in my class
in a church that is bigger than any building
the more I sought You I realized
it's time to grow up and get up
there's work to be done
less like a kiss goodnight
and more like an earthquake in the morning

"What if Jesus meant what he said? What if we know precisely what Jesus meant when Jesus said what he said? What if we just don't like what Jesus said? What then?" Mark Beeson, "Are We Kidding Ourselves?" post

"If you want flannelgraph Jesus to stay your forever friend, that's what you'll get. If you want to truth about Jesus, that's what you'll get." Mark Beeson, "Tight Like Spandex"sermon 3/1-2/08

"Just remember, you gotta clean what you catch." Papa in William P. Young's The Shack
"The music he wrote must now be performed." N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)