Thursday, December 25, 2014


And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:10 and 11

Merry Christmas my friends. May today be a day of celebrating this great joy, this best Christmas gift ever.

Let your light so shine, sue

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16 ESV
Liberty Springs PCA, South Carolina

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Treasuring, Pondering

Let your light so shine ... Liberty Springs PCA
Considering, treasuring, wondering, pondering. These synonyms sprinkled like salt bring out the best of Luke's and Matthew's telling of the Christmas story.

These words instruct ... stop, listen, question, rest here.

I want to know the narratives. I want to see the hope, the worries, the trustings of these long-ago journey mates. And then I want to hear my Gabriels, God's messenger to me ... What are my hopes, my worries, and my trustings that these holy words speak to.

Is this want possibly the best gift I can bring to the Christ child this Christmas?

Luci Shaw testifies in her intro to Sally Breedlove's book Choosing Rest, "I am a poet, and an idea for a poem may well occur to me on the fly ... to follow that image into the heart of truth, to wait for the Spirit that speaks ... requires quiet, undeviating focus, to listen for the Spirit's voice, to pay attention to the creation and the Creator ..." (page 8)

Sounds like considering, treasuring, wondering, pondering. Yes, this is the gift I want to offer this Christmas.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer uses Mary's pondering to speak of how we should read the Bible, "One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself ... we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them ... (letting them) linger in our minds, simply because they are the words of a person we love;" (page 136, parentheses mine)

Enquire, receive, linger, more synonyms. I especially respond to linger. Lingering is what I enjoy with a friend at a favorite coffee shop. Hmm, lingering with God ... I feel the desire.

My friend Janine often says about a scripture portion we're reading together, "I need to sit with this". Husband Bill encourages, "Put it in you pocket and think about it". 

I remember the 8 hour trip from Illinois to Minnesota that long ago Thanksgiving with our two littles securely strapped in their carseats behind us. And I remember the questions, the many, many questions! Littles inquiring, wondering, wanting to understand. And this mommy getting pretty tired of the conversation.

How different from God who welcomes, who desires, who loves our ponderings, our wonderings, and our treasurings, and even our questionings.

Yes, this is my gift.

What about you? What does pondering and considering look like for you? How has practicing these disciplines enriched your times with God? Which of all the words above communicates best to you? Why?

Children teach us so much about wonder. I love this picture of my oldest GRAND, Jack when he was 3 years old seeing a rainbow for the first time.

This little guy, the first GRAND of my good friend experiencing snow for the very first time.

Ahh, wonder.

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." Luke 2:19

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Exalted those of Humble Estate

"Let your light so shine ..." Liberty Springs, PCA
It was the mid-1990's; we sat in the coffee shop and spoke of our common love of women's
bible study. Then the question ... Sue, what role do you want to play in the bible studies? Without hesitation I answered, I would like to train your leaders.

As I think back, I hang my head. Did my observations of the bible study make me think I had something better to offer? Why was I so bold, so confident? Was that position a need to bolster an identity crisis?

I'm not sure. But I am sure that it was a proud response, a response seeking to set myself up--exalt myself, to climb my own ladder. Arrogance.

How different from Mary.

Immediately upon learning that she was to give birth to Jesus, the son of God, Mary hastened to her cousin Elizabeth's home. Elizabeth confirmed her pregnancy. Did Mary even know that she was carrying a babe yet?

Mary's response from inside her being, from who God created her to be, was to magnify her Lord, to rejoice in her savior. It wasn't about Mary--it was about God. Every sentence focuses attention on God. Luke 1:46-55

"for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant...
for he who is mighty has done great thing for me.
and holy is his name." Luke 1:48 and 49

Mary's tender-hearted beauty, her lovely humility flowed easily from her heart to her words. Mary allowed God to exalt her.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you." I Peter 5:6

God wants to, intends for us to be exalted in his time, for his purposes, for his glory. The road to exaltation begins with humility. Mary's humility showed in her submission, her obedience, even in her willingness to suffer. And it led to exaltation. An exaltation Mary never sought; it was God's gift to her, and through her to us!

What does exaltation look like? Is it position? Is it influence? Is it living out God's design? What is the source of exaltation?

I learning that God initiates. God sends personal Gabriels my way with Sue-shaped messages in his time for his purposes. 

I learning that exaltation is what God does in me so he can work through me for the benefit of others.

I learning that in humility, a door is open for God to enter.

John Blase in his coda to Touching Wonder,

"Some would say a perspective like that leads to arrogance. Some say a lot of things. My friend, there is an "arrogance of belonging" that reveals hearts fully attuned to the moment and fully engaged in the story in which they find themselves. It looks like arrogance, I'll give you that. But upon deeper reflection, it shows that in the grand play each one has been given a part. The question is, "How will you play it?" (Page 122)

Where are your opportunities to practice humility? What have the Gabriels in your life offered? Are you listening to their messages?  What is the part God has assigned to you in his grand story? What would it look like for you to trust God with his definition of humility and exaltation for you?

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
I Peter 5:5

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Let It Be To Me

Liberty Springs PCA, Cross Hill, SC. Let your light so shine ...
Gabriel’s words shocked Mary.

But he softened his message with affirmation, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Not a mere period at the end of that sentence, an explanation point …! You.have.found.favor.with.God. Mary, your life reflects God’s presence! God is well-pleased with you! 

I imagine Mary’s breath caught in her throat. Perhaps a tear fell from her eye. She was listening to an angel—God's personal sentinel—sharing a message from God himself.

“Mary … you will conceive … bear a son … call his name Jesus. He will be great … Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:31, 32)

Mary had questions … wouldn’t we all? Gabriel listened and responded gently. Her questions were not of the challenging sort. 

I picture Mary’s chin falling to her chest. I see her open hands spread to receive. I hear her heart in her quietly spoken words, “… let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Let it be to me. Allow this miracle to come true through me. I think I understand a bit of Mary’s response. God is doing something very special in her life. God is the initiator and Mary is actively engaging with him.

Let it be to me, a joyful submission to the will of God. I hear in Mary a willing trust of God’s purposes. I hear a responsive heart. Mary knew it was God’s work in her not her work for God. Let it be to me.

For Mary the will of God was hard, counter-cultural even. It wasn’t acceptable to be pregnant before marriage. Engaging with the plan and purposes of God is often hard. But a let it be to me response communicates, a holy desire to participate in God’s will.

I am challenged to trust and to pray …

I may not get it … but let it be to me. God I WANT to participate in your purposes.                                                                                                                                                I  I want it to be different … but let it be to me. I WANT to partner in your will. 
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)

Kara and Jason
Norman and Katie
I dedicate this post to my friends Kara and Katie who in the midst of their HARD are letting their lights shine. They too are saying, let it be to me. Bless you my friends.