Death, Rebirth, and Growing Like Weeds (My Redeemer Lives 1:4)

We aren’t the only things in this universe that die and rise.


As egocentric as we like to be, myself included, there is a whole world out there functioning quite unaware of any of us.

I’m reminded of hunting season. My husband is a bow hunter. He spends great time and care prepping himself to “enter the woods.” The woods is the domain of the deer. He might have dominion, but if he’d like to catch one for dinner, he needs to respect their domain. He uses special scent free shampoo, wears this camouflage suit with only his eyes peeking out, and virtually tip toes to his tree stand.

Nature is doing it’s thing, mostly unaware of us, until we make it aware. Just like us, every living thing has a life cycle. Jesus uses this life cycle in John 12 to teach us about life, death, risk, and eternal reward.

Pleas read John 12:20-26 –

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

People want to see Jesus (verse 20), obviously that’s the most important thing! If people want to see you, if your phone notifies you of a call or a text or a message, do you feel pulled to answer?

Jesus did not (see John 12:36 for confirmation). Instead, he tells a story about a seed. I think Jesus’s message is two-fold here.

First, He is prophesying of His own death and resurrection. The preceding verses are of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the beginning of Holy Week. The verses that follow immediately after those we read continue to speak of the necessity of the cross, the grave, and an empty tomb. All of John 12 is a powerful testimony of what is to come for Jesus and the power He holds over life and death.

Secondary, however, I believe is a parable about our lives. You see, each of us are seeds, planted by the Sower. In this parable the Greek for earth is from the root word gé, meaning earth, land, or soil. It is related to the Hebrew term for earth, asitía, a broader term connected to God. Earth is seen by way of this term as “God’s physical theater, God’s arena.” 

We are in God’s hands, living His story, whether we know it or not. Unlike the deer, God is fully aware of our entries, our exits, and our treading on His soil.

The seed doesn’t go into the soil to tuck itself into a dark and safe place. We weren’t meant to live and die alone. The seed goes into the soil and is planted for a purpose. It dies to its former life, it gives up its identity as seed, relinquishing power to the sun, the rain, the soil to be reborn. We are reborn in baptism. The Spirit comes in with Its nutrients, living moisture, sunlight for our souls, and we grow. We can muscle against all of this or let Him fully in. We can get wrapped up in how it’s all going to turn out, or trust the Sower with the process.

Commentator Matthew Henry puts it like this –

“…let us beg Him to make us indifferent to the trifling concerns of life. ”

Forget the planting, the dying to self, whether the rain falls, cloudy days or sunny days, and let’s live boldly for eternity. This space and time in dark soil or bright sunlight is so temporary.

God makes each day eternally significant.

We die and we rise in Him, for Him, and only through Him.

Seed to soil, sun to seed, today to tomorrow.

Life, death, and more Life. That is our resurrection reality.

How can we live it boldly? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation on social media. Bold resurrection death and bold resurrection life – how do you see them lived out each day in yourself and others?


My All-In Strawberry Patch: Risk and Relationships

Two years ago I planted a plot of strawberry plants.

I had dreams of juicy red fruit growing organically in my backyard, picked by my minions – er, children – and overflowing bowls of pretty red jewels set out on my table for guests to enjoy.

I asked a friend to come over and dig up the soil. I had my husband line the plot with two by fours. I tended and watered and weeded.

If I had a nickel for every time someone stopped to tell me how hard strawberries were to grow, how the effort wasn’t worth it, I could have paid for a much nicer plot.

I just smiled and nodded and shoved the words deep down inside.

What I should have told them was:

“I’m not growing strawberries. I’m growing commitment.”

Let me explain.

I had thought about growing strawberries for years. Friends grew strawberries and would leave little boxes on our counter. I looked at other local’s raised beds and wanted some for myself. But then I would almost instantly think, “Well, who knows how long we’ll be here.”

Here is where ministry life enters in. It can be weird. Change and calls can enter at any time and plans have to remain flexible. Hearts have to remain flexible. That’s hard for someone like me who is whole-heartedly in, and easily whole-heartedly disappointed.

But you know what…

Life is weird. Change can happen anytime, anywhere, in any profession, in any relationships.

I realized that I was saving half of my heart for what might be. Keeping it safe, committing only pieces of myself so that I wouldn’t have to hurt, to say goodbye. At some point I realized that I was robbing myself of real relationships for what might be, even what would be. I was giving half-heartedly of who I was and expecting whole-hearts back.

Friendships need to be made, and wholeheartedness is not really an option, in life or in ministry.

And so I planted a strawberry patch.

I planted something large, that would take effort, and that I might have to walk away from.

It was beautiful. And it grew 14 strawberries.

Look at this bounty –


Then, God called us away.

He called us to something new; to plant somewhere else. Oh goodness, it was hard. And every day I fight to be all-in here as well. Questions assail:

Will they like me?

Will they want me?

When will they get tired of me?

I know it’s not about me, but I have to be real. Relationships are hard and hard work and sometimes it seems that finding other people who want to be all-in are scarce.

Because of Christ, we can do it anyway.

Give your whole heart.

Plant something.

Start something.

No matter what tomorrow brings, no matter the response, grow love, and grow commitment to that love.

Christ stands as a constant reminder of the all-in love that our Father gives to us. He gave His whole heart, knowing what would come eventually, knowing that He would have to say goodbye, but trusting the Plan.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 4:32-5:2)

All-in, my friends. All-in.

Ask questions, ask questions, and ask more questions: Lessons learned from Cross Cultural Ministry

Cultures different from our own can be intimidating.

People from different cultural perspectives may think differently from us, act differently from us, and even value different things than we do.

But goodness God does beautiful things to each of us, and our relationships when we step outside of our own culture for a moment and enter into another.

Missionaries Christel Neuendorf and Rachel Jaseph join  me in conversation to talk about lessons learned from cross cultural ministry.

I sat down and expected a discussion of language and communication struggles, learning where to go, and what to do in a new land, instead my heart and mind were opened to the reality that

culture is across the globe, but also right outside my door.

I think the lessons in today’s podcast will serve us all well, not only for ministry and knowing our neighbors outside of the United States, but for the work we have to do with meeting our neighbors everywhere.

A few of my favorite lessons you’ll hear include:

When in doubt, ask questions.

Often we think of poverty in financial terms, but there is also the reality of poverty of community.

Relationships first. Always.

When not in doubt, ask questions.

Be present with the people God puts in front of you.

Get out, go into your community and find out more, learn more, grow more.

Ask more questions.

Written in Iron Ink: Cross Cultural Ministry –

You can find Rachel and Christel and more information about their ministry at the following links: