Meant to Be Told (My Redeemer Lives 7:2)

My children make me so happy and so incredibly frustrated at times.

I believe they would say the same of me.

The worst is when I have to repeat myself four or five times in order to accomplish the smallest task:

“Can you set the table?”

“The table…did you set it?”

“We are going to eat soon, so we need plates on the table.”

“Would you like to eat food? How about you set the table?”

“THE TABLE NEEDS TO BE SET OR WE WILL ALL GO HUNGRY AND OUR BONES WILL WASTE AWAY TO NOTHINGNESS AND IT WON’T BE MY FAULT!”

Yes, I have questionable mom moments.

I have found that the best thing to do when I can’t get their attention is to ask them to look me in the eyes.

“Yes, hi, dear child. I am right here. Where are my eyes? Look at my eyes. Please go set the table.”

Voilà! Mission accomplished. Why I feel the need to turn into a banshee first never ceases to amaze me. The Old Adam Mom will always be with me, I suppose. But there’s grace for that.

In today’s reading from Acts 3, Peter has figured this life problem out. Please read Acts 3:1-5 first, to see God’s Spirit in action in a small way, before we go on to hear the rest of the story and see God’s Spirit burst out in a big way:

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.

I wonder if this gentleman had ever had someone truly look at him.

How often, do we long for someone to truly look at us? To know us and our pain, our heartache, our insight, our beauty?

I would propose that this is the first witness Peter and John offer to the man who was lame…

They looked.

As you walk around today, look.

Make eye contact with someone you may not usually make eye contact with, in weird situations, places, and spaces. People in our world are desperate for someone to see them, so much so that most of our natural response would be to look down, to shelter our eyes from someone’s gaze. It’s intimidating for someone to really see you, because we so often just don’t.

Continue reading Acts 3:6-10 and see the Spirit move again:

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter was honest. We all have something to give, and that doesn’t always look like money or tangible things. A little bit of time, attention, and a great big message of hope is fiercer though, longer lasting, and always available. The language of Acts 3:7 is especially touching. God’s resurrection power, through the Holy Spirit heals. Acts 3:7 also tells us that it provides strength. I think this is vital for a broader understanding of healing, so that we don’t end up deeply disappointed when healing doesn’t happen in the way we would like it. Otherwise, we read stories like this in the Bible and equate the absence of a visual miracle to the faithlessness of God.

God is faithful and He brings healing and strength in many, many ways. Sometimes He gives us physical strength, sometimes emotional, sometimes strength poured through relationships, and sometimes only spiritual, clinging tightly to the Truth we know and pressing on. The witness of these various strengths speak to God’s work in our lives. His glory shines freakishly bright when we lay our stuff out there, and let people recognize us, really see where our Hope comes from when all is laid bare.

Ready for more witness, more glory, more resurrection? Finish reading the account of our now leaping friend in Acts 3:11-16:

11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.  

People ran to hear Hope, and Peter was not going to miss the opportunity to shine the witness of Who Jesus Christ was for all people and His strength poured out for each and every one of them.

Really looking at one another—that is the work of the Spirit.

Giving Hope in Christ—that is the work of the Spirit.

Strength in the cross and empty tomb of Christ Jesus our Lord—that is the work of the Spirit.

Hallelujah. He is risen indeed. We are witnesses of His glory.

PS – My poor children have a hard time getting my attention on the first try as well. I tune out with my book, at my computer, on my phone, daydreaming, whatever. Here’s to children who have grace for their mamas too!

Grab the Scripture Cards for the week at this link:

Chamomile Tea and Hugs – Practical Tools for Anxiety

Anxiety has been a life long companion for me.

It pops up when I least expect it and it loves to needle at all my deepest insecurities…

I’m not faithful enough to hand it over to God.

I’m not smart enough to stop thinking like that.

I’m not enough…ever…to overcome this issue.

It’s one of the reasons I become so exacerbated when I hear someone quote flippant Bible verses to others about anxiety, or when someone shares a meme that tells me Do Not Be Afraid is found in the Bible 365 times.

I wish it was helpful. I really do. But it never has been for me. It feeds into the not enough aspects that anxiety wields like a sword, but don’t fit with the message of Truth and Love that I see from Jesus when He’s speaking in Scripture.

So, I do what any theologian-therapist-anxiety-prone person does…

I opened the Word to make sense of it all.

Lord, I don’t get it. I don’t understand anxiety and I don’t understand where in the world you are in all of this. Who are You? What is Your message here? Give me true Law and true Gospel and take out all the stuff I want to see, for what you are actually saying. In Jesus, in Him who rescues, Him who delivers, Him who Saves, I pray. Amen.

You know what I found?

Chamomile tea and hugs from a friend go a lot further than advice on how I should overcome it.

Jesus didn’t intend for me to struggle with this alone. He gives me people, connection, and care. When I share my burden, even when I can’t quite put it into words, God does miraculous things. It is still uncomfortable and sometimes I just have to sit in it. But, wow, the inexpressible becomes somehow alive with legs and arms and words. I can externalize what was pent up inside. I can rest because God sends people. God sends the Body.

Even better…

Jesus is that friend.

Some things I just have to sit with on my own. But…not really. Because when He says,

Come to me.

I know He’s for real. He sits in the discomfort with me. His Spirit resides in me, that Helper, that Counselor.

It still feels uncomfortable, but not alone is so much better than not enough.

In today’s podcast we address some of the very Scriptures I struggled to understand, as well as find some practical tools for anxiety and the Spritiual Care of anxiety.

PS – This podcast and blog are not a replacement for local mental health care resources. Please seek out and utilize counselors, psychiatrists, and other professional mental health providers in your local area.

PPS – Did you know that chamomile tea daily has been shown in at least one study to reduce the symptoms of generalized anxiety? See the study link here. So, bringing it to visit a friend is a good idea. Now, if only I liked the flavor… 😉

Ministry Moment: Happy Hour

Ministry doesn’t have to be boring.

All the things that make ministry what it is – relationships, people, theology, God’s Word, Truth, Hope – all of those are far from boring.

Sometimes, though, we do need some fresh ideas, while clinging firmly to Truth. So here’s a new idea for the new year!

I recently sat down with our friend and colleague, Matt Wingert, Director of Youth Ministry Extraordinaire to share a concept we use at our own church, that we thought all churches would benefit from. He found it once-upon-a -time via the pretty great pastor of his church in California.

It’s not a complex idea. It’s not a scripted idea and it’s not a time consuming idea. It is an idea simply meant to build relationship, inside the church, outside the church, and around and through the church – just being a light of life together in this dark world.

Today’s Ministry Moment is…Happy Hour!

4-7pm, 5-8pm, whatever time of your choosing: some drinks, some snacks, friendship, conversation, an open house and an open door.

As Matt shares with us in this podcast, “Invite the churched, the unchurched, and the church across the street…”

Happy Hour is the Gospel shared in homes and with people you wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise. It’s the people of God spending time together outside the four walls of the church building. It’s relationships happening on the good days and the bad.

Find out more details on what Happy Hour is, how it works, and how to implement it in your time and place on the podcast: