He’s Never Doing Just One Thing

I don’t think He will ever stop surprising me…this powerful, loving, omniscient and intimate God of mine. Maybe that’s a good thing. I love surprises. Don’t you? Even when I think I am walking and do exactly what he is calling me to, I find surprising opportunities on the path, and what I’ve prepared for, while good, is not all He has in mind. A friend of mine puts it this way, “God is never doing just one thing.” I like that. I like to wonder what else He is working on. I like anticipating more, and then still being surprised by what the more is.

I have to be honest though, sometimes, I’m nervous about the surprise, and overwhelmed by the thought of anything else. I know He is working for my good. And I know He won’t drop the ball. I just also know that sometimes my good does not feel good. And I know that more often than not, His more puts me in over my head.

This last trip to Zambia was no exception—and this time the surprise was a good one, in a really big way. Two of my colleagues and I traveled to Zambia to work with three language groups from the region.These groups had completed their New Testament translations and were ready to learn how to use the checking tool my team has developed for affirming accuracy and meaningfulness of the text.  I was excited to work with them again as several of the translators had been at a workshop I led last year in Botswana. It is one of my passions to see our teams finish the projects they start. And this workshop was for exactly that purpose. I just didn’t know what else God had planned for.

As I walked into our hotel on Sunday afternoon, the clerk behind the desk, said to me, “You have a visitor waiting for you.” What? I thought. I don’t know anyone here? But I walked over, and there was a young man who introduced himself as a pastor from Botswana named George. He had heard about us through another pastor who had been to one of our workshops in Kenya. In George’s church, 9 languages without any Scripture are represented. His own language has no Scripture. So when he heard about our visit, he had to come and find out more. But this is a checking event. I thought. It wasn’t exactly the right fit for someone who was seeking more information on how to get started. With no real clear-cut plan I asked him to join us for a day or two and learn from the other translators. I invited him to watch the checking and ask questions. I had that strange notion of being in over my head–and still breathing.

On the first afternoon as we shared with George the overall method and process, he couldn’t stop smiling. He told us, “I give away English Bibles to people in my village, even ones who don’t read English very well. Because it’s all I have to offer them. They come and want a Bible. And I only have the English ones to give them.” His smile broadened. “I want them to have a Bible of their own—in their own language!”

“Let’s get started!” We suggested. “Why don’t you begin with your language?” He eagerly agreed. Over the next two days one of us devoted time to supporting George, as he drafted 25 verses in Luke 1! Then resent his draft it to his language community via WhatsApp to get their feedback and edits! George’s smile was constant. His joy contagious.

We all basked in the sweetness of God’s good surprises, and perfect plans–even when they do put us in over our heads.

 


The Weak Things And His Amazing Ways

The plane is over an hour late, which probably wouldn’t bother me if it weren’t on the end of a 30-hour around-the-world trip from Milwaukee, USA to Goroka, PNG. And I know, it isn’t over yet. As I walk across the tarmac to the porch where I’ll claim my carry-on, I try to imagine the three-hour journey ahead of me into the mountains by Land Rover, over rough, pot-holed, dangerous roads. But at least for that part of the journey I will have company. I smile and wave as I glimpse Brad’s face through the exit gate. I’ve never met him before, but he’s easy to spot, being the only white guy in the crowd. It doesn’t hurt that his six-foot-five-inch frame towers over everyone else. Brad and I have worked together remotely before, but this is our first time to meet face to face. I know we are kindred spirits. I’m bursting with anticipation as we climb into the Land Rover, together with Vincent our national partner and his cousin.

It doesn’t take long for Brad update me on the tense situation at the translation training workshop, or in the region surrounding the center where our team is working. I’ve seen the e-mails about tribal warfare–I know about the violence within the tribe, and that translators from both sides are sitting together at the workshop, translating God’s Word. As Brad fills me in, these facts are suddenly cast in a personal light. Translators whose hearts are stopped by simultaneous phone calls, reporting burned out houses and injured family members! But they aren’t stopping the work. Instead they are forging ahead furiously, attempting to complete the gospel of Mark.

Brad explains  their plan. “A few of us are going into the villages tomorrow, with the pastors. We’re taking the book of Mark with us. The pastors are each going to beg their villages to stop the violence. They are going to show their people the work done so far on the translation, and remind them, of what’s truly important.”

Something clicks inside me. “What time do we leave tomorrow morning?” I ask with a sly smile. “You know I need to go with, right?”

I don’t have any idea what I’m getting into. But I am certain that if God wants me to go, then he is going before, “making the crooked places straight.” I’m not afraid. And I don’t have any expectations. I am not even sure what my purpose in going would be.  What I do know is that it will take clear direction from God himself for me to be part of this expedition. I’m a white woman in a foreign land. I know the culture cards are stacked against me on every side. But I don’t have any inclination to fight against that. I know God can handle that if he wants me to go.

I’m actually surprised and elated when Brad approaches me at nine the next morning, to say, “You’re in. The tribal pastors have agreed to have you come along!”

“What!” I exclaim, glancing down at my skirt and white blouse. I had just prepared for a day at the training center. “I’m going?” That’s when I start praying for real. Not because I’m scared. But because I realize I have no idea what I’m doing. Why would I be going? Why did God open this door? What does he have for me?

Another God-surprise. Another divine adventure! I’m in…all in. A rigorous two-hour drive, and we arrive in the village. Warriors patrol the entrance, carrying homemade guns, machetes, and bows and arrows. Children run in the open area playing and women sit as if expecting us on grassy spots around the village center.  Surreal. That’s how I would describe the day. I spent most of it praying for God to give me clarity of thought and wisdom in my actions. Total dependence. Total trust. That’s how I felt. And that’s what I experienced, as the Holy Spirit worked in our midst.

Peace. God’s children are called to peace. He loves us too much to let us fight it out in the dirt and grime of this physical world alone. He paid the ultimate price for peace. That was the message shared by several pastors and members of our team. And that was the message received by all. So that peace did reign–God’s peace ending the tribal fighting right before our very eyes.

Weeks later, back at home in my office, I’m still mystified by how God uses “the weak things of this world to confound the wise.” I’m overwhelmed and overjoyed to be one of those “weak things.” I have witnessed God’s grace and presence in ways beyond my comprehension. I have been part of comforting women, holding their babies, eating yams cooked over their fires, standing over burned out houses, praying with the widow of a pastor whose death started the violence, and receiving hand-made gifts from them. I am undone by God’s power among his children.

This experience, more than anything has affirmed for me the miracle of oneness that God intends for his children. We went into that volatile, dangerous situation, not to exert any influence of our own—based on the world’s standards of class, race, or status—but as a simple act of obedience to our Father, to stand together as family—his family. We weren’t there with anything else to offer.

I have had the privilege of helping to start dozens of translation projects in dark and forgotten places of the world. Those experiences are all precious to me, as God has revealed more of Himself with each door of opportunity that he has opened. Perhaps that, more than anything else, is why I treasure the two-week workshop in the Papua New Guinea Highlands this summer. God delights to surprise us, to stretch us, to amazing us. And that is what he did for all of us as we watched him work among His people of varying cultures, and environments. We were challenged. We were broken. We were poured out. We were filled up. We were undone. We were empowered. We were brought face to face with His glory.


“You Can’t Out-give God”

My grams taught me a lot—sometimes by what she said, more often by how she lived. A truism she shared with regularity was, “You can’t out-give God.” Any time we talked about giving of any sort, she would remind me of this, and then I would hear again part of her story of God’s generosity in her life and how she and gramps responded in kind.

A few short years from retirement they sold everything—the farm they had so painstakingly built, the new living room furniture, everything—and headed overseas to serve missionaries’ children at a boarding school. (Grams always reminded us at this point  in the story what a gift it was that God didn’t see them as too old or otherwise unqualified to be part of his kingdom-building team.) They thought they would use the money from the sale of their property to finance their mission’s training and travel, but instead they gave most of it away to others who were a step ahead of them en-route to overseas ministries. By the time they traveled to Venezuela their earthly wealth was spent, and they had the promised support of a few well-intentioned, albeit tiny churches in the Ohio Valley to live on.

Throughout their years of missionary service, Grams and Gramps generously gave of their time, and resources—yes, the meager financial support that came from those dedicate churches, seemed to multiply in their stewardship. Serving meals to strangers and friends, hosting travelers in their homes, giving financially to those in sudden need, and sharing extravagantly during the holidays with family and friends alike, Gram and Gramps lived a generous life.  So when Grams told me, “You can’t out-give God.” I was compelled to listen.

Grams loved pretty things. She had beautiful china with delicate blue trim and fancy cut crystal stemware right in the middle of the jungle. But she did not have these items so they could sit in a china cabinet. Grams loved to use them to host tea parties and special dinners. She shared what she had until she gave it away. That’s just the way Grams lived.

Grams and Gramps financially supported each family member who went into missionary service. And they always seemed to have money left over to help when a need arose in their church or among their friends. I honestly don’t know how they always found a way to help. After all they were missionaries living by faith. The only answer I come to is Grams’s own words, “You can’t out-give God.”

Grams and Gramps gave away all they had serving in faith for more than 30 years. Last year when Grams went to heaven, her last generous gift was to leave a small financial inheritance for each of their children. This week my family and I are vacationing in the mountains of Tennessee, thanks to my Grams’s generosity. But the honest truth is, we are vacationing because of the extravagant, generous provision of our God. Because Grams is right, “You can’t out-give God.”

Just Try!


The Fourth Watch

Have you ever thought, “I didn’t sign up for this!” in life, in ministry, in your family? Oh the ideals we chase, and the reality we crash into! So often, even my best intentions are short sighted. And I end up feeling like I’m stuck in a place not my choosing! I think Jesus’ disciples felt this way often.

In Matthew 14 after he has miraculously fed thousands of people on the mountainside, Jesus dismisses the crowds and insists that his disciples get into the boat and cross the lake without him. They’re all-in with Jesus by this time, so they go. But night closes in around them, and the wind picks up. The waves are crashing, rocking them violently. Verse 24 says, “The disciples were in trouble far away from land…” Imagine their shouts above the wind, “Where is Jesus! What was he thinking sending us out in this! I didn’t sign up for this!”  After all he was the one who insisted they cross over without him. He had disappeared into the hills to pray, alone. And he had sent them off into a storm! But the shouting doesn’t last. They don’t have any energy to spare as they frantically bail the sinking vessel.

By the middle of the night, these guys are soaking, cold and despairing of their own lives. Verse 25 says, “Now in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them, walking on the water…” In the darkest hour of the night, they are not alone. Jesus is walking toward them on the water.

When I’m in my darkest hour, my tendency is to cry out in despair, to complain, and even rebel. “I didn’t sign up for this!” I exclaim. And I want a way out!

The disciples have spent a good part of the night in that very place. But they aren’t alone. And at just the right time, Jesus walks toward them on the water.  The minute he comes on the scene everything changes.

For an instant they are wracked with a worse fear than death by drowning! “It’s a ghost!” They cry out. But Jesus’ reassuring voice reaches them over the wind and waves. “Cheer up! It is I!”

The waves are huge, the boat is still sinking, but Peter has dropped his baling can and is about to jump right out of the boat! And Jesus is encouraging him! “Come on!” He says! So off Peter goes.  Only it’s momentary. The storm has lasted for hours, Peter’s jaunt on the stormy sea, only seconds. And then he is sinking and crying out to Jesus to save him—which, of course, Jesus does, even as he asks, “Why did you doubt?” Have you ever stopped to wonder where Peter would have ended up if he hadn’t doubted?   Now some might be hard on Peter for his lack of faith. I’m wondering what the other 11 in the boat were thinking. Peter got out of the boat in the middle of a storm! And he walked on water! Who among us can say, “I’ve walked on water in the middle of a stormy lake”? Peter could.

As Jesus and Peter climb into the boat, the disciples get what they have been waiting for…the storm ends suddenly. The wind ceases! Everything is quite. The terror of the fourth watch is over, a distant memory as the sky clears and the first pink ribbons of dawn can be seen on the horizon.

And then the moment Jesus has been waiting for, “They came and worshiped him, and said, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”

In the fourth watch, when we have despaired of the sun ever shining, let us not moan in terror. Let us not wail, “I didn’t sign up for this.” Let us wait and watch. For we are not alone. He is coming to us in the storm. And he is inviting us to walk on water.


Waiting is Good?

“It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:26

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet wrote these words. And they come after he expresses his own soul’s trembling  anguish. He reminds himself of the Lord’s mercies, and concludes with these powerful words.  What struck me is his assertion that it is GOOD. He wasn’t just confident that he was waiting for a good thing, but that the wait was a good thing.

Now I’ve had my share of experience with waiting and I have a hard time calling it good. Sometimes when I cry out to God int he midst of a painful season of waiting, I feel as if I would do anything to bring the season to an end. Waiting doesn’t feel good! It feels exhausting! It feels frustrating! It feels overwhelming!  And each time I come to the end of a particularly tough season of waiting, I tend to think, “Whew! That’s over. Maybe I’ve learned what I need to about waiting”—as if passing a “waiting test” might exempt me from a future course.

Jeremiah’s claim, however, isn’t that any wait is good. The wait that is with hope and quietness—that is the wait that is good.

Have you ever been waiting for something, and slowly despaired of its every happening? I know I have!

Recently I was praying for Joel’s neck (Yes again!) and I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to consider the breadth of this journey in physical suffering. Joel has suffered for four years—four long, painful, dragged out years. Yet when I think of the scope of our life, four years isn’t really that long. In relation to eternity it’s nothing. Still, it feels like something! As I thought about the time frame of this particular and painful wait, God whispered to me,Why have you quit praying for what you really want? Didn’t I tell you I would take care of this. This gentle rebuke showed me that I had wavered in my hope. The wait was soured by my dwindling hope. A good wait, is a wait full of hope for God’s good plan to take hold. And it doesn’t mean it will happen according to our schedule. Jeremiah did not even live to see the fulfillment of God’s restoration of his children to the land. Jeremiah’s wait was for something beyond his own life. And yet, he was willing to hope and wait quietly. Victor Frankl a survivor of Auschwitz said that not everyone who maintained hope survived, but absolutely everyone who lost hope died. Hopelessness kills! But to hope in the Lord is good!

Waiting in quietness is the next quality Jeremiah expresses as good. This quietness does not mean just shut your mouth and put up with whatever your troubles are. It doesn’t mean grin and bear it.”This quietness is a quietness of soul. It is a rest deep within, because God is in control even when we can’t tell what he is doing. Quietness tends to flee as soon as hope dissipates. Once we don’t have hope in God, we are no longer able to experience rest in our souls.

But when we wait quietly our testimony shouts to the world. When we can express rest in the midst of turmoil others take notice. This testimony of quietness provides opportunities for us to speak life and hope into other people.

This kind of quietness also frees us from our own broken efforts to avoid, assuage, or overcome the pain. I find myself quickly managing situations to mitigate fall-out. When I’m in pain, I just want something to make it feel better. Sometimes I cry out to God as if he’s a cosmic bottle of Advil ready to dose out pain relief at a moment’s notice. But waiting quietly means I cease my own striving, my own agenda, my own demands for pain relief.

Waiting may never feel good. But it is good when it is in hopeful quietness. It is good when God is recognized as merciful and compassionate. It is good when it testifies to others of God’s faithfulness. It is good when we can let God work in the wait instead of attempting to manage our own comfort.


God Surprises

I was at a Wycliffe Associates event out in Phoenix this past week end. Almost 200 people attended the event. On the first evening I was a table host for eight people. Only four seats were  taken as we prayed and began the meal. Then I saw a couple approaching. I looked up to greet them and froze in shock. They looked at me and started in recognition. These friends—Chris and Alexis–from Columbus, Ohio, I had not seen for more than a year and a half. And right behind them were two more friends—Brittney and Will!

“Tabitha!” They exclaimed! “We were just talking about you and wondering if you would be here!” I had no idea they were even on the invitation list. We celebrated our reunion and quickly caught up on news.

As the week end continued we found opportunities to connect, share God’s passion on our hearts, and inspire one another in our journey with God.

 I am awed by how God chooses to use us in each other’s lives. I love how he connects his body. The writer of Hebrews says this in chapter 10: 23-24: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…”  The blessing of re-connection this week end, has challenged my thinking again on this passage. How do we encourage one another regularly toward love and good deeds?

One obvious way we do this is by recounting the goodness of God to one another. As I share what God has done in my life with another believer, I am testifying to his goodness and his faithfulness. I am spreading the conviction. I am bolstering my friend’s faith.

Another way we do this is by listening as they share the goodness of God in their lives. As Chris and Alexis shared with me their wedding story (they weren’t even dating last time I saw them) I was awed by their purposeful missional focus during the ceremony.  I felt “spurred on” by their testimony.

We also encourage one another by sharing in fun times. During the week end we went out on a gondola ride together, sat around the pool, and star gazed from the rooftop at night. These simple times of rest and enjoying God’s creation, refreshed my soul.

And we encourage one another by praying with and for each other. As we said our good byes on Sunday, Chris said, “Let us pray for you before you go.” I gladly agreed. My heart and soul were touched by the power of God’s love as Chris prayed over me.

Finally, we spur one another on to good works by reminding one another of our common mission and future glory. Will has begun plans for a Scripture translation with Somalian refugees who live in his city.   Brittney is planning to work with Chris on a training event with their churches. We know the glory that awaits us. We expect His return. And we work together to invite as many as we can to join us in that expectancy.

I am not only encouraged and refreshed, I’m also reminded that God does His beautiful work in and through his children, not only to the world, but within his family! And I’m thankful to be a part of that kind of loving connection.

 

 


Celebrating 44 Years

Well I turned a year older last week. I often joke with my kids when they wake up on the morning of their birthdays, “Wow! Do you feel a year older? You look a whole year older!” to which they merely roll their eyes and smile. I’d prefer not to look a whole year older over night, now that I’m actually engaged in the “aging” process. But this year, as I felt the raw tug of angst over getting older, another thought caught me, I don’ have time to feel bad about getting old. I still have time to celebrate life. And I’m certainly young enough to embrace that!

That thought turned in my head until I began to ponder all the amazing blessings I’ve experienced in my forty-four years of life. And that prompted me to write it out. So here’s my list of 44 blessings from the past 44 years—not in any chronological order or order of importance, because I tend to be a random thinker.

1. Jesus—and yes, this is the best and most significant blessing of my life. Getting to know Jesus as a child and walking with him all these years has made life the celebration that it is for me.
2. Mom and Dad—my  favorite part of my parents’ lives is their dynamic love for Jesus. They pursue him with pure desire and joy, and compel me to do the same.
3. Waterfalls—because I love the thunder of their fall, and the spray on my face, and the breathtaking beauty of their wild descent.
4. Rivers—especially the Orinoco and it’s tributaries.
5. Rain—its splash on my face, its warm reassurance of life, its puddles and rivulets, and pounding.
6. Ocean waves—Their cadence, their foamy spray, their dependability.
7. My sisters—Lynn and Gail, I have a great imagination, but I can’t imagine life without you two!
8. My brother—George, I did somersaults when you were born, I was so happy to finally have  a brother.
9. Joel—you I have loved since childhood.
10. Mom and Dad Price—How you love and accept me, is something I hope to “pay forward” one day.
11. Scripture—so much depth, so much truth, washing my soul and cleansing my heart.
12. English—Over a million words, and 30+ phonemes! This language is amazing!
13. Books—I could make a list of 44 faves just from this one category.
14. Southwest Airlines—I love your service, your planes, your rewards points, and sending my kids to FL for free every summer!
15. Wycliffe Associates—never a dull moment pursing Jesus at breakneck speed, getting the Bible to the darkest places.

16. Travel!—21 countries and 41 states. I have a lot more to see.
17. Venezuela—mi hogar.
18. The jungle–I miss you.
19. Chocolate—especially dark chocolate with nuts, with fruit, with coconut, with salt, with coffee.
20. Coffee—yeah! You deserve your own spot on the list.
21. Childhood friends—so blessed by each of you who are still in my life
22. Grams—God took her home last year; I still thank him for all the ways she touched my life and formed me to love Him more.
23.Gramps—He’s been gone for awhile now, but I cherish all the ways he impacted my life—including coffee.
24. Flowers—especially the plethora of spring flowers bursting forth right now.
25. America—No matter where I go, I’m always thankful to come home to you.
26. Marshall—my firstborn. You love God in a way that makes me love him more.
27. Jaden—middle child who acts like a firstborn. Always independent. Always confident. Still picking to spend time with me.
28. Roman—My surprise who surprises me ever day.
29. The sky—on a clear day, full of clouds, or in the dead of night. I love you any which way.
30. Poetry—especially good poetry like “Stopping by the Woods…”
31. Languages—over 7000, and I only know 2!
32. Writing—you’re my muse.
33. Music—I can’t imagine life without it.
34. Nepal—the people and the mountains
35. Bible translation—and getting to be a part of seeing God’s Word break through in new languages.
36. International friends—too many to name, and part of my joy here is looking forward to eternity together
37. Mountains—with snow on top!
38. Sunshine—especially when it is also raining
39. Eternity—how I look forward to that.
40. Godly mentors—where would I be without your faithful love and presence?
41. Hope—in dark times, in sweet times, all the time
42. Family—both spiritual and blood
43. Imagination—I love envisioning what God has next!

44. God’s Faithfulness–None of this would amount to anything without Him.

This list is incomplete, but hey, I’m only 44, so that’s how many spots I get.  Just goes to show, God has blessed me beyond my years!


What do you do when you’re afraid?

Recently Roman and I were having a conversation about fear. We have memorized several verses on the topic so as I addressed those, Roman blurted out, “You can’t tell me it’s all going to be OK because I believe God! I mean it’s all over the Bible—stories of people who got hurt even though they loved God.”  At ten, he has already slammed into the realization that bad things happen—sometimes to people who are trusting God. And he is faced with the dilemma of the ages, “How can a good God who says he is trustworthy, allow bad things to happen?”

Starting from the premise that God is good and he is trustworthy, I attempted to remind Roman that no matter what bad things happen in this life, God has already corrected the worst “bad thing” so that when we die we will get to be with him. I reminded Roman that only in this life are there dangers and troubles. Only in this life can we be hurt, broken, and traumatized. Unfortunately, the idea of eternity is a bit ethereal for his ten-year-old mind. (And often for me and my much older mind.) He wasn’t convinced that the promise of eternity was enough to allay his fears in this life. So he said to me, “Mom, what do you do when you’re afraid?”

“I pray.” I told him. “I pray and tell God all the things I know are true from His Word. I say to him, ‘I know you have not given me a spirit of fear. You have given me love and, power and a sound mind. Please let me feel your love and power instead of this fear.’ And I remind myself that God is greater than Satan, that God has a good, eternal plan for me. All the things I tell you to do when you are afraid, are the things I do.” I assured him.

Later that day, I was looking into some recent information on sex offender residency restrictions and other laws that apply to sex offenders. I felt the fear rising in me as I read articles and researched these restrictions. We don’t know when Joel will be off probation and he may never be off the registry list, so these are issues that will affect us for the rest of our lives. My anxiety was on the rise, as were my feelings of resentment. Suddenly God brought back to my mind the things I had told Roman about what to do when you’re  afraid. A verse I recently memorized says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…” The picture I get of catastrophic geological collisions, matches the mental and emotional picture I sometimes imagine regarding our lives. This verse gave me courage to say,  “I will not fear, because God is my refuge and strength.” This earth may collapse—indeed one day it will. But my God has a plan that goes beyond this life, beyond this earth and its current systems. “Therefore, I will trust and not fear…”
What do you do when you’re afraid?


Don’t Kill Your Own Messiah

I just finished a course on New Testament interpretation. As I studied the four gospels I was continually amazed at the evidence that Jesus was the Messiah promised by the Old Testament prophets. But I was equally stunned by the stubborn rejection of his people. John so poetically notes, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not…” As I studied the position of the Pharisees, religious leaders and zealots for the purity of the Jewish religion, my soul heard the warning of past ages. How quickly these purists, these devoted followers of the one true God, fell for the lies of Satan.  Steeped in their own pride, they rejected the very Truth they proclaimed. And what about the Scribes, entrusted with the sacred task of preserving the Scriptures–the very Word of God–that appearing in flesh before them, they openly scorned. How could these who were saturated by the prophecies of old, kill their own Hopes? And again, the warning sounds.  Then there are the Sadducees, royalists, who longed for a political kingdom. Those who were sure God intended the supremacy of the Jewish nation in the kingdoms of the world through the priestly line of Aaron. Those who had come to seek satisfaction in the power of the world, forsaking any belief in a here-after. Perhaps they are the ones in which the slide is most obvious. But the warning still sounds. These, His own, received him not, because they were too busy promoting their own beliefs, assuring their own “holiness” and angling for their own high position. And so they missed out. 

Let us head the warnings, and be among those “as received him, to whom he gave power to become sons of God.”

Don’t Kill Your Own Messiah–for the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducee

You have a form that’s nigh airtight,
A series of commands,
A vision that is good and right,
You maintain pure hands.

You promote a hope eternal,
A promised Messiah to come,
Written in the prophet’s journals,
You await this holy one.

In Justice you aspire to walk,
The law must be revered,
You hold the masses to the dock,
And keep your own name clear.

But in your holy expectation,
Your ideal becomes your god,
And without one trepidation,
You call your Messiah a fraud!

You deny the resurrection,
And denounce the spirit realm,
You lavish your affection,
On your leader at the helm,

You claim a view of God,
Through the priestly line of old,
At the Pharisees you scoff,
And the pious Scribes you scold.

Your expectations lie at home,
You need no further hope.
And in your priests alone,
Lie the power that you stoke.

For the truth of His Word,
You do not have the time.
The ancient script is absurd,
And what can really be divine?
You find a path that you hold dear,
It seems right unto man,
What need of a Messiah here?
With politics at hand?

Don’t kill your own Messiah,
with your ritualistic rules,
Don’t kill your  own Messiah,
You rationalizing mules,
Don’t kill your own Messiah,
You hedonistic fools.

The path you forged is clear,
What you waited for has come,
But you don’t want to hear,
About the Holy One.
Come to bear your sins,
And heal the blind and dumb,
Inviting the broken in,
And bidding the burdened to come.

Oh what a sad illusion,
Timeless in its scope,
How quickly we buy confusion,
Man’s wisdom we call hope.


The Scarcity Lie

Recently a close friend of mine met up with me for a walk over our lunch break. When she asked me how I was doing, I replied, “Well, I don’t accept a poverty mentality as true, but I live daily refuting the lie that there isn’t enough. I struggle constantly to denounce the whispers that I don’t have enough time, enough help, enough resources, enough….you fill in the blank.”

I could spend this entire page writing out the places we are short, the areas where we don’t have enough. And yet, my confidence in a God of abundance, screams against that evidence. Have you ever found yourself here? I think it’s a common lie—one the enemy has been using for time immemorial to trap us in an endless cycle of want. Scarcity. It plagues us, even in our opulence. And the plague leaves us feeling desperate to hold on to what we have, to grab for what we don’t.

When we went to Venezuela in 2004, Jaden was almost three. We enrolled him in Venezuelan preschool where he heard Spanish all morning long. It was my hope that he would grow up learning both Spanish and English concurrently and so be bilingual. The first fruits of this effort, emerged one afternoon about a month after school started. The boys were running through the house, Jaden chasing his older brother, and shouting in Spanish, “No Marshall, mio!” (No Marshall, mine!) The first word I heard him use in his new language was an indicator of the scarcity mentality at work!

And yet the Psalmist cries out in praise to God, “You satisfy the longing heart. You fill the hungry soul with goodness.” And in another place, “You open your hands and satisfy the desires of every living creature.” Can I actually live my life driven by not having enough, when the God of the universe is pictured as opening his hands to satisfy my longing heart?

In the New Testament Paul tells the believers in Philippi, “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus.” He is merely echoing exactly what Jesus told his followers, “Look at the birds of the air…your father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Jesus told his followers to step out of the poverty mentality, to say no to the fear of not enough and to seek His kingdom first of all.

Right about now, you are probably afraid I’m going to start touting some “health and wealth” line, or a prosperity gospel that as Paul would say is “no gospel at all.” You might even be about to argue that the Scriptures I’ve quoted are speaking of spiritual blessings. Let me assure you that I am not interested in replacing one lie—the scarcity mentality, with another equally asinine one—health and wealth. Just because one is a lie, doesn’t mean the other is truth! Neither one fits what God tells us in His Word. The verses I have shared are about life, all of life, the spiritual aspects and the physical. God is our Jehovah Jirah—our provider, both of everything we need for an eternity with him, and all things temporal in the mean time. So if God knows exactly what we need, and he is an extravagant, loving and promise-keeping God, then why would I live trapped by a poverty mentality?

The only solution? Believe God for what he promises. Live with a thankful heart. Seek His Kingdom and his righteousness. And live from a mentality of abundance.