Sunday, March 13, 2011

Not by Bread Alone

"Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Matthew 4:4

That's a fascinating statement from the One who called Himself the Bread of life. Note the phrase by "bread alone." The idea here is that bread, by itself, cannot give us the full picture of God's presence with us. We have heard that statement so many times that it loses its stunning reality. Bread communicated presence to the Israelites. Bread was the means by which God communicated to the Israelites that they were not, in fact, alone. Bread was a physical symbol of the presence of God.

God was with Israel. He chose them, made them His beloved people, rescued them from slavery and made them into a great nation. They were a most insignificant of people, but He was with them and His presence made them great.

In Egypt, He called Moses and instructed him to make a Passover feast, with bread.

In the wilderness, He fed them with manna.

In the tabernacle, He instructed them to keep a Bread of the Presence on the table.

In the temple, He instructed them to have a Bread of the Presence on the table.

And then the Bread of the Presence, Emmanuel, came. He was God with us.

"The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

There is a profound truth in a simple loaf of bread: God is with us. He, who will make His own kingdom grow like leaven in a loaf, has broken the reign of sin in our lives. He who embraced Israel and led that nation embraces and leads us. He who understood their need for signs and symbols instructing them to keep feasts and celebrations understands our needs and instructs us in the Lord's Supper. He who said, "take and eat"...also said "this is My body." His sacrifice on our behalf was not happenstance, it was planned and calculated. He understood our great need for redemption and intercession. He was our high priest. The priest that offered up His own life as a sacrifice.

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."

He who promised is faithful. We are not alone. God is with us. Take and eat.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Morning Hike

Another Good Book Ya Gotta Read...

I just finished reading another excellent book by Paul Tripp. Regardless of your age, it's well worth the read. He writes compassionately and honestly and offers both encouragement and challenges to those who are in their middle years, doing what we all do at this time: evaluating our harvest. Here is an excerpt:

"As you stand at the center of this midlife moment, what do you see? What do you hear? If all you see is disappointment and loss, if all you hear are the sad songs of what once was or what could have been, then you need to listen again. Within your loss there is a God of amazing grace to see, and woven together with your sad songs you can hear the celebratory music of redemptive grace. The note of disappointment , regret, weakness, decay, defeat, restoration, reconciliation and sight are not parts of another song. They are each a part of God's symphony of grace and redemption."

I bought this book because I knew it would be challenging and perfectly geared to this time in my life. But, I'm not at all unhappy with my life. No regrets. Life is hard and I've had my share of hard knocks, but God is so good. Once again, Paul Tripp challenged me to grab each moment of life with redemptive hands.
Saturday morning hike.

The Lanikai mokes.

In the distance on the right is the lighthouse where we took our last hike.

Island Adventurers!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Hike

Look out below!

The view from the top of our hike.

Not a starfish, a plant that grows along the trails.

Can you see the whale? They come to Hawai'i to birth their young at this time of year.

As we ascend the trail, we see this lovely valley.

thy will be done, a supposal

I'm sitting in the subway station. There's been a terrible accident. All the lights are off and it is completely silent. My i-phone won't light up but, fortunately, I can still text in the dark. If you receive this message, please call 911 and tell them to find me. I'm somewhere under New York City in the subway station. I don't know exactly where because I got into an annoying conversation with a woman at 5th and Madison. She was a Christian. They drive me crazy. She sat next to me and smiled, that smug little smile. She was reading C.S. Lewis, the atheist who lost his nerve. I asked her if she was a Christian.

"Yes, I am. Are you?"

"No, religion is a crutch. I want to face reality on my own," I told her.

"Funny," she said,"that's what this author used to think."

"Yeah, I know, he got conned." She needed to hear the truth, poor girl.

"Actually, no. He fought it for years but gave in to reason. He came to faith because he had no other rational choice. He realized that he had spent his life either being mad at God for not being there or mad at God FOR being there. The crux of it all was that he was mad at God because God was real."

"No, it's a wish. We're just a cosmic accident and you're too chicken to accept it."

"No, THAT'S a wish. You do realize that it's easier to believe that we're an accident, and not responsible for anything, right? THAT's the cop-out, not Christianity. And you do realize that there aren't enough numbers to describe the odds of creating a universe like ours by accident, right? "

"Ludicrous," I told her. "Christianity is a farce. A story made up by frightened disciples."

"Really? Then where's the body?"

"The what?"

"The body. If it was a story, it could have easily been quieted by showing the body, something the Romans would have loved to do. The Roman Empire searched far and wide for that body, but they couldn't find it...Why? What if He really did rise from the dead and ascend to Heaven?"

"What? You've got to be kidding."

"Think about it. The Romans were invincible, they could have stopped the Christians...why didn't they? And those frightened disciples became emboldened and wisened and were also put to death...yet they were unafraid. One of Lewis' friends challenged him with this question: What if it really happened? Then what?"

"Well, I don't know. I don't believe in that Heaven and Hell stuff...just a bunch of morality and fear in my opinon."

"Well, if God is real and all good, then the place where He is is going to be all good. That sounds like Heaven to me. And if He is all good, then the place where He isn't, is going to be awful. That sounds like Hell. C.S. Lewis described Heaven as a place where all the inhabitants declare to God THY will be done whereas Hell is a place where God says to the inhabitants, thy will be done. What if God is real and He wanted to give you a choice about knowing Him. What if Heaven is the better choice and Hell is the choice where you get to have it your way, eternity without Him. That's not a moral prod, it's a relationship choice. Have you ever read the Old Testament?"

"You mean the New Testament, right, the one about Christ."

"No, you should read the Old Testament. The entire Old Testament contains thousands of clues that Jesus Christ is the coming Messiah. These clues are what turned those frightened disciples into daring men of faith. If you read, for instance, Psalm 22 it would frighten the living daylights out of you."


"Because it refers to the death of Christ, by crucifixion almost a thousand years before He came and before the Romans invented that form of death. Is that an accident? I don't think so. It's the solution to the mystery before the mystery is even understood. Personally, I think that Christianity is real and you're too chicken to admit it."

"Ahh, turning the tables. Very clever."

"Perhaps. Or perhaps it's true. You really should do some soul searching my friend. May God bless you and reveal Himself to you. Have a nice day." Then she gathered her things and got off at the next stop.

Soul searching my foot. That woman was blind. She's the one with the problem not me.

Right then all Hell broke loose on the train. It crashed suddenly, I think it collided with another one. The roof caved in. Everyone was screaming, lights were flashing, people were crying, praying, and running until the darkness came. Darkness. That's all I've seen. I suppose all the other people are dead. It's wierd, I can't find a soul, can't smell a thing, or even hear anything but my own thoughts. It's lucky I have my phone, even though it doesn't work.

Wait a minute. I think I hear something. I think I see something, too. I'm walking in the tunnel of darkness here. I suppose any second I'll trip on a dead body. I seem to hear faint voices and see a faint light...I've been walking for what seems like an eternity now. The light is closer, it's hurting my eyes. I can hear the voices...they're...singing. And the's peaking through some cracks the way sun rays peak through rain clouds. I'm getting closer. I can see the cracks. Wait, they're letters...something has been carved in the floor of my says..."thy will be done."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Visions of Heaven

When my mom had a heart attack many years ago, I remember sitting in the waiting room, talking with my aunt and realizing that I knew every word she was about to say. I had had this conversation before. I remembered waking up one morning and being very confused about the grey interior of the room, the seriousness of the situation and why I was talking to my aunt. Weird.

That's happened to me again and again: De ja vu. Some believe that it means that we have lived more than one life and we are cycling again and again through it, so we remember the event in the next life. I don't buy that. Some say that it's a chemical reaction that makes us believe that we had that experience before when in reality we haven't. I don't buy that either. These visions are about very specific events, conversations, and details that could never be predicted and have no associations. I am not looking for them. I am often in the middle of something and am surprised to find that I know the next thing that's going to happen because I had dreamed a small portion of it earlier. Sometimes I will wake up and think, "Where in the world did that come from? I've never been to that person's house, country, etc." Strange, really. If you're reading this, you either understand what I'm talking about or you think I'm losing it. You are either clairvoyant or you are not. I wonder if this is what people mean when they say, "The Lord spoke to me in a dream..."

Several years ago I had a dream that I was dancing in a tropical kind of place and there was a mirror with a fancy dress, a tacky scarf, an oversized handbag. Weird. Many years have passed since then. Last month, on a Tuesday afternoon, I went to my Zumba class at the YMCA and ended up in the back row. It was crowded. I didn't mind. In the back row, you can see the palm trees and the mountains through the windows. A little Hawai'i, a little salsa, and loud music. Just right. And then I turned to the left. There it was: the dress, the scarf, the bag, hanging on the mirror because my Zumba friend didn't want to put it in her locker. Though I never gave the dream another thought after that first morning, I instantly remembered waking up in my bedroom in Maryland wondering what in the world that was all about ( I never would have worn that dress with that scarf, I had never been to a tropical place). I remembered being confused and brushing it off as I sipped my morning tea. And there I was that Tuesday, several years later, in a place I never expected to be, being reminded that God knew the plans He had for me before I was born.

I don't think those visions are a chemical reaction. I think they are visions from Heaven from a loving Father reminding me that He is with me and in me, before me, behind me. My Zumba instructor is very good because right before the music changes, she tells us the next move so we know what to do. I think that's what those visions are about: God is telling me that life is coming around the corner, don't forget the next move: Trust in Him. He has a plan.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Sometimes in relationships, we see the wrong side of each other.
Redemption is about turning over a new leaf.

Jon found this shell on our cross country drive. Shawn made it into a necklace.

Dave and Daniel rest after a 4 hour hike in the mountains.

The spiral is the shape of galaxies, shells and this unfolding fern.

So much of life feels like an interruption to what we'd rather be doing. I'd rather be gardening or cooking but instead the Lord has called me to write chants and grade papers. In the midst of the myriad of tasks, at the most critical moments, I am often interrupted by conflict. Perhaps it was a careless word, a careless glance, or a careless error but nonetheless, it falls upon me to intervene. Someone has been hurt. Someone has hurt them. What do I do? It's at these pivotal moments where we are the most useful to the actual purpose of our lives; redemption. We think that our purpose is found in our pursuits and our pleasures, but in reality, our purpose is to bring redemption to hurting souls. The interruptions are not interruptions at all, they are the actual purpose of our lives. The children on the playground, the kids in the backyard, they all need to be redeemed from the hurt of conflict, the pain of harsh words. At the point that I choose to focus on them instead of the papers, dishes or plants in my hands, I am actually choosing to be uninterrupted from my purpose. The time of teaching our children how to listen to one another, how to own their mistakes and how to forgive is worth every second. Life is short, not a second to lose. I'm often tempted to ignore the problem or worse, to tell them to be quiet so I can do my work, but that is not the right response. At the moment when a relationship needs mending, THAT is my work. It is not an interruption. I must choose to help them work through it graciously and lovingly.
Today, one of my students was making a priority out of distracting others while I was teaching them about the Persian Wars. I asked to speak to him in the hall. Our conversation went like this:
"What were you doing?"
"I was talking."
"Are you supposed to be talking?"
"I was talking to myself."
"Yes, but the three other boys next to you heard you and were distracted and told you so. Are you supposed to be distracting others?"
"No, but I was talking to myself."
"The boys next to you did not feel that you were talking to yourself, they thought you were talking to them. This looks an awful lot like you got caught talking to them and are afraid of getting in trouble.
Child bursts into tears...
I placed my hand on his shoulder and looked into his teary brown eyes, "Are you crying because I'm right, or because I'm wrong?"
Sobbing, "Because you're right!"
At this point, I bent over and got face to face, "And do you know that this disobedience and covering up with excuses is the very reason that Jesus died for you?"
Sob, sob, sob.
"Would you like to thank Him now?"
"Yes, Dear Jesus, Thank you. I'm sorry."
"Amen." We hugged. "Feel better now?"
"Let's go back to class."
So-called Interruption: 5 minutes
Cost of redemption: Priceless