The alarm on my phone is far more cheerful than I feel. No swiping for a snooze today. Since the kids are older, the pace is less frenetic, but we still have much to do before we lock the door behind us. We always leave late despite my best efforts. I carry my coffee to the car in my regular ceramic cup rather than taking time to transfer it to something with a lid.
I try to quiet my mind on the drive, and we’re careful not to argue or fuss at the children regardless of how the morning went. We split from the kids as soon as we walk through the church doors. Continue reading →
I recently came upon a delightful challenge to biblical meditation specially tailored for us #wordnerds. The challenge is to rewrite Psalm 23 alliteratively, that is, using a single letter for as many words as possible. I’m currently working on Q, and I’ll add it at the bottom when I’m finished. But in the meantime, here’s my meditation using the letter S. I hope it blesses you. Find L and G at the link above.
Today (2/2) is my birthday. Yes, it’s Groundhog’s Day. No, I don’t like the movie.
As a child, I didn’t like the location of my birthday on the calendar. I never had a birthday party because snow was always a possibility. But as an adult, I like my close-to-the-new-year birthday. A birthday is a far more significant, more personal event than the arbitrary new year determined by Julius Caesar in bc45. IMO, it should be the first day of spring, a time of new life, green growth, Easter, etc. But alas, I don’t run the planet.
Resigned to leaving New Year’s Day in January, I use that month to reflect on the previous and coming years. Then I mark my personal new year on my birthday and work from there. Continue reading →
It’s the week before Jesus will be crucified. A couple of days earlier, he came into Jerusalem like a triumphant king (Mark 11:1-11). You can bet the religious leaders (of every stripe) heard about that! Jesus spends these days in Jerusalem, often in the temple courts. The religious leaders come at him like waves of the ocean.
Mark 11:27-33 (if you want to look it up): The chief priests, teachers, and elders ask him about his authority, and he entangles them in their own reasoning.
Mark 12:13-17: The Pharisees and Herodians (a group of influential Jews who supported Rome) question him about taxes, and Jesus comes back with that oft-quoted line, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17 ESV).
Mark 12:18-27: The Sadducees, having seen him shut down two groups already, think they have a better question. They pose a scenario about marriage and resurrection. Odd because Sadducees don’t believe in resurrection (Mark 12:18). Jesus used Scripture to refute their whole premise.
Three waves, three groups of scholars, and none of them could entangle or confuse Jesus. Continue reading →
Since before I wrote Walls and Weapons in October, we’ve been singing “Do It Again” from Elevation Worship at church. (The first line is about walls. It’s an obvious connection.) The bridge goes like this:
I’ve seen you move, you move the mountains, and I believe I’ll see you do it again.
Well, the walls I described back in that October post are still standing. The mountain that needs to move isn’t gone. As we sang this song again on Sunday, I mentally reminded the Lord that, while I absolutely believe He’ll “do it again,” we’re still waiting. Immediately, this phrase came to my mind:
There’s more than one way to move a mountain.
I stopped singing. My mouth may have hung open. The wheels in my brain started turning, and images began to cycle…images of the many ways mountains can be moved.
The Grand Canyon is the product of erosion. So are most cave systems and the smooth tops of the Appalachian Mountains. Slowly and steadily, wind and/or water wear away at soil, rock, and everything else, turning jagged edges smooth, wearing towers down to nubs. You can’t watch it happen, but you can clearly see evidence of it.
Sometimes our problems very gradually dissipate as “springs of living water” (Revelation 7:17, also John 4:14) flow in and around us. The key is to keep the water flowing, that is, to stay close to Jesus. We’ve seen the smoothing of some rough edges on our mountain, making it a little easier to manage every day.
I love heavy equipment! (How could I not have any photos?!?) A bunch of bulldozers and dump trucks can roll in and remove a mountain in a matter of weeks. It’s not pretty and may not be good for the environment (e.g. strip mining), but it’s possible.
We can move our spiritual mountains through the application of human resources, too.
Doctors and medicines
friends lending their services
all help us tackle the mountains in our lives. After praying for God to move our particular mountain, He has guided us to some heavy equipment to tackle part of the job.
The mountain’s environment: Beavers chop down trees to make dams that back up streams. Birds carry away twigs for nests and deposit seeds that become trees. Moles tunnel through the ground, loosening soil that the wind blows away. Men clear space for roads and fields. Many factors alter or remove small parts of the mountain.
As our environment changes, our mountain changes. It wears down. It loosens up, making erosion easier. Some small things have changed, some small steps have been taken so that the mountain is looser. It’s a little easier to live here now, and it may come down more quickly in the future.
The believer’s environment: It’s also possible to simply move away. Maybe the mountain doesn’t need to move as much as we need to move out of its vicinity. A change in our environment produces the same results as moving the mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro doesn’t look quite as impressive from one hundred miles away.
We’ve changed a few things around here (and stood firm on a few other things) to get a better perspective on our mountain. While we can’t move, we’ve learned to simply look in a different direction occasionally by getting away for a vacation or holiday.
Very rarely, the earth shakes and the mountain crumbles—gone in a matter of minutes. That’s entirely the hand of God. Earthquakes are dangerous for miles, the land often racked with instability and aftershocks. (Kinda thankful I don’t have any first-hand photos of earthquakes.)
When Jesus talked of moving
mountains, He was thinking
about motives, not methods.
It seems I was looking for the earthquake or some miraculous disappearing act—a heavenly sleight of hand—that would solve our situation without much work or patience on my part. Clearly, that’s not God’s only way to work.
When Jesus talked of moving mountains, He wasn’t worried about methods, just motives.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. –Matthew 17:20
So I’m willing to wait and watch, knowing God has a purpose in the methods He’s using for us. Because God does move mountains, one way or another.