Monday, December 30, 2019

2020 "Receive Quest" Challenge—Mark 11:24

Last week, I was blessed with three books:

The New Testament and Wycliffe Bible Commentary
The New English Bible
Matthew and Mark—A Relational Paraphrase (Ben Campbell Johnson)

I immediately opened all of them to Mark 11:24, and it gave me an idea: What if I took one verse for one year and looked it up in every translation I could find?

Rather than just scribble in notebooks like I always do, it seemed easy enough to at least document the versions on a blog. I could work ahead and populate the versions, schedule them, and comment along the way. We shall see how that system works!


There are some motivating elements in play which may be of significance. This section will be updated (and hopefully expounded) when I have time.
  • I am on a slow-motion quest with this word: RECEIVE 
  • The quest began after I listened to a recording of my cousin being interviewed about his time in Heaven
  • I have a hunch that receiving is the same as the currently popular topic of manifesting
    • Note: I believe God's design is everywhere, and if something works, it's because of His under-girding design. 
    • Also of note: I believe the same design can work in negative or positive ways and in many cases is subject to our governance of it. (Example: Belief. Too much to say here, but may delve in more later.)


The white board hiding behind my office door holds little quest nuggets. It's very "organic" and not unlike a walk in nature where I might collect fallen leaves, stones, twigs, and photos of textures/colors/whatever captures my attention. These scribbles have already evolved quite a bit, but here's an image to document where they stand when my 2020 Challenge started. We shall see if it changes!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Emailing Jesus

Today I emailed Jesus. I asked for a calendar.

"Hello, Jesus ...
I noticed Janet had her new wall calendar up.
She mentioned that you have them.
Could I get a horizontal one, please?

Jesus is my Columbian coworker, not the Savior! It's pronounced differently, of course, so saying* his name is not odd. But as soon as I put "Jesus" in writing, things get amusing!

Instinctively, I began, "Hey, Jesus." Too casual. But "Dear Jesus," seemed too formal. I cycled through several options that all seemed weird. Ultimately I chose a simple "Hello." It seemed suitable for either a human or deity.

I know it's "just" a name for humans -- like John or Paul. But I really can't think of any other name I would have stumbled over like that.

Recently an inter-department envelope went around with a card for everyone to sign. We always have a sheet with when it is due back and a list of names to check off as it is passed along. Jesus' name was not alphabetized with the rest of us; It was at the top of the list. How funny! So I'm not the only employee who can't treat his name like everyone else's.

Occasionally, I get an email from Jesus. It makes me laugh every time. Sometimes Jesus invites us all downstairs for donuts. I like Jesus. :-)

Isn't that funny how much weight is attached to those five letters?

But on the other hand, seeing "Jesus" in the context of an email request caused me to back up a moment and consider the simplicity of asking: What if I approached Jesus Christ like I did my coworker?

"Hello, Jesus ...
I noticed Janet had her new roof installed.
She mentioned that You arranged it.
Could I get a solar one, please?

Biblical Jesus said, "I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you've received it, it will be yours" (Mark 11:24 NLT). [I know there is more to this passage (verses 22-26 in answer to Peter noticing the fig tree had withered and died) ... but really, not much!]

So do I believe Mark 11:24? My head jumps to, "YES! Of course!" I always assume I believe the Bible because I choose to do so ... but in a moment like this, I wonder where my believing is. It must be limited to my intellect (or "mental assent" as the late Brother Hagin would say) because I don't think I act the same way with the two different Jesuses!

When I emailed coworker Jesus, I didn't wonder if I would get a calendar. Really, the only question was how long until the calendar showed up! (And in his case, it was surprisingly fast. )

When I think of a similar request to Biblical Jesus, suddenly it gets pushed out into the "maybe" zone! I'm tempted to filter it through scriptures and rules or teaching messages to get a solid perspective on whether I could/should ask for any such thing and if I'm properly positioned to do so.

What would happen if I kept everything that simple -- as simple as a "Hello, Jesus" email?

Maybe that will be my New Year's challenge for 2020: K.I.S.S. E.J. (Keep It Simple, Silly. Email Jesus!)

*I find it ironically funny that my coworker's name when spoken sounds like "Hey, Zeus."

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Blank as Black, Bright as Light

Staring at this computer screen is remarkably like flying over the ocean at night . . . eerily blank, just in reverse. Flat, bright, silent white. In the air, one can see the last lights of land, a definite, glimmering line, and then it’s unapologetic black, blank space. Somehow everything seems suddenly hushed. Now in reverse, the light stares at me just as blankly as the darkness of night. No nothing. No blip. No emotions. No toppling opinions. No tears. Nothing.

Like any soul open to the expression of words, I wait.

Time passes.

I realize that my mind is not as quiet as I thought. My soul is silently restless. And even in this subtle commotion, no words or emotion come. In the face of nothing, it feels like I have nothing. And I am surprised! But I have a feeling there is a revelation in it. So I hold it toward the Lord.

I wait—with Him.

Oh, my Jesus. My precious Lord and Savior. Oh how beautiful it is that we can spend our days in communion with You. What a privilege. What an honor. What a joy! Your presence is sweet and powerful—both in one. It’s profound. It’s simple. It’s precious. How little we know! And yet how abundantly much we have and experience and come to know in You! May our eyes and hearts be open to so much more. May we breathe as one and share intimately this place of love. You, dear Father, are good. Your mercy endures forever. We march with Your banner over us, for we know Your love.

These are the things my spirit . . .


A thought came to me a second time with more fullness: forgiveness. The slate is clean. Blank.
I expected an upsurge of emotion after watching the movie Unplanned. I wondered at the cracking open of something shameful from my past. I went—unsure. Would I react to the reactions of others? Would they hate? Would they cheer? Would I react to what the film portrayed? Would it alienate? Would it blame? I did not expect to emerge unshamed.

My wound has healed. It doesn’t hurt to touch it. I don’t flinch at the light of truth. It has been handed to the Lord. The work has been done for some time. Like remembering a scar from childhood, it is a story in the timeline. I may bear the mark in my skin, but the sting of injury is long gone. To the touch it brings no knee-jerk pain. Now the memory can be used with intention and the story can become an example for others.

Monday, February 18, 2019


News of a dear soul passing to heaven reached me early this morning--the third of such people in recent days and weeks. I spent my waking hours tearbitten.

Tearbitten is my new word. I saw a word from scripture translated as hungerbitten. It doesn't need much definition, does it? Those hunger pangs nibble and bite. That's how tears feel this morning, a cry in response to the heart pangs.

Now I will say that the joyful side of heavenly entrance is very much a reality. And my tears are definitely selfish. I know this. :-) There is a beauty that resonates of a much different nature on that side of the scale.

If my cries could have resurrected someone, I would welcome that! They didn't even rouse my cat. It was all my soul pouring itself out. I'm not sure what I even want to say about that other than I want to write about it, and this is simply a draft at the moment. I may just need to acknowledge the moment while I can.

Something unfinished ... that's the ragged edge to my tears. Not just this morning, but in all three recent situations. For each one, my heart had previously been wanting to reach out--specifically, I wanted to write a letter (or text in one case). Regrets of the undone are the pangs, the piercings, the haunting sharpness.

Why am I so slow to respond? Why do I bow to procrastination? When did it get power in my life? Since when is my piddly day more important than reaching out to another human heart? Why am I timid about it?

Maybe the whys aren't important. Maybe just my recognition and awakening to this awful inversion is what counts.

I took it to the Lord in communion this morning. I judged myself of not following my inner urge to write when I could have shared my heart while a person was alive. (Not that my heart was important! Dear me. No! But that another person's life is important, and for me to take the time to acknowledge that and express my thankfulness for them.)

As I was trying to find words for a new commitment I could make with the Lord's help, I wondered silently why it was even a hint of a problem for me as I had a flashback to the times when letters from me were unfettered--free and lengthy outpourings of my heart. In that moment as if in response, I also recalled many experiences that targeted my words, hurt deeply, and caused me to restrain or second-guess (ultimately silencing) myself.

It answered my why.

As I sat with my communion elements, this time the breaking of the bread took on the significance of breaking that power over me. The body of my Lord broken for this ... for freedom from self-intimidation. After judging myself, I asked for forgiveness. I forgave those who contributed to the pressure that I responded to and shut myself down. I declared that power broken in my life. All in a gentle atmosphere of humility--acknowledging that I have no power in myself, but it's all God's doing and I welcome His work in my life to bring change, spark life, and spread His love.

I'm seeing such value (and challenge) in connection. We sure do need one another.

I want to look back and say that today is the day I leveled-up in life when it came to other people. It's another chip in the hermit-wishes (my mind gravitates toward being a hermit)! But most importantly, it's another day to step into the world bravely and see the hearts around me. It's another day to pick up my pen, put it to beautiful paper, and celebrate someone's life.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The 4 a.m. Lord's Supper

A recent article (future to the rest of the world, as it will be published in June) was the subject of discussion yesterday. Even though the suggestion had been submitted by the editor many times, when it came to her desk as an article, it was sobering.

We were discussing the impact. The focus was a passage in First Corinthians 11:23-32 about the Lord's Supper. The sobering part has to do with judging ourselves and discerning the Lord's body. "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep [are dead]," (vv. 29-30).

Verse 31 swoops in with a breath of fresh air: "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." I do believe I prefer to judge myself rather than to be chastened of the Lord! But even in that, He does it that we should not be condemned with the world. He is a beautiful, loving Savior.

In light of that, she shared some experiences and things she had witnessed. It inspired me. I had a plan. My intention was to come home after church, sit down to communion, and judge myself! I wanted to hit that cause of sickness and weakness, and eradicate it! I didn't. I ate a bunch of chicken and went to bed!

But I woke at 3 a.m. with the Lord's Supper on my mind. Our conversation yesterday brought up Smith Wigglesworth's practice of observing communion daily. I decided to do a bit of research. I came across this quote in an article on called Building a Wall Between You and Sin:
"The real change in Smith Wigglesworth did not come until he started getting up every day at 4 a.m. to take Communion.

"Like clockwork, every day he would begin the day remembering his covenant with Almighty God by taking the bread and the cup. Every day, he lived under the influence of that covenant. And every day, he became more and more bold - until, finally, he became one of the boldest men of God in history."
I looked at the time. I had 20 minutes until 4 a.m. I may as well launch this effort at 4 a.m. like Smith Wigglesworth! I gathered crackers, juice, and my Bible. I looked up scriptures and wrote them down on a card for future reference. But I spent my time in First Corinthians 11:23-32.

I got quiet. I asked the Lord to show me where and how to judge myself. When any specific situation came to mind, I apologized and asked for forgiveness. I repented for thinking low thoughts and asked Him to help me see things His way.

Then I thought about the setting in the scripture. Jesus, about to be betrayed, spent His last meal with the disciples and made a covenant. Knowing what was to come. Knowing His body would be broken. Knowing His blood was to be poured out. The blood of the new testament, the new covenant, His own "last will and testament" so to speak (but He would live again to oversee it). Wow.

So I spoke the words softly to myself before each element: "Take, eat: this is My body which is broken for you ..." I broke the cracker, and as I placed it in my mouth, tears came. "This cup is the new testament in my blood ..." The tears continued.

I don't know why I cry exactly. It seems like any time I am drawn out to God and express it somehow, tears are usually part of it. But in this moment, I don't even have the words as I reflect. It was simply a very personal time with Jesus . . . He and I connecting over covenant.

This will become part of my life, my dedication to Him. I will do this in remembrance of Him. I just don't know that I can consistently do it at 4 a.m. every day!

How slow do you want the fire to burn?

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