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The Blankets of My Jesus

The Blankets of My Jesus

Jesus, You left the comforts of Heaven

forsaking  the throne for a feeding trough.

You needed a comfort blanket

to stay warm through the night.

Kissable cheeks of flesh

Totally God, Totally Man


Growing, you left the comfort blanket

to follow the heavenly Father’s voice.

You stooped to earth

healing some on blankets

proving your deity

one touch at a time.


Your obedience led to a beating, undeserved

No blanket, just a purple robe of mockery.

Then stripped naked, ashamed, you hung for me

while  those gambled for your clothes at the base of the tree.

Torn flesh, your blood running down

You became my sin, a blanket for my shame.


When death laughed in your face

You faced the Father’s judgment

And powerfully rose

To mock death’s sting

Even today, I need your blanket of grace

To comfort me ‘til I see you again

Turkey Talks

Turkey Talks

I love Thanksgiving for many reasons.   I love the laidback schedule (when I’m not hosting): family gathers, eats lots of delicious food, younger people play, older people rest (I’m now in this category), eat dessert, “watch” football (fall asleep sitting up), eat again (even though we’re not even hungry), pack up leftovers, say goodbyes.  I love the laughter of reminiscent stories (many we share every year). 

I love the noise of cousins playing (I’m the aunt/mom now; I miss playing with my cousins).  I love the Fall decorations, the pumpkins and cornucopias.  I love the mixed smells of pumpkin pie and green bean casserole.  But, I especially love turkey, not necessarily the taste or smell of turkey, but the “turkey talks” I’ve had through the years. 

The first several “turkey talks” were as a girl with my grandmother.  She made the turkey every year. My mom would bring a side dish or two.  But, we never had to worry about the turkey.  

I loved arriving to my grandmother’s house in time to watch her carve the turkey.  The sound of the electric knife, and the smell of perfectly cooked turkey (only occasionally dry, when she got distracted by seven grandchildren fighting over who got to lick the beater of the mashed potatoes) meant the feast was almost ready. 

I would eat from the relish and vegetable trays and watch the last step, the making of the gravy. As I got older, she sometimes let me stir the gravy and test the turkey.  I loved my “turkey talks” with my grandmother on Thanksgiving Day.  God used a turkey to deepen our relationship.

Years later, I had “turkey talk” with a good-looking man.  He found out a need (another story I won’t share now) of a single mom and her two young children. He asked me to go with him to the store to gather ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal to take to the family. 

I had never fixed a turkey before. I only observed the finished product and carving, so I had no idea where to start.  We asked every older lady we saw what we needed to fix a turkey.  

After several “Well, Honeys” or “Well, Dears,” we had gathered a turkey, turkey bag, foil, turkey baster, turkey pan, turkey seasonings, turkey timer, meat thermometer.  I look back now and wonder, was the lady overwhelmed with all our turkey paraphernalia?  

Sadly, she might have known as much as I did.  This “turkey talk” was the beginning of our “dating” (He called it a date.  I didn’t.  He didn’t have to pay for anything!), and eventually I married this sweet, thoughtful man.  God used a turkey to begin our relationship.

After a few years of marriage, my husband started getting a turkey each year from work as a gift.  We also began trading holidays with our families, so I no longer spent every Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s. 

The first few years I would send the turkey with my mother-in-law to cook. I finally decided I should try to cook the turkey myself.  I remember my husband had to remind me to take out the “pocket of treasures” stored in the bottom of the turkey.  Other than that, I don’t remember any significant problems. 

We actually ate the turkey I made.  I’ve tried new recipes about every year.  I like to “turkey talk” with others about their favorite turkey recipes.  God used a turkey to enjoy my relationships.

Last year was another “turkey talk” first.  My friend from India asked me to help her prepare her first turkey.  I enjoyed going to her house and taking her step-by-step through the process.  I laughed thinking about how far I had come with cooking turkeys. 

I began watching, than shopping, next cooking, and finally teaching. God used a turkey as a bridge to build our relationship and gave me an opportunity to share His good news. Even today, I laughed when a friend called me about cooking her first turkey.

I love turkeys!  God has used turkeys several times in my life.  As I wrote about my progression with turkeys, I thought about my relationship with Christ.  Similarly, I started as an observer.  Next, like shopping, I gathered the information (truth of God’s word).    Later, like the first time I cooked my own turkey, I took my own step of faith.  Finally, like sharing my turkey recipes and experiences, I shared my faith with others. 

Where are you in this “turkey talk” process?  Let’s talk turkeys sometime. 

Misunderstanding John 3:16

Misunderstanding John 3:16

I initially titled this blog “Stop John 3:16 Overuse.”  I realized, however, that we should never stop sharing this verse.  This most quoted, most famous scripture of the entire Bible gives hope to all those who believe it.  But can everyone understand, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” as a “stand alone” verse?

We use this verse as an all encompassing verse about the good news about Jesus.  It is.  We print the verse alone and plaster it around the world as if everyone who reads it will understand the meaning.  But do they?  Let’s consider how some people may misunderstand John 3:16 based on their religious perspectives.

1) Jews. Imagine the scene when Jesus spoke “John 3:16” for the first time to Nicodemus, a Jew. Jesus had just introduced the concept of a spiritual birth vs. a physical birth. Perplexed by this concept, Nicodemus then heard Jesus say “John 3:16.”  With this verse, Jesus introduced the concept of God having a spiritual son. This radical doctrine went beyond the Jewish teaching “There is only one God.”  Obviously, they didn’t understand the new revelation of God’s character. God revealed Himself as One God, yet three persons (the Father, the Son, the Spirit).  The Jews’ idea of Messiah being a human vs. God explained the tension when Jesus claimed to be both the Messiah and God.   Jews would turn a deaf ear towards the message of John 3:16 with its use of “only begotten Son.” With Jewish friends, be prepared to share the scriptures of Jesus claiming to be God and the Messiah.

2) Muslims.  The Muslims may have a similar reaction to John 3:16 as the Jews in Jesus’ day.  If we use John 3:16 to tell a Muslim about Jesus, they hear begotten Son and say, “No way.   God is one.  He doesn’t have a son.”  And they think calling Jesus the Son defines Him as a separate God, making followers of Jesus polytheists.  For these reasons, John 3:16 isn’t a good “stand alone” verse for Muslims.  With Muslim friends, be prepared to share the meaning of God the Father and God the Son as a spiritual relationship, not a physical relationship.

3) Hindus. With the various gods they worship, the concept of God with a capital “G” doesn’t exist.  And could God have a son?  To take it further, John 3:16 promises eternal life through belief in this Son of God. They would not agree with this verse based on their “works based” paradigm for attaining spiritual completeness.  And eternal life sometimes seems unattainable for them as they strive to end the reincarnation cycle.  The Buddhist, of course, also would fit into this category.  John 3:16 would not be understood without further explanation.  With Hindu and Buddhist friends, be prepared to explain the Bible as the word of God (singular) and what the Bible teaches about reincarnation (false, of course).

4) Mormons.  Sadly, a Mormon would agree with your quotation of John 3:16.  However, they interpret the scripture differently. They wrongly use the words, “only begotten Son” to support their belief that God created Jesus.  They use this verse to say, we too, can become sons of God and literally gods by a works-based system.  This very simplified explanation of one aspect of their beliefs demonstrates the need for explanation of John 3:16, not just merely posting it around.  With Mormon friends, be prepared to explain the Trinity and why Jesus needed to die for sins. Their works based system doesn’t leave room for a faith based Savior.

5) Jehovah Witness.  Their version of the Bible, The New World Translation, sounds very similar to ours.  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”  So, they may even agree with the verse.  However, they don’t believe Jesus was God.  Therefore, this scripture has a different meaning to them.  They don’t believe in faith alone to receive Jesus as their Savior.  As another work-based religion, be prepared to share about faith vs. works with a Jehovah Witness friend.

6) Atheist.  It’s obvious that the word “God” would easily turn off the atheist to the truth in this verse.  How can someone accept the truth of God’s word if they don’t believe in God?  These friends need a listening ear.  There is usually something in their past that turned them against God.  Asking questions about justice and supreme goodness may tear down their walls of disbelief.  With time, prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, John 3:16 may be a great verse to use.  But, initially it could be a great stumbling block.

As you can see, people can have various misunderstandings of John 3:16.  Even though I love John 3:16 and the hope it gives to all people, I must discern when to quote it.   Knowing what others believe helps me understand what to clarify when I share John 3:16.

When we see John 3:16 posted somewhere, we should turn to the reader like Philip did to the Ethiopian eunuch and ask, “Do you understand what you are reading?”   His or her response may be the same, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?”   Followers of Jesus, be prepared to guide others in the truth of the Bible.  Their eternity depends on it.

Parenting and Syria

Parenting and Syria

Parents, you know you’ve done it.  You’ve given a threat to your child, hoping it would break the monotonous strong-willed fit.  A threat you just knew would stop the madness.  And then it happens.  Your child acts as if you hadn’t spoken a word.  They continue down the path of disobedience with no chance of letting down.

It took me forever to think of an example because my children are perfect (sarcastic).  Ok.  Here’s one.  One of my daughters decided to hold her ground on a wrong behavior.  After several attempts to give her choices to change her mind,  I threw out, “If you don’t stop, you will not get to go to your friend’s birthday party.”  I know,  Ridiculous!  But, I really thought it would work.  So when she decided to ignore my request, I had a decision.  Do I make her stay home from a birthday party?  Do I affect another child that had nothing to do with this punishment?

What would you have done?  I’m sure there are 1000 choices.

I know every good parenting book says to make a boundary and stick with it.  If you don’t, threats are just that, ONLY threats.  If you give threats and never follow through, children begin to ignore you and disrespect your authority.

But, what if you made the boundary in anger, or exaggerated the punishment thinking you will never have to follow through.  Do you have to hold your end of the bargain?  Or, can you show mercy?

Some questions I ask myself when I access punishments (the questions I should ask BEFORE I give the ”if, then” statements):

1) Did I exaggerate the threat, thinking it would influence change?

2) Does the punishment fit the crime?

3) Am I punishing myself?

4) Did I make my decision out of anger?

I’ve also learned through the years that it’s ok to tell your child you’ve made a mistake.  To admit imperfection:

1) Helps children see parents aren’t perfect.

2) Helps children see themselves as imperfect, too.

3) Gives a great example!  Admit wrongs and ask for forgiveness.

4) Helps children know realistic expectations.  Parents don’t expect them to act perfectly.  But, they do expect them to change their behavior and ask for forgiveness from whomever they hurt.

So what did I do when I needed to keep my daughter home from a birthday party for punishment? I’m not saying I did the right thing, but I tried to make the best decision after reevaluating the situation.

She only got to go to the birthday party for the last 20 minutes, or so.  She gave her friend the gift and told her she was sorry she couldn’t come earlier.  I didn’t make her say why in front of everyone, but her mom told her later.  Thankfully, there were several other friends at the party so my daughter wasn’t missed as much as at a small party.

I didn’t follow through with my original threat.  But I did still use the party as a punishment.  I could have changed her punishment, which I occasionally do.  When I have to change the punishment, I definitely explain why my first choice wasn’t going to work.

I’ve also learned that I can’t enforce all my rules on other people’s children.  When someone’s child comes to play, I hope they will act nicely.  But on occasion, I realize other children need correction, too.  I can’t use the same punishments I do with my children (they don’t have a bedroom at my house to send them to, thankfully).  And sometimes, it’s best to just send them home.

So, what does this “parenting” post have to do with Syria?

First , let me preface.   I told myself that I would never discuss politics in my blog. I’m also glad I’m not in President Obama’s shoes, making huge decisions that affect the whole world.  I don’t have the answers, just questions.

What questions should the U.S. ask about the Syria crisis?

Would my parenting questions apply?

Are exaggerated threats given in hopes of influencing behaviors?

Is Syria U.S.’s problem? Or, is it like a child that doesn’t play by the rules and sent home?

Does the punishment fit the crime?

Are innocent people affected?

Are we punishing ourselves?

Are we making decisions out of anger?

And how does a delayed decision play into the whole process?  Is it wisdom?  Is it weakness?

What do you think?

When I pray for wisdom with parenting and for our nation’s leaders, I rely on the Word of God (Bible).

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (NASB)

Unsafe Prayers

Unsafe Prayers

My three girls go back to school next week.  I can’t believe another summer break has come and gone.  I will have a 7th grader, a 5th grader, and a 2nd grader.    With a new school year come many changes: new classes, new teachers, new classmates, new schedules, and new prayers.  Prayers for safety, perfect teachers, perfect friends, perfect bus-riding buddies.  And I’m comfortable praying “safe” prayers (when God answers “yes” to all my “perfects”).  I’ve even prayed  safe prayers with other moms at “Moms in Prayer “(formerly “Moms in Touch”) the last three years. 

So what happens when God decides to use school as a “growing faith” place for our children.  Do we pray for them to be rescued?  Or, do we pray for them to learn in the battle?  Just think about what our children could learn this year in “not so perfect” situations. 

When our children are bullied, they learn to forgive and show love like Jesus did. 

When our children’s teacher is unfair, they learn to submit to authority.

When our children’s friend has a different faith, they use apologetics (defending our faith).

When our children have difficulty with friends, they learn to compromise and become peacemakers.

When our children have difficulty with a new class, they learn perseverance.

When our children don’t get the classes they want, they must choose joy. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not praying specifically for these “not so perfect” situations for my children.  But, I do want to pray “surrendered prayers” for my children (prayers surrendering my control over my children to God’s control over my children). 

Henry and Richard Blackaby in“Experiencing God Day by Day” wrote a devotional about Caleb’s faith.  When the Israelites divided the land, Caleb asked for a mountain.  “If you always choose the easy way, asking for the peaceful valleys, you will never see God’s power displayed to enable you to take the mountain.” 

Our children may face many mountains this school year.  I may be stepping out on a limb here.  But, what if I go so far as to not pray for the “perfects” anymore (unsafe).    I’m realizing that praying surrendered, unsafe prayers (leaving total control to our heavenly Father) are actually the safest prayers we could pray. 

What do you pray for your children?

Is it difficult to pray surrendered prayers? Why?  Why not?