Month: March 2014

Happy Birthday, Jenny

The stories your mom and grandma tell about your childhood makes me wish I had known you back then. From the toddler who cried and wanted to send her new baby sister back to wherever she came from, to the adolescent who declared that she would one day become a Supreme Court Justice, you sound like a fun child to be around.

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But I will always remember the first time we met. I’d been hearing about you from Bobby for a few weeks…

“Mom, there’s this girl I’m seeing. We’re going out again.”

“I think I might stay in Champaign this summer, is that OK?”

“She’s pretty special, I think you should come down and meet her”

And so we did. And, we fell in love with you, too.

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Jenny, you are the perfect fit for Bobby. Your personalities complement each other and you bring out the best in him. You challenge him to be all that he can be. You support him in his endeavors whether it is tinkering around the house, or developing a deeper love for the Lord and serving God. You are truly Bobby’s “Helper”

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” – Genesis 2:18 NLT

We loved visiting our newlyweds in your first apartment in Evanston. As a new bride, working your way through law school, you always had time for Bobby and our family. And, what a joy it was when Bobby had all of us down for your graduation celebration. He is so proud to be your husband!

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Jenny, of the many things I admire about you there are two that stand out: Your gracious personality and your loyalty to those you love.

You are gracious: You forgive offenses quickly. You always put other people first. You work hard to maintain and strengthen relationships. You serve the Lord willingly. You try to see things from God’s perspective. And you always have time for what is important.

Your loyalty to your family is observable in your words and actions. You and your sisters have each others’ backs no matter what. You look for the best in each other and you quickly give the benefit of the doubt. Your devotion to your family is admirable. Your unending prayers for them are a testimony to your faith in God.

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But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. – Psalm 103:17-18 NIV

Your mom and dad must have done many things right to raise a young woman who loves both them and the Lord so deeply.

I am so thankful that you are a part of our family. As you know, I have prayed for you since before I met you. It is my privilege to continue to pray for you, both as your mother-in-law and as your friend.

Religion vs. Science?

I saw a post similar to this on Social Media recently:

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It caused me to ponder what was being communicated. And, I have to agree with the person who posted it. Who wants a “religion” that breaks people down just so that it can lift them up? Not me! And to what does it lift us: a commitment to try harder to be good, better, or perhaps best? That’s not for me either.

But, I did an inventory:

Am I broken? No, I live in a broken world that will chew me up and spit me out. It will use me and then discard me. I have experienced that. I have also experienced holding the hands of friends who’ve lost a child, a husband, a job, self-respect, marriage, home, you name it. I have comforted other friends who’ve been broken by abortion, rape, incest, and even satanic religious ceremonies. We live in a broken world. It breaks people.

Am I flawed? Who isn’t? Ask anyone, especially the person who loves you the most, if you have any flaws. You do. I do.

Am I sinful? It’s so much nicer to ask “do I make errors or mistakes?” Yes. I do. Sometimes I lie, cheat, put myself above others, envy, or wish another person ill will. I confess, I’ve even said, “I could just kill her/him/them!”

Am I dumb? No. I have a degree. I teach. I study. People come to me for advice. I am most certainly not dumb. Well, in some areas I am, don’t ask me about math.

Am I weak? I am very strong willed! But, yes, sometimes I am weak. I cry when I miss my dad. I cry when I think of my children moving hundreds of miles away. Sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed and face the day. I don’t have all the answers. I shy away from having to say hard things to people. I can’t open pickle jars anymore.

Am I nothing? No. I am a teacher. Writer. Mother. Wife. Sister. Daughter. Friend. Cousin. Mother-in-law. Grandmother. I am something. I make a difference in other people’s lives.

Then, there’s the science side. Science answers questions, but it doesn’t give me value or worth — except that the elements of my body are worth $4.50, (we might round up to $5 if you count my skin). There is a mathematical formula for beauty, but I don’t think my face measures up. I know my body doesn’t.

How can science tell me I am full of wonder? How do you measure wonder? And, potential for greatness? How can that be measured and on whose scale? Smart? A great learner? Not everyone is smart, not everyone can learn.

To those of you who have been beaten down by “religious” people, please accept my apology, and allow me to tell you about the God of the Bible. I’d like to add a page to the post I saw:

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Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Hebrews 10:14 – He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Psalm 103:12 – as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.

James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – [Christ’s] power is made perfect in weakness. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Romans 8:32 – He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things.

Personally, I don’t want “religion” or “Science” to be my God. I have the God of the Bible for my God. He doesn’t break anyone so that He can lift them up. He even promises:

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out – Matthew 12:20

When Pitching the Gospel: Throw With Authority

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Our boys are great athletes, and Brian is a great coach. His words of advice sometimes transcend the playing field.

I recall one such instance when Bobby was in Little League. During spring practice Bobby was playing catch with a boy he didn’t know very well, and Bob was holding back. After practice, Brian asked Bobby why he wasn’t throwing as he usually did.

Bobby told Brian he wasn’t sure the other boy could catch the ball. Brian responded, “Bob, your responsibility is to throw with authority. His responsibility is to catch it.”

If only Christians could grasp that truth as it applies to living and sharing the Gospel. Sometimes it seems like we’re so afraid others won’t, or can’t, catch the truth that we water it down, pretty it up, or lob it in so gently that it fails to reach the mark. No one benefits if the truth is not clearly given so that it might be received.

So often Christians (myself included) present the Gospel through our words, entertainment, books, Bible studies, and even our lives as if we are ashamed of it. We forget Paul’s words in Romans:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” – Romans 1:16-17 NIV

What is the Gospel? It is the power of God that brings salvation! It is the eternal life, the physical death, the resurrection, and the exaltation of Jesus. The Gospel is Jesus.

Why do we need the Gospel? Because we are sinners, born with a sin nature. By our very nature, we deserve God’s just wrath.

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desire and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” – Ephesians 2:3 NIV

We are so afraid that we might offend “seekers” by speaking about sin and the need for salvation that we speak of other things: miracles, healing, freedom, love, peace, joy. But how wise is that? The truth is that no one seeks God apart from God’s drawing that person to Him. If anyone seeks at all, he/she is seeking the whole truth.

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away… There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18 NIV

“No one can come to me [Jesus] unless the Father who sent me draws them… Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.” John 6:44-45 NIV

If someone is seeking the Way, the Truth and the Life why wouldn’t we give Jesus in all His beauty? We don’t need to pretty up the Gospel; it is glorious, cleansing, and freeing as it stands.

In that Little League practice, Bobby was afraid the other player might drop the ball, but if the ball wasn’t catchable, whose error would it be? The game of life is short. People are dying. Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Will you pitch the Gospel with authority?