Of Minas and life missions…

Have you noticed how unique the walk of faith is for each of us?

We are called to imitate Christ and yet we will not all be itinerate miracle workers without a place to lay our heads…

Paul invited the brothers to imitate his example (Phil. 3:17), to follow him as he followed Christ, but not all were called to the missionary perils he endured in bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles…

My friend felt compelled to tell everyone that Jesus loved them and could not let a fellow hiker pass without some word shared…

I’ve read countless biographies of ‘great Christians’—missionaries, preachers, musicians, doctors, ordinary and extraordinary people accomplishing great things for God…

And once upon a time I was going to be a Bible Translator, a single woman missionary if need be,  who would bring the Gospel story to an indigenous people who had never seen their language in writing…

That was something I was sure I could do—loving words and linguistic puzzles and bookish work, but skittish of people—yes, this would be just the thing for an intellectual introvert.

Then I was found and loved and invited to marry…and everything began to change. I  worked hard at language study.  I enthusiastically  transcribed stories in a foreign tongue.  But I only endured lessons with a ‘language helper’ as my energies were spent with bearing young and being tugged by motherhood to devote myself to my brood not mere language work…

Eventually, we turned over the language work and translation project to able native hands and I was freed to be a wife and mother without a competing role to play.  Soon,  I became their official ‘teacher’ as well and it was good.  This was a life I had not imagined but I thrived on it, grateful for the God who redirects our steps to fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts… even the desires buried beyond our own recognition…

Now that season too is coming to an end but still I am to follow Christ…If not into itinerate evangelism then what?  I cringe at the expectations put on me by stories of ‘great Christians’.  I have a static attraction for commands that are given to others, as if they were my own.  I hear the word ‘evangelism’ and wilt.  Guilt trips attach to me like lint to velvet.

Then I consider Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Minas…  (Luke 19; Mt.25)  how that the nobleman has gone into a far country to receive for Himself a Kingdom and then return…how that in the meantime he has entrusted his servants with  funds to invest.  He asks only that they ‘engage in business until [he]comes.’ Upon his return he is pleased with their investments, except for the one who has skulked away and refused to invest anything for the King’s benefit.  He claims to have been afraid and to have thought his lord to be harsh and unfair.  But he has not even put his allowance in the bank to gain interest.

I used to equate myself to this cringing worthless servant–Fearful of risk.  Fearful of opportunity—simply because I wasn’t doing what others seemed to think everyone should be doing.  I wasn’t evangelizing my neighbors, starting children’s clubs for straying goat herders,  or discipling anyone…(?) at least not in the romanticized ways I was picturing!

But this servant is called worthless, wicked and slothful and thrown into outer darkness.  Gulp.  This man’s story does not reflect what’s in my heart. I may be fearful but I am confident my Master is good, not harsh or exacting.  He is gracious, patient and persistent. He is at work in me to will and to do all His good pleasure.  I am not destined for the pit but for glory. I have long labored under false impressions of what is expected of me. I want to lay it down.

I want to be open to all He will yet invite me to participate in.  I have to remind myself that He knows the desires of my heart. And that He knows that I know that all that I have accomplished in these years of mothering and teaching, and yes, of soul-winning and discipling my own brood, all this has only been by His grace…I know these things.  And I can trust Him for tomorrow’s business. I can trust Him to shape the desires of my heart to fit His purposes.

He hasn’t returned yet.  There is still time to ‘engage in business’.  What minas do I hold in my hand?  Where can I invest them?  These are the things I consider as I carry on with the life He has given me to live.  I refuse to obsess about ‘spiritual gifts’.  I suspect that in the systematizing of these we have trampled and overlooked people’s unique designs and hindered the natural process of discovering our places in the Body. I am confident (for today anyway) that as I abide in the Word and let it abide in me, as I embrace godly fellowship, and as I walk in an attitude of submission day by day, attentive to the direction of my Head, the future will unfold as the past has—my heart shaped by His,  my will formed to coincide with His, my life purpose–His glory. 

For it is God that works in me to will and to do His good pleasure…(Phil.2:13)


This song says all:  By Grace Alone .  Enjoy.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Rom.12:1-3

Hang on for dear life!

Struggling today to make a start here, to open the gates for the torrent of pent-up words that circle and gather and stream through my thoughts these days. I’m crazy about truth and that it exists and that it matters and that following someone, anyone, who is not walking in truth is foolish, dangerous, even deadly.

The Mormons came to our door this week, espousing their Christian-ese, speaking Jesus name in vain, deceived and bent on persuading others to come along down this path to godhood. They name the Name but haven’t the relationship. They claim to be genuine Christians but deny the very God-head they espouse. To them God is not one person but three. God is not spirit, but a physical flesh, blood and bone body. Satan did not lie to Eve in the garden that she would be as a god if she ate that appealing fruit…They are young and zealous. They have testimonies. They believe what they proclaim. And they are offended, indignant, and tremble with frustrated anger when Jim tells them they are deceived. And that they are wrong.

I woke early one morning, unusually early, my mind engaged with the implications of Jesus being the Way, the Truth and the Life. No other leader will do. No other way to God is feasible. There are absolutes. There is truth. We can know it.  We can know Him who is the Truth. But knowledge of Him comes through knowledge of His Word.  He is the Word made flesh, the Bread of Life.  The two cannot be separated. We do not see Him now but He has not left us without a guide. We have His Word on that, and His Spirit, the Spirit of TRUTH that resides in His followers, reminding of the things that are true–the things He has said, and bringing life to the sacred writings that are written for our benefit (I Cor.10:11) The Word of God is the sword we wield against the Devil’s schemes! (Eph.6:17) To claim to operate by the Spirit and act in Jesus’ name but disparage the value of the written Word of God is perilous.

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Mt.7:22,23

Doctrine does matter. By it we verify that our connection with the Head is true.  Subjective signs are not enough.  But why this truth burning in my heart today? It wasn’t the Mormons. But rather a conversation I had had the day previous, a halting ‘speaking of the truth in love’, a timid warning to a friend. All that glitters is not gold. All that seems right is not good. All that offers up what we long for is not safe…Be careful. Be warned. I tried to say it winsomely. I tried to spit out the tongue-tied gist of my conviction based on the Word after I had listened to her point of view. I listened restless to the reasons it does seem ok to dabble in teaching not overtly based on the Word, teaching that claims the name of Jesus and portends to imitate his life (though picking and choosing the red letters it abides by).

Is it ok? Is it enough to have passion and like-minded fellowship and a sincere heart to impact one’s community together? Just so long as the words it’s based on seem good and right?  Just so long as the teaching  claims to be about building the Kingdom of God? Could there be any harm in it? Does good doctrine really matter?

The young missionaries at my door were zealous too. They too have found a formula that makes for good community, that gives them a significant role in building a kingdom, (but whose?) that seems right ‘though the end thereof is death’. Their testimonies speak of a burning knowing in their hearts that what they’ve been taught is true. They’re convinced. They urge us to read it and see… To feel is to believe. And they are fed a twisted lie, twisted round with Scripture and with Jesus name, with talk of salvation and immortality…and eternal sex and becoming gods! The ‘details’ further along don’t sound quite so Biblical as the “Jesus talk” at the door.

And that’s how deception works. Not just for Mormons. We wouldn’t believe it if there were no appeal. Often the drawing card is the appeal to our heart’s desires. Unfulfilled desires, cherished hopes, and faulty expectations…all leave us vulnerable to tantalizing half-truths that promise to deliver life. I woke the morning after that heart to heart conversation with my friend provoked to pray for mercy and to gain greater understanding of how deception makes its inroads and how to avert its advance in my own life.

What I’ve concluded, so far, I will try to share in a smattering here…

Deception so often makes its inroads because it’s just what we want to hear— a gratifying teaching, a self-exalting doctrine, a solution at last! ‘You will be as gods’ for instance. Is this not the deepest desire of our depraved natural hearts? (Compare II Timothy 4:3,4)

Pursuing something false often starts with wanting something that God has not provided for us (yet). Wanting it so badly that we crave it, must have it, are sure God wants us to have it, and at last, determine it is up to us to get it! Scripture is twisted or put to the side as we head off to find something that works! Something that will bring relief, or answers, or results. Rationalizing that our will is God’s too, we unwittingly fall prey to our own notions of truth: “going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by he sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head...” (Col.2:18,19).

Discontentment, even ‘spiritual’ discontent makes us vulnerable to deception. Whether the seemingly legitimate longings are those of a mother’s heart, or the angst of a soul-winner not seeing souls saved and the kingdom come, or the craving for like-minded fellowship, we are in trouble when we allow desperation to usurp contentment with God’s present provision, when we determine that we must take action to make things happen rather than submitting to God’s sovereign hand.

Abraham is both a positive and negative role model in this regard. Rushing into intimacy with Hagar to help God provide him an heir contrasts starkly with the record we are encouraged to emulate: “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” Rom.4: 20,21

I find too, deception waits round the bend for peacemakers who want so badly to find common ground with another, to think the best of them, to find some way to agree—that inadvertently a blind eye is turned to mistruths and rationalizing covers half-truths. The motive seems right but the end result is deception. In the name of love and unity, false teaching is tolerated and ultimately advanced. I’ve stood in this place, caught unawares.

The antidote of course for all deception is truth—a floodlight turned on our path to make our paths clear (Ps.119:105). Our really desperate need is to cultivate a love of the truth, no matter how it cuts across the grain of our desires or our preconceptions. In an age where truth is fast becoming ‘unknowable’ and the church dabbles in rejecting classic creeds, we must be students of the Word! This Word is living and powerful (Heb.4:12) It cuts to the heart, right through our self-deception. It labels truth and lies for what they are. It proclaims who God is and who we are. It reproves, corrects and trains us in God’s ways, equipping us with everything we need for life and godliness (II Tim.3:16).

To slight attention to the Word of God, or consider it an out-of-date relic in favor of pragmatic results or more contemporary words is to invite deception. In a sobering letter to the Thessalonians Paul describes those deluded by the Anti-Christ’s false signs and wonders as having been sent a strong delusion ‘because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.’ (2Thess.2:10,11) Even as saints we have an urgent need to renew our minds in the Word in order to avoid being shaped by the world’s false premises (Rom.12:1,2) and its prophets’ false proclamations.

And that brings me to the verse that’s been sticking to my ribs all week: “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” Wait. To wait is to rest in His Word and trust in His perfect timing for its fulfillment. To wait is to be saved from the temptation to panic, to run ahead, to look for alternative answers to felt needs. To wait is to be freed from the lure of sensational promises or guaranteed strategies other than His for me.

To wait is to quiet my soul’s penchant for ‘more’ and abide with eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.

He is our way, our truth and our life.  Let’s hang on to Him, for dear life!…”until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph.4:13-16)


“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the LORD are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.”
(Hosea 14:9)

Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed….knowing form whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  II Tim.4:14-16

————–And as I conclude the ‘tweaking’ of this page, a song I need to hear plays;  I commend it to you: God is in Control

No matter how the deception may fly
There is one thing that has always been true
It will be true forever
God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, God is in control.
–Twila Paris


Feeling Brown

For today, I’m departing from the usual fare here—perhaps because it’s school time and creative writing assignments inspire me—please allow me some poetic license as I explore the color brown… and perhaps you’ll want to add a comment about the color that most appeals to you!P1080253


Brown of hair and eye, and personality myself, I love the color brown. I once sat beside someone who scorned its flatness unknowingly and extolled the color pink which she wore and carried. She’s right. Pink is lovely too. But I’m most at home with brown.


The cedar shakes of the house Dad built when we were young were brown, a honeyed brown growing dark with age. The wood he lathed and loved was brown, whether golden like oak or rosy like cherry or with the dark dignity of walnut. Rich wood grain and softest leather, garden soil and firewood, all share the natural warmth of brown. Mud is brown too I suppose, but it is good company for bare toes, or mountain bikes exploring, or first pies or desert toads. Brown is no flat dull monochrome. Consider cinnamon and nutmeg, root beer and dear old ‘Shags’ (my childhood mutt)— all brown things I’ve loved.


And don’t forget chocolate. Who doesn’t love it? Whether milk or dark, chips or syrup, brownies, mousse or hot cocoa, all are variations of delicious brown as are the nuts that compliment them: almonds, pecans, walnuts; all are robed in brown. And did I mention caramel? Or better yet, penuche. Made from brown sugar, it is a treat, particularly on zucchini cupcakes!

But lest we get to salivating, consider just the words themselves that enliven the dull-sound of ‘brown’: chestnut, fawn and auburn, burnt umber and mahogany, russet and sienna…

And if you’re still hungry consider these tasteless ones: liver, taupe and tan, ecru and desert sand…

But speaking of words, my favorite old Bibles are also covered in brown, one a tawny supple brown, the other a thick dark buffalo hide all beaded in translucent glass pastels by my mother, who incidentally dislikes the color brown because once she wore a uniform of brown that she despised… (Fortunate for me, mine was navy and white!)

Mom - teenyears

In the world of fashion brown is not so popular as black. Dr.Seuss had it about right: “Mr. Brown is out of town…” but with cool weather coming I had a hankering for a light-weight brown sweater. When the mall failed me I turned to second-hand values and what should jump out at me from all the long row of hangered sweaters in the big city thrift store but this elegant soft brown one with pearl buttons… and soon thereafter a fitting skirt, brown of course ( : And one day there will be the perfect purse just right the size, just so the shape and soft and warm to hold, and brown…and then I will not mind the cost, maybe?

writing in brown

Hmm… Now musings, no matter how frivolous are quite incomplete without the question why? Why do I like brown? I ask myself. It’s how I’m wired, to treasure what’s warm and steady, soft and deep, lustrous without being showy. Serious without being formal. Inconspicuous. It’s the stuff of nostalgia and antiques besides, like sienna photographs—things that speak of tradition and unchanging roots… For all these reasons I love brown.

Great Aunt LucilleMrs WG Mahanes 1924

But ha! The joke’s on me, for I am turning gray. Perhaps brown cannot stay… but for today, I’ll cherish brown. (And go see if there are any cupcakes left!!)



Just as I am…

I find myself needing to return often to the essence of the Gospel, to stir my soul to gratitude, to shake indifference and soften callouses derived from long acquaintance. 

I’ve just finished a book toward that end entitled: The Explicit Gospel written by pastor Matt Chandler. He knows the hope of the Gospel well, having come near death with an inoperable brain tumor, having suffered through its implications with great grace and having lived to continue preaching the Gospel whose hope extends beyond the grave.  So this book grabbed my attention when it came out earlier this year.

I find myself clearly pegged in its descriptions of those who have focused too long on the Gospel’s personal implications and neglected to be about the business of reaching a world God longs to reconcile to Himself…But I kept reading.  Apart from taking the full import of the Gospel to heart, recognizing this Father heart that has compassion on His children as they learn to walk and run and climb tall trees… who has no reprimand when they fall down in the process but continues to extend grace for this walk by faith, without condemnation…apart from this gospel what have I to say?

I have nothing to offer but myself, a living sacrifice for what it’s worth. My worth is all wrapped up in how He loves me, not anything I’ll ever do for Him…He sees this offering as holy and acceptable, washed clean in Jesus’ blood, covered by His righteousness.  What can I say?  Who am I to contend that I have failed, that I fall short, that I only wish I could be other than I am…

I stand in the grace of God, in this great Gospel that saves me and then gives me a Savior to live in me, through me, by faith.  The ‘me’ I regret and find self-serving and unworthy no longer is my identity.  I am crucified with Christ. (Gal.2:20)  It is no longer I that lives.  This life I live in the flesh is not my own but Christ’s.  I live it by faith in the Son who so loved me as to grant me His own life, not just at some historic moment but today…

And so I read and am reminded of the ‘grace-driven’ way of life that marks one who understands the Gospel. I am pricked, challenged, encouraged, and made hopeful.  The Gospel is enough for the likes of me, still,  just as I am.  And that great old hymn comes wandering through my mind.  I look it up and read the words all through as a morning first-thing prayer:

Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come!  I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come!
I come!

Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fighting and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind:  sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea all I need, in Thee I find, O Lamb of God, I come!  I come!

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come!  I come!

[by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871]

And I extend its hopefulness to you and offer this reminder of the Gospel that is enough for the likes of you and I, no matter where we’re at. 

To abbreviate Paul: Christ died for our sins. He was buried and was raised.  We have hope in this lifetime and beyond! (I Cor.15:3ff) 

The Gospel is enough for all I am and all I’m not.


If you have the time, have a look at my book review of The Explicit Gospel here. I trust the excerpts will bless you as they have me.

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”
(I Cor.15:1,2)

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard…” (Col.1:21-23)

“But by the grace of God I am what I am.” (I Cor.15:10)