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Children of the Day Post 7: 2 Thessalonians 1

Children of the Day

Today I’m breaking with my “tradition” of summarizing last Sunday’s DVD session and then giving my thoughts about the homework for the week so far and simply tell you a little about myself as it pertains to the last DVD session. I promise to return to homework reflections next Wednesday! The topic in the last DVD session just demands the story, if I am to remain a transparent Christian here at MIP. If my past experience with telling this story has taught me anything, it’s that I usually lose the respect of half of my friends telling this story. But, Jesus told me that I should expect exactly that when sharing my faith story with others and since He’s “Exhibit A” of such a thing, I guess I’m in good company. Honestly? To retell this tale fills me with dread. But, my God told me to be “strong and courageous”, so here I go:


Slow Reader Thursday: Heaven by Randy Alcorn…

Remember how I said I was pulling a “Jonah” on one of the books about death that I was feeling that God wanted me to read? Well, I finally came out of the “whale” and read it this summer. Heaven by Randy Alcorn is that book. It took a while to read–473 long, small-fonted pages, without adding in the multitude of appendices. Maybe this was one of the reasons why I chose to “run away” from reading it???

Alcorn contends that there are actually 2 Heavens referenced in the Bible: the one we presently go to upon our earthly death and the resurrected “New Earth” that develops after Christ’s return. The New Earth will be much like our present Earth, except that it will be devoid of anything that resulted from evil on our current planet, such as pollution and warfare.


Perhaps Alcorn‘s most salient point is that we tend to think that Heaven will be boring, but when we assume that, we fail to remember how God created us–as endlessly learning, exploring, discovering, and yes, ruling people. If we are such people on the New Earth, then we will find Heaven endlessly fascinating, if for no other reason than we can endlessly ask all the questions we have on our minds. Thus, we should look forward to our time in Heaven and thus, be a people who does not fear death.

Here are some of the quotes from Heaven that especially hit home with me:

1. “If God didn’t have a sense of humor, we…wouldn’t. That He has a sense of humor is evident in His creation. Consider aardvarks and baboons. Take a good look at a giraffe. You have to smile, don’t you?”

2. “The buds of this life’s greatest moments don’t shrivel and die; they blossom into greater moments, each to be treasured, none to be lost. Everything done in dependence on God will bear fruit for eternity. This life need not be wasted. In small and often unnoticed acts of service to Christ, we can invest this life in eternity, where today’s faithfulness will forever pay rich dividends.”

3. “…joy will be the air we breathe. And right when we think ‘it doesn’t get any better than this’–it will.”

Perhaps it’s time for you to stop being Jonah, too, and take a moment to learn about “Foreverland”, aka Heaven???


A MaryAnn in a Martha World…

Mary and Martha

Warning: You might want to get a beverage first.

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 38-42, NIV

It took me a long time to understand that most people, when reading or hearing this Scripture, identify with Martha and are a little stunned to hear Jesus chastise Martha. I am not most people. Perhaps my parents knew, instinctively, that I was much more like Mary and thus, gave me her name as part of mine. Now, for the record, I completely understand that the world needs “Marthas.” In fact sometimes I can almost pull off a good “Martha impression.” But, that is not who I am.

I almost always have my head “in the clouds.” I am dreaming, thinking, analyzing, planning, and “writing” constantly, constantly in my head. I live in my head. Thus, I generally do not notice that my house needs dusting, sweeping, cleaning and that my guests might like to be fed after several hours at my home. When you live in your head, it just doesn’t need a whole lot of dusting very often. Yes, there are a few cobwebs up there, but the cobwebs usually connect all the disjointed and diverse ideas in my head, so they’re actually helpful.

Would I like to be more of a Martha? Oh, my goodness, YES! Because Marys have a very bad reputation in our world. Marthas are much more often appreciated by society. Marys generally are very messy, irresponsible, insensitive, spacey little critters (or so it appears to the world). But, Marthas are organized, tidy, clean, thoughtful, generous and perfect hostesses. They are the ones who show up at all events with their kids perfectly clothed, perfectly coiffed, and perfectly mannered.

So, given this perception, why on God’s green earth would Jesus praise Mary and not Martha??? Because Mary figured out something while her sister was busy thinking about cooking and cleaning and entertaining…that she probably wasn’t going to have too many opportunities to hear Jesus speak in her very own home and she shouldn’t miss that opportunity. In other words Mary decided her relationship with Jesus was far more important than doing something FOR Jesus.

I cannot tell you how often I do what Martha did–I think that the way to improve my relationship with Jesus is to do stuff for Him and for his people. But, the other night I suddenly woke up at 2:45 am (Why does God keep doing this to me???) and God decided it was time to have a “conversation” with MaryAnn that was, quite frankly, unprecedented. In most of my “conversations” with God (my prayers), I do all the talking. If you know me personally, you know this is no big surprise. This time I ventured one (in my head) question to the Heavens above, and a still, small voice (still in my head) immediately answered with a very un-MaryAnn-like answer. Cue the Twilight Zone music.

I have long suspected that my little blog may never be “popular” with others. But, I still feel very “convicted” that I should keep writing it. During this unusual convo, I asked God, “If I’m supposed to write this blog, Lord, but it’s never going to reach many people, why do You want me to write it?’ He replied quietly, “Because I love you and so you and I can be together.” Tears streamed down my face. After all these years in “Christendom,” you’d think I would have figured out that my relationship with God comes first with Him and everything else is secondary. And you’d think I also would have figured out that I should feel the same way about that relationship. But, I had thought, quite mistakenly, that I had to do something for God (Of course, it has to be something important!) in order to demonstrate my faith in Him and my desire to be with Him. I felt hugely ashamed by my silly, faulty thinking, particularly because I tend to identify more with Mary in this story and not with Martha.

So, to all of my messy Mary friends and family, guess what? We really don’ t have to pick up after ourselves to be good Christians (Let’s be honest–we’re too busy reading Christian books and listening to  Mandisa anyway.) And to my Martha friends and family? Sit down. Take a load off. Get silent…really silent. And let God do the talking. He just wants to spend time with you because He thinks you’re really cool…even if you do clean too much. 🙂

Point to Ponder Challenge: When’s the last time you scheduled time just to further develop your relationship with God? How about an entire weekend? I plan to attend the Dallas Women of Faith conference this September to work on this. Want to join me? Great! Send me an email via the Contact page. You’re a guy??? Then, how about a guys’ weekend with the Ultimate Guy? Go here for more info:

Tomorrow’s Post: Are you going places?

You might also like: Absolutely, It’s All About the Splash, Think You Don’t Have What It Takes to Change the World…Think Again, Just Because She’s Her, Lessons Learned from a 9 Year Old 


Slow Reader Thursday: Live!


I encountered Christal N. M. Jenkins (the author of Live!) at my first writer’s conference in Portland, OR. If you’re depressed, she is the “medication” that doesn’t require a glass of water or swallowing a pill. Christal’s smile, alone, will raise your spirits. It’s a smile that has known a lot of pain and hardship and yet, refuses to give into “the darkness.”

She taught a learning-loaded seminar for new writers and I learned a lot from her well-organized presentation. Even more impressive is that she didn’t refer to her notes (At least that’s how it appeared to me.). But, as she alluded to surviving some serious health issues, I felt myself identifying with her story more and more.

Thus, I purchased her 2nd book, Live! In Live! she recounts losing a job that gave her a fair amount of status and deciding that she would succumb to the call to preach. Even though she felt she was doing just that, she began having scary health difficulties. This was made even more difficult by her hectic schedule of traveling and speaking and volunteering. One is often at the mercy of others for transportation and not knowing where hospitals are while traveling.

Eventually, Christal was hospitalized and a diagnosis was found. And yes, I have suffered Christal’s illness. But, that is not the point of her story (or mine). The point is that we, as Christians, are to speak life to others and live. How does one speak “life”? Have you heard of the Bible? 🙂 I confess that I often don’t enjoy memorizing Scripture, but when I do force myself to do so, it usually comes in very handy when talking with others who need some encouragement.

Christal felt she was being directed to Ezekiel’s description of the “dry bones” during this period of her life. And on pages 49-54 she deftly lays out what the “dry bones” of our lives could look like: unemployment, fear, tragedy, etc. As she does so, she reminds us that God’s word can handle where we are in our lives and give new life to those “dry bones,” whatever they may be.

Point to Ponder Challenge: What are your “dry bones”? How can you speak “life” back into them and get moving again? Does someone else need you to speak “life” to them? What can you do today to help that process along for them?




Lessons Learned from Not Running…



On the day when the Lord was handing out athletic genes, I must have been in the “facilities” because I have zero hand-to-eye coordination and a limited ability to do just about anything else requiring physical ability.  However, as a child, I was blessed with two much older brothers and in an effort to keep me from continually annoying them, they were endlessly running from me and I was endlessly chasing them.  The result:  MaryAnn, despite being vertically-challenged, was a pretty okay runner.  In fact, I’m a bit like Seabiscuit on a track.  Put a runner in front of me and I am bent on beating them.  I may not come in first, but I will probably be right behind the winner of the race.

I used to like running.  It felt like freedom to me.  But, then something good happened.  Isn’t that always the way?  The good stuff in our lives often takes away something else that is also good.  My “something good” was I had children. And guess what happened when running after I had children??? Let’s not go there. It’s not for polite conversation.  Let’s just say it was embarrassing.

So, I got lazy and only walked.  But, thanks to modern medical technology, I can now run again.  Unfortunately, someone forgot to give my 50-something body the memo.  Once you stop running, your body has this very nasty way of vehemently making you pay for ever lifting your feet off soil ever again. So, today I only briefly run…this is even more embarrassing than why I didn’t run.  Thus, I confine my poor excuse for running to my treadmill.  I think it’s safe to say that I am “running away” from “running.”  Fortunately, my Bible tells me I didn’t invent such a trait.  It’s been around for centuries:

Exhibit A:  Jacob.  When you lie to your dad, leave for a long time.  And I mean leave.

Exhibit B:  Moses.  When you kill a fellow countryman, leave for a long time and marry a foreigner.

Exhibit C:  David:  When you tick off the leader of your country, head for the nearest cave.

Exhibit D:  Jonah:  I’d hide in the belly of a fish, too, if God told me to tell an entire city to get their act together…not exactly a way to get yourself elected mayor.

Exhibit E:  Peter:  Okay. So, he didn’t run away literally.  But, would you call lying about your relationship with the savior of the world a resume-builder for founding and leading a church?

The reality is, that doing what God asks you to do, is often a dangerous, difficult, demanding task.  And what do we do? We run…and run…and run…away. It’s so human to do so.  Unfortunately, when we run away, we often miss some very important things:

1. That God is with us.  He knows where the finish line is and how happy we are going to be when we reach it.

2. That God is for us. When we stumble, He will be there with his encouragements, if we are quiet and wise enough to hear Him.

3. That God is before us.  He will point the way (even if He has to hit me “upside the head” to alert me to it).

4.  That God is beyond us.  He can see much more than our immediate and often, limited, perspective.

5.  That God is by us.  He actually takes the time to run with us and beside us, knowing that the journey is much easier with “back-up.”

So, today I’m going to try to do a little running (literally and figuratively) and hope that I can get out of that belly (and quit feeding my own…Grr.) and do a little more of what God would have me do.  How about you?

“Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.  Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.  So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.”  —I Cor. 9: 24-26, NRSV

“Write the vision, make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it.” Habakkuk 2: 2, NRSV

See you at the finish line. 🙂

Tomorrow’s Post: March Madness Poetry…c’mon, you knew it was coming!