The Other Cheek

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. – Jesus

This love- the kind of love that allowed Jesus to meekly receive beating and insults, was the same love that allowed him to choose 12 unfit men to be his disciples. He chose them, even knowing how they would fail him.

He did this because his mission was about adopting unworthy beggars into his family. That means you and that means me. It was always about his goodness and love and never about our deserving anything… Continue reading “The Other Cheek”

The Look of Love

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about “image.” Yesterday I watched several interviews with this actor who professes to be a Christian (at least in articles I’ve seen) but when he speaks (though very gifted, charming, funny and handsome) I don’t see a whole lot of Jesus. He drinks, he swears, in general he talks just like anyone who doesn’t care much for God.

Please don’t stop reading, I’m not about to rant about this man’s shortcomings. He’s actually pretty amazing and I found myself envying him a bit. At the same time, I appreciate the goodness of blessing and the temporary nature of things like fame. It’s very possible that his heart is deep and full of the love of God.

Then, today I encountered another kind of Christian. This man is a pastor. What comes out of his mouth is misogynistic, homophobic, arrogant and unloving.

Both of these men have influence, both are gifted and well known, both profess to love Jesus. My mind wanted to judge between them. To decide about them…. Continue reading “The Look of Love”

Caffeinated Rant

This morning in the coffee shop I had this really typical conversation with a young lady. I ordered my usual, a decaf quad Americano. Well, it’s my new usual, really. I had the stomach sick about a month ago and since I wasn’t able to eat, I kicked the caffeine. I figured I might as well keep up that good habit and switched to decaf.
Anyway, so the conversation started with my order and next  came her questions and then my confession that I don’t drink caffeine. She then asked me, with sincere bewilderment, “How do you wake up in the morning?”

In some ways I find this kind of thing delightful because I like to mess with established assumptions about reality, but in other ways I find it disturbing that in so many ways we’re all still in high school.

I’m not making jabs at this young woman because The Need For Coffee is just a symptom of a bigger issue. That issue is our fenced in thinking.

You might be shocked to hear a missionary invite you to be open minded, but that’s just what I’m doing…. Continue reading “Caffeinated Rant”

The Log in My Eye

Transitions often make it difficult for me to know who I am. I would like that to be different.

Oddly enough, one of my “Strength Finders” strengths is flexibility. I began to seriously question this “strength” sometime at the beginning of this year because I was flattened by a particular transition. Totally undone.

At that time I realized that what makes me flexible is my great intolerance for not fitting. It’s like a big splinter that I MUST get out RIGHT NOW.

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I’m not talking about morals or anything. I’m talking about cultural things which are not connected to morals- bed times, food habits, conversation topics, clothing, time orientation, what communicates respect or what is considered rude. All of these physical manifestations of culture come from underlying values and when I first enter a new culture those differences feel unbearable to me. So I have a tendency to wrestle hard with myself in order that those things not be points of conflict…. Continue reading “The Log in My Eye”

Failure Loses Its Sting

How was Paul the Apostle so confident? So active, so joyful, so sure of his position in God?
How am I so insecure? So easily discouraged, so doubtful of my position?

As I asked those questions, I heard in my head, “because you make it about you.” I make it about how I feel, what I think, what I’ve done, who I am.

When I woke up Friday morning I felt a kind of inner turmoil- like there was something rotten that needed attending. As I sat down to write in my journal I couldn’t really think of anything to say and I couldn’t figure out what my problem was. Because I’ve been slowly learning this lesson about the fact that my identity is not swayed by whatever my current emotion is, I just asked God in my head, “Is my heart in your hands, Lord?” and he simply responded, “It is.”

As I study Philippians, I’ve been kind of astounded by this statement, “If I am in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.” (Philippians 1:22)

Paul knew that his work would accomplish something because he was doing God’s work, following God’s call, living in obedience. He was sure that God would make it fruitful.

He even says later in chapter 3 that he puts no confidence in himself and his abilities – it’s not about what he can or cannot do. He counted all of his former trophies as garbage so that he could cling to the sacrifice and perfection of Jesus. He strained toward identifying with Jesus in love and suffering – looking to position himself firmly in Christ… Continue reading “Failure Loses Its Sting”

Out of Hiding

About a year and a half ago God totally blew the lid off of my hopes and dreams for the future. At that point he told me I wasn’t dreaming big enough and when I examined what I’d been “dreaming” of, I realized this was absolutely true. Without thinking it through, I was just putting one foot in front of the other and looking for ways to come alongside others in their dreams.
Honestly, a bit of that is good because I really still have a heart to see other people walk in their calling and purpose, but what God was leading me to see was that He had something specifically for me that was way beyond what I’d ever considered.

As last year progressed three things appeared to be a part of that dream, 1. the whole world, 2. every area of discipleship and 3. teaching.

I can guess what you’re thinking, “Peggy, that’s too big. You gotta narrow it down a bit or you’ll do nothing.” Believe me, I said that to God. To be honest, I don’t know all of the specifics. I don’t know how the years ahead will look. What grows and grows and won’t stop is this deep hunger to teach people, show people, walk with people in such a way that they really know who God really is. There are many facets to that, but I am jealous for God’s reputation and His name not only because I love Him, but because I know that when people really know Him, they will be surprised, then saved and transformed. He is so good and so worthy… Continue reading “Out of Hiding”

The Ocean Floor

Music is an incredible gift that I don’t entirely understand, but I do embrace.

Just now as I was trying to start this post several different ways, I realized that I often link thoughts with songs in a conceptual way that doesn’t always involve matching words. My last attempt at an “opening” sounded like something banged out on a harmonica in the Appalachian Mountains.

Noting this, I then realized that the whole purpose for sitting down to write a post was because God gave me a cool gift last night through a series of songs and this is what I wanted to share.

Maybe I’m not making sense?

Okay, so this weekend I was sick. Weird sick. A combination of several things that piled up and kept me in bed sleeping for many hours. Monday I was still not well, but I decided that if I couldn’t work, at least I could spend the day with God in a purposeful way. I sat in a cozy armchair for many hours with my journal, a big bottle of water (still sick, remember) and a roll of toilette paper (for my nose). I listened to Rich Mullins, I asked God real questions and waited for his response… Continue reading “The Ocean Floor”

If I Find My Way

Lately I’ve been finding (and needing) such deep encouragement from friends. A few days ago I posted about an email from one friend and last night I had a really life giving conversation with another friend who was willing to just dive right into my inner mess.

Sometimes I hesitate to post about messy stuff because I don’t want to give the impression that I’m not doing well. One thing my good friend reminded me of on the phone last night was that I am usually more honest than is socially normal. So why would I avoid talking about feeling down?
Partly I’ve been avoiding it because I haven’t had time to understand it and find words that fit. It’s only those who especially love me who are able to sit through the words that don’t fit while I find the ones that do.

This morning I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller, The Wounded Spirit. He uses several verses from the book of Proverbs to talk about the many varied reasons why a person might feel crushed in spirit and what might be done about it.

Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” This well describes what has been going on recently, but there is also much more… Continue reading “If I Find My Way”

The Etymology of Identity

I went to the bank the other day to change my name with them. One of the ladies who was helping me asked for the reason I was changing my name and I simply said, “Divorce.” She related with me that she also recently changed her name because of divorce and we talked a little about the joy of returning to our maiden names. As we sat down to go over some other things with my account, she was open and really friendly. A compatriot.

Then somehow it came up that I worked for Youth With A Mission. At this news she ever-so-slightly stiffened, both in her body and in her banter.

When this is brought up with strangers, I look for the most non-threatening way to explain something that is so far from what is normal and also far from its stereotypes. I try to stay focused on things that make sense like how I love to teach and travel.
Sometimes I have to walk people gently through this and often it actually makes me happy to confess that I’m a Christian and proceed to be different than I know they’re expecting.
Telling people I’m a “missionary” is a bit like telling a boyfriend, “we have to talk.” They start to sweat a little and blood rushing through the head causes their hearing to decrease…. Continue reading “The Etymology of Identity”

Worthy

Two things have been standing out to me in the last week and they are connected.

At the beginning of the week, my friend Angela taught the students an overview of the Bible. She went from Genesis to Revelation to give them a big picture look at the whole story right before they jump into the moments and details of this epic Book with the inductive methoWhen Angela got to Jesus and how he fulfilled so many things spoken in the Old Testament, she showed a video clip of him in the garden of Gethsemane from The Passion of The Christ. What struck me as I watched the clip was how truly he struggled with doing what he knew the Father sent him to do. It wasn’t just a little hard for him to go to the cross. It made me think of Hebrews 12:3-4 which says, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” I had not really connected those verses in Hebrews with Jesus because I had never considered Jesus’ struggle in the garden as one of temptation to sin… Continue reading “Worthy”

God In My Homework

The School of Biblical Studies was both the most difficult and the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Because I had not had a positive experience with school in the past, I had never wanted to do the SBS, afraid it would just be another opportunity to fail. And so when I felt like God might be calling me to do the school

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(just about 3 weeks before the school started) I wrestled hard to be totally sure I was hearing him correctly. To be honest, when it came down to it, I made the decision based on who God is and not upon what I feel I’m capable of accomplishing successfully. I took a dive because I would rather fall on my face in pursuit of God than be “safe” and miss what he has for me.

What I discovered during the SBS, was God himself… Continue reading “God In My Homework”

Boundless Joy

I’ve been really into this song lately called Up In Arms.
The lyrics that hit me the hardest are;

So here I am,
Your love has got me up in arms again,
And this hope won’t let me go
My joy is boundless,
My soul knows its worth
In arms stretching wider
Than my heart could ever fall

Joy is something I think about pretty regularly, as I have experienced a lot of sorrow. Some of the sorrow came from circumstances, but much of it came from an inner sense of emptiness or worthlessness. I admit that even after I started following Jesus I experienced that second kind of sorrow. It has taken much, much longer than I would have liked for me to grasp my value as a daughter of The King. There were so many lies to contend with…. Continue reading “Boundless Joy”

As You Loved Me

Do you ever wonder what Paul was like in person? Until I actually studied the New Testament as a whole I pictured him so pious and judgmental. After reading all of his letters and really considering what his life looked like, it’s impossible to remember how I got to those assumptions about him.

I do remember being vastly comforted  by the book of 2 Corinthians. I felt he must have been writing to people like me. When I discovered that the Corinthians were actually super critical of Paul, the humility with which he wrote becomes a hundred times greater. Standing in the face of those who say you are weak and explaining how much deeper your weakness goes than they could ever know… Well.. it has shown me what a deep trust and love Paul had for Jesus; how much his identity was based not on what men thought of him, but based solely on what the Father had done for him…. Continue reading “As You Loved Me”