Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Joy of Jesus

Several years ago, I watched the Matthew film, starring Bruce Marchiano as Jesus. It absolutely transformed the way I related to Jesus...because for the first time ever, I saw Him as a Jesus of joy.

After I watched the movie, I read the book Bruce wrote about his experience in learning Jesus...how he studied the Scriptures and learned as he read just how filled with unabashed joy Jesus really was.

Amazing how when you read about a joyful Jesus...you see how true it is. He loved life. He loved people. And he loved the Father.

***

This week I went to the Marion Easter Pageant...a community passion play down in Marion. I was in it for the first time when I was two...and I was in it ever year after that until my mid-twenties, when they had to stop holding it, because the building where it was presented was condemned. This year it came back, and for the first time, I was not in it.

I sat in my seat and watched the drama unfold...and a young pastor from the community played the role of Jesus. {In that play they call it the Christus.} He was unlike any Christus I'd ever seen in over 20 years of being part of that play.

He was filled with joy. He rushed toward people and greeted them with massive hugs. He smiled broadly and swung children around and showed a joyful servant's heart.

It spoke to me so profoundly because I'd slipped away from absorbing the joy Jesus actually had for the people He served then...and the joy He has for me now.

Jesus is joy.

This is the week when we remember His sacrifice for us...when we remember the horror and the sorrow and the dark day...and those things do bear remembering and our deepest gratitude.

But that Jesus of joy is the one who emerged from the tomb early that Sunday morning.

Jesus is joy. What if we lived for Him with that same joy?


Thursday, April 10, 2014

I'm Grateful Heaven REALLY is for Real

I didn't read Todd Burpo's Heaven is for Real before interviewing him for Mid-Morning (though I was familiar with the bottom-line basics of the story); but I did preview the film, releasing on April 16th, that's based on the book.



Todd seemed to enjoy the conversation as much as I did. He was a good sport when I asked him to come clean and tell us which movie events were real (happening in the flesh-and-blood Burpo family's life exactly as depicted in the film) or movie (never happening or kinda/sorta happening). He was uncensored while describing his anger toward God when Colton hovered near death, and gratefully awed by the amazing ways God is using Colton's heaven story to comfort, encourage, and bless dying children.

The real Colton Burpo in 2003 (four-years-old)

The movie Colton Burpo: Connor  Corum 
Fifteen-year-old Colton Burpo today
 


You know what I noticed about Colton's heavenly experience? He didn't mention any particulars about the place itself -- and heaven IS a real place. The Bible's description is of a forever home so stunningly beautiful, built with priceless materials, we can't even begin to imagine it. But what makes heaven, heaven, is that our God lives there -- and so do, and will, His children. All of them. No one who is God's is ever lost. In heaven, Colton met his great-grandfather, a man who died before Colton was born,  and immediately knew him. He met the sister who had died in his mom's womb -- a sister his parents hadn't told him about, and immediately knew her.

Here's a startling fact Todd didn't mention during our interview, but it is in the movie. When Colton told his mom he was hugged and hugged by a sister who had died in utero (my words, not Colton's), Sonja Burpo asked Colton what her name was. Colton replied, "She doesn't have a name. You didn't give her one." Sonja is stunned because Colton is exactly right. She and Todd didn't name the baby because they never knew its sex!

Years ago I read a novella about what happens in heaven when a Christian is heading Home. I can't find my copy or recall the author's name, but the gist of the story focuses on the call that goes out throughout heaven to those who knew and loved the Christian who is dying. These saints hurry to the gates of heaven so theirs will be the first faces their beloved sees when they arrive; that is, right after Jesus throws His arms around them!

I hope that's true. If not, I know that His welcome Home party will be even more wonderful than my scenario. But just in case my imaginings are true, here's who will be waiting for me:

Papaw and Mamaw. They could have written the book on grandparenting!

My Uncle Jerry (left) and my mom (center). That's my dad on the right. Aren't he and my mom gorgeous?! Uncle Jerry died when he was just 33. I know that had he lived we would have been close. I was enamored with him. An interior designer for the University of Kentucky, he appreciated and loved many of the things that I do. I dream about him on a regular basis and still remember his laugh.   

Doug's mom, Ginny, was one of my best friends. A single mom who loved her sons well, she called both of her daughters-in-law, daughters. She was relentless in hunting down morel mushrooms. I'd never tasted these delicacies until I met Doug.


As much as I love my mom, Uncle Jerry, Ginny and grandparents, the face I most want to see is Jesus. Colton Burpo has already seen Him. To Colton, He looks exactly like the Jesus painted by Akiane Kramarik.

Prince of Peace

Akiane and Colton's Jesus bears no resemblance to what a first century Jewish man living in Palestine would have looked like.

Composite of first-century Jewish male based on forensic archaeology.

Does Jesus show Himself differently when He chooses to reveal Himself to people in visions and in heavenly experiences? I don't know. Those are things that fall into the mysteries and wonders category. With those things,  I'm willing to live in the tension of For now, I don't know. But of this I am certain: when I arrive in Heaven, I will know Jesus. Not simply recognizing Him, but experiencing the fullness of knowing Him that this life only hints at.

When my life work is ended,
and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see,
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.
 
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him
By the print of the nails in His hand.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Less is More

Ever since I started my job here at WBCL in 2011, I've been in house-hunting mode. For the year and a half that I worked here before I got married, I went house hunting about once a month with a realtor - trying to get a feel for what part of town I liked...what kind of house I wanted...and all the while, I couldn't move, because my house in Marion never sold.

After I got married, Ryan and I became frequent visitors to the realtor.com website - revising the list of what we wanted and trying not to fall in love with houses, knowing that if we ever got to move, anything on the market now probably wouldn't be on the market then.

Our list was not grandiose, but we wanted a step up from what we had. More garage space. A bigger closet in the master. Double sinks in a bathroom. A MUCH bigger kitchen. Open floor plan. Fireplace would be nice. {You get the idea.}

And somewhere in the middle of all that, I encountered tiny houses. Is anyone else as in love with those things as I am? Tiny little garden shed looking buildings that actually house people...and more than that...house them well.
 
The thing that fascinates me so much is the fabulous use of space in these buildings. Literally each cranny in the place has a purpose. They're small, but they're mighty.

I can't confess to being ready to move into a tiny house...but I love the mentality of less being more. I love it that the people who move in, some out of choice and some out of necessity, find in the end that life is happier in the tiny house. Things are manageable. The clutter is minimal. The cleaning is quick. And there's that much more time for living.

Ryan and I have adjusted our house list. It doesn't matter so much to us anymore if we find a bigger house or a place with a huge kitchen. we're learning to rest in what we have and appreciate it for its quirks.

We're also learning to adjust our view of life as a whole in that same way. To savor things like dates at home and day trips to state parks. Tall coffees instead of grande. {GASP.}

It's not wrong to dream big, but for us, the permission to dream small has freed us from expectations to overload ourselves.

For us, less really is more. And I'm so enjoying the learning curve.

{And the tiny house plans.}

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Eve, We've Done You Wrong

Eve.

Our first thoughts about our first mother are generally not kind. Google-search images of Adam's wife and you're assaulted with scenes of her giving into the serpent's lies...


or her shameful expulsion from Eden, along with the man she "done wrong" ...


We define her by her sin, not by who and what she was created to be, or the complete restoration that is hers now in heaven. But focusing on the post-fall Eve leads to a faulty -- and skewed view -- of who God created us to be as women.

And that is detrimental to us, and to all that God wants to do in and through us!

Thanks to Suzanne Burden, Carla Sunberg and Jamie Wright, the three women responsible for Reclaiming Eve, we can find our way back to the truth of what God intended when He made Adam a helper.

More about that word in just a minute.

Since I read Reclaiming Eve and interviewed Suzanne and Jame on Mid-Morning, I've thought a lot about Eve and the aftermath of her choice. But one question has captured my attention:

Why do we unwittingly live under the burden of the consequences of Eve's sin when, as forgiven new creatures, we are restored -- and are being restored -- to our Creator Father's beautifully formed plan for us: Image bearers of God?

We wrongly assume that the consequences of sin are God's plan for men and women. In our relationship with our husbands, that means we assume that God wants them to rule over us, to control us -- which, by the way, is not the meaning of the word submission. The only one God wants to rule over any of us is Himself. If that's true, then why this consequence? I believe there are two reasons.  One, our misery (both husbands and wives) in trying to find wholeness through another human will send us on a hunt for the true answer for our emptiness, God Himself. And two, our ongoing frustrations with each others failings -- in spite of our love for each other --  will prompt us to look for something bigger than ourselves to help us truly love each other. That answer, again, is the One Who created us and marriage: God. Isn't that so like our loving Father, bent on redeeming all that was lost in the fall, to tuck such a gift within the after Eden gloom?

When we become God's daughters through Christ, the power of sin is broken. We are new creatures. As Scot McKnight says, "The implications of the fall are being undone for those who are in Christ." 

Now back to the word helper.

Our 21st-century minds inform the word, and not in a beneficial way! For us it conjures up images of a combination housekeeper, personal assistant, and second-tier human. We'd have Eve wearing an apron but for the fact that clothes weren't yet invented -- or needed. But the word helper (ezer in Hebrew), is used sixteen times in the Old Testament to describe God Himself and how He comes through for His people in times of great difficulty. Why did God create Eve, and all women, for that matter? First, as His image bearer. Before Eve was a wife, she was an image bearer. That is true for all women, at every age, and in every situation. Young or old. Married or single. We are created to bear the image of God. Let that sink into the depths of your soul!

God also created Eve to relieve Adam's loneliness on every level. The words of the authors of Reclaiming Eve, a larger rendering of Genesis 2:18, capture the fullness of her role:

It is not good for man to be alone. I (God) will make a helper (ezer) suitable for him to end the loneliness of the single human. I will make another strong power, corresponding to it, facing it, equal to it. And the humans will be both male and female.

Whoa! This is a game-changing truth for wives, husbands and the party that is marriage. But it doesn't end there. Women aren't just ezers in marriage. We carry that same strong power into our relationships with all the men in our lives, especially our brothers in the Lord. And we do so with humility and love.

Again, from Reclaiming Eve:

Every woman is a strong power created to join with men, advancing God's kingdom, no matter your station in life.

This isn't "Christianized" women's lib talk. This is biblical truth designed to bring healing to us as men and women, as married couples, and as brothers and sisters in Christ, showing the world how God intended for us to relate to each other.

I pray that God will give me continued understanding as I reread Reclaiming Eve, sorting any faulty personal conclusions I may have come to from His truth. I'll be sure to let you know what happens!

Until then, live this day as God's image-bearer. That's who the King says that you are.











Thursday, March 20, 2014

More TBT Photos!

Bad perms. Versions of our younger selves in all of their adorableness. Overalls as fashion. All of that and more in our Throw Back Thursday photos!

My grandmother made my dress for the first-grade talent show. I got to wear make-up (and not get in trouble) plus my mom's jewelry. I was part of a trio pretending to be the Lennon Sisters. They were a very popular sister act featured on The Lawrence Welk Show.  



Even as a little girl, Beks had fabulous hair! I'm sure she's giving advice on how to take the photo.


To help bring me out of my shell, my parents sent me to charm school. My dad didn't recognize me when he came to pick me up that night.
A moment of bliss or a totally uncensored response to something Pokey has done -- either way, it's adorable.

There was a time in the 80s when women wore overalls as everyday fashion. It was wrong. So wrong.
This photo was taken the day after Beks saw "The Sound of Music."
This was the only perm that made me cry. It was brillo pad tough and totally uncontrollable. Thank goodness Doug and J.R. are so doggone cute and totally grab your attention.
It's photos like these (and we all have them) that bring us to our senses when we even CONSIDER having another perm!

Thank goodness for Throw Back Thursdays. They remind us of what we're grateful for in our pasts -- and how glad we are to be where we are!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Prep Periods

My Dad taught high school for his entire career...and I remember how he always talked about his "prep period." It changed from year to year...and occasionally he'd be lucky enough to have it the very first or last hour of the day...or right next to lunch. He was a hard worker and always used that time appropriately, but there was still something about it that was just a great sigh of relaxation. Even though he still had tasks to do...he was free of the structure for that hour and could enjoy preparing for later.

A big part of my work day each day is kind of like a prep period. I have the hour in the morning where I grab my headphones and head into Studio A to banter with the guys, and I have the hour where I sit behind the engineering board in Studio B and assist Lynne...but the rest of the day is a juggling act of preparation for the next day...the next week...the next meeting...the next contest...the next show I'm helping to host. Lots of prep. Lots of work, but lots of freedom and joy mixed in.

I was reading in Luke 2 earlier this week {yes, I know we're approaching Easter, not Christmas, but it was part of the reading for the Lent study I'm doing} and this whole idea of preparation hit me in a way it hadn't before.

I was reading about Simeon and Anna...the two people mentioned at the end of Jesus' infancy...who met him in the Temple and found fulfillment in their own calling and ministry because of His arrival. The part about Anna, especially, moved me: "She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying." {Luke 2: 37}

Anna's whole life was preparation for that moment. She had long been widowed after a short marriage, and her purpose after that time was to go to the temple and fast, pray and worship. And after years of that preparation...God rewarded her. God brought to pass the moment she'd been preparing for her entire life.

While I would imagine Anna found a great deal of comfort, joy, and fulfillment in the years that prepared her for that day, I would also imagine those were some hard times. Some wondering if the answer would ever come. Some longing. Some aching. Some tears.

Waiting in real life...prepping in real life...might not always feel as freedom-filled as prep time at a job, but it's no less important. No less meaningful.

I scribbled in my journal, as I read about Anna, God prepares people for encounters with Him. To be prepared means a reaction of praise, thanksgiving and blessing when God is revealed. What if my job RIGHT NOW is to prepare my heart for something later?

In truth, we're always in a season of preparation. Some might be fun, leisurely and relaxing, and some might be hard to breathe through - but we're always in one. He doesn't waste a thing. Praying during this season - and always - that my heart is in tune with His as He prepares me for the task at hand and the next assignment.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Revisiting Lent...

Last week Lynne wrote a post about Lent, and I am not even going to pretend to follow that up with the same amount of class and grace that she possesses.

I'm not a theology student and I have not studied the history of Lent or its practices in great detail. Like Lynne, I didn't grow up in a church or family that practiced it.

The first time I ever participated, I did so more out of peer pressure than holy conviction. I spent a few years rotating the denial of desserts...pop...snacks...basically anything that would give me a bit of a spiritually-induced diet.

Then came 2010...the year I hadn't really thought about Lent and hadn't made a plan to give up something specific. The first day of Lent arrived and I declared that I was sitting that year out from the practice of denial.

That evening I got in my car to drive to church {a 20 minute drive for me} and the radio blasted at bug-the-car-next-to-you levels. Just minutes into my drive, I felt a pang of conviction so strong, it took me by surprise. God nudged me to turn the radio off and leave it off until Easter morning.

{Pause: Yes, I realize I work in radio and to even offer this in print is a bit odd.}

I wasn't sure I'd heard correctly. After all, music in the car is one of my favorite ways to praise. But I sensed it again. Turn it off. Leave it off until Easter morning.

I dug a CD out of the recesses of my car and found the track to the Hallelujah Chorus, put it in the player, set it to go, and punched the off button to the radio.

Silence.

It may have been the longest 20 minute drive in the history of my life.

At first I dreaded getting in the car every time I had to drive somewhere. Dreaded the deafening silence. But eventually I began to fill that time with prayer and discovered a nearness to God I'd never experienced before. It wasn't long before I looked forward to the drives...to the quietness and the intimacy with the Savior.

Easter Sunday morning dawned, and I put on a ridiculously bright dress and hopped into the driver's seat. I punched the on button and sweet music filled the car {and several around me, I'm sure}.

It wasn't until a few weeks later that I realized what God did during that time. You see...just a few days after Easter, I went through the beginning stages of the breakup that unglued me so entirely. And as I fell on the mercy of the Lord in my brokenness, I found that I knew exactly how to hear Him. He'd been preparing me for 40 days.

I'm not telling you to turn off your radio for Lent. What I am telling you to do is listen to the Voice of the Lord and follow the nudgings He gives you. Even if they seem odd. He picks them purposely and one day you'll understand why He chose them.