Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Restoration Heart? Duh?

I'm very tired tonight! This has been a busy, out-of-the-ordinary week. The weekend ahead is going to be filled with family and good times and happy memories and TIRED!

I was just thinking about what it means REALLY and practically to talk about a heart in the process of restoration by God's grace. What does that look like when I'm tired? when you're tired? What does that look like when there's more list left than time to do it? What does that look like when I've given all I have and don't feel like I have anything else to give to anyone or anything? What does that look like when the woman in the Lexus behind me in traffic late last night honks and honks at me for not moving fast enough to suit her and then zips around me and slows to a crawl?

You get the picture. You're been there and done that just like I have. AND you know that that's the REAL test of how well the process of restoration is taking place! It's not in the saying! It's in the doing and being that real hearts in the process of God's real restoration show their meddle!

I don't want to just talk about being restored of heart. I want to BE a restoration heart! AND that's the hard part! That's why this business of restoration is something God has to do and be in me!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Friday and Sad Saturday

Just imagine you could have been in Jerusalem on that Friday and Saturday so long ago - over two thousand years ago now. Think about taking the walk from the city, out one of the city gates, down the winding road to the valley and then up the side of the Mount of Olives. You can take the same walk today.

When you see pictures of the scene on that long ago Friday, it is usually pictured on a hillside. Having been to Golgotha - where Scripture says the crucifixions took place - I don't think it was on a hillside. You can go to Golgotha, otherwise described as the "place of the skull." In the rock beside the well-worn path, there are indentations that make the rock look very much like a skull. However, it would be very difficult to sink a cross into rock.

The path is the same one used by travelers and merchant caravans headed west to Jerusalem for thousands of years. Beside that path is a very public, visible place. It would make sense that the Roman conqueror/occupiers would place their crosses with the victims nailed there dying their agonizing, very slow death right beside the path where the blood, gore and agony would be up-close and personal for all who passed by.

Today that rocky slope with its skull-like indentations is still beside the path and also across from a busy bus station. It is still a place "up-close" and personal - an "in your face" kind of place - for travelers (and tourist pilgrims).

Think about being one of those first "Christ-followers" who watched in horror the events of that first "Good Friday." Think about waking up on Saturday (or perhaps never being able to fall asleep with the horrible images that would refuse to go away in the terror of that sad night).

Think how much better it is for us! We now know the "rest of the story." We know that Friday happened. We know that Saturday was awful and sad, but we also know that Sunday came and so did the resurrection of the Savior of the world. He literally swallowed death! (Is. 25:8 and 1 Cor. 15:54)

What a day! So much to think about! What a day - the day that the God (Jesus) Who literally put on our skin, moved into our neighborhood and then took our place on a Roman cross died! Jesus became the willing sacrifice for the sins of the world! ONLY He could take that place! He was the ONLY One Who could "unlock the gate of heaven and let us in" !

Hallelujah! What a Savior! Think of it - living on this side of the resurrection and knowing the "rest of the story" should make ALL the difference in how we live and love. It should literally restore our hearts and lives! Knowing the resurrection and loving Jesus calls us to plant our feet right where people need Jesus and literally be the hands and feet of Jesus to them! Think about it!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Purim begins today at sunset. If you aren't Jewish, you may have never heard of Purim. Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrated in March.

What is Purim about or for? Purim is about restoration and protection. Purim is about how God takes care of His people even in the face of incredible adversaries.

We read about the origins of Purim in the ancient book of Esther in the Old Testament. Esther was the original "Jewish princess." Esther and her family were captured and taken from their homeland of Israel and drug away to Persia (modern day Iran). Esther's parents died, and her uncle Mordecai raised her. Esther was beautiful in face and form. Mordecai taught Esther about God. God's character and truth were deeply planted in Esther's heart.

Persia was a scary place to live in ancient times. The "law of the Medes and the Persians" was so solid that it could never be changed. The Persian empire stretched from Africa to India. The king of Persia was Xerxes. Xerxes took decadance to a new level. He once threw a party that lasted over six months. It was more lavish than any party we could ever imagine or attend.

Long story short, Esther eventually became Queen over Persia.

Esther, Mordecai and all the Jews in Persia were the targets of the evil Haman. Haman wanted to annihiliate the entire Jewish race. Hitler wasn't the first to try it.

I don't want to spoil the suspense so I encourage you to open your Bible, find Esther and read the exciting story for yourself. It is one of those "can't put it down, nail-biter" stories from real life.

Purim is the holiday the Jews celebrate to this day in memory of God's protection and deliverance of the Jews and of the role Esther and Mordecai played in that story.

Queen Esther, King Xerxes, Mordecai and Haman lived long, long ago. Purim comes from this ancient story when God worked silently but very deliberately and effectively to protect and defend His people. The account of what God did is recorded in this ancient book. Esther is the only book in the Bible where God's name is never mentioned even though His fingerprints are all over what happened.

In Esther God is pictured as the One Who restores in all kinds of ways. We see brokenness in the empire of Persia, brokenness in King Xerxes' heart and habits, brokenness in Haman's evil plans, brokenness in Esther and Mordecai's circumstances - and in all that brokenness, God quietly but surely works to restore.

Purim is a celebration of God's restoration!

Perhaps Christians should celebrate Purim, too. We certainly should celebrate God's restoring grace in all the brokenness we encounter in our own hearts and in our world.

Sometimes God works and speaks in a thundering storm (like in Job). Other times God works quite silently (like in Esther). The bottom line is that God works to bring restoration anywhere there is brokenness which is everywhere.

The BIG Question: WHY?

The BIG question is "WHY?" We have all asked it. Something happens that is just "over the top," and we turn our faces (and sometimes also our fists) heavenward and ask, "Why, God?" At the very least, we ask, "OK, God, what in the world do you mean to accomplish by this? Are You quite sure you know what You are doing?"

Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a book addressing this question following the death of his son: When Bad Things Happen to Good People. When his book first hit the bookstores, I was going through my own personal struggle with pain. I found his book at the Christian bookstore near where we lived, bought and read it. Wow! What a sad book! Rabbi Kushner's conclusion is that there are some things just too big and bad for God to do anything about them. He actually states that God is impotent in certain situations.

When bad things were happening to me, I didn't find what Rabbi Kushner wrote very comforting!

In ancient times a man named Job faced an overwhelming wave of one disaster after another: He lost his considerable wealth (oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels) and all the servants he employed to take care of them. Then the message came to Job that all his seven sons and his three daughters were caught in the house where they were at a party. A huge tornado hit the house directly, destroyed the house and all Job's children perished.

In the final blow Job lost his health with a terrible disease that made him an outcast from society and covered his entire body with painful sores. He had to go live in the garbage dump. When bad things happen to good people? Job knew all about that!

Then Job endured the onslaught of his three closest friends (and eventually even his wife) as they all gave him very bad advice for how to respond to all this pain. Job dialogues with them, but he refuses to be influenced by their arguments. Then a brash young man named Elihu shows up at the city dump and imparts his angry "wisdom" to straighten Job out. Elihu basically tells Job he isn't spiritual enough, doesn't understand God's ways well enough, isn't wise enough to know and follow God from his heart.

It is very interesting to read the ancient book of Job in the Old Testament. In chapter 38 God speaks. God comes in a huge lightning storm, and God blasts them all with His truth. It is an amazing recitation from God of His power to create, control and bring restoration.

Job's response is humble before the face of God. Job says, "I'm convinced You can do anything and everything. Nothing can upset Your plans. ... I admit I once lived by rumors of You; now I have it all firsthand - from my own eyes and ears! I'm sorry - forgive me. ... I'll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor." (Job 42:1 - 6, The Message)

Job's God is not like Rabbi Kushner's. Job's God is not impotent. Job's God is powerful, great and good! Job plants his feet firmly on the Rock, and he declares, "I KNOW that my Redeemer lives!"

That is the answer to the "WHY ?" question: God is real! Jesus is risen from the dead! God has power to create and control all the affairs of men and all the circumstances of life! God is NEVER impotent! God is always both great and good ALL THE TIME! And that's the only answer to the question, "Why ?" - every time!

Jewish Job celebrated Easter long before Jesus rose from the dead in his declaration that "my Redeemer lives."

And the Bible records that in the end - when it was all said and done - that God gave Job back (restored what was broken and lost) all he had before times two. Job received (from God's gracious hand) twice as many sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys. And Job and his wife had ten more children. Their other ten were in heaven so they had 20 children in all - twice what they started with.

God is in the business of restoring the broken! God restored Job, and He can and will restore you and me in all our brokenness! Actually that's why there is a Restoration Church gathering in the South Hills of Pittsburgh - because God is in the business of restoration!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Broken-Hearted? !!!

"My heart is broken!" Those are not just words dramatically uttered by a teen "drama queen." "She/he has a broken heart ... . " Heard that or said that?

It is interesting that when someone goes for open heart surgery to repair some mal-function or mal-formation of the heart, no one talks about that person's heart being broken. (Or, at least, I have never heard it expressed that way.) Yet, in a physical sense, the person is going for heart surgery because something is "broken."

But, the broken heart is something else entirely. What are some of the things we attribute as causes for a broken heart? Loss of "true" love? Loss of someone special and dear? Loss of a pet? Loss of a valued possession? Loss of a job, child, spouse, parent or friend? Loss in some major aspect of life? It is a long list. This is only the beginning. The "causes" are almost as numerous as the hearts that are broken.

Indeed it is true that all of the above causes and many more do contribute to the condition we label "broken heart." It is a real condition, and it happens to just about everyone in life!

AND once one's heart is "broken," there is no glue that can fix it. Rather there's something even better!

We all experience the pain of a broken heart. Then we have a choice of what we do and where we go from there. Do we crash and burn? Do we crawl behind a wall of some sort, cover our heads and cower there licking our wounds? Do we spend time lashing out at others so they see our pain and experience pain we inflict? OR do we turn our focus toward the One (Jesus) who is in the business of fixing broken hearts? Only He can restore this kind of brokenness!

We come to Jesus. We simply tell Him that we are broken and broken-hearted and need His restoring love. We ask for His help.

He doesn't take away the brokenness. He helps us use our own brokenness in outward focus toward others. A "broken heart" in the hands of Jesus is a heart that can reach out and love others more deeply than ever before due to the very brokenness we experience.

It is a wild and crazy paradox that broken hearts and broken people can be the tools God uses to restore other broken hearts and broken people in this broken world we live in! It is God's plan for reaching our world, our community, our "space" one heart at a time in relationship with God first and then with other "broken hearts."

Dr. Bob Pierce who founded World Vision and later Samaritan's Purse (now the ministry of Franklin Graham) once wrote in the front of his Bible: "Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God." If you know Bob Pierce's story, it is full of brokenness and pain. Dr. Richard Halverson, pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in the greater Washington DC area and later Chaplain to the U.S. Senate once said, "Bob Pierce functioned from a broken heart." And the record is clear that Bob Pierce functioned very brokenly at times from that broken heart - which encourages me, but God still used him in a powerful way to build God's eternal kingdom.

Our own personal brokenness only has value as it reaches out to others to touch their brokenness and to point them to the only One who can take brokenness and bring restoration! That's what we are doing at a Restoration Church in the South Hills of Pittsburgh! If you are broken and you know it, then come gather with us as we all experience God's wonderful grace of restoration together!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama and the Things Preachers Say

I've been married to a pastor for almost 41 years. I've heard my pastor say a lot of things over those years. I have seen him change, grow and develop in his ability to communicate truth. I have heard good sermons and bad sermons. I have heard long sermons and shorter sermons.

Just this past Sunday I heard an excellent Palm Sunday sermon. Now that's hard to do on a holiday - to preach something that challenges the heart and isn't the "same old, same old." This sermon I heard last Sunday definitely did challenge my heart and wasn't the "same old."

I have NEVER in all my years of being married to a preacher and hearing him and many, many other preachers preach heard such unbelieveable rantings as have played on the news over the last week or so from the lips and lungs of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. One has to wonder if they pass out doctored kool-aid at the door when people enter for them not only to sit still for such preaching and ranting but to actually respond emotionally to it. Perhaps it's a "Chicago Land" thing - one can only hope!

There is absolutely NO chance that anyone could sit anywhere in the vicinity of such "preaching" and ranting as Rev. Jeremiah spews forth with such venom and not know exactly what kind of "preaching" was happening! I seriously wonder why someone doesn't call for the "men in the white coats with the straight-jacket" to come for Rev. Jeremiah. He's so totally over-the-top that he's falling out of his "Afro-centric" clergy clothing!

I haven't had time to focus on what Obama had to say in his speech today, but I will. I was otherwise occupied this morning during the speech. I was at the ice rink at a ice bumper car birthday party. I think I made a wise choice.

God weighs in on this matter when Jesus says, "I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." (Matt. 12:36) Words spoken and yelled with spit and venom in the name of preaching qualify for such a warning! Just because someone has the ability to move a crowd emotionally and whip them into a frenzy doesn't constitute responsible leadership nor is it the kind of spiritual/emotional influence we need over the leaders of our nation.

The fact that we are not horror-stricken is because we have grown numb to such horrors. We have seen, heard and read too much until "too much" becomes at least a tolerable "norm" of sorts.

Where is the balance? Where is the truth? Both balance and truth come from God's heart reaching into broken hearts and changing and restoring those hearts (one at a time) from within. Balance and truth never come from frenzied venom! Beware!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shamrocks, Green, Leprechauns, Rainbows and Pots of Gold

In Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day is a BIG deal! There is a parade - rain, snow, sleet or shine! There is partying and all that goes along with it. It's not so much about being Irish as it is about celebrating. Pittsburghers love to celebrate!

My guess is that a poll of "man on the street" in PIttsburgh today would find few if any know that St. Patrick himself was actually a missionary. Well, some might know that, but very few know that St. Patrick actually was a captive taken to Ireland by Irish raiders in Scotland. It was the late 4th century. He was around 16 at the time. Later after enduring years of slavery, Patrick escaped only to hear God's call (after he made his way safely home to Scotland) to return to Ireland as a missionary.

Patrick had seen Ireland "at its worst," but he must have had a heart for the Irish people. He didn't return to Ireland because he loved shamrocks, wearing green, hanging out with leprechauns or even rainbows leading to pots of gold. Patrick specifically returned to Ireland because his heart was drawn to the Irish people and their need for God. He was willing (with God's help) to return to a place of great personal pain (where he was a slave) to bring the Gospel of God's grace and love to Ireland.

THAT's the REAL reason we celebrate a day for St. Patrick!

Patrick was a man willing to forgive the injustice of his slavery and all he suffered. Patrick had a heart big enough to care for people in the very same place where he suffered greatly. Patrick evidently understood that spiritual slavery is far worse than physical slavery. He returned to Ireland to be a living parable to the Emeral Isle and her people of one freed from the chains of slavery (in a literal physical sense). Patrick knew and experienced God's grace in His own heart. He was freed from slavery to sin and adopted into God's forever family! He went everywhere all over Ireland proclaiming God's freeing, restoring grace until his death in the mid-5th century.

There are others who follow in Patrick's train. I think of a friend freed from drug addiction who lives his life serving and leading a ministry to homeless men caught in many traps of sin. I think of others who minister and serve God in places where they have endured terrible injustice. It is that very injustice and pain that bring these faithful, obedient servants of Jesus Christ - like St. Patrick - to be God's hands and feet in a very broken world.

So, should you spy a leprechaun, shamrock or rainbow today - think of faithful servants of God who have given their lives and hearts to spread God's restoring grace to the broken wherever and whenever they are found. Now, that's a REAL way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day!

God is looking for restored hearts willing to return to places where brokenness is (which is just about anywhere and everywhere) to show others the way to God's life-giving restoring grace!

Now that is reason to celebrate!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Funerals, Life and Restoration

This hasn't been a typical week at our house. Thankfully so as we have attended two funerals. Funerals are part of my adult life. I never went to a funeral as a child, and I can't say funerals are high on my list. That probably is typical.

My parents who are both in their 80's have attended four funerals in the past two weeks - one of them for a family member.

The very occasion of a funeral is because death has occurred. No matter when, no matter where, no matter how - death is such a "final" thing.

One of the funerals I attended this week was for a lady who died from painful cancer. In the small funeral home room there was the casket at the front. In between were rows of chairs with people and at the very back we sat with three young children - two of them four-year-old twin boys.

There is something about a casket and a funeral and 4-year-old twins that doesn't quite fit. There they are so full of life and boyishness in the presence of death and mostly oblivious.

I remember another funeral years ago. The casket held the body of the 32-year-old mother of 2-year old twin boys. She also died after a horrible, terrible, painful battle with cancer. That day long ago made me ache for those two little boys.

The presence of the twins yesterday gladdened my heart. They represented the essence of life in the presence of death. Thornton Wilder once wrote, "In the midst of life we are in the midst of death ... " That's what the twins made me think of - life in the midst of death!

But the picture here is a good parable of what is real and true - when we live with hearts restored by the love and grace of God, then even as we grow older or even die we move on to life eternal. That is the hope of life - the promise of eternity - even in the face of death - and we all need to know that truth! The promise of God's restoration makes all the difference in both living and dying! It is the story of Easter, and it's the real deal!

A Heart for Change? Eliot Spitzer? Obama and the USA?

"Change" seems to be the word of the day (and days) these days. One presidential hopeful is making that his campaign focus. But the problem with a politician talking about "change" but not detailing what change looks like is that "change" is only a word. "Change" MUST be accompanied with action and specifically appropriate actions related to the specific change involved.

Barak Obama is all about change if you listen to his words, but he doesn't explain HOW that change is going to happen. He doesn't detail a plan for change.

Newly former NY governor Eliot Spitzer is facing change in life, but if his public words from yesterday are any indicator, he's a long way from knowing how to put his tattered life back together - even if he really wants to do so. Talking about "failings" and "not living up to what was expected" are paltry words in his circumstances.

Another man I once knew was young, had a beautiful wife and pretty special children. Looking from the outside in, they seemed like the ideal family. But there was HUGE need for heart change! Everything was going from bad to worse due to increasingly bad choices.

Was there hope? Was there help? You bet! But hope and help alone are not enough EVER! Beside the "God factor," the other essential is having a heart for change! That's HUGE!

Barak Obama talks about change but I don't hear a plan. I hear clever words on the hopeful path to the White House.

Eliot Spitzer talks "change" when it really sounds like "How am I going to minimize the pressure here?" It's all about self-protection to minimize personal loss and maximize damage control.

The young husband gone way down a bad path didn't get the missing piece either. He wanted the pressure gone and the "status quo" returned. It was pretty amazing to talk to him - to actually even tell him the words he needed to say in order to get turned around and started back on another path. His heart was so far from change that he couldn't even say the words like a parrot. It was pretty obvious - amazingly so!

It's having a heart to change that makes the difference! The ancient prophet Jeremiah asks the question, "... Can the leopard change his spots?" (Jer. 13:23) The obvious no-brainer answer is a quick, "Of course not! The leopard is stuck with his spots."

The process of "changing a leopard's spots" requires another heart. It's the "when is a leopard not a leopard?" question. And the answer is: when the leopard becomes a lion or whatever instead. Leopards don't become lions easily. Only a lion's heart can turn a leopard into a lion.

The illustration probably breaks down but the point is that real, lasting change must come from inside. It requires the painful process of a heart transplant! The heart must be willing to change from the inside out, and only God can do that kind of work!

God is the Only One in the heart restoration business! But He is and He does! God regularly changes "leopard spots" one heart at a time! It's not a cosmetic make-over. It's an extreme make-over from the inside out!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Broken Beyond Repair? Too Lost to Be Found? Maybe or Maybe Not!

Oops! O, NO! ... Did you ever have something just slip out of your hands, crash to the floor and break into a gazillion pieces?

Did you ever do something so incredibly stupid that something is broken or someone is hurt in some life-changing way and it happened all in a moment? "OOOOOOO, NO!"

Did you ever get distracted for "just a second" and find something broken beyond mending just because you lost your concentration?

Did you ever lose something very valuable - never to be seen again - all because you failed to put it in a safe place?

Well, sorry to say, I've done all of these things and lots more. The end of the story in every case is exactly the same and equally sad - brokenness! Sometimes brokenness is "fixable" and sometimes not but brokenness never really goes away once it happens - not in this life.

Once long ago in just a second of tiredness coupled with haste my beautiful, huge cut glass punch bowl slipped through my soapy hands and cracked in two in the bottom of the sink. In that case, I found a master craftsman who could glue the punch bowl back together. I used it for years before it cracked again, but the crack was always there even if it was "fixed" so it didn't leak.

Once, just once, very long ago I had a beautiful ring, an heirloom. It was hot in our 4th floor walk-up apartment in Atlanta, GA that August evening. There was no air conditioning so the door to our little apartment was standing open to catch any flutter of a breeze. The apartment was only two small rooms. I took that beautiful ring off and laid it on the dresser in the most inside room. I'm sure that's what I did! I never saw the ring again. I don't know what happened to it. No amount of searching ever turned up that gorgeous ring - it is gone forever!

My grandfather lost both his legs in a freak accident with a gun. Being a careful man, I'm sure there were many moments over the years when he wished he had never borrowed that gun with an altered chamber and certainly never failed to check if it were entirely unloaded. But that didn't give him his legs back. That didn't change the next 55 or so years Granddaddy walked on artificial legs either. But, that particular brokenness (losing both legs in a depressed economy with a wife and four children and then losing home, business, and almost every possession in the aftermath of the accident), brought a wholeness of heart to both my grandparents they never would have had otherwise!

Brokenness and loss comes to us all. It is the "what happens next" that makes all the difference!

Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)

Different "thieves" sneek in under cover of night into people's lives. Sometimes the thief is pain or chronic illness. Sometimes the thief is heartache and loss so severe it takes one's breath away. Sometimes the thief is an accident or loss of some other kind. Brokenness wears many masks, and all of them are scary!

And the life pattern for life in this world is brokenness! Nothing is fixed! Nothing is ever like God intended it to be in the beginning! And there is only one Fix!

God - in His great love - for broken people in a broken world made a Way for broken lives to be mended, healed and restored. God's Way is Jesus! He said it, "I came that they (you and me) can have life and have it abundantly!" (John 10:10)

Broken lives, broken hearts, broken relationships can all be mended, healed and restored by Jesus!

Actually we have Easter to remind us of brokenness - brokenness beyond repair, brokenness beyond the lost being found, brokenness beyond healing. BUT the wonderful message of Easter is not brokenness. The wonderful message of Easter is that God sent Jesus to make all things new - to bring healing and hope and health and life! God sent Jesus to find the lost and broken and restore us all! That's the Gospel! That's the wonderful message of Easter!

AND that's exactly why there is a new Restoration Church gathering in the South Hills of Pittsburgh! That's what we are all about - brokenness and loss in many forms and finding God's restoration and healing! If that sounds like what you need, come gather with us!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Botox, Brokenness and Restoration

Charles Spurgeon wrote in All of Grace, "Justification without sanctification would be no salvation at all. It would call the leper clean and leave him to die of his disease; it would forgive the rebellion and allow the rebel to remain an enemy to his king ... " Wow! Talk about counter-cultural!

According to the Westminster standards, "justification" is "act of God's free grace, wherein He pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone." (Shorter Catechism, Q. 33)

"Sanctification" is that process or "work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness." (Shorter Catechism, Q. 35)

Spurgeon got it right: the act without the process does leave the leper to die of his disease or the treasonous rebel to remain an enemy of his King! But what an opportunity to be counterpoint, to be salt and light in our world! It is the heart of the Gospel that God doesn't just pronounce us "just" but that He also commits to the process of making us "just" to the bone, deeply into the warp and woof of our life to our very heart!

In a world of fast food and quick fixes, the Gospel speaks loud and clear that make-overs and cosmetics, even botox and liposuction don't fix the problem. Only God's work of restoration (which is a process, actually THE process of sanctification) brings God's restoring love and grace to all the brokenness of life!

I'm signing on for the process of restoration and committed to being the heart and hands of that process in my sphere of influence. I can't fix the brokenness in my own heart nor can I fix the brokenness others experience. Only God can!

It's like the little song children used to sing in Sunday School, "O, who can make a snowflake? I'm sure I can't. Can you? O, who can make a snowflake? No one, but God! It's true!" Who can fix my brokenness? I'm sure I can't; can you? Who can fix your brokenness? No one, but God! And it's true!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Magnet for Jesus

I have a friend who is a magnet for Jesus. She boldly lives her faith and people are constantly drawn to talk to her about faith. She doesn't have just a story here and there of someone she has talked to about Jesus. She has multiple new stories every week. She constantly challenges my heart to be more bold in sharing my faith.

Dee works around sick people. She has new stories every week about people she encounters on her rounds who ask her serious questions about life and faith and God. Some of these people come to faith in Jesus and some haven't yet but they all go away from meeting my friend with a memory that will stick in their hearts forever. Dee is like that! She loves big. She cares big, and it's easy to see that she's the real thing!

Recently she has been spending a lot of time hanging out in an intensive care waiting room because she has a seriously ill father. She told me a story the other day about an older gentleman who overheard (listened in) when she was talking to her husband while she sat in the ICU waiting room. This man picked up hints of her faith in her conversation with her husband. So when she hung up her cell phone, he went over and asked if he could talk to her. His wife is dying in the same ICU. She is a believer but he isn't. He asked Dee to go with him to pray with his wife. He asked her a lot of questions about Jesus and faith. He even asked if he had waited too long to become a believer. His fear is that Jesus won't want him after all this time.

Then this man went home to take a shower and change clothes. When he came back, he went searching for Dee. He wanted to tell her that while he was at home that he had asked God to please let him into God's family. He wanted Dee to tell him what he needed to do and pray to be sure he was in God's forever family. Of course, she did. She clearly and carefully explained to him how to know Jesus for himself. She helped him pray a simple prayer of faith. And then she welcomed another brother into God's forever family!

Dee also works with a lot of 20 and 30-something age guys and girls. Her stories about their faith journeys are amazing, too. Almost every week one or two or more of these young post-moderns come to faith in Jesus and join God's forever family just because their path ran across my friend Dee.

She's a magnet for Jesus!

I think I've discovered something about Dee - my friend who is also a magnet for Jesus. It's not that she has some magic in her pocket that draws people to her. It's just that she's real and her faith is real and she's always willing to take the time to share the Jesus she knows and loves with anyone she meets.

She was sharing the story of the man in the waiting room with her dad. Here he is - really, really sick himself - but he loved hearing the story of the man. He said to Dee, "Maybe that's the reason I'm here just so you could run across this man and point him to Jesus." I have a feeling that Dee learned to be a magnet for Jesus from her dad.

One of the times in the waiting room, the man came over. This time Dee's mom was with her. Dee introduced her mom to the man. He apologized for interrupting them and taking up their time. Dee's mom insisted that he join them and she (Dee's mom) talked to him about Jesus, too. I think Dee learned how to talk to people about Jesus from her mom, too.

It's a beautiful thing to see one heart at a time changed for God's kingdom! It's a beautiful thing to hear the stories of people coming to faith! It's a beautiful thing to know that a father and mother have modeled sharing their faith for their children! It's a beautiful thing to have a magnet for Jesus for a friend!