Sunday, September 11, 2011

On Your Knees!


Our worship team had a quarterly meeting this week. Someone brought up the idea of allowing people to feel free to sit during the worship time. We always invite people to stand for the worship but for some people, standing may be physically difficult or they may be exhausted from a tough night before. Other people may prefer to worship while sitting or still others may feel condemned or judged if they sit--like they've been disrespectful to the Lord.

I went to church with my dad every Sunday, along with my eleven siblings. Our traditional denomination required kneeling, sitting, and standing at different places during the mass. There were benches to kneel on, but as my dad aged, it became painful for him to bend his arthritic knees. Still, he was dedicated to his faith and to the institution that ministered to him.

One Sunday, I watched my dad slowly kneel down, his hands holding the pew in front of him tightly. When he tried to stand per the commanded ritual, his faced grimaced with pain and his knuckles whitened at his tightened grip on the pew. The suffocating temperature in the sanctuary added to his effort, causing beads of sweat to stream down his face.

"Dad, why do you kneel if it is so hard to and hurts you so bad?" My question was from a child's heart breaking over her dad's painful dedication.

"Because that's what we have to do in church," he grunted through labored breaths.

I looked around at the unaffected congregation. The mass continued, people carried on their sacrificial acts, children fidgeted, and the priests performed their tasks methodically. I was angry that such a place, such a God would want my dad to be in pain every Sunday.

My dad passed away when my first son was born. But before he died, he came out to visit and we talked much about the traditional faith we grew up in and the freedom I learned to accept from Jesus. I attended a different church now and his inquisitiveness was tempered with fear I'd lost my reverence of God--the same God we both loved and worshipped.

"Dad, it matters if we both believe in Jesus and have accepted that he is truly the one we've let into our hearts and lives as our God and savior. The name on the church and the methods of it's mass or service don't change this one truth."

He was at peace with my answer. And although he met Jesus and personally accepted his salvation during our visit, he still attended the same church until he passed away, and knelt down tortuously at every Sunday mass.

Sit, stand, kneel ... as I explore these thoughts on accepting people around us the way God made them and loving each other with the heart and eyes of Jesus, I simply want to extend grace and mercy.

On your knees? What really would Jesus expect?
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:15-18 NIV1984)

Visit me at

Monday, September 5, 2011

WalMart Miracle


I'm not quite sure what all these messages and happenings are about, but I'm encountering a lot of appointments arranged by God and facilitated by my talkativeness.

Yesterday, John and I met at WalMart to pick up some groceries after church. We had separate cars. As we were checking out, I noticed a table in front of the eye center with a sign for flu shots. I pointed to it, showing John the sign.

"John, last year I waited too long and almost didn't get one. Let me see if they take our insurance."

"Go check it out. I'll finish here and bring the groceries home." He continued to transfer the sacks into our cart.

I made my way to the table and asked the RN if they took my insurance. She checked and told me they did and there was no cost to me.

Of course I started chatting and making jokes even as she tried to ask me all the required medical questions.

"Have you ever passed out?"

"Does dying in the ER count?" She looked up as the color quickly drained from her colorful cheeks.

"I'm sorry--have to kid around. I answer these questions all the time. I promise I won't die here."

We giggled and I continued to share my medical history, of course recounting my miraculous shenanigans and recent pancreas transplant. She was astounded and took in all that I blurted out in spit-fire phrases, never glancing away.

A young eyeglass technician walked over. "Did I hear you say you had a pancreas transplant?"

"Yes, only three months ago."

"My father is only 43 years old and he's dying from a damaged pancreas. No one can help him. He's almost dead now. Do you think those doctors in Chicago can help him?" His face was also intent on my story, but his motive was a desperate try at finding a way to save his dad.

I shared names and phone numbers for the pancreas program in Chicago. After we talked a bit and I told him about my encounters with God and the books I've written, he walked over, cautiously, and whispered, "Are you a Christian?"

"Yes, I am." The RN wasn't affected and she may not have been a Christian, but the young man was astonished and took that long breath in and exhaled, realizing God may have provided a miracle.

We talked a bit more. He had to get back to work, but we exchanged phone numbers. I told him I would check on his progress and we both agreed this was a God moment. I hope and pray he can get some help for his dad. They are already in debt for his health care and have no more money or credit to get to Chicago. He worried the lack of money and insurance would stop a chance at saving his dad.

"Don't worry about the money. Just concentrate on reaching someone in Chicago to help your dad. Obviously, God placed us in each others path for a reason." I held his arm and squeezed it lightly to affirm my confidence in God.

My chattiness once again allowed God to work in a big way. There are a lot of Bible verses that mention talkativeness and the folly of one quick to speak. And plenty of verses that mention the error of sinful chatter like lies and gossip. As I study this subject, I'm finding there is no where the Bible mentions not to speak or be talkative about good things, and God certainly used me once again to allow a miracle.

Jesus is my hero. I love that he overturned the tables at the temple when the he found a market. He wasn't concerned about making a ruckus. He wanted to get his point across.
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. (Mark 11: 15-16 NIV1984)
And John the Baptist--Jesus' forerunner, he was quite the character. Eating wild honey and locusts out in the desert and known as "The voice of one crying out in the desert." (John 1) Have you ever heard a man yelling in the desert to get people's attention? I like John.

In Proverbs, and dare I indicate in any way, I, myself might compare to wisdom, but even she proclaims freely what the Lord wants to convey:
Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. (Proverbs 8:6-7 NIV1984)

Are you chatty? Talkative? Do you chat incessantly in love and with the other person's (people's) good will in mind? Or do you ramble on with gossip, slandering, and bad news? Which is it? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Visit me at